Our Guiding Principles
Marshall Willner, a trained musician, and his wife, Brigette Willner, are both proud parents who have a deep-rooted connection to music and the arts. For years, they have both worked in finance management and accounting furthering the efforts of arts, education, and advocacy organizations that pursue a social cause. But music has always remained core to Marshall and Brigette’s lives.
Marshall began taking drum lessons at age four with Artie Cantanzarita of Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge. By age eight, he was studying drums with Mickey Sheen and Buddy Rich. It was then that Marshall figured out how influential and empowering music could be. Throughout his life, music became a serious course of study which had him playing everywhere from CBGB’s to Lincoln Center. This, of course, connected him to Brigette, a DJ and cultural maven in her own right. Together, they framed a life around their involvement with music and the arts.
It wasn’t until their own children were developing a love of music that they could see a gap between what their children needed and what kind of instruction was available. Although they wanted their children to get a strong foundation in music theory, it wasn’t being taught in a way that seemed very musical, or fun. So what seemed to be missing from their children’s music education, ironically, turned out to be the music itself. They started cultivating ideas about music and its importance to people and communities. They thought about how music should be taught and how to get the right people to teach it. They started to investigate the reality of starting a center that could bring music into people’s lives in a profound and meaningful way – a studio that could be founded on these principles:
Music is important.
People of all ages and skill levels should have an opportunity to explore it.
It needs to be taught
in a place that is welcoming and nurturing by educated musicians who can build a foundation in music that will inspire.
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People should have access to it.
No matter what age, interests, genre, or skill level, everyone needs access to a place where they can discover and explore their love of music.
These ideas were cast and the studio was born, started by two people returning to their love and skill of music after divergent careers as accountants. With their knowledge of music and their knowledge of business, Marshall and Brigette Willner founded harmonic– a music foundation and studio designed to provide our community with access to music in a way that will enrich people’s lives.