Long Island’s Music Makers

Owners Patrick Castania and John Ortenberg (Photos by Cynthia Paulis)

Nestled on the quaint Main Street of Smithtown is a building that houses the Musicology Performance Center, where students of all ages come to develop their skills as musicians. The company was founded in September 2014, when three men came together in harmony to advance musical education for all ages.

One of the owners, John Ortenberg of Old Bethpage, refers to himself as, “the chief vibe officer, who is responsible for keeping the vibe very, very cool.”

“When we designed this place, we wanted to make sure that we represented all forms of music,” he said. “We are a school that teaches all forms of music from rock and jazz to classical. The first thing we do is provide weekly lessons around all instruments; some kids take guitar, bass, viola, violin for example. The other thing they can do is participate in some of our performance programs. We have a jazz program, which is really unique on Long Island, as well as a rock and roll program. The third one is our video game theme program on Saturdays. A lot of our kids love video games and they came to us and said we want to take some of the music we hear in video games and reproduce it live.”

Ortenberg with Aerielle and young drummer Thomas Boaro

There are six rooms where lessons are given, as well as a performance center where students can get together as a group to perform.

All of the musical instruments are brand new and provided by Korg USA of Melville.

“We have a partnership with them so the equipment is always new because we want to make sure our students play with the best equipment,” said Ortenberg.

One of the students was 16-year-old Emily Granados from Farmingdale who had high praise for the program.

“I really have never been one to sing or perform. I have always been behind the stage,” she said. “This program has made me be able to go on the stage and grab a microphone and sing. I have only been doing this for a few months and I love it.”

Each day of the week is filled with music.

“We have also started something called Musicquarium, which is our program for little ones ages 12 months to 3 years,” said Ortenberg. “It’s a mommy and me or daddy and me program where they get to have a tactile experience with music. We have shakers and bongos and they sing songs. It’s a way for young children to get exposed to music at a very early age.”

What makes Musicology unique is that they are so heavily invested in promoting all sorts of music rather, than one particular genre.

“Our motto is that we make musicians. If you want your child to be a rock-star there are plenty of places that will put them through the grinder and say get up on stage and play. We really focus on musicianship, performance and talent,” said Ortenberg.

Walking through the studio, one sees photos of musicians from Beethoven to Johnny Cash. The original inception had all male artists. Ortenberg changed that idea.

“That is not the culture we want to create here,” he said, adding that 50 percent of the school’s students are female. “We want to make sure that women in rock and roll and music are represented so we changed things so when a young girl comes in she sees not just these standard rock and roll male heroes but women as well.”

Musicology reaches out to the community to participate in programs, including Rock & Raw Hide, which provides chew toys for dogs in shelters. On June 13, Musicology is providing its facility to Rock & Raw Hide, as the organization is bringing two bands in to play and raise money.

In September, Musicology will perform for Canine Companions for Independence in Massapequa at Marjorie Post Park.

Musicology staff

Musicology includes adults on Wednesday nights in Working for a Living. This is a program for professionals who have regular jobs, who have stopped playing because work and family got in the way and now they need an outlet.

“Every Wednesday night, we have a group of guys and gals in their 30s and 40s and we just jam from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.,” said Ortenberg. “Every third Friday we have an open jam where we open our facility to all local musicians to just come in and jam. We have had a phenomenal turnout. They speak the same language, which is the language of music. It draws a crowd of teens to people in their 20s who are looking for an outlet on a Friday night and what better place to be than here and hanging out. All we charge is $5 for pizza, but if you don’t want pizza it’s free.”

The teachers are all professional musicians from all over the Island.

“The teachers always meet with the parents after the lesson and go through what the lesson was like, the homework and every single lesson,” he said. “We take this very seriously. This is a program to learn music not just to occupy your kid for 30 nights.”

To learn more about Musicology, go to www.musicologyperformance.com or call 631-352-5535.



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