Founded in 2012, the Lakehouse Music Academy has become a vital part of the Asbury Park music scene, not just offering musical instruction but giving aspiring musicians a place to meet each other, and sponsoring shows and concert series at local venues. It uses a holistic method, with both young and adult students forming rock, jazz and blues bands — there are currently about 60 of them — so that they can learn what it is like to play in a group, and not just learn their instruments individually.
This year, Lakehouse has expanded outside of Asbury Park for the first time, with a satellite location at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.
Open houses, with free pizza, are planned for the Red Bank location from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 13, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 12; for information, visit lakehousemusicacademy.com. “We’re looking forward to meeting some new people,” said Lakehouse music co-director Ben Marino. “We encourage current members to bring their friends in and show them how much fun it is to play music in a band, and learn from some world-class teachers.”
Music co-director Andy Letke says “it’s really great to see our communities combine” with the opening of the Red Bank location, adding that “it just creates a beautiful larger palette of opportunity for people in Red Bank and the nearby area to get involved and learn how to play in a really fun way.
“You don’t even have to know how to play. You can just jump into a band, and we’ll teach you how to do it. It’s a joyful experience.”
Marino says establishing the second location also helps with “opening up a larger area for off-site performances by our students. We’ve primarily performed around the Asbury Park area and have had our students perform all over … we call them off-site performances, but they could be for festivals or street fairs or 5K runs in the morning when they need a really cool, energetic band at the finish line.”
The Count Basie Center for the Arts obviously has its own performance spaces, and Lakehouse took advantage of that in June with three days of band performances, under the title “Big Gig,” at the Basie’s 800-capacity room, The Vogel, which opened last year.
“Our cannonball splash into Red Bank was having a really fun Big Gig performance at The Vogel,” said Letke. “It seems like people are really just starting to learn about this incredible venue that’s in their backyard. It’s my favorite venue in Monmouth County. It’s brand new, the sound system is incredible … there are no bad seats in the house, the backstage area is incredible. So for us to be able to start our partnership, publicly, in that way, was so much fun … and this great way for all way for Lakehouse to meet the Basie staff and integrate.”
Does Lakehouse plan to expand more, in the future?
“I think the goal is always to spread the love of music,” said Marino. “It’s all about curation and people that come in and want to play a certain instrument that want to get with a certain band. It’s important to make sure things are really stressed on the importance of the perfect band experience for the student, whether you’re 6 years old or 85 years old. So with all of that said, of course that (expansion) would be incredible. That’s something that can definitely be encouraged, to grow and expand to new locations. But right now, we’re really excited to be in Red Bank.”
Like other schools, Lakehouse gave its instruction online last year, because of the pandemic, but switched back to in-person classes, this year.
The students, said Marino, “were taught by the teachers how to go into a digital audio workstation, which is recording software online … they learned how to record themselves at home with nothing but a cellphone. Some people got more advanced, if they wanted, and brought in some gear and technology, but otherwise you use a free app. They recorded and they met with their band every week (online) and they did that as long as they needed to, until the entire band felt comfortable to come back.
“A lot of people still actually prefer virtual, because it’s convenient to do it from home. Although I will say, I think the majority of our students are back in person and all of our bands are back in person. And what’s been cool is that if someone needs to miss a week of band, or a private lesson in person, because they’re on vacation or this or that, we have the ability to Zoom them in.”
Letke says a “silver lining” of the pandemic was the creation of a Lakehouse YouTube series (see example below). “We made a weekly, one-hour YouTube show,” he said. “Our bands were home, so we had everyone send in videos of themselves, and every week we created a one-hour program.
“Ben and I would host every week, kind of like MTV style. And we had this fun show that you can actually go and watch. It’s on our YouTube page.
“It actually strengthened our community because we all knew we were sitting down on our couch at 8 p.m. every Sunday night and watching the show together, even though we couldn’t get together in person. People were on their phones, and chatting with each other.”
For more information, visit lakehousemusicacademy.com.
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