The Final Chapter: Ali & Ed Go to College
This is the final chapter in the journey of two musicians: Ali & Ed. Both love(d) music and both started out in 30 minute piano lessons as six year olds. The final chapter follows each student from the age of 11 to 17. If you are just joining us, please do read the first two entries in their journey here:
When we last left off, Ed had reached a point of ‘getting bored’ with piano. He had successfully played a few recitals and his parents were proud but they were tired. Tired of having to beg and plead and bribe Ed to practice at home. They didn’t understand exactly what happened along the way but somehow he went from loving to sing and bang on the piano as a five-year old to a 10-year-old who complained every time he was asked to practice. His attitude had changed. It was almost as if the more he progressed in his piano book, the less he wanted to play. Ed’s parents were confused and more than anything bummed out that music had become a chore.
Ali, on the other hand, had made more and more friends at Brooklyn Music Factory at her weekly band rehearsals and seasonal private lesson gigs. It seemed like every time she showed up at the school she met someone new. Lots of kids and adults were coming and going, carrying their instruments and HomeRock binders. Ali still struggled to find the time to play as often as she would like at home (5th grade had a bunch of homework and middle school was even worse!) but she was always psyched to go to her lesson or band rehearsal.
Ali and Ed then entered middle school. Middle school was a whole new ball game and all of a sudden they were commuting to far away schools and came home each day with 2 hours of homework. Logistically, life become way more complicated. Ed’s parents decided to give lessons one more chance and booked the teacher to come in on a Saturday morning to avoid the conflict with homework after school. Ali’s parents booked her for a band rehearsal on Tuesdays and then her private lesson on Fridays. They decided they would give her a chance to get her homework done at BMF before her classes.
Sixth grade ended up being pretty tough for both kids but music played a radically different role in each of their lives. Ed found that he wanted to have sleep-overs on Friday nights but never could because of his Saturday morning piano lesson. He started resenting them big time! ALi, on the other hand found that there were five other girls all doing homework after school in Brooklyn Music Factory’s community room while they waited for their band rehearsals so she actually looked forward to going to music class. Her group formed a little homework club and helped each other with math and english. The band rehearsal was getting really intense (she had moved up to an Advanced Rock, Write, & Record) because they were expected to learn more challenging cover songs as well as write two full length original pop tunes. Her private voice lesson was at 45 minutes and started to actually feel too short?! She had lots of questions and the BLAM Games (Big Lessons About Music Games) they played began getting pretty hard…she wanted to try a second and third time to get all the answers right.
Ed Quits & Ali Turns 13
Now fast forward a couple of years. Not surprisingly, Ed decided to quit piano and (also not surprisingly) his mom let him. He was unhappy, he complained, and bottom line, it was not the musical experience his mom wanted him to have. She found herself saying to her friends, “I don’t want him to hate music. I’m afraid that if I force him to continue with piano lessons, he will!” And sometimes, she would even admit to her husband, “I guess I was wrong about Ed. He just doesn’t have what it takes to be a musician. Some kids are just talented and have that thing that makes them really want to practice. Not our Ed.”
Ali had a different experience moving into her teens. Middle school was ruff socially. She made and lost friends in sixth grade and it took her a couple years to really start to feel settled with a group of friends that felt good to her. Life was changing rapidly all around her and she was feeling emotional swings that were brand new. But one aspect of her life that was a constant was her multiple visits each week to the Brooklyn Music Factory. In eighth grade she had added a voice lesson to her schedule and was now at BMF three times per week. She had built strong friendships with her band mates and felt particularly close to her new voice teacher, a woman who seemed to understand her social challenges at school. They were working through a song writing curriculum that was getting her to (for the first time!) write poetry and lyrics and even keep a journal. Getting her music practice in every day was still really difficult given all the homework plus the high school auditions & test prep, but she always looked froward to playing three days a week. And she did find herself listening to lots of new music that her teachers (and friends in band) suggested…plus she had written her own original song for the first time. She was even invited to record an original in ninth grade on a BMF compilation CD. Ali found her music community at Brooklyn Music Factory a really important part of each week…they challenged her but never seemed to judge her. It just felt good to come to place that accepted her for who she was.
Ali Grows Up:
In ninth and tenth grade, Ali began asking for more freedom and responsibility at home. She began to baby sit more frequently and started staying out later with her new group of high school friends. But in addition, she was hired each week to be an MIT (Musician In Training) at Brooklyn Music Factory. She was paid to be an assistant to the Jam Band 101 teachers (amazing to think that she had been a student in Jam Band 101 six years earlier!). She also had to clean up studios and even helped with the Friday Night Light concert series and weekend birthday parties. Ali was feeling a whole new connection to music now that she was actually sharing her knowledge with the little kids. She found herself calling herself a pianist rather than saying she ‘played piano.’ Ali was now beginning to identify herself as a musician and most importantly, she couldn’t imagine NOT playing, singing, and composing music everyday.
Ali had also joined a Touring Band meaning she was required to show up twice a week for rehearsals. That, coupled with her private lessons, a weekly workshop on music theory she got to take for free, and her new job as an MIT meant she was now making music with friends four times per week! The music seed had been planted and was now blossoming. Ali’s music making was at a whole new level.
Ali’s journey as a musician at Brooklyn Musician Factory lasted 10 years.
From the moment she first signed up for a 30 minute piano lesson to the moment she celebrated her own CD release party performing all of her own songs on the BMF Main Stage as a seventeen year old her senior Spring, Ali had grown slowly and as part of a community. It may have started as a simple piano lesson but it ended as being a defining characteristic of her confident and creative personality. She had grown to become a mature listener, leader, and communicator.