”I'm thinking of it as a community center for musicians,” Ms. Marie says, “a place where people can give or take lessons, where someone can give a music workshop, learn how to build an instrument, or give a drum workshop.”
The school is located in the former law office of Attorney Les Scher, directly across from the College of the Redwoods building, which will, eventually, include a theater as well as classrooms.
”When I first had my eye on this place,” Ms. Marie says, “it was a big draw that College of the Redwoods is right across the street.”
Ms. Marie envisions the studio becoming part of a musical and theatrical environment in downtown Garberville. She imagines the studio augmenting things that might go on at the theater, a daylong music festival that uses both the studio and the theater, or a band warming up in the studio for their performance at the theater.
There are improvements underway to the space. An outdoor stage is being built behind the main building. It will be used for recitals where music students perform for their family and friends to demonstrate their newly acquired musical skills. She hopes to write some musical plays for her students that can be performed on the outdoor stage.
The Groove Grove rehearsal space is equipped with piano, drums, amps, PA and microphones. There's also a listening library and music computer lab with recording programs and music theory software for all ages.
Ms. Marie's major at Evergreen State College in Washington was composing.
”I did a lot of composing for instrumental instruments. We would build our own instruments and then compose for them. I've also composed for the Olympia Chamber Orchestra. That's where I had my official debut as an arranger and composer. That's an experience I'm really proud of.”
Ms. Marie used her skills to teach music at Agnes Johnson School for a few years. She has been conducting music classes at Skyfish School for several years and she teaches music for the Home School Group.
”I try to help my students find the wonder in sound and music,” she says, “and to encourage their own personal path of playing and doing music. I have basic music theory skills and I try to teach those basic skills in a really fun, creative way so that each student can find his or her way to express that. So, if there's one child that's really into science and math and likes to add and subtract, then we do a lot of rhythm notes, make rhythms and play them. If another child is into listening to music, then we might work on ear training and getting your ear to a place where you can start writing your own music.
She thinks there is a path to music for every student. She doesn't believe that anyone is born without the capacity for music.
”Music doesn't come very easily to me,” she says. “I know some musicians for whom it's more natural to make music. Personally, for me, I have to use repetition to gain a skill. I can't just do it the first time. It takes desire. After you have the desire to make music, you can do it. It doesn't matter what you think about perfect pitch or being a master or a natural. All the pros definitely practice and they are with their instrument all the time.”
She does believe that music is a good discipline for kids.
”Just doing anything regularly gives you a sense of progress,” she says, and when you can reach a goal of learning a particular song - even though it's very slow when you start -- if you put the time into it, when the song gets to the point where you think you're playing it well, you have a sense of achievement that feels a good pat on the back. Then you can take it to the next level, turn that piece into your own and play it the way you want it to be played.”
With students she might spend time on one instrument and work with a method book, warm up with scales, pick songs that they note-read, but then for free time they can spend the last 10 minutes of a lesson they might try another instrument altogether. Music lessons help students improve their cognitive ability in the same way that math, counting and doing arithmetic does. Music helps students do better in math and science.
Music programs in public schools have been severely impacted by budget cuts, but Ms. Marie says that the community is really supportive of music and that there is a demand for private music instruction.
”Even though programs have been cut,” she says, “the community comes through and we keep these programs going to some degree. I play in the Garberville Town Band with Mr. Schmollinger so I talk with him a lot about how things are going. I know it's real tough, but there's a big demand for private, one-on-one lessons. I do 30 lessons a week, an hour lesson every week, and now that I'm opening up the studio, there's a waiting list. People are calling all the time.”
Mr. Schmollinger also gives lessons at the high school after school, so one way or another, most students are still going to have the chance to learn about music. The new music studio will complement what will be offered at the local schools.
Besides Ms. Marie, students can sign up for lessons with Andy Barnett, or guitar lessons with Frank Hirata or Steve Carvalho. She hopes other music instructors will take advantage of the space as well.
The new music studio also means that the Garberville Town Band finally has a home. Up to now, it has had to rent rehearsal space at the Healy Senior Center or the Veteran's Hall, but now all its rehearsals will take place at the studio. Ms. Marie plays saxophone in the Town Band. She also plays bass guitar in a rock band just getting its sea legs. They call themselves International Trash and they will also have rehearsal space in the new studio.
“It's a real fun band to play in.” She says they're not on a “professional” level yet but it's fun and they did play the Peg House this past summer.
The opening celebration will start at 3 p.m. and last until 7:30 p.m. The bands playing will be local like the Town Band. Snacks and drinks will be served and the party is intended to be an appetizer and desert potluck.
For more information, contact Ms. Marie at 707-923-4090 or email her at email@example.com.
1. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Sprowel Creek Music Studio is scheduled to have its grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 8. It's located in the former law office of Les Scher, shown here, right, with music teacher Marie Schafer Stretch, known to all as Ms. Marie, and Andy Barnett.
2. REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY MARY ANDERSON
Ms. Marie introduces students Sasha and Grant Wallan to the Jimbe drums. Her teaching methods are individual and she strives to help each student find their own path to music. Students studying one instrument also get time to explore other instruments.