Maplewood Music Studio, located at 47 W. Maplewood Mall in Germantown, is set up much like an apartment.
After opening the first door to your left, you walk down and narrow hallway, which eventually opens up into a living room. The room is filled with only the necessities: A baby grand piano sits in the corner amid shelves of sheet music.
The reason why this place resembles a home is simple: Owner and founder of the music school Rich Rudin used to live here.
Music school’s origins
Established in 1980, the school which serves musicians from Germantown and Chestnut Hill was built in the hopes of creating a hub for students to collaborate or at least be exposed to all the joys that music can bring.
Today, Maplewood Music Studio provides a place for students to bang on drums, strum guitars, sound trumpets, sing their hearts out and more.
“One of the most exciting things that I remember about school is the first time I walked into the music building,” said Rudin as he reminisced about his college days at Temple University.
While studying composition, and concentrating in piano, he remembers hearing a variety of music coming from all these different rooms. He was simply overwhelmed with the wall of sound.
“I heard people practicing every instrument imaginable, all different kinds of stuff, and that was really a big thrill,” Rudin said.
Those influences made him think there was one thing he disliked when teaching piano — it’s solitary. The teacher meets with the student, the student practices by themselves and then they meet with the teacher again. That’s it.
During his college years, Rudin realized he loved interacting with musicians all the time.
“So I got to thinking and I decided that maybe it would be a good idea to find a place where people could come to me and I could find some other teachers to teach as well,” Rudin said.
Maplewood Music Studios was born.
Originally, it was one tiny room in Rudin’s apartment, but it eventually took over the entire building, with each room devoted to a different instrument.
There’s a home for drummers all the way on the third floor, and a space for singers on the second, and a living room where a baby grand takes up the majority of the space.
Rudin has also recently expanded, opening up a Maplewood Music Studio in Chestnut Hill.
Sandra Day has been teaching voice at Maplewood since 1990. Although she teaches at numerous locations, she finds this Germantown space to be one of the best.
“For students, I think it’s nice because when they come into the school they can hear the other lessons going on as they walk down the hall,” Day said. “They might think, ‘Hey, I might want to try that.”
One of her students, Vivienne Samuels, has been taking lessons with Day for 12 years.
“I will tell you that it is a great stress reliever for me,” Samuels noted. “It is therapy, something that I totally need. It’s just for me.”
Connecting with students
While building the studio business for the past 32 years, Rudin has accepted the challenge of transforming stubborn students into well-rounded musicians.
Once, he had a student who refused to read sheet music and despite her dogged determination to not learn piano, her parents wanted Rudin to keep teaching. So, he came up with a plan.
“I gave her a present, which was a piece of music that I wrote for her. I wrote it down and I gave it to her and she was all excited,” he recalled. “She said, ‘Oh! Play it for me.’ I said, ‘No, that’s not part of the present. It’s just your piece of music. If you want to hear it, you have to learn it. It’s up to you.'”
By serving an estimated 185 students of all different ages and interests through the years, the Maplewood Music Studio of today is an exact replica of what Rudin envisioned in 1980.
Kelsey Doenges is a student at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.