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Building a Culture of Creativity, Inspiration and Collaboration

Marc and Lisa Salzman proudly show the certificate saluting Grandpa George’s Opus, in dedication to Lisa’s dad, who lived by the mantra “do well to do good.”
Marc and Lisa Salzman proudly show the certificate saluting Grandpa George’s Opus, in dedication to Lisa’s dad, who lived by the mantra “do well to do good.”

Meet the owners of Bach to Rock Denville, Lisa & Marc Salzman

Lisa and Marc Salzman found Bach to Rock online about seven years ago in their quest for a music-oriented birthday party for their son. At the time, Bach to Rock had not expanded to New Jersey. However, the philosophy and approach to music education that Bach to Rock represented deeply resonated with them. So, Marc asked Lisa, “How about we bring Bach to Rock to New Jersey?” Bach to Rock just felt right to them, so they moved full speed ahead. They called the franchisee hotline and signed the paperwork a few months later. Fast forward about one year, to 2018, when Marc and Lisa became the owners of New Jersey’s first Bach to Rock. In April 2024, they will celebrate their sixth anniversary. Now that’s a happy birthday for the entire family!

Meet Lisa & Marc

Marc and Lisa proudly represent Bach to Rock at Denville's annual Memorial Day parade.
Marc and Lisa proudly represent Bach to Rock at Morris Plains’ annual Memorial Day parade.

Lisa Salzman has always been drawn to people, places, activities, and opportunities that allow her to express herself artistically and creatively. Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and International Studies from Allegheny College. After a year spent in Seville, Spain, studying at the Center for Cross-Cultural Study, Lisa fell in love with culture and language and learning to communicate across boundaries and stereotypes. She pursued a successful and rewarding career in leadership, marketing and communications while living in New York. Lisa is naturally gifted at building and cultivating strong teams and work cultures, which in turn creates a warm and welcoming environment at Bach to Rock Denville. Lisa spends most of her free time with Marc, and their two children, Vivienne and Ashton, who also love music and play multiple instruments like their dad.

At an early age, Marc Salzman was drawn to music, learning trumpet in 4th grade, and participating in choir. Later, Marc taught himself piano and in middle school began taking guitar lessons. It is said that music goes hand in hand with science, math, and technology, and that’s exactly what Marc chose as a career path – electrical & computer engineering. Marc earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, and later earned his MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Marc has been working in the high-tech software industry ever since.

The Mantra at Bach to Rock Denville is “do well to do good” – inspired by Lisa’s Dad.

Bach to Rock Denville is quite special for Lisa and Marc, as it is owned and operated by Grandpa George’s Opus, Inc., in memory of Dr. George P. Toth, Lisa’s dad.

George lived by the notion “do well to do good.” As a devoted educator, he shaped the lives of the many college students he taught and mentored over his 30+ year career in higher education. George was a well-known member of his community and enjoyed volunteering for various causes and organizations. Known in his later years as ‘Grandpa George’ by his seven adoring grandchildren, he leaves a legacy at Bach to Rock Denville that continues to inspire his family and all who knew and loved him. Like music, George’s uplifting and inspiring spirit lives on at Bach to Rock Denville.

Franchisee Insights – from Lisa & Marc along with perspectives from their assistant director, Brittany and drum instructor, Wayne. Click here to read more about the entire team at Bach to Rock Denville.

Why Bach to Rock?

(Lisa) We always wanted to create and build something that was meaningful and linked to our community. With Marc’s passion and talent for writing, playing, and producing music; Lisa’s leadership experience; our joint interest and desire to create and do something impactful; and our strong focus on making music and the arts available and accessible for all ages, the opportunity was meant to be! Bach to Rock combines music, kids, community, education, business, technology, and the opportunity to ‘do well to do good.’ The Bach to Rock approach is centered around making music fun, accessible and a team sport for people of all ages.

(Marc) My passion for music followed me throughout my life and I always wanted to do something with it. Growing up in the 70s & 80s, music lessons were just that – lessons. There were no band programs back then outside of school. Seeing this evolution in music education programming was certainly a driver for us! I also have a passion for technology, business and entrepreneurship, working with kids, and community building. Owning a Bach to Rock has brought together all these elements into a single business experience coupled with the ability to change lives and give back.

How have you made your school successful? What have been the keys to success?

The dedicated and musically gifted administration team, from left Joni, Brittany (Assistant Director) and Katie.
The dedicated and musically gifted administration team, from left Joni, Brittany (Assistant Director) and Katie.

Hiring the right people and treating the people you work with as if they’re your family. We genuinely care about our team, our teachers, our students, and our members. At the core, music education is a people business and the key to success comes down to building strong relationships.

We are a tight team at Bach to Rock Denville and as a team, being able to make a difference and feel valued is predicated on having deep mutual respect and a shared passion for what we’re doing together every day. We recognize we work together to change people’s lives through music. Our core admin team is an all-star team—Brittany, our multi-talented assistant director, Joni, our resident rockstar ‘den mom’, and Katie, our creative force who also shines in the classroom. They are so in tune with us and the school’s mission, students and members, they make a difference every single day.

(Brittany) Our school is successful because we have a dedicated team of managers and instructors. We treat our staff and customers like family. Our keys to success are our flexibility, with both our instructors and customers; the high quality of our programs; and the variety of the programs we offer. For example, not many music schools offer classes for students under the age of 4-5. We tell our prospective families that we offer programs for all ages from 0-100, and it’s true!

To help broaden their students’ musical knowledge and experiences, Marc and Lisa added Master Classes with successful professionals to the curriculum. Front, from left, Brittany, Mike. Back, Wayne, Lisa, Marc, Katie.
To help broaden their students’ musical knowledge and experiences, Marc and Lisa added Master Classes with successful professionals to the curriculum. Front, from left, Mike Tichy, Brittany. Back, Wayne, Lisa, Marc, Katie.

(Wayne) Leadership begins at the top and that is what makes Lisa, Marc, and Brittany the most vital components to the success of our school. Never have I been in a professional setting so open to innovation, so willing to both invite and try new concepts, and so supportive of the staff, their endeavors and overall well-being.

We also find fun and unique ways to broaden our students’ musical knowledge and experiences. For example, we started hosting ‘Master Classes’ with successful musicians such as Brendan Buckley (Shakira) and Mike Tichy (Jim Breuer’s Loud & Rowdy). Having musicians—and great individuals– like Mike and Brendan visit the school to meet students, talk about their experiences and what it takes to be successful musicians, and make some impromptu music together – provides another angle for our students’ overall music education, not to mention the inspiration and motivation shared!

What would you tell a prospective franchisee about starting a Bach to Rock?

You must be hands-on and ready to work, this is not a ‘turnkey’ business. The amount of effort you put in will determine the level of success you achieve. The typical qualities required to be a successful person apply to managing a successful music school— hard work, grit, persistence, perseverance, patience, intelligence, intuition, thoroughness, and the ability and willingness to make meaningful connections with others. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves. You need to know how to run the business in detail to be able to confidently hire and train others to help you run it. Unless you have prior experience in small business environments, music schools, franchising, running a retail location, etc., only time and immersion will get you to a comfort level of operating with confidence.

Alex, a Bach to Rock Denville student, rocks the drum kit at the school’s bi-annual Student Showcase.

What words of encouragement would you give?

Be patient – the time to reach the light at end of the tunnel may vary from franchisee to franchisee depending on many factors and circumstances but hold the line – you will succeed because there is nothing like Bach to Rock anywhere and you’ve got the best support system around. It is so rewarding and an amazing feeling to know you’re creating a space for students of all ages – including teens and adults — to express their true selves freely and openly through music.

What do you enjoy most about owning/operating/working at Bach to Rock Denville?

Multi-instrumentalist instructor, Adriana (left) with Charlotte, one of her rockstar students!
Multi-instrumentalist instructor, Adriana (left) with Charlotte, one of her rockstar students!

The most gratifying part of Bach to Rock is watching lives change before your eyes. We’ve had students come into our programs very shy and just beginners in their instrument and we’ve seen them emerge as stars– to not only play their instrument well, but face and conquer their fear of performing in front of people and enjoy it. They make new friends and mentors and have an environment to freely be themselves. Diversity and inclusion are a given.

(Brittany) I love the welcoming and supportive atmosphere of our school. Marc and Lisa have always been so supportive of me.  I’ve had the amazing opportunity to grow with the school which is very rare.  I love being able to see our students grow and develop into not only wonderful musicians, but also individuals.

(Wayne) I love being able to work with people who love what they are doing. It’s a joy to innovate, to try things, propose innovative ideas, challenge myself and my students to greater heights of achievement. Our leaders have created a beautiful little nook here where students of every facet can come in and discover their creative voice and how to share it with the world.

When you meet prospective families/students or are talking about Bach to Rock in the community, what are the 3 key ideas that come to mind?

The Bacon Donuts band wins first place at the 2023 Battle of the Bands competition, in the elementary school division.
The Bacon Donuts band wins first place at the 2023 Battle of the Bands competition, in the elementary school division.

We believe music should be fun, engaging, and inspiring. Students need to enjoy what they’re doing and feel that they’re learning. Lessons and classes must also be effective, and we get students reading music and learning to play songs in a matter of weeks. We believe the best experience for students learning music, regardless of starting level, is one that balances music education and performance. This is the Bach to Rock approach.

Within the music education component, we believe in a well-balanced approach that includes repertoire, technique, development of skills on a particular instrument, music theory and performance. Students are not just learning theory or how to play songs, but rather a mix of all these elements together that provide a well-balanced education and experience.

Music is a team sport, and our band program provides students with an opportunity to perform and apply what they learn in private lessons. There are myriad benefits of the band program that are not immediately obvious – students gain confidence, learn how to work on teams with other students (group dynamics, empathy, collaboration), and how to be creative and even write some original music!

Talented on the stage and in the ballfield. The Bach to Rock baseball team are winners in sports and music!
Talented on the stage and in the ballfield. The Bach to Rock baseball team are winners in sports and music!

Tell us a little bit about the atmosphere of your school. What do you think keeps students coming back?

The lobby is always warm and welcoming, especially during the holiday season!
The lobby is always warm and welcoming, especially during the holiday season!

We believe if we asked our members this question, they would respond by saying Bach to Rock Denville has a warm and welcoming vibe. That is only possible due to our incredible teachers and staff. We are all driven by a purpose greater than ourselves and as such we can inspire our students, their families, and each other. The teachers really connect with their students, parents tell us, “This is the one activity we don’t need to force my child to attend every week – he absolutely loves coming here!”

Also, from an aesthetic perspective, Bach to Rock is a hip, modern school – a cool and fun place to be.

(Brittany) We have a very welcoming atmosphere. For example, we love decorating the lobby for holidays and seasons. Our students love to see when the lobby display changes; it’s a lot of fun! We want our students to feel like our school is their second home. I think this is what keeps them coming back. We’ve had customers tell us that Bach to Rock Denville is their child’s home away from home.

What do you think makes your story and your school unique?

The culture at Bach to Rock Denville makes us unique. It all starts with heart, kindness, and authenticity– you should want your school to be a special place, for people to walk in and say, “I want this,” or “I want to be a part of this – where do I apply? Sign me up!”

Building a strong culture takes effort and time. You must put your heart into it. Create a space for employees and students to be their authentic self. Take time to get to know your team, your teachers, your students, and their families! Celebrate birthdays, go to their gigs, their performances, pay attention to who they are and what they love.

(Brittany) We often hear from both our customers and instructors that we’re like a family here. It’s very rare to find an atmosphere like ours. We’re extremely flexible and encouraging to our students/ families. One of my favorite sayings is that we cater to all learning styles. We’re very inclusive, which is important.

(Wayne) Chemistry! This is not easy to create, and it all begins at the top. Chemistry must be real, organic, and positive. I have never worked for such a team that I both love and admire…until arriving here. Creating such a truly inspiring and exciting school must first be a vision, and then a reality. Chemistry and leadership, we have it at Bach to Rock Denville, and we are so very blessed as a result!

Celebrating student birthdays, from left, Xaviel, Brittany, Katie, Joni, Lisa, and Marc.
Celebrating birthdays, from left, Xaviel, Brittany, Katie, Joni, Lisa, and Marc.

Meet Mia – one of Bach to Rock Denville’s Shining Stars

Mia came to the school at age 15, with a beautiful voice, yet she was shy and unsure of her abilities, how to project herself, and how to perform. She enrolled in voice lessons with Brittany, lead vocal instructor before her promotion to assistant director. Brittany learned what made Mia shine, where her doubts were, where she needed to be pushed, encouraged, and supported. “Mia has been singing for as long as I can remember. She used to sing in her car seat to songs on the radio and that’s when I noticed she had a gift. She would remember the lyrics the first time she heard a song and mimic the sound of the notes. She continued to sing at home but was shy in sharing her gift,” shared Mia’s mom, Tara. Bach to Rock gave Mia the opportunity to sing in front of crowds, both solo and with a band. And now she sings with her church. Her confidence soared, and it expanded to all areas of her life. Now, age 19, she has developed into a self-assured young lady, and she is continuing her music journey at the Berklee College of Music. “We are so thankful for the opportunity and the impact the Bach to Rock Denville family has had on our lives,” said Tara.

Mia came to Bach to Rock Denville with a beautiful voice, yet she unsure of her abilities. She was teamed up with assistant director, Brittany, who helped Mia find her strengths. Her confidence soared, and now she’s a soloist, in several bands, and will be attending Berklee College of Music.
Mia came to Bach to Rock Denville with a beautiful voice, yet she was unsure of her abilities. Working with Brittany, Mia found her strengths and her confidence soared. Now she’s a soloist, producing original music, a choral leader at her church, and attending Berklee College of Music. 

To learn more about programs offered by Bach to Rock Denville, view our online schedule or contact us.

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