By Cassidy Klein
Sage Music, one of the most popular music schools in western Queens, didn’t have enough room for the multitude of students that were applying to study there. But after undergoing a remodel and expansion of their space, Sage is opening its doors to new students and anticipating the promising future of the school.
“Due to the school’s explosive rate of growth, we had to put a hold on the acceptance of new students,” said Jason Sagebiel, founder of Sage Music. “However, because of the requests from the many folks who were turned away due to our limitation of space, we made the decision to expand our Queens location. Today, as I look around, I’m overjoyed that our new facility will now be able to accommodate the growing musical ambitions of our rapidly expanding body of students.”
Students, instructors and their families celebrated the expansion at the grand re-opening party last Saturday in Long Island City. The facility is located at 44-02 23rd St.
“I’m always trying to improve [the school], grow it,” Sagebiel said. “We are unique in that we offer the ARPEGGIO system. We invest in teachers so much, we are very goal focused and will help them achieve their dreams.”
Sage Music was founded in 2012 after Sagebiel had to “re-learn how to learn” following a serious brain injury he suffered while in Iraq 2003 when he was serving as a U.S. Marine. He lost a lot of his memory and developed a unique method to re-learn music. This is the same method they teach at Sage, where they call it the ARPEGGIO system. The method was developed though the science and psychology of learning and allows students to set and achieve their own personal goals.
“I realized in that process [of re-learning] that educators aren’t equipped with tools that help students make goals and truly learn,” Sagebiel said. “At Sage we give our students tools to help them improve, and it’s exciting that they reach goals they set for themselves. So the brain injury was the catalyst. I was already into music but that really pushed me to try these new teaching methods and start this school.”
Sagebiel initially moved to Long Island City 12 years ago to work in the Humanities/Music Department at LaGuardia Community College. Soon after, he founded Sage, which has another location in Brooklyn.
Michael Conklin, an instructor of woodwinds, started teaching at Sage in January, and has since improved, not only as an instructor, but as a musician, too.
“I was impressed by how much [Sage] cares about teachers,” said Conklin. “It’s always rewarding to help a student achieve and realize their goals. At first it took me a while to get used to the system—but it allowed me to grow.”
Alexandre Ikama, 15, a student of Conklin’s, has been learning to play the clarinet at Sage for three years. His goal is to “hopefully get a scholarship to a concert band.”
“I’m not that good in school,” he said. “Music is the one thing I’m really good at. I love the clarinet, I love the sound of it.”
Matt Kaplan, a guitar instructor, has been at Sage for two years and is “grateful to teach and give back.”
“It’s cool seeing the school expand,” said Kaplan. “Jason is always talking about his vision for the school.”
Kaplan said many students have told him what they learn in their music lessons helps them in other areas in life, such as organization and time management.
“The process of making music and learning is helpful in many areas,” said Kaplan. “Music in my life has brought me fruitful relationships, opportunities to travel, so many things. I’m grateful to teach and give back.”
Nick Dinnerstein, who teaches strings, said he really likes the ARPEGGIO method and has seen it benefit both students and teachers.
“It’s great that we have regular teacher training at the school,” said Dinnerstein. “We check in with Jason regularly to establish our own goals.”
Dinnerstein said he plays music because it allows him to “explore expression.”
“It is an endless process,” he said. “There is always more to learn which makes it satisfying. Music lessons bring all sorts of benefits to people’s lives in general.”
Maryam Kamsani, 14, a piano student at Sage, has been around to see the school expand and is excited for her future as a musician.
“For my vocal audition into a professional music school, the main thing I had to do was learn an Italian aria, which is so hard,” said Kamsani. “But I learned it, I achieved my goal. Next I want to learn to sing and play piano at the same time.”
Kamasi sees herself being a musician for life.
“I feel like music is a way that you can connect with the world,” she said. “When there’s a language barrier or something, you can always use music.”
Reach reporter Cassidy Klein by e-mail at cklei