Stamford Performer Trains Next Pop Stars

STAMFORD, Conn. — Stamford’s Christine Occhino has always wanted to be a pop singer, but she didn't get the training she wanted until attending the Berklee College of Music. To fill the needs of aspiring performers like herself, the 22-year-old has opened up her own business, the Pop Music Academy.

The former Westhill High School student said it is discouraging to music students when they have to be trained classically. Occhino said she couldn't persuade her teachers to teach her pop songs.

“They would all look at me like I was a little nuts,” Occhino says with a laugh, thinking back to her teachers’ reactions when she would ask to sing pop songs instead of the classical ones her classes required.

Though she began drafting up business plans while still a student at Berklee, the idea to teach pop music came to her while working as a vocal coach in New Canaan. There, she allowed her students to sing songs they wanted to. Those students and their parents enjoyed the experience, and Occhino realized there was a want for pop music education in the area. 

In addition to years of training in a variety of styles, Occhino has performed and continues to perform as a singer, dancer and actor. She has also worked in the music business as an artist associate for Ask Darcie Music Business Consulting in Boston and in the artist and repertoire department with Columbia Records/ Sony Music Entertainment in New York City before starting out on her own.

Her students can take a variety of voice, dance, guitar and piano lessons, which are held privately or in a group, Occhino said. The studio also helps students with stage presence and to help make them stand out in auditions, she said.

The training offered at the Pop Music Academy does not stop with the musical side. Occhino offers artist development and music business consulting classes for parents and older children who want to further their musical careers.

The academy opened Feb. 1 at 1200 High Ridge Road off Dunn Avenue in Stamford. The classes are suited for children ages 8 to adult. 

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