BRIDGEWATER — When you step into The Music Loft, you’re greeted with teal-kissed walls, wood floors stained a rust-colored hue, vintage twinkly lights that bring the nostalgia of warm summer nights and indie folk-rock playing softly in the lobby as students wait.
The Music Loft, located at 50 Central Square in Bridgewater, offers students an unconventional learning experience, unlike the traditional conservatory learning model.
Students can enjoy one free 30-minute lesson with the choices of piano, guitar or voice to test the waters before committing fully. Once enrolled students come to the studio once a week for their lesson with the temporary option to learn online.
“We’re not a conservatory type of vibe with traditional methods and following a by-the-book teaching strategy,” said Katie Cooke, owner of The Music Loft.
“We see how excited the students are about the lessons because we always try to teach relevant music and songs they want to learn. It’s so important now, especially with the pandemic, to get them motivated and feel good about themselves. We select materials that are modern and relevant but while teaching fundamentals and building on technique.”
The Music Loft opened in October 2018 to provide creative opportunities for people to learn, share and perform music, said Cooke, who began studying piano at the age of 7 and migrated to the violin when she was 9 years old.
Her passion for music that was cultivated at a young age led her to get a bachelor’s in violin performance from Westfield State University. But her love for music education did not stop there. Cooke went on to receive a music teaching certificate for levels K-12 from Bridgewater State University.
Despite moving to fully virtual lessons early in the pandemic, the Music Loft has continued to thrive and steadily gain students, Cooke said. And they were able to return to in-person lessons, with an online option, in June.
“The pandemic forced all of us to think outside of the box in terms of the way we’re teaching. When you’re teaching online, there are certain limitations. For me, it opened creative ideas that normally wouldn’t be there with face-to-face lessons,” Cooke said.
A day in the life of a student at The Music Loft contains a weekly 30-60-minute lesson. There are always several different genres of music playing in the lobby to get the students’ creative juices flowing while they wait for the lesson to begin.
The studio has five highly experienced instructors who are flexible and keep the lessons fun and are just as excited as the students about being there, Cooke said.
Instructors tailor every lesson to the individual learner. The students are engaged during the activity, as instructors encourage creative risk-taking through improvisatory exercises, which help students form their own musical ideas.
Students can pick between a 30, 45 or 60-minute lesson. The most common lesson is 30 minutes and costs $28 dollars. A 45-minute lesson is $38 dollars and a 60-minute lesson is $50 dollars.
Cooke said she tries to create a safe space for students to feel welcome and valued.
She recalls almost crying after a student said, “I feel like I can be myself here.”
Cooke is planning to implement ensemble and pre-school music programs in the near future as the pandemic eases. Currently, lessons are offered to students ages 5 and up, with one of the oldest students being 88 years old, Cooke said.
“I just want people to feel free to be themselves,” Cooke said.
“I’m incredibly grateful for our students, families and instructors that make The Music Loft so special. I love our community so much. If there is anything that connects people it’s music and even during a pandemic we’ve been able to keep the music going.”