On February 1, Christine Occhino, a 22-year-old Stamford native and Westhill graduate (class of 2008), opened The Pop Music Academy, a music and performing arts school focused on popular music. The Pop Music Academy offers classes in singing, dancing, guitar, piano, and music business for people eight years of age or older.
Not only is it a music school specifically for pop music, but it is also the only music school of its kind in the Stamford area.
“There are tons of classical and theater arts conservatories and standard dance schools around, but there is no place that offers all of these services geared toward current contemporary music under one roof,” Occhino said. “It also has the student in mind above all else. It’s not about big business, it’s about music.”
Music has been a passion of Occhino’s for a very long time, leading to the opening of The Pop Music Academy. At Westhill, she was involved in many performing arts groups, ranging from the choir to Northstar Playmakers. She later went on to study music and graduate from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she majored in Music Business and Management. There, she created business plans that would eventually lead to The Pop Music Academy.
“I have always wanted to have my own business and fuse it together with my passion for music. All of those experiences led [to me] going to a music college and eventually ending up where I am today,” she said.
Through The Pop Music Academy, which currently has about 20 students, Occhino hopes to keep the arts alive in Stamford by teaching students about the fun of music. “Most of those teachers don’t know what’s ’cool’ anymore. But my students love the fact that they can come in with the new Katy Perry song to play me, only to find out that it’s already in my iTunes. I’m able to introduce them to new music but also teach them where the music they love came from,” Occhino said.
Photo courtesy of Barbara Occhino