by Erin McNelis, Hair and Makeup by Scharle Pozadas, Photography by Alison Dunlap
Nancy Rodzwic, owner of Absolute Music School, teaches voice, piano, guitar, bass and percussion lessons in the studio she runs at 224 E. County Line Road in Hatboro. But Rodzwic teaches much more than how to sing the right notes. Her teaching and life philosophy guides young people through the ups and downs of adolescence with love and devotion.
“My world is the kids,” says Rodzwic. “It takes a lot of guts to be a singer. I have to get them to relax and get them in a good frame of mind.” She begins by giving new students an opportunity to sing what they want to sing. She can see what kind of person they are by what they choose. Lessons, which include voice, piano, guitar, and percussion, are geared to the students. “We find out what they want to get out of it,” says Rodzwic. “That way, they are having fun, and if they are having fun, they will practice.”
Rodzwic and the other members of her staff (husband Andy Rodzwic and Steve Dierkes) try to instill in each student the confidence that it takes to perform on stage and also succeed in life. Students are encouraged to learn from mistakes and keep going, no matter what. “The bottom line is to have fun,” says Rodzwic. “Singing is not a chore.”
The studio teaches both young and not-so-young. The oldest student at the school is 92. Absolute Music School is a place where everyone is welcome and encouraged to be the best that they can be. They also offer rehearsal rooms for local bands.
Part of the curriculum at the school is community service and giving back. The group performs shows throughout the area at places like Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home, Christ Home, Messonic Village, and Neshaminy Manor. By performing in the shows, the students also gain experience and build confidence.
The last show every season is one for PA Wounded Warriors. PAWW offers veterans help in ways that they might not normally get, such as rides to the VA hospital, gas cards, and help with paying bills. The music school raised more than $10,000 last year by selling raffle tickets for gift baskets, t-shirts, by soliciting donations for families and local businesses. Rodzwic makes sure that the charities the school raises money for are charities run completely by volunteers. Many of them are veterans’ organizations.
Many members of Rodzwic’s family have been in the military, including her father. He escaped a concentration camp in Germany, became a citizen of the United States, enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was sent back to Germany. That is when he met Rodzwic’s mother. Both of her parents were singers, and both taught Rodzwic to persevere, something that she tries every day to instill in her students.
Rodzwic earned both an undergraduate and Masters degree in vocal performance from Temple University. She is involved in local theater and has been a long-time member in the International Thespian Society. Her Broadway experience includes The Fantasticks and Sweeney Todd.
She keeps pricing affordable at the school and sometimes offers breaks to students whose parents have lost jobs or for other reasons might not be able to pay for lessons for a while. The lessons aren’t interrupted, and the children maintain a constant in their lives. “I’ll never be rich,” says Rodzwic. “But it isn’t ultimately about the money. It is about helping these kids stay normal during a time in their lives when they are fragile and insecure. Life is full of firsts and all you can do is do your best. And everything is a learning process. We aren’t born running.”
Absolute Music School offers weekly and biweekly, one-on-one lessons as well as Pop/Broadway camp in the summer. For more information, call (215) 266-1061 or visit www.absolutemusicschool.com.