Photos by Dylan Francis
Mattock School of Music offers the highest standard of music education in a beautifully restored building and outdoor setting.
Parents who despair of their kids hating and quitting piano lessons, take note—Dave Mattock, professional musician, music teacher, and owner and founder of the Mattock School of Music, was one of those kids. It wasn’t until he found himself in the jazz program at Temple University that he connected with his passion for music and learned to play. The child who struggled with scales ended up forming his own group, the Tap Room Trio, and teaching music at the University of Pennsylvania for ten years.
Dave remembers those 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 relates, in a practical way, the techniques he learned to overcome them himself.
In the newly renovated Mattock School of Music (MSOM), Dave and his teaching staff have the perfect facility for fostering the growth of the next generations of musicians. With the doors officially open and pandemic restrictions finally lifted, Dave and his wife Laura are at the end of one long journey and excited to see their dream coming to life.
In music, as in life, timing is everything.
A long overture to opening
MSOM has been a family project since the days when Dave started teaching out of their home. In 2017, the rooms in their house 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 building on Kennett Pike, like any good jazz musician Dave improvised—and he overcame a series of setbacks to create a beautiful and harmonious place that reverberates with light and sings with possibility.
Learning the score of zoning codes and permitting regulations involved a series of small disasters, Dave says. He ended up gutting the entire building. “But in the process we got to do things we only dreamed we could do,” he says. “We slowed down, added things, took things to a higher level.”
As a result, there’s a lot more space than they originally envisioned, including a flexible space that can be used for small recitals, meetings, or other kinds of gatherings; an instrument repair shop; a beautiful outdoor deck; and four teaching rooms that are sound-proof and wired for sound up 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 a giant recording studio,” Dave says with a big smile.
The attic recording studio features a green screen, a vocal booth, and a giant sound desk and is another space that can be used for small events like adult listening times. “Kids want to produce and make music,” Dave says, “and this gives us the ability to teach production and audio.” As with every aspect of music education at MSOM, the cutting-edge technology is part of a larger philosophy and understanding. “Technology has always been an integral part of the development of music,” Dave says, “and its use is one of the greatest assets that students have today.”
Instrument repair and rental services, which Dave aims to have up and running for this fall, comprise another aspect of the business he’s designed to make it easy 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’re the experts, and we want to be able to provide those services so that people who have so many other things on their plate don’t have to worry about it.”
Dave has been very intentional about retaining the traditional Chester County aesthetic of the historic building while moving into the future. The renovations have fused two worlds, he says. “It’s like using a 4K camera to capture an 1800s look.”
MSOM finds its rhythm
Offering online lessons throughout the pandemic shutdowns enabled MSOM to maintain some momentum, retain students, and double the teaching staff. They were able to open the school’s doors last July and figure out safety measures to hit the ground running with ninety percent of students, including many new students, back in-person last September.
Dave is delighted to be teaching now without masks—and with the critical mass of students necessary to expand programming to include a rock band, a jazz band, acting classes, and more. MSOM summer camps this year will offer instruction in some of these areas, and registration is now open for camps for various age groups with a focus on jazz, musical theatre, recording, and songwriting.
Even recitals at MSOM are structured to maximize enjoyment for both students and parents. Hosting multiple mini recitals with small groups of four or five students at a time means that the recitals are shorter and still enables students to experience the many benefits of performing without much time to get nervous.
In keeping with the theme of making the best of unexpected circumstances and turning challenges into beautiful music, Dave is turning a load of dirt dumped at the end of the parking lot into a clover-covered amphitheater for the summer. The tiered mound will offer a fun space for lessons and a mini-stage for outdoor recitals under a willow tree.
Although Dave is a New Hampshire native, he won’t be following the advice of his compatriot Robert Frost to build good fences—MSOM has good neighbors and no need of fences. MSOM collaborates with nearby Bethany Presbyterian Church, maintains great relationships with their residential neighbors, and supports the other small businesses that are walking distance from 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 the local offerings and opportunities for musicians and audiences alike. Dave was one of the founding forces behind the inaugural and hugely successful Kennett Jazzfest last weekend at Kennett Brewing Company.
This event was just the beginning, Dave says, and he’s excited to continue to showcase the wealth of talent in our area, drawing from the legacy of the historic and renowned Philadelphia and Wilmington jazz scenes and cultural institutions like University of the Arts, Temple University’s Boyer School of Music and Dance, and West Chester University’s Wells School of Music.
The Mattocks envision their beautiful space as a vibrant community hub for arts and culture—more than just a place to teach. MSOM recently collaborated with Cab Calloway School of the Arts to hold a fundraiser, and their students will be able to use the recording studio at MSOM. Dave, who is the chair of the Board for the Kennett Flash, hosts their monthly meetings at MSOM.
The MSOM stage is set for new generations to learn and grow, to make beautiful music, and to have fun doing it. “We’re looking forward to providing more music to the community,” Dave says.
Find more information about Mattock School of Music lessons and summer camps on their website: https://mattockschoolofmusic.com/home
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