Try a new instrument for free with the Smith School of Music


The instructors of the Smith School of Music (131 West 86th Street) are excited to resume in-person classes this fall. On two upcoming open days – August 29 and September 12 – attendees will be able to tour the beautifully updated studio – as well as free trial lessons in guitar, bass, drums, piano / keyboard, saxophone, flute or ukulele! Students from 7 years old are welcome.

These open days will be by appointment only, so that each student can have all their questions answered by the instructors. And they can try different instruments if they don’t know where to start!

Students from all over town come to learn at the Smith School of Music. Although it is located in the same building as the Smith School, it operates independently and accepts students from all over the world.

All instructors have professional backgrounds and experience in teaching and performance. In addition to the knowledge they share to help each student develop their skills, they act as mentors who advise students on the next steps in their musical journey.

Meet the instructors

Damien kelly is an acclaimed Irish guitarist who teaches both classical and rock (in addition to piano).

Damien kelly

A collaboration in 2011 earned him a number one spot on the Irish iTunes Classic chart, his first major breakthrough in his career. Since then his recordings have been a mainstay of Irish radio; he has performed internationally, in the United States, China and Europe; and he won many competitions. A graduate of various institutions – including the Manhattan School of Music on the Upper West Side – Kelly’s creative and teaching skills have led many of her students to achieve The Amazing.

Flutist Lauren Scanio is a current student of Juilliard and, like Kelly, a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music.

Lauren Scanio

She has performed with the Juilliard Orchestra, the Manhattan School of Music Symphony, the Montclair Orchestra and the New York Youth Symphony. And the New York Philharmonic! Among others.

Scanio’s style ranges from baroque to contemporary, and she also performs frequently as a soloist.

Jordan dodson is a classical guitarist whom Performance Today describes as “one of the best young guitarists of his generation”.

Jordan dodson

An active soloist and chamber musician, Jordan has won numerous awards and has performed nationwide, with recent local appearances at venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Le) Poisson Rouge and Roulette.

Dodson has commissioned and created dozens of pieces internationally, including works by Elliot Cole, Jason Eckardt, Stephen Goss, Lewis Nielson, Robert Sirota, and Gabriella Smith.

He also graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, in addition to the Philadelphia and Cincinnati conservatories.

My son entered Smith School as a Grade 10 transfer student. He was lost. He didn’t know anyone, didn’t connect with people who had already had friendships the year before, and felt very isolated until Damien Kelly introduced him to the music. He suggested that my son try the bass guitar or play the drums. As my son’s fingers ached from the guitar, he took to the drums like the joy of reuniting with a long lost friend.

He looked forward to each lesson. My son is a very mathematical student and quickly took to learning sequences and songs and was beaming with joy at these accomplishments. Once his skills became more honed, he was reunited with other students who were learning other instruments and a band was formed. He performed in shop windows and school functions. Drums are the backbone of all songs and he loved to be trusted and respected for his skills. We owe Damien a huge debt of gratitude for helping to change his social acceptance.
Fast forward to today …. my son has been a member of the University of Vermont support group since his first year. He will be entering his final year in the fall. He has learned to be part of a unit and to bring joy to the crowd that takes root for their teams.
The pride he takes in playing during the crucial parts of the games is often shown through a smile from ear to ear. His experience in Vermont would be very different if he were never given the opportunity to play the drums. Damien, you really made a huge difference in my son’s life!

The Smith School of Music Open House Free Trials will take place August 29 and September 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To reserve a time, please visit

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