Visit Our Brand New Expanded Location!

Just down the street from our former location, Academy of Music and Dance NJ is now in the Renaissance Shopping Center, still in Spotswood, NJ near Snap Fitness and Bright Horizons. Academy of Music and Dance families now enjoy the luxury and convenience of expanded studios, classrooms and waiting areas, more parking and easy access in and out of the center.

In addition, the Academy of Music and Dance NJ’s dance room is now equipped with wall to wall glassless mirrors and a professional Marley dance floor; ideal for all popular styles of dance. Academy of Music and Dance NJ students may take advantage of unlimited practice time in our expanded studios, and parents can enjoy new, larger viewing windows.

For added convenience, Academy of Music and Dance families can visit our new neighbors in conjunction with their music and dance lessons. Business that share the Renaissance Shopping Center in Spotswood, NJ include Kumon, Dunkin Donuts, Tan Lines, Snap Fitness, LA Perfection Nails and more.

Coordinating lessons for multiple family members at Academy of Music and Dance has never been easier or more fun! Contact an Academy administrator today to start lessons for your family.

Come join us at iPlay America August 9, 2015!

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Taking Summer Music And Dance Lessons

Summer is such a beautiful time of year. The weather and vacation from school means there is so much more time for fun family activities, like going to the beach, or taking week-long road trips.


I often see that parents and children assume summertime means not only a break from regular school, but from dance and music school, as well. However, in my experience, taking summers off from lessons can be detrimental to a student’s abilities, while those who continue taking lessons over the summer improve by leaps and bounds.

Two to three months off from practicing means that hard-won skills and techniques developed over the other 9-10 months of the year will get rusty. So rusty, in fact, that when the student returns to lessons in September, it will take another two to three months just to get them back to where they were in June! That means that students who practiced over the summer are now four months ahead of those that did not.


No school, and no homework, means kids have even more practice time than they did in the school year, so they can move forward to new songs and new dance moves each time they come to class. What a boost to their self-esteem and confidence! Also, practicing, during any time of year, builds focus, self-discipline, memory and coordination, something kids won’t get from watching TV or being bored, which they might otherwise do if they’re not taking lessons.


It can be easy for kids to lose interest in something if they’re not exposed to it on a regular basis. Learning music and dance techniques are life-long skills that grow into valuable expressions of art and love that people truly cherish. Why risk throwing that away for the sake of 8 weeks of “taking a break,” a break many students never return from?


Academy of Music and Dance knows that summertime is important family time, and that schedules may change due to camp or vacations. That’s why we offer flexible summer scheduling, so that summer lessons fit easily into your busy summer plans! So whether you’ve been practicing for years, or want to try something new, Academy will make sure learning music or dance is fun and convenient for you.


Amber Blues May 17th Concert

amber blues concert flyer

The New Royalty

Young musicians with a passion for their craft often aspire to be in a famous band, travel the country and meet big stars before becoming big stars themselves one day. Kyle Davis, 21, was one of those young musicians, and he is living proof that the dream is not as far fetched as some naysayers may have you believe.

Davis is the bass guitar player for The New Royalty, a self-proclaimed “new pop” band that began in 2008 and has grown into a successful, well-known group that has opened for acts like Big Time Rush and We The Kings. Along with current members Nick Iafelice, 20, who plays guitar, and vocalist Bree Iafelice, 20, the group got together through an organized Rock Band group at Academy of Music and Dance in Spotswood, NJ. “It was originally just me and Nick in the band with 7 others,” recalls Davis. “Bree joined the band and we condensed the group down a bit.” When they were just starting out, Davis says Melody Stevens, owner of the Academy, was “very supportive of our dreams and futures. It was just a music school, but I gained long lasting friendships [there].”
After playing cover songs, the band began writing and performing their own original music, though it was a difficult transition. “We were thrown into a competition and were forced to write five solid original songs. Out of a few hundred bands, we came in fourth,” says Davis. “Not too shabby.” From there, The New Royalty continued to win competitions in the tri-state area, collecting titles such as Top Young Band and Top Pop Band. Eventually, they booked gigs opening for big acts and playing at music festivals like Bamboozle, Warped Tour, and Skate N Surf. “We’ve shared the stage with Motion City Soundtrack and Frank Iero, guitarist for My Chemical Romance.” Despite their own claim to fame, Davis still is in awe of being able to play with such great musicians. His favorite accomplishment so far? “Just being on the road, man. That’s the stuff.” Future plans for the band include refining their sound: “We’re focusing on developing our new sound, an image, the right songs, the whole package, really.” Davis hopes the band will be getting back on the road soon. To all the young musicians out there, Davis has some sage advice: “Have fun with it first. There’s a time and place for everything and it will all just fall into place. Take your time and enjoy.” Of course, he adds, you have to actually do things to get ahead, so be sure to keep playing and writing new songs. For more information on The New Royalty, check out their website:

How To Overcome Fear of Singing in Public

IMG_2218It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional opera singer or just singing along to the radio: singing in public is totally different from singing in your shower! Many young or inexperienced singers find it difficult to sing in front of more than just their bedroom mirror, and really have a fear of singing in front of a crowd.
If that sounds like you, relax! Stage fright is perfectly normal, and it means you care about your craft! Plus, there are plenty of things you can do to conquer your fear of singing in public.


For example, my daughter, Sarah Blasenheim, used to suffer from fear of public singing. In her own words, “What if I mess up? What will people say about me? It was scary to put myself out there, be vulnerable, and show people the real me.”

Singing can be an extremely personal art. The emotions you’re conveying through song are based off of your own emotions, not to mention all of the hard work you’ve put into practicing your singing. As Sarah said, there’s a vulnerability to singing.

But Sarah grew out of her fear, mostly by performing more and more often, and by letting time soothe her fear. She now understands that “you should always perform for yourself and nobody else. Don’t worry what others are going to say about you, and just be in the moment.” Perform because you love performing, and your fear will disappear.


As Neev Mistry, a student and participant in the Rock Band at the Academy of Music and Dance, explains, everyone feels at least a little nervous performing in front of others. But he learned that in order to overcome that fear, he has to “keep practicing until [he] is happy with [his] performance.” Neev now understands that it makes no difference if he was “singing in front of a mirror or on a stage.” Always perform to your best ability, and don’t worry about the rest.

Neev’s advice to other young singers who may be a little afraid to go on stage? Do your best, and focus on the performance instead of the audience.


And, of course, “Keep calm and keep rocking!”

Faculty Concert Series March 22, 2015

Faculty Concert Series Tickets may be purchased through the Academy of Music office or online


Think You Can Sing? Here’s How to Get on American Idol.

Central NJ is all a buzz with East Brunswick resident Jax Cole making the top 24 on American Idol. “We’re routing for her and think she has what it takes” says Melody Stevens, owner of Academy of Music and Dance in Spotswood, NJ. “She’s got the whole package. And, while Jax did study voice at the Academy for two years as a preteen, the credit truly goes to Jax and her father for Jax’s success.”

In recent seasons, two of Academy of Music and Dance’s teen students (coincidently East Brunswick residents) Karen Hardy and Jacqueline Giancola made it through the preliminary rounds of The X Factor and America’s Got Talent respectively. They both got to audition for the producers, but were cut right before going on TV.

Stevens says that from listening to these students’ experiences and more over the years, it’s clear that getting past the producers goes beyond the bare minimum of having the talent, training, and handing in the paperwork to book the first audition.

Here’s some advice:

MAKE SURE YOU ENTERTAIN BEYOND SINGING: Hardy, who auditioned for The X Factor, noticed that almost everyone the producers sent through had either a tragic story to tell (as in American Idol, Jax has her father and his experience with 9/11) or the producers let those with a quirky personality go through. Or, as with Giancola’s experience with the America’s Got Talent auditions, a gimmick can take you far.
Giancola sang opera (fully clothed) and was ultimately beat out by an opera singer who stripped down to a bikini.

LISTEN TO OPINIONS ON WHAT NOT TO SING: Hardy says that her teachers at Academy of Music and Dance were telling her that a song she wanted to sing wasn’t great for her. But, that was the song she wound up singing at her last audition. She thinks that might have been what did her in.

DON’T LET YOURSELF GET RATTLED: Stevens says that students have reported having to sing in the preliminary rounds of these auditions simultaneously with other auditionees, in booths separated from one another only by a curtain. Also, Hardy reported that a producer she was auditioning for took cell phone calls while she was singing for him. In addition, you might be standing outside in line in freezing cold weather, but you have to look like you’re having fun when the TV cameras come around. All of these things would be enough to rattle most people, but you can’t let them throw you off.

GET A LOOK: “Jax has got a unique image, including a cool hair style and a face tattoo” says Stevens. “This makes her visually memorable for people and gives her an edge.” Make sure you get a great image consultant who knows the industry and go from there.

Top Ten Tips for Caring for Your Voice

To singers, the voice is an incredibly important and valuable instrument, something that has to be cared for daily. Losing your voice as a singer is disheartening! It’s almost as if you’ve lost a part of yourself. And for professionals, an unhealthy voice can mean a loss of a job.

There are things you can (and should!) do to keep your voice healthy all year long, even during the midst of cold and flu. Here are our top ten tips for caring for and maintaining a healthy voice.

1. Drink a lot of water. Staying hydrated is key to allowing the vocal folds to vibrate against each other, which produces sound. Don’t allow yourself to ever get thirsty! Drink room temperature water throughout the day, every day. Also, add lemon, says Anna Stefanelli, voice teacher at Academy of Music and Dance. It stimulates saliva production.
2. Use tricks to create saliva. Let’s say you’re about to sing, but you forgot to bring water and you’re dehydrated! Bite your tongue, Stefanelli suggests, to create more saliva. Try it! It works!
3. Avoid alcohol before singing; it dehydrates you. Caffeine, too, works as a diuretic, and may dehydrate you. If you’re used to coffee and need something warm, go for an herbal tea (with lemon!).
4. Don’t smoke! I would hope that this was a given, as smoking is not only bad for your vocal chords but for your overall health. The smoke dries out and irritates the vocal folds and causes the smoker to cough, causing swelling of the focal folds. This can make your voice sound deeper or raspy. Smoking also reduces lung capacity, which is essential for proper breath control.
5. Before a performance, avoid dairy products, which can stimulate phlegm and interfere with clear singing.
6. Get enough sleep every night. A tired body means a tired voice, which means overall weakness in your singing, a lack of vocal range, and difficulty concentrating on performing your best.
7. Always warm up before singing. Athletes wouldn’t dare hit the field without doing a few jumping jacks and stretches; why would singers? Warming up with lip trills, scales, facial exercises and diction exercises prepares your body for full singing, not only that day, but it keeps your voice healthy and extends your vocal range in the long run!
8. Don’t scream or yell. This seriously irritates your vocal chords, and enough irritation can make you lose your voice.
9. Relax. Stress and anxiety can tighten up the muscles required for singing, like your neck, throat and shoulders. Loose, relaxed muscles are best for singing.
10. If your throat does hurt or you feel yourself losing your voice, don’t whisper, says Stefanelli. “Whispering harms the vocal chords by making them work harder to produce sound,” she says. And her number one piece of advice if your throat hurts and you’re losing your voice? “DON’T TALK!”

And if you’ve already lost your voice? Try Fisherman’s Friend (link to, Stefanelli suggests. They’re throat lozenges that she says singers swear by!

Why Boys Should Dance

While music classes are taken by young girls and boys alike, parents seem to only want to sign up their daughters for dance classes. When people think of ballet, they think of pink tutus and elegant women. But just because society thinks of dance as a girls-only club doesn’t mean that’s how it actually is, or how it should be.

Boys can really benefit from taking dance classes. For one thing, every woman loves a man who can sweep her off her feet on the dance floor! But for boys who are too young to appreciate that perk, there’s another reason dance lessons might pique their interest: Sports.

Football players are no stranger to dance classes. Steve McLendon, defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been taking ballet classes since his senior year in college and continues to practice as an NFL player. He credits ballet for keeping him injury-free, which makes sense: ballet teaches you how to balance and increases your flexibility.

Not only that, but ballet dancers are strong. They need to be strong to lift other dancers, to properly execute turns, and to perform great jumps and leaps!

Ballet also increases mental focus, something every athlete needs if they’re going to assess a play and outwit the other team. From a very young age, dancers are taught to quickly learn difficult combinations, to focus on the task at hand, to anticipate what might come next, and to always carry themselves with poise and pride. In fact, these skills aren’t just beneficial to athletes, but to students and future leaders, as well!

Finally, dancing can be downright cool. Look at Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire! They were excellent dancers, and America absolutely fell in love with them. Take a look at one of their routines: (The good stuff starts around 2:20.)

Whether it’s tap, jazz, hip hop, or yes, even ballet, when given the chance, boys absolutely excel at dance, and from what I’ve seen, they love every second of it.