Tonal Art Music Center: Jersey City and Hoboken music school

recital 3


If you are interested in signing your children up to learn how to play an instrument, I highly recommend the Tonal Art Music Center, located at 47B Harrison Street in Hoboken. Our daughter Lola started taking guitar lessons when she was 6 years old, just 6 months ago and performed in her first recital this past weekend.

The joy we felt watching Lola perform at the recital was unlike anything we have experienced yet as parents. We have been a part of her music journey, as we take her to her lesson every week, we push her to practice every single day, we hear her mistakes and then her triumphs when she finally nails a song! It has been a wonderful, fulfilling experience for the entire family. If you follow me on Instagram you can see a video of Lola performing Ode to Joy.

Her guitar teacher, Mr. Matt, is a lifelong musician and has worked with kids for many years. I sat down with him to learn more about the history of Tonal Art Music Center and its instructors.

How long as TAMC been in existence?

Matt: Tonal Art Music started in 2010, and has been at the current Hoboken location since 2012.

How did it come to be?

Matt: From very early on, teaching in some capacity has always been a part of my professional musical life. While spending a lot of time studying and playing music, I was also teaching at different private music schools throughout New Jersey and New York. Through observation, I learned a lot about what seemed to work well for the students and the teachers, as well as what could be done in a better way. Armed with this knowledge, I decided that I could run my own studio as well or better than any that I had previously been associated with, so Tonal Art Music was born. A music-focused center for learning from professional musicians with tons of educational experience.

How many instructors are there?

Matt: We currently have 5 different instructors each with their own instrument specialties.

What type or lessons are offered?

Matt: We offer private music lessons for guitar, piano, saxophone, violin, flute and clarinet.

What age groups are encouraged to join?

Matt: Students as young as 4.5 can begin piano lessons with us, for guitar it’s better to wait until about six years old. But we get a lot of different ages, elementary, middle school and high school, as well as a growing number of adults who are coming back to music after a long break or even picking up something new for the first time.

Were you always located in Hoboken?

Matt: Originally there were only the two of us (Matt and Hyeseon) and we taught lessons once a week at a community space in Jersey City. As word of mouth spread, we continued to grow, finally moving into our own space in Hoboken in 2012.

What is your back ground in Music? The other instructors also?

Matt: All the teachers at our school hold degrees from some of the best music schools in the world.  I received my Bachelor of Music in jazz guitar performance from Manhattan School of Music. I received my Masters in Music from William Paterson University with a focus on jazz performance. All the teachers at our school are also busy performers and you can always ask them where they will be performing next.

Is there a new student offer?

Matt: We are currently running a new student special, if you sign up for a month of lessons you will receive one free lesson! You can find us at

A few shots from the music recital held on Friday, December 15

Mompreneur Spotlight: Dr. Brittany Smith from Jump Ahead Pediatrics

dr smith and baby


What is pediatric occupational therapy? According to the All Allied Health Schools website, ‘Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on helping children develop the skills they need to grow into functional, independent studies. Physical impairment, injuries and a host of other issues can hamper a child’s ability to perform common tasks or progress normally through the stages of social or cognitive development.’

Jersey City’s only pediatric occupational therapy clinic is Jump Ahead Pediatrics, located at 35 Journal Square, Suite 610.

Dr. Brittany Smith opened the clinic earlier this year and reached out to me in hopes I can share her passion with you all!

Dr. Smith, a native Jersey girl, received her undergraduate and graduate degrees simultaneously in the 5-year direct entry occupational therapy program at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 2012.

Her major inspiration to study OT was her mom, while in high school she jokes her mom ‘highly suggested’ aka forced her to volunteer at a children’s hospital to boost her resume for college. At the time, her dream was to study physical therapy in college, but while volunteering at the hospital, a nurse suggested studying OT instead and after observing and researching, she was convinced to do so. She now thanks her mom for pulling her away from her friends those high school summers! As we all know, moms know best : )

Smith has always wanted to own a business, and when her business partner and fellow University of Sciences graduate and friend, Janki Patel called her one day with an opportunity to rent space in Jersey City, she jumped (pun intended) at the chance! While in college she lived in city of Philadelphia and always visited NYC a lot when living at home; she loves big cities and finds working in JC enjoyable and exciting!

