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Stoughton Music Center's Group Ensemble Program Helping Students Hit All the Right Notes

The Group Ensemble Program is run by Mike Rubin.

The Stoughton Music School located in the Stoughton Music Center at 968 Washington Street will give you the opportunity to experience what it's like to be a performing artist.  

Music lessons, voice lessons and performance techniques are available to all ages and skill levels. The business, owned by Robert Tarchara, has been open since 1988. 

One of the more popular classes at the Stoughton Music School is the Group Ensemble program. 

Patch sat down with Canton resident Mike Rubin, who created the Group Ensemble Program, to find out more about the classes and his ensemble group.

Patch: What is your background in music?   

Rubin: I graduated Northeastern University in 1996 where I studied music. I've played guitar for over 30 years and have also served as a bassist for a multitude of bands including The Hirsh Project, Allagash 4 and the Plymouth Fury Band. Some of the venues I've played are The Channel, The Rathskellar, Bill's Bar, Harper's Ferry, TT the Bears and The Middle East.

Patch: How long has the Stoughton Rock Ensemble Program been in existence at the Stoughton Music Center?

Rubin: The ensemble group program at Stoughton Music has been in existence since April of 2010. I began teaching guitar/bass at Stoughton Music in September of 2009 following a period of time as an instructor at the School of Rock in Watertown. Music education is in the midst of an economical and technological revolution so I decided, along with the strong help and support of Stoughton Music Owner Bob Tarchara, to initiate the program. 

Since its inception three years ago, the program has worked/assisted with a total of six bands spanning 20 students and currently has two bands on its roster, with a formation of a third one kicking off potentially in the first week of May.
  
Patch: What is the purpose of an ensemble program?

Rubin: The purpose is to not only build a band that has the potential of making great music, but to also establish teamwork, camaraderie and a "community" with the students and parents that are involved. Playing in a band is truly a great and magical experience, and there are so many things one can learn from playing in an ensemble group rather than learning songs off a piece of paper from a music stand. It's all about effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills, team building and the proper execution of the material upon a live audience or in a recording.

Patch: What makes a successful band that has the "it" factor?

Rubin: In order for a band to be successful, it has to be focused, organized and have that special non-verbal chemistry. Bands need to set realistic goals for themselves and take things one step at a time. Think small and strive for bigger goals.

Patch: What are you looking for when putting together a band?

Rubin: I look for skill level and chemistry. Talent level can be minimal if the desire and passion are there. I think artists like Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and bands such as the Pixies and Ramones have set a precedent that you don't have to be a musician to play great music. Music can be very simple to play if shown and taught the proper way.

Patch: Who is your most successful band from the Ensemble Group?

Rubin: The Outside City Limits Band was the first band I ever put together and two of the original members are still currently in the band.  The members are Kassandra Melo, Stoughton High School, on vocals; Bret Guaraldi, Bristol Plymouth, and Dan Goldberg, Stoughton High School, on guitar; and David Elmowitz, Stoughton High School, on drums.

They have performed at the Lansdowne Pub in Boston. On Sunday, May 5 they will be at the MIT Pierce Boathouse along the Walk for Hunger Route and on May 17 at the Granite Rail in Quincy.

Another current band on the active roster is Electric Haven. They are Mackenzie Lachkey, Walpole High School, on vocals; Jamie Denson, Sharon on bass; John McDonough, Canton on guitar; Elana Matulis, Canton Blue Hill Montessori School on guitar; and John Cresswell, Stoughton High School and Dan Goldberg, Stoughton High school.

Electric Haven performed at the Weymouth Battle of the Bands at the Marcia Chapman Middle School in Weymouth on April 26 and also will be performing on the Walk for Hunger Route.
 
Patch: Why should people consider joining an ensemble program?

Rubin: First of all, there are so many transferable skills a student can apply to the "real world" when playing in a band. Much like sports, there is teamwork involved, a plan, a challenge and a performance. While in sports there are winners and losers, there is no agony of defeat when your band is performing music on stage. Not only will students cherish the memories of performing and recording in front of a live audience, but it will also serve them as preparation tools for life and career aspirations.

Of course, there are many little aspects that bands oversee and fail to see and as an ensemble teacher/coach, it's my job to point out what needs work, fine tuning and execution, so in addition to a coaching session, students are in a way, given lessons in their individual instrument.

For example you're working on an important group project for school, or whether it's working on a proposal for a  budget or a new client in the business platform, the path is similar in making music in a band, a thing that many people fail to see. Not only will joining the program will increase the students' confidence in his or her instrument, but he or she also has the opportunity to make new friends and have the opportunity to play new and exciting venues.  
 
Patch: Where have the ensemble groups played and where/when can people see them perform?
 
Rubin: Once a month, the ensemble group program performs at the Granite Rail at 16 Cottage Ave in Quincy. where students perform for about an hour. The admission always free. In the past, the program has opened up for national acts at the All Asia and Middle East Club in Cambridge, Players in Rockland as well as the Lansdowne Pub on Lansdowne Street right behind Fenway Park. In addition, the program has performed live on the air at Tufts College Radio's Lounge Show on Thursdays at WMFO 91.5.
   
On Sunday, May 5, they'll be performing at the Walk for Hunger Route at the MIT Pierce Boathouse on from 1 - 3 p.m. Then on Friday, May 17, they will be at the Granite Rail in Quincy at 7 p.m.
 
Patch: What are the qualifications for one to join an ensemble program?

Rubin: A student has to have the passion to perform, to work with others and to make great music. As far as skill level is concerned, that's debatable. After all, there are some musicians and bands, who can't even read music or have no idea of what notes they're playing that are making a living in the music business.
 
In addition, I also am starting to provide Individual Artist Development services, where I work with solo artists and coach them on tempo control, song arrangements as well as vocal and guitar form and execution.
 
Patch: How much is it to join the program and how long is each session?
 
Rubin: Each session is one hour and the cost is $20 per person. That's less than the cost of a lesson by more than 50%, and you don't even have to be advanced in your instrument to be a part of a program. For individual artist development services, the prices vary on need and length of time.

***

Ensemble participants are usually grouped mostly by age and ability, and the program is open to all ages and skill levels. For more information contact: (617)312-6123 or email supabassmon@gmail.com

Those interested can also visit Stoughton Music Center at 968 Washington Street, Stoughton, MA, call 781-344-8772 or check out the website at www.stoughtonmusic.com.

Click here for video of the Ensemble Program students performing

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