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Meet Christy Zarlengo of Children’s Music Center of Jamaica Plain

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christy Zarlengo.

Christy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I had finished studying at Berklee back in the mid 90’s. After that, I was active as a singer-songwriter and also played in General Business bands (bands that do weddings, corporate functions, etc…) around Boston. I also taught piano around this time.

In the late 90’s, I answered an ad for a Music Together® center which was looking to train and hire additional teachers. Music Together® is one of the original “mommy and me” music programs, which was created back in the late 1980’s and first sprung up in the New Jersey and New York areas.

There are now centers all over the world and it is a very well-known and much-loved music program for kids birth-age 4. I trained for the program and taught at a center out in Hingham, as well as for their newly opened Jamaica Plain location for about a year. I immediately loved this work. I loved working with very young children, and leading their parents in singing, moving, and playing instruments to help their kids develop musically.

In 2001, I ended up purchasing the then very small Jamaica Plain Music Together® center from my employer, and the rest is history. We grew quickly from 2 to 10 classes per week, in the course of less than 2 years. In 2006, one of the moms in the program let me know that someone was renovating an old beer brewery in JP, turning it into a business complex. It is the Brewery where Samuel Adams is. I was able to get a space in the Brewery, and we opened as the Children’s Music Center of J.P. back in 2006.

The idea was to be able to provide additional music programs for the kids as they aged out of the Music Together® classes. We offer piano lessons (both individual lessons and group programs), Ukulele classes, Musical Theatre, and a handful of other group programs which rotate in and out of the schedule. Recently, we started offering a Dalcroze program (through the Dalcroze School of Boston, who runs some of their classes in our space). We also rent our space out to groups and individuals for various uses and also host birthday parties in our space.

So, it is a lively spot, with a lot going on!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Mostly it has been a pretty smooth road for us. We were extremely lucky to be in J.P. during the last 17 years, as more and more young families have moved into the neighborhood. However, in the past 2-3 years, the market for childhood programs has really exploded in our neighborhood (and in many places), meaning we have to reach out a bit more to let folks know we’re here!

Please tell us about Children’s Music Center of Jamaica Plain.
We are a boutique music school in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. We specialize in providing music programs for kids mostly 6 and under. We are largely known for our Music Together® classes. Music Together® is an internationally recognized early childhood music program, which has been around since 1987 (their website can be found at musictogether.com).

I am most proud of providing a space where children and families can explore music and meet other families. We guide children from their very first musical discoveries to learning the piano should they choose to do so, and we hope to foster community along the way.

I think what sets us apart from other music schools is that, as opposed to being a conservatory-like setting, our programs are designed to allow children to explore music through a handful of different programs which they can try. Many of our classes are offered in 8-9 week terms, so kids can bounce around to different programs and just try things out.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I think if I could start over, I would have taken the risk to rent a larger location, a location in which we could have a few rooms for private lessons which could go on at the same time as group programs. As it stands now, we are one 700 square foot room, so there is one thing going on at a time (this is why we refer to ourselves as a “boutique” school).

We have mitigated this somewhat by also offering in-home piano lessons, which allows us to serve more families and also offer the convenient option of having their teacher come to them. However, there is also something cozy about running our whole operation out of one room, like a one-room schoolhouse!

Pricing:

  • Music Together® classes: $205 for 9 weeks (includes take-home materials)
  • Piano lessons: $37/30 min.
  • Birthday parties starting at $195
  • 8-week group programs starting at $150

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Tess Scheflan

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