Those are the thought-provoking words of Claudette Munné and Massimiliano Facchini, a couple who consolidated their creative visions and founded Belle Arti Center for the Arts in July 2007. Situated in the heart of Forest Hills at 108-10 72nd Avenue, Belle Arti, which is Italian for “Fine Arts,” is the neighborhood’s first and only boutique-like music school of European heritage.
Belle Arti students continue to discover and refine their talents in private, semi-private, and group settings by studying voice, piano, violin, cello, guitar, flute, recorder, and music theory. In 2012, Belle Arti celebrated its 5th anniversary, and now Munné and Facchini plan to further cultivate their artistic mission by introducing chorus, drama, and visual arts classes in the near future.
An Italian language and culture course has recently been incorporated, so expansion is already underway. Artistic foundations have been laid in children ages two to five, thanks to Munné who founded Musical Aurora, which teaches music’s fundamentals through song, movement, and musical games.
“My goal is to awaken each child’s full creative and intellectual potential,” she said.
An aim for continuity with a prioritization of students’ needs is a great aspect of Belle Arti’s mission, as well as educating and building a new generation of creative artists and entrepreneurs.
“It is our commitment to prepare today’s children for a brighter future by utilizing music to help them develop the skills which will make them excel in all aspects of life,” said Munné.
Some of their students pursued the foremost artistic high schools, universities, and music conservatories.
“Our students start as young as two years old, and we help them grow through the developmental stages of childhood through teenage years and young adulthood,” added Munne.
The public can witness their early success at Belle Arti’s four session bi-annual recitals at Flushing Town Hall.
Commitment is evident in the prestigious and well-cultured teaching faculty, who are performers and alums of leading music schools, such as the Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, The Juilliard School, and European music conservatories. This contributes to an advanced and competitive curriculum for students of various ages, ethnicities, and levels, and helps students recognize their full potential.
Rachael Binaco, who has performed with the New Jersey State Opera, Hartford Opera Theater, and Baltimore’s Bach Concert Series, teaches eight voice students, eight piano students, and 10 theory classes.
“As a teacher at Belle Arti, it enables me to be a constant performer,” she said.
While it is true that Manhattan has some great artistic and cultural resources, it is untrue that Queens residents need to travel further to acquire the best opportunities at the highest prices. Close-knit neighborhoods such as Forest Hills contain hidden gems with a personal feel. Belle Arti is steps away from the historic Forest Hills Gardens, the highly accessible Queens Boulevard, and Austin Street’s unique businesses.
“We chose Forest Hills because it is a beautiful, culturally diverse and family-oriented neighborhood, which fit perfectly with our personal family, and we also realized the community was in need of a center that would bring high quality music education in a formal setting,” Munne said. “The families that make up our student body also became a community, which helps each other grow.”
Munné’s experience extends beyond teaching music by reinforcing its therapeutic side.
“For many years, I have embraced with care and determination the many challenges presented by working with children with special needs, and this put my creativity to the test by planning ways to teach music,” she said.
Munné implemented music-related games in the Musical Aurora class to help children develop their working memory and verbal abilities, as well as oral, visual and auditory learning, and improve upon motor and social skills, character building, and discipline.
“I witnessed the truly great gift of childhood and the power of music,” she said. “I had students who overcame speech problems, ADD, Autism, hearing impediments, and behavioral issues, but early intervention is key, since they were under age 5.”
Facchini graduated Summa cum Laude from the Italian music conservatory, Ottorino Respighi, and continued his studies at the University of Akron and the Juilliard School. He achieved a Masters of Music in Piano Performance from San Diego State University, and a Post-Graduate Diploma from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied piano and chamber music.
Munné began piano studies at age four at Academia Dominicana De Música. She acquired a Bachelors Degree in Business in Santo Domingo, as well as a Bachelors and Masters of Music in Piano Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, where she met Facchini.
As a concert duo, they “made history premiering Merengues with two pianos at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall,” according to Jack Rico on Univision. Then they shared their world music discovery with Europe by performing at the “Sala Sinopoli” at Parco della Musica in Rome.
“We hope to continue our success since we opened,” said Munné.