Now a mom herself to Bryce, her spunky little kiddo, Smith is a little more understanding with the families when she recommends activities to carry over into day to day life. It’s her belief OT can benefit EVERYONE, but most of her cases are with preschool aged children. As of late she expressed seeing such an increase in sensory processing difficulties, “The sensory system is the most developed system at birth; it is also the most delicate. Disruptions from chemicals in utero may be causing difficulties in the sensory system. With an increase in chemicals in foods, products, air, etc, it’s no wonder why we are seeing an increase in these sensory difficulties! Sensory processing can affect many aspects of a child’s daily life (attention, social-emotional, self-care, diet, etc). Occupational therapists help make neurological changes and suggest compensatory strategies to decrease sensory difficulties and improve participation in daily activities!”

If you are interested in learning more please make an appointment with either Dr. Smith or Dr. Patel today!


Mompreneur Spotlight: Nicole Jurick’s Peasful Kitchen


If you are like me, scrolling through your timeline can sometimes cause serious anxiety. It’s as if all the ‘best’ moms in the world have decided to post all the great things they are doing with their kids the moment I open Instagram.

Moms put so much pressure on themselves. I am my own worst critic when it comes to parenting especially when it comes to my daughter’s diet since I don’t have much experience in the kitchen. Luckily there is a local resource teaching moms how to make healthy, good food from scratch for your baby and family!

Fellow Jersey girl and former Redbook Editor, Nicole Jurick, from Peasful Kitchen, is going to save our day and spare us the anxiety!!

Peasful Kitchen was created 4 years ago by Nicole and her former business partner, Suzanne Gallagher.

Just like your favorite chick flick or female comedy film, two very sleepy moms meet in the aisle of their local organic supermarket and soon find a friendship. They had babies around the same age and found a friendship comparing stories of attempting to do something while taking care of a new baby.

Coincidentally, both found themselves making their babies homemade organic purees and thought it would be a fun idea to offer a cooking class to moms just like them. What originally started as a ploy to have a mom’s night out, they started their cooking classes in 2013 in Hoboken, running their classes out of the Cugini Kitchen which has since closed.

Today, Nicole and her team hosts a variety of classes/series, at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten in Hoboken. There you can learn how to make food not only for your baby, but for your entire family. Their events are for parents only though.

In addition to Summit and Princeton New Jersey, additional locations include Houston, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts.

You can also host any of their series classes in home. Baby showers are hugely popular. Guests prepare food for the mom-to-be so she won’t have to worry about preparing food for herself once the baby arrives. As we all know, once you bring the baby home, the last thing you want to worry about is making dinner. Who has the time or energy for that?! This is a perfect gift idea. It’s unique and a great alternative from the usual baby shower rhetoric. All you need is a kitchen!

You can check out their in home and on location series here.


Mompreneur Spotlight: Caked by Candace, Jersey City’s cake jar baker


Initially a caterer with her late chef-trained husband, focus eventually shifted to Candace Rodriguez’s self-taught baking skills, which were wildly popular. They both decided to shift the businesses on her talents, thus the origins for Caked by Candace.

Known for her famous jarred cakes, we sat down with Candace to chat and nibble on a few of her most popular cake flavors, which were all very delicious! My favorites were the tres leche and red velvet. Her fondant creations are almost too good looking to eat.

In addition to her cake jars, Candace makes customized cakes for any occasion. Her recent masterpieces have included Shopkins, Moana, a dinosaur, Wonder Woman, a unicorn and even a three-tier wedding cake. She also makes cupcakes, cake pops, cheesecakes and whoopie pies. And if you’re looking for something specific, all you have to do is ask. No challenge is too great!

I have paid hundreds of dollars for a specialized cake, which looked pretty but tasted awful. Candace is not only delivering the idea, but the taste as well!

Since then, Caked by Candace has grown mostly by word-of-mouth, lots of self-promotion and referrals from happy customers. Celebrating her fifth year in business, she has decided to focus on the business full-time and left her day job once and for all! Keep an eye out for her at your local farmer’s markets this upcoming spring and summer, where she hopes to introduce a line of adult beverage cake jars.

You can find many examples of her creations on her Instagram page @CakedbyCandace.


Mompreneur Spotlight: Taking Control of Your Child’s Future With Jomayra Torres


Lola is in kindergarten and learning a lot. I’ve been told she will know how to read by the end of the school year, which is just 3 months away now! She is already reading small picture books to me every night and she’s constantly asking us how to spell words as she writes letters to her friends and family. It’s a very exciting time!

I’m fortunate enough to have her enrolled in a school that’s progressive, but not all families have that opportunity. I know some families that are looking to do more at home, families with older kids that have a hard time helping their kids with their homework assignments. For fellow Jersey City mom Jomayra Torres, her mission is to provide tutoring services to children, as well as parents, making the educational process a family affair.

Jomayra, a mom of 2 kids, realized the need for such a service when several parents reached out to her for help for themselves. An educator at the ‘Beloved Community Charter School’, she educates students and parents with an understanding the new mandates being passed within the new common code standards. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational proposal in the United States that details what K–12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. She quickly developed a clientele and realized she had a new business to offer Jersey City.

Named Joys In Teaching, parents have the opportunity to choose from a number of tutors who focus on different areas of interest. In addition to connecting with tutors for one-on-one help, the company also offers workshops for children and parents. There is the ‘Young Entrepreneurs’ workshop, which teaches children the basics of taking their passions and developing a business, including branding and marketing. Then there’s the ‘Young Explorers Club’, where students engage in hands on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities and experiments, which help develop their problem solving and inquiry based skills. They also have a ‘Reading Readiness’ workshop, which is perfect for new readers like my Lola. This program focuses on the alphabet, the concept of print, phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, and fluency, with fine motor and writing integration.

Jomayra understands how expensive it can be to find affordable enrichment programs for our children and that is why she has made all her services affordable. You can review all the programs and prices here.

Joymara Torres

Jomayra’s passion and desire to help our youth is necessary, as she stated during our conversation, “We need to invest in our children and give them real meaningful experiences to help them develop as strong willed and successful adults who give back to their community.”


Mompreneur Spotlight: Diana Robles of Loveprint Photography

Sometimes life’s unexpected turns have their own way of leading you to exactly where you belong.

New Jersey native Diana Robles has always loved taking pictures and capturing special moments. After the birth of her son in June 2013, she began photographing his every move. I know we can all relate, right moms?!

At that time, she had relocated to North Carolina to be with her husband, who was stationed there. Diana then had the idea to share her talent with her fellow marine moms on base, as well as her new city. She wanted to capture special moments of families, just as she had done for herself.

With the combination of promoting herself via Instagram, Facebook and word of mouth, she eventually found herself running her very own photography business. After nailing down the family circuit, she started to expand her portfolio by including models.

Today, her areas of expertise include family, maternity, newborn and children. She also holds private sessions. In addition to participating in events around New Jersey, such as the NJ Baby Expo, she is also partnered up with two studios in Hasbrouck Heights and Union, NJ.

With her vision and photographical flexibility, she can basically accommodate any need so whether you want an indoor, outdoor, family or solo session, Diana is your girl! Let’s support this fellow Mom Boss!

Take a look at her work on her Instagram and Facebook pages.

To save 10% on your session, please use promo code: JCMOMBLOG!




Mompreneur Spotlight: Christine Goodman of Art House Productions


Jersey City was a very different city back in the day. There wasn’t a vast amount of cafes, farmer’s markets