Welcome to the first edition of Arlington Storefront Stories! As we mentioned in our previous intro, we believe in giving back to the place where we live and work, and we’re continuing that trend by focusing on some of the businesses that make Arlington GREAT.
Without further ado, our first story features Torch Light Music School, located on Medford Street in Arlington. Torch Light is Directed by the renowned singer and musician, Maura Lynch. It is a music school designed to help young musicians and artists find their true voice, as well as cultivate self-confidence and self-discovery.
Read our Q&A with Maura to see what makes Torch Light SHINE!
How is Torch Light different from other music schools?
At Torch Light we are committed to training the whole artist; their vocal technique, presentation, confidence and their ability to communicate the story inside the song. While most music schools are comfortable with a piano and music stand for their studio, Torch Light offers each of our students a professional experience using state of the art audio gear.
Students are able to train on microphones, full PA system and performance lighting and will find that they are prepared for any audition or performance experience they may encounter.
What musical endeavor has had the greatest impact on your own life?
One of the most amazing experiences that I had with music was as the creator of Musicians for Peace in Northern Ireland. I was able to go to Derry, Northern Ireland and work first hand with the peace leaders there. When the conferences started to break down and animosity ran high between the Catholic and Protestant attendees, the leaders chose a song that I had written, One Day at a Time, to bring the group of broken factions together. In that moment, I realized the profound effect that music could have, not only on each individual person, but on the group and global collective.
My commitment in owning and creating a music school has been to infuse my students with the love of their own Voice and also to train them to use their Voice to better their own lives and the world that they live in… to be a Torch Light themselves!
Who was your most influential mentor?
I’ve been blessed with amazing mentors! I’m hard-pressed to choose just one. I realize while writing this list, I have loved many artists such as Pat Benatar, Annie Lennox, Barbra Streisand and Adele, but the most influential of my mentors have been teachers – Valerie Walters as a child, Phyllis Curtin & Allen Rogers for my classical training, and Richard Berberian my high school music director who inspired me to no end and is still a dear friend. Last but not least my dear friend Michael Vaughan who inspired and trained me for years to be the best Music Director that I hope to be!
What would you say to someone interested in music but is self-described as having “no musical ability” at all? Is ‘music’ something anyone can do?
When I’m meeting a student for the first time who may want to study privately but may have those feelings, I will offer them a simple test, to sing “mi, re, do” in tune. If a student is able to even softly sing those three notes in tune and has the desire to sing, I can train them! If a person tries to sing ‘mi, re, do’ and is unable to hold the pitch, the private lesson route maybe a bit advanced for them. I would recommend at that point, if their desire to sing is great, to join a group class or a community choir to build up their ability to hear pitch and come to test again. I do believe music is something that can reach all of us on a soul and heartfelt level…I truly believe music is a universal language and can have profound impact on a person in performance or in a listening setting.
If you had to choose one, which would be your pick for a movie about music:
School of Rock, b) Walk the Line, c) Pitch Perfect, d) Amadeus, e) Almost Famous, f) Other
Wow, again, choosing one is really tricky but I can choose one for each category! For Classical music – Amadeus! That movie has brilliant performances but historically it shows that ‘those musicians’ like Mozart were the Pop Stars of their day and real people! I find this inspires young artists to hear and be open minded to the magnificence of the music. The artists who created the music had a major impact on history itself, and they were not just dusty old men! For arranging and incredible harmonic singing for younger artists, Pitch Perfect was amazing as it highlights the desire for excellence and transcending daily life trials. The movie Almost Famous was wonderful for showing the ‘less than glamorous’ parts of the music world and how attention to excellence in the craft of music can help a young artist stay on track in a world full of illusion, temptation and bling.
Does self-esteem build confidence in music or does music build confidence and self-esteem?
Music is an amazing tool of self-expression. A very confident person will approach music as a vehicle for what they may already wish to share with the world and will discover how music will best express themselves. For a student struggling with self-esteem, music is a fantastic opportunity to gain that inner core confidence. Through a song that reaches them, they will not only learn more about singing, they will find their “Voice”.
Students who come to me are all welcome to bring their favorite songs to their lessons. For students craving increased self-esteem, I encourage them to dig deep into the message in those songs and how it pertains to their own lives and circumstances and how those words can help them in their own journey. If a student is going through a particular issue, such as bullying, we may even write a song from words in their journal that they may fully express themselves in a safe venue about their experience. Their own personal improvement in their singing absolutely leads them strongly to ‘who they are’ and the confidence that they feeling reaching that goal. The artists and songs that they admire give them permission to speak for themselves in a way that works for them.
When a student grows from singing in a group to becoming a soloist, I have found that the confidence they earned to be able to accomplish that goal has often stayed with them into adulthood as some, much to my great delight, have shared with me years later!
What impact have shows like American Idol, The Voice and Glee have had on the perception of music and musical performance?
Simply put, these shows made singing become one of the coolest things you could do! Instead of singing in the Glee Club being what ‘those kids do’ it’s now a cutting edge symbol of confidence and unique expression. Most students who have the leads or sing solo are often seen as those who will also be very successful in high school, college acceptances and finding a satisfying path for their life.
What should new students expect when they sign up with Torch Light?
Brand new students will immediately be able to sing and train on professional microphones and through a PA system the moment they arrive. They will have the freedom to co-create their experience by being welcome to bring in their favorites songs and artists that are influencing them at the time. If I find that their technical advancement calls for a specific training, I have a vast library of songs to choose to teach them. I have discovered that the level of enthusiastic focus is more easily attained when the student feels that their input is most welcome!
A brand new student should know that they come to Torch Light their love of music and desire to find their most excellent Voice has just begun!
What is the one thing you would want every student to walk away with?
A Love of their Own Voice – not just as a singer, but as a person and as a leader in their own life; that their pursuit of their love of music will be a gift that will be with them for the rest of their life.
If you had the chance to perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would like to produce an event through Torch Productions called Power Chords for Peace and I would like the concert to be held at the Muslim center in New York near Ground Zero. After my experience working with the peace leaders in Northern Ireland, I realized that a group of terrorists are NOT regular folks and that all of us suffer when labels are put upon people that promote prejudice and hatred.
The world cannot be a more peaceful place if we don’t see the heart of the matter and stand for it. I would like to align the business world, spiritual world and the artistic world in a global musical endeavor that would gather more of us together who believe in the magnificent possibility of a world at peace.
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