Raising Professional Musicians Since 1968: Celebrating 15 years of MANHATTAN MUSIC

According to founder Gino Mirabile, “music is a gift because it teaches life”. MANHATTAN MUSIC is an imitable music school and store in Melbourne’s North that endorses intimate engagement with music for all. Whether aiming to pursue a career in industry, or for self-development, Gino and his team ensure a passionate surrounding.

Gino Mirabile opened his music business in February of 2004 after a childhood of musical training and experience. His father Domenic sang in a big band, working the Socialite scene, so dad’s work became his classroom. There he naturally learned how to become a professional musician. Mirabile Jr. was enrolled in piano and singing lessons from the age of eight, whilst simultaneously on work experience for much of his youth. “He [his father] let me sing a couple of songs and paid me a dollar for each one. I then would spend that on new record singles, so my music never stopped.” Everything changed when Gino moved from Johnny Young Talent School to Rae’s Academy at the age of 13. The principal of Rae’s offered him his first independent step into a band. A group of mature musicians were seeking a singer, and Gino was put forward for the role. “I remember my audition so vividly, it was at the drummer’s house in Noble Park. I sang a bunch of songs and they liked me right away.” It was Domenic’s advice in this situation that impacted young Gino: “ ‘Just like they’re auditioning you, you audition them, you decide if they’re good enough for you.’ ” “So at the end of the audition I told them I’d think about it.” This became Gino’s first band, ‘Zodiac’, to which he graduated to manager. After 6 years together, the band evolved to ‘MANHATTAN’. To this day the band is ongoing, comprising of professional session musicians who are worldwide regarded musicians.  This is the inspiration in the school’s name; Gino created the institute of MANHATTAN “to create a professional environment for people that wanted quality and respected tuition”. The names alone – ‘Gino Mirabile’ and ‘MANHATTAN’ intrinsically link the notion of professional musicianship in Industry so “[he] wanted to carry that into the business”.

79-year-old Domenic Mirabile glows in pride on the subject of music and the school: “I’m very proud of my son who took the step as I took into music. And he started the school to give opportunity to children to perform in future”. Domenic entered the music scene in Melbourne soon after moving to Australia from Italy in the 1950’s, and has been performing since the 60’s. When I finish a gig I can’t wait for the next one, because music as I say, is my life. I can’t stay without it, it is everything to me!” Dominic’s relentless work ethic and passion for performance has guided him through his career: “I always try to do more than my best; and at times, I get too emotional. I become involved into the story. I believe that the music, the song, has got a story and you have to be able to tell this particular story. This raw human need for musical expression is the reason MANHATTAN MUSIC exists today.

From his lifetime of experience, Gino believes band interaction solidifies true musicianship. Students of MANHATTAN MUSIC are encouraged to interact through his self-coined ‘Band Workshop’ program. “It is only through performance that they learn how to listen to other players and experiment. They get a chance to express themselves and a better understanding of their contribution to the music they are performing, which I think ultimately attributes to their understanding and expression of self.” Band Workshop further instills values of organisation, attentiveness and musical compromise. The skill of rehearsing a repertoire is then adaptable for future live performance in an ensemble or band situation. Plentiful musical styles are explored through the program and where possible, students are grouped with students of similar ability and age in order to maximise their performance opportunities. The Band Workshop nights are a highly anticipated events in the calendar, as well as the annual vocal concerts. This year is said to raise the bar with celebration for the MANHATTAN MUSIC’s 15th birthday!

Lisa Sette has been a singing teacher for 20 years, commencing her role at MANHATTAN MUSIC the day it opened. She considers her job “a personal enjoyment that you can share”. Music is important to her because it gives individuals the opportunity to explore different sides of themselves, and she enjoys exploring the unique tones of different voices. “Just as everyone looks different, their sound is different. The human voice is an instrument and a vital organ of the body, it’s irreplaceable and invaluable.” Lisa believes the best part of her jobs is “when they [students] actually listen to you, and you see them improve. It’s a lot about practise, then passion. But it’s worth it. It becomes who you are”. Fellow Vocal and Piano teacher Hana Zreikat thinks that being musical gives you a better understanding of yourself and others. “I know it helps others because it helps me.” To Hana, singing is about collaborating and performing, where piano is her personal outlet. “I don’t care about people watching me play, piano is for me. I’ve been working on a Chopin piece for about 3 years now and I’ve nearly finished it – it’s very exciting.”

Manhattan Music has received great acclamation from students and parents over its 15 years. Ken Bell commenced his official music journey in 2008, at age 52. His daughter inspired him to take lessons when she requested he sing a song at her wedding. “Singing lessons have had a huge impact; they’ve created a great deal of confidence in my ability to sing and ownership of the stage whilst doing so, it has been quite profound.” He has come a long way since his humble beginnings and now writes his own songs of different genres. “It just happened after being there a year or so, it was a gift I can’t explain, it is astonishing. I’m just so unbelievably grateful that happened.” His favourite memories of MANHATTAN are all the Band Workshops and Vocal Concerts, “watching all the students, young and old shine on stage and seeing them grow, and get stronger over the years.” He considers the school his second home. “Being part of music with like-minded people, seeing the glow of happiness on people’s faces knowing that they are increasing their lifespan by being involved with music, no matter if you play or sing, the school instills confidence and joy. Knowing I can actually sing and people give back to me so many compliments – that’s something else.

17-year-old Ryan Schmidt started guitar and singing lessons in 2016, though “played and sang a bit before”. Ryan’s mother Elizabeth “couldn’t be more impressed with the teaching and management of the business. He [Ryan] has been challenged to expand his vocal ability and that definitely comes from the experience of the teachers and their encouragement to develop the craft. This is quite a unique experience also as it is very clear Gino’s family are all passionate about music and it is such a positive.” Ryan: “It gives me a chance to expose a side of me that I usually don’t. Music is what I want to be.

Commemorating fifteen years of MANHATTAN MUSIC is to Gino “a true celebration”. His establishment is more than a school or store, but a family environment, filled with spirit and camaraderie. He is also very proud to have his daughters be a part of the school in receiving tuition, and also providing it. Who wouldn’t want to join the family at MANHATTAN MUSIC…