Bungalow Music School is enjoying success after opening almost two years ago during a pandemic. In fact, the school just expanded to Nashville and hopes to have instructors in Austin by the end of the year.
The local and online music school is celebrating its students’ successes with its second summer showcase on June 4 at the Greenpoint Library. Plus, Bungalow is offering the school’s first summer camp this year at Pirate Studios (110 Scott Ave.) in Bushwick.
Caroline Lazar, the founder of Bungalow Music School, and a musician herself, spoke with Greenpointers about the school’s success with virtual lessons, the showcase, and summer camp.
Greenpointers: Bungalow Music School is thriving, even in a pandemic. You clearly know what you’re doing. Have you always wanted to open a music school?
Caroline Lazar: Well, yes I think I have. I’ve been taking music lessons since I was about four or five-years old. My grandmother was a piano teacher. After piano, I got into singing and saxophone and acting. Music became my world.
Then, I went to music school and received a degree in music business. I came to New York to pursue my own artistry, but I have always loved kids. I got teaching jobs at schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but felt that the heads of schools were disconnected from the music teachers. They didn’t seem to understand what teachers needed. Most teachers are also musicians. Sometimes, musicians get a gig and they have to go to the gig and cannot teach on specific days.
Greenpointers: What do you think is the most special thing about Bungalow Music School?
Lazar: The teachers! The basis of Bungalow’s mission is to have awesome teachers. I wanted the school to have teachers who were musicians, and I wanted to be flexible for them. When the pandemic started, everyone lost jobs. But, I figured out a hack to help: virtual lessons! Bungalow Music School was completely virtual for first six months.
Greenpointers: Bungalow offers virtual lessons, plus lessons in students’ homes. Do you plan to have a studio in the future or is this method working too well?
Lazar: I find that most parents prefer having people come to their homes. It makes more sense than dragging your kid to a 30 minute lesson somewhere else. In Nashville, having a physical school will be consideration.
Greenpointers: Do virtual music lessons really work just as well as in-person lessons?
Lazar: I think they do! I’m constantly impressed with the students and their development. Kids adapt so well. I think there was more of a learning curve for the teachers. One student, who lives in Brooklyn, has only ever taken classes online and has advanced so much. But it does depend on the student. Some kids can’t sit there.
Greenpointers: What made you choose the name Bungalow?
Lazar: Deciding on the name was stressful. I wanted the name to conjure an image of community. I wanted it to feel inclusive. I actually went on website and searched for “most beautiful words” and “bungalow” came up. The word “bungalow” relates to a place and a home. I thought it worked well because I want people to feel at home at Bungalow, and instructors are going into other peoples’ homes. It’s all about home.
Greenpointers: This is the first year that Bungalow is offering summer camp. Tell us more about it.
Lazar: Summer camp is a loose term. It’s an elongated session with your peers. A lot of the student have not collaborated with other students. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed working and playing alone, so I want the kids to experience working with others.
The camp will run July 5th through July 22nd. It will take place at Pirate Studios (110 Scott Ave.) in Bushwick, which is where I do my rehearsals.
The first week is songwriting intensive. The second and third weeks will feature a DIY rock band camp for the older kids. If you have taken keyboard lessons, you can be in the band on the keyboard, while a guitar student will be on guitar. For younger kids, the second two weeks will be about exploring the instruments.
Greenpointers: What is the summer showcase all about?
Lazar: It’s a recital. I use the word “showcase” instead of “recital” so kids don’t get freaked out. Kids don’t like that word. “Recital” sounds boring and stiff. A lot of kids get nervous performing in front of a crowd. Especially after two years of being behind a screen! I thought performing outside might be easier. I’m very honest with my students. I asked them if they’d rather have the showcase in a concert hall on a stage or in a park. They all said park!
Last year, we had our first showcase in McGolrick Park. It was the first time I saw kids in person. It was a celebration of the kids music. I want to continue that purpose this year too. This year, we are doing the showcase in the garden of the Greenpoint Library. I hope it will feel like a party.