"You know, my grandmother actually worked here, I think from the 1950's through the 1980's," said Rob Coyne, of the Handkerchief Factory in the center of town. The former factory is now the location of Coyne's latest venture, the Rob Coyne School of Music Education, which opened in late June.
It's a homecoming within a homecoming, for a native son whose appreciation for his hometown is infectious.
Coyne's musical journey began at 9 when he received his first drum set for Christmas. He studied under George Correia, a graduate of Berklee, and joined the band, and the jazz band, at the Kickemuit Middle School. He formed a band with some of the friends he made there, Blew Milk Soap, which became polar playing throughout the area in the early 2000's.
Coyne, the son of Marie and David Coyne of Campbell Street (Marie owns Choice Connection in Bristol and David is retired from Roger Williams University's catering department), was still a kid when Blew Milk Soap was booking gigs at bars and nightclubs. His father would drive him and hang out while his son played.
Coyne remembers with gratitude the community support he and his friends received as young musicians, and the fact that support made his dream of becoming a musician a reality.
A 2005 graduate of Mount Hope High School, Coyne's music education continued there, as he participated in concert, symphonic, marching, and jazz band. After graduation he played with a number of other local bands, including Pearly Baker, Opiate Tool Tribute, and Minor X; he's had the opportunity to perform at venues like The Met, The Zeiterion, and Lupo's.
He still performs, but these days Coyne's focus has shifted to education. He teaches drums, but in the interest of putting together a comprehensive slate of classes, he has about 15 other musicians on staff, providing lessons in every possible discipline. ("Except steel drums," says Coyne, a request that he recently fielded but couldn't, for now, fulfill.)
His space in the Handkerchief Factory is completely updated with 9 total studios of various sizes, all individually climate controlled, and each named for the musician boldly painted on each door, the work of artist Matt Charros of Fall River. So there's an Aretha Franklin studio, a Freddie Mercury studio, an Jimi Hendrix studio, and — Coyne's favorite and where he keeps his own drums — the Buddy Rich studio.
In addition to offering lessons in virtually every instrument (and voice), Coyne has been putting together an early childhood education program to offer on-site at preschools and elementary schools. He also offers rock band and brass and woodwind ensemble (made up of students that take lessons at the schools.) He can leverage his connections in the industry to provide them with playing opportunities in the community. "It's important to learn what it is like to play with people, " he said. "To learn the etiquette of being a performer."
Coyne is also building up a retail stock of musical accessories, offering repairs of instruments, and is open to the idea of renting studio space for practice. He's grateful to be building his business with the support of EforAll, an entrepreneurship accelerator program out of New Bedford that meets every week for mentorship and twice a week for general business classes.
Coyne's ultimate goal is quality, and putting the Warren music community on the map. "I had so much support here in Warren, I want the same for my students," he said. "I want to churn out the best, and for people to think of Warren as a place that turns out musicians."
"When students come here, they're going to learn their instrument the right way — and they will be able to do something with it."
For more information visit Robcoyneschoolofmusiceducation.com or call 401/337-5206.