When it comes to teaching music at Marblehead School of Music, co-founder Steven Spungin uses The Beatles’ song “Let It Be” as his motto, giving students room to add their own creative twists. Along with his wife Jennifer Spungin, he opened Marblehead School of Music 15 years ago.
When it first opened, the school was half lessons, half retail, but they eventually decided to focus on lessons.
“It’s pretty cool how that worked out because it just filled so many voids for the teachers that we hired,” Steven said.
Given that “musicians don’t make so much money,” he explained, their teachers could supplement their income at the school and still have time to perform.
“It allowed them to continue to follow their passion performing and still work with students, and the students all found mentors with the teachers and, you know, it was just kind of a nice way to provide for both,” Steven said.
Currently, guitar and piano are the most common instruments taught at the school, Jennifer and Steven said.
“Our big goal with teaching here has really been to really let the students decide what kind of music inspires them and to kind of just go with that and not force a style of music,” Steven said.
Every teacher has a unique style of teaching, and Jennifer is the mastermind behind pairing teachers with students.
“My talent is hiring the teachers and figuring out what students match best with what teachers and then eventually figuring out what students would work together in groups,” Jennifer said.
For Steven, music is his thing. He started playing piano and guitar in high school and eventually went to Berklee College of Music.
His “first love” was classic rock, but his favorite genre is now flamenco, which he stumbled upon in a book at a music store.
“It’s like a gypsy-inspired style of music that originated in Spain,” Steven said. “I just started playing some of the stuff that was written down and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ and it just took me over. There’s so much expression here, and it’s technical, but it’s really soulful.”
He also got back into playing piano during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he used to be a lot more “technical” with his music, but that has since shifted.
After an impromptu performance of “Let It Be” by The Beatles — during which he showed just how lost he can get in his music — he said he often changes things up in songs by “taking out versus” and letting the “arrangements work for me.”
“But, ultimately, for me it’s a successful performance if it takes you somewhere, if you forget about stuff, and you’re not even aware that there’s music going on, it just kind of seeps in and when you get to the end you feel like you went on a journey and something happened … with the students that I teach, that’s what I’m trying to get them to be with performing,” Steven said.