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Longtime musician and instructor opens second Goleta location for private lessons along with band practice facility.
www.StudioMusicGroup.com

Steve Stockmal, jamming on his Fender Stratocaster at his Studio Music Group, was inspired to pursue a career in music after watching a jazz band drummer in seventh grade. “I don’t think that initial excitement ever died,” he says. (Alex Kacik / Noozhawk photo)

By Alex Kacik, Noozhawk Business Writer | @NoozhawkBiz | Published on 12.31.2011

It all clicked for Steve Stockmal in his sophomore year of high school.

The revelation hit as he was sitting with his friends before 7:30 a.m. choir practice.

“Boys, last night I made a decision,” Stockmal told his friends. “This is what I’m going to do. Whether I’m going to be a rock star, a teacher, a studio guy and probably all of the above, I am going to make a career out of music.”

At that point Stockmal was drumming, strumming the guitar, playing the trombone, studying music theory, playing for a jazz band and a “cool” band with his friends.

It was in seventh grade when he was playing with his school’s jazz band and he couldn’t take his eyes off the drummer.

“It was the feeling that that’s just going to work for me,” Stockmal said as he played random chords on his yellow Fender Stratocaster, one of 12 guitars he owns.

“It was just magic watching him play the drums. I don’t think that initial excitement ever died.”

Fast forward through years of traveling around the world playing music, graduating from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, writing several books and starting Studio Music Group in Goleta, Stockmal opened an office for private music lessons at 270 Storke Road, Suite 8, about two weeks ago.

San Marcos High School junior Robert Hagedorn said learning under Stockmal has been a life-changing experience.

“Steve is truly a wonderful person and a great musician,” said Hadedorn, who has played guitar for four years and recently became the president of his school’s guitar club. “I recommend him because he makes it fun and learning one instrument can lead you to many new opportunities.”

Stockmal started Studio Music Group, 152 Aero Camino, Suite D, about two years ago so musicians could have a place to play together and record music. But as the company expanded, he needed a more private place to teach one-on-one, he said.

“Schools aren’t teaching music and that’s no good,” he said. “That’s always a grave mistake. It has been proven over and over that if a kid has music and art, they are better at everything.”

Rita Mendez took her 14-year-old son and 9-year-old nephew to Studio Music Group and couldn’t believe the results, she said.

“The music they were playing was amazing,” Mendez said. “I couldn’t believe what Steve had done with these kids. My mouth fell and I said ‘Oh, my god.’”

Although he has landed his dream job, Stockmal said it was a balanced and level-headed approach that got him there.

“Dream heavily and balance that with how are you going to eat,” he said.

Wing Shots

» Who is your biggest influence? “A lot of things I learned from my father were things not to do in this world. My mom was a counselor who lost her second-born son around birth so she put a lot of love into raising us kids. I learned to be patient and understanding with kids from her.”

» What’s something people don’t know about you? “I ride wheelies on my bicycle almost always, and I swam in the Arctic Ocean.”

» Favorite instrument? “Whatever I’m playing in that moment.”

» Most influential musician? “Paul Keech. He was my first drum teacher, and he exposed me to a lot of great musicians.”

» What have you learned about teaching? “Students are your best teachers.”

Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik can be reached at akacik@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.