How I created a lesson studio in my Brooklyn apartment.
Before I could teach one student, before I could even promote my new lesson studio, I needed to lock down a space. But the old rules don’t apply. I didn’t need a storefront space anymore than a newspaper classified—we’re well into the digital era. Besides, if I wanted to live the musician’s dream in Brooklyn, I didn’t have a choice — I needed to create a space, out of thin air.
I’m a drummer in New York City, a logistics nightmare, the city where grown ass musicians strap a jungle kit to a handtruck and wheel it down to the Village Vanguard; the city where space is tight and neighbors have broomsticks on hand to bang on their floor, your ceiling. Plus, I shared a small one bedroom apartment with my girlfriend, the one with the real job who guarded sleep and quiet like a mongrel dog. So I asked around and found soundproofed space in a Gowanus warehouse. It cost me $150 a month, came with a drum set and a ceiling that dripped AC water. One day, in the hottest part of the summer when the streets’ haze creates a mirage in the distance, I walked in to find the carpeted floor soaked. A dank industrial bunker reeking of weed and rotting pizza boxes wasn’t exactly the image my students, and their parents, had in mind for “Learn drums with Marco Frey!”
I’d always assumed my neighbors would throw a fit if I played at home. But I was so frustrated with the commute to my studio and the added expense that I was willing to test the waters. Besides, my girlfriend was tired of my bitching. This coincided with one of her 3 month freakouts where she’s restless and takes it out on our apartment. It’s as if shifting physical space were a release valve for life’s blues. So she pitched a radical idea. In a tight fit apartment, why use the bed only for sleeping and the bedroom only at night? We looked at each other and took a breath. She started shifting the living room, I took apart the Ikea frame, and rebuilt it in its new room. We were amazed, not only at the untapped potential we had just unlocked in the ex bedroom but also how living room seemed to absorb the bed without losing its lounge-able comforts. We had created space out of thin air.
The very next day, I bought a cheap rug, set up my drums and posted notes on neighboring doors welcoming them to text me anytime I was a bother. Wincing, I rode the cymbal. Crossing my fingers, I hit the snare. Nothing. It took me a week to allow myself this once forbidden fruit. Turns out that Carribeans don’t mind some noise.
My girlfriend helped me decorate the space, I kept it clean and new students found it welcoming. I added the extra touch, offering fruit and cucumber water. Now I have a space that feels like home, because it is.
Last week, I compared Thumbtack to Tinder (ouch!). “Follow” me next week — I’ll be tackling the sore subject of finding students, using the analogy of a cheetah spider.
Where do you teach? Respond below.