‘Being a musician is hard; you have to really stand out. Remember, you’re in New York and there are so many great musicians here.’
“I started playing guitar early, about 10 or 11 years old. My father had a music store: Al Marino Music Center in Williston Park. I ended up working there back in the mid-70s.Then I went out on my own after that when he retired and I started a low-key studio.
“I played in a band at weddings, but I was looking to get out of it because it wasn’t my thing. I’m a jazz guitarist. DJs were really coming into effect, and it took a lot of work away from bands.
“When I got married in 1990, my wife, who is a pianist and vocalist, and I started our current business, MM Music, which we have now. We teach guitar, piano, and voice out of our house. Most of our students are school-aged kids, but we have some adults who study jazz. We have a recital for the kids once a year. Things drop off teaching-wise in the summer, so many years ago we started a summer camp called Love to Sing.
“I have also taught at LIU Post since the ’90s and give private guitar lessons there. The real bread and butter of our music business has come from teaching, but my wife and I go out and work when we can, doing gigs at restaurants. I’m a side man basically. If somebody calls me and asks, ‘Can you play a party?’ I’ll put a band together.
“Every Sunday night, I play with a jazz band at a restaurant in Amityville called Sophia’s. Being a musician is hard; you have to really stand out. Remember, you’re in New York and there are so many great musicians here. My son is starting to get into that scene. He also works for us, teaching guitar and piano. You don’t make a lot of money playing music but it’s fun. To be serious as a player, you have to be on the road. Gigs are $100; $150. I mean, it’s okay, but you know what it’s like to live on Long Island. I teach. I do gigs.
I played in a band at weddings, but I was looking to get out of it because it wasn’t my thing. I’m a jazz guitarist.
“I teach at LIU Post, my wife teaches, and she also is a music teacher at a nursery school. So that’s like five incomes, but you need five incomes to live on Long Island and be in the music business. But I wouldn’t do anything else.
“You get discouraged over the years. It’s a tough business and you could get passed over for something you want. But that’s the music business: you’re in it for the love, you’re not in it to get rich.”