Warwick native Ariel Rose Bodman is taking on one heck of a project.
She is transforming the 107-year-old Aldrich Mansion in Warwick Neck into a music school called the Aldrich Mansion Music Academy.
Bodman also works as a luthier while running her own business at Rose Lutherie. Her drive and work ethic is unparalleled in the local community and she’s using her talents to benefit the city’s arts and culture as a whole.
I recently had a talk with Bodman about starting up the school; what made her pick Aldrich Mansion as the location; having an eye for detail; and how people can get involved with what she’s doing
ROB DUGUAY: How did you go about starting the Aldrich Mansion Music Academy?
ARIEL ROSE BODMAN: The Aldrich Mansion Music Academy is currently in its start-up phase as we speak. We are in the process of becoming a nonprofit and hope to soon begin fundraising to cover costs associated with building this re-imagined music conservatory from the ground up. A venture like this means that there are still plenty of logistics that we’re ironing out. With that being said, we are thrilled to have some extremely esteemed musicians on board as faculty. They are very enthusiastic about our mission to provide the highest quality contemporary, accessible approach to learning, creating and sharing diverse disciplines of music.
RD: It’s an incredible endeavor you’re undertaking. What inspired you to choose the mansion as the place to start the music school?
ARB: The Aldrich Mansion is a gem tucked in the heart of Warwick. As a turn-of-the-century marvel, not only is it aesthetically abundant, complete with acres upon acres of oceanfront views, but it stands to set a precedent of quality from the moment you set foot through the gates. Additionally, with the potential for eight faculty studios, six classrooms, a student lounge, a faculty lounge, gorgeous locker like storage space for instruments, and ornate halls perfect for performances, it’s as if it was just waiting for a music school to call it home. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to collaborate with such an incredible location.
RD: As a luthier, how long have you been making stringed instruments, and did it initially take a lot of work to get the process down?
ARB: I’ve been building instruments for about six and a half years now. Like any art form, there’s always a learning curve and the area in which one excels is different for everyone. I know this because I also was fortunate to teach guitar building for a number of years. For me, I very instinctually had an eye for detail, a feel for how wood can be shaped, and a certain dexterity for manipulating it. At first, I had so much to learn about the physics and engineering behind instruments.
I’d say I still do – that side of the field is such a rabbit hole and is extremely fascinating. Instrument building under my label, Rose Lutherie, is something that I continue to do independently of the Aldrich Mansion Music Academy, but being able to come to music from every possible vantage point gives me a lot of perspective as a music teacher.
RD: Music education has increasingly been taken out of public schools over the last few years, with independent organizations playing an important role in teaching students after school. How do you feel about all of this?
ARB: This is a subject I’m very passionate about. Across the nation, the arts are getting cut from public schools when it has been statistically proven time and time again how positively they affect the developing mind. I have a few theories on why the importance of art and music continues to get neglected, the most relevant being that a standard and quality for creative music making needs to be made accessible. People need to be encouraged to learn about what interests them and execute what moves them. They also need to be given the freedom to create informedly while knowing that a high standard of music making is attainable to anyone given the ability to care about the music they are making.
By this, I mean that it’s time for the entire paradigm of music education to shift and innovate. It is my personal belief that by creating tailor-made semesters aimed at the interests of our incoming students, the Aldrich Mansion Music Academy may have the ability to impact and permeate the general consensus about music education, at the very least within our community.
RD: How can someone interested in the Aldrich Mansion Music Academy get involved? And if someone wanted you to make them an instrument, how should they go about it?
ARB: I encourage interested individuals, curious students of all age ranges, and potential donors to visit aldrichmansionmusicacademy.org and to reach out to us at email@example.com. We would love to talk with folks and answer any questions they might have as we develop. While I’m grateful to have a waiting list for my instruments, I can be reached regarding potential commissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.