KENNETT SQUARE—Parents who despair that their children hate and drop out of piano lessons, take note—Dave Mattock, professional musician, music teacher, and owner and founder of the Mattock School of Music, was one such child. It wasn’t until he found himself in Temple University’s jazz program that he connected to his passion for music and learned to play. The child struggling with scales ended up forming his own band, the Tap Room Trio, and taught music at the University of Pennsylvania for ten years.
He remembers these challenges all too well, and his experiences inform his holistic and balanced approach to teaching his students. He sympathizes with the difficulties of learning an instrument and recounts, in a practical way, the techniques he learned to overcome them himself.
At the newly refurbished Mattock School of Music (MSOM), Dave and his teaching staff have the perfect facilities to nurture the growth of next generations of musicians. With the doors officially open and the pandemic restrictions finally lifted, Dave and his wife Laura are at the end of a long journey and thrilled to see their dream come to life.
In music, as in life, timing is everything.
A long opening at the opening
MSOM has been a family project since the days Dave started teaching away from home. By 2017, the rooms in their home were overflowing and the business was growing, and so was their family. The Mattocks knew it was time to expand.
When code restrictions prevented him from completing his original plans for the historic Kennett Pike building, like any good jazz musician, Dave improvised – and he overcame a series of failures to create a beautiful, harmonious place that resonates with light and sings with possibility.
Learning the score of zoning codes and permitting regulations led to a series of small disasters, Dave says. He ended up emptying the whole building. “But in the process, we had to do things that we only dreamed we could do,” he says. “We slowed down, added things, took things to the next level.”
As a result, there’s a lot more space than they originally anticipated, including flexible space that can be used for small recitals, meetings, or other types of gatherings; an instrument repair shop; a beautiful outdoor terrace; and four soundproof, sound-wired teaching rooms to the state-of-the-art recording studio in the attic. While the walls were open, they were able to put all the lines in place. “The whole building is one giant recording studio,” Dave says with a big smile.
The attic recording studio features a green screen, vocal booth and giant soundboard. This is another space that can be used for small events such as adult viewing times. “Children want pro
creating and making music,” says Dave, “and it gives us the opportunity to teach production and audio. As with all aspects of music education at MSOM, cutting-edge technology is part of a larger philosophy and understanding. “Technology has always been integral to the development of music,” says Dave, “and its use is one of the greatest assets students have today.”
Instrument repair and rental services, which Dave aims to set up this fall, is another aspect of the business he’s built to make things easier for parents and students. He smiles as he shares how difficult it was for him to find a violin for his son. “And I’m a music school teacher!” he says. “We are the experts and we want to be able to provide these services so that people who have so much else on their plate don’t have to worry about it.”
Dave was very intentional to retain the traditional Chester County aesthetic of the historic building while moving into the future. The renovations merged two worlds, he says. “It’s like using a 4K camera to capture an 1800s look.”
MSOM finds its rhythm
Offering online classes throughout the pandemic shutdowns has allowed MSOM to maintain momentum, retain students, and double the teaching staff. They were able to open the school doors last July and find safety measures to get started with ninety percent of students, including many new students, back in person last September.
Dave is thrilled to now be teaching without a mask – and with the critical mass of students needed to expand the lineup to include a rock band, a jazz band, acting classes, and more. This year, MSOM Summer Camps will offer classes in some of these areas, and registration is now open for camps for various age groups focusing on jazz, musical theatre, recording and songwriting. of songs.
Even recitals at MSOM are structured to maximize student and parent enjoyment. Hosting multiple mini-recitals with small groups of four or five students at a time means recitals are shorter and still allow students to experience the many benefits of performing without too much time to get nervous.
In keeping with the theme of making the most of unexpected circumstances and turning challenges into beautiful music, Dave transforms a dumped load of dirt at the end of the parking lot into a clover-covered amphitheater for the summer. The tiered mound will provide a fun space for lessons and a mini-stage for outdoor recitals under a willow tree.
Although Dave is from New Hampshire, he won’t take his countryman Robert Frost’s advice to build good fences – MSOM has good neighbors and doesn’t need fences. MSOM works with nearby Bethany Presbyterian Church, has great relationships with their residential neighbors, and supports other small businesses that are within walking distance of the school.
MSOM in the community
In his own work as a musician, Dave is a pianist and organist specializing in jazz, rock, funk and soul and is eager to expand local offerings and opportunities for musicians and audiences. Dave was one of the founding forces behind the inaugural and hugely successful Kennett Jazzfest last weekend at the Kennett Brewing Company.
This event was just the beginning, says Dave, and he’s excited to continue showcasing the wealth of talent in our region, drawing on the legacy of Philadelphia and Wilmington’s historic and renowned jazz scenes. and cultural institutions such as the University of the Arts, Temple University’s Boyer School of Music and Dance and Wells School of Music at West Chester University.
The Mattocks envision their beautiful space as a vibrant community center for arts and culture, more than just a place for education. MSOM recently partnered with Cab Calloway School of the Arts to host a fundraiser, and their students will be able to use MSOM’s recording studio. Dave, who is the chairman of the Kennett Flash board, hosts their monthly meetings at MSOM.
The MSOM stage is designed for new generations to learn and grow, make great music and have fun doing it. “We look forward to providing more music to the community,” says Dave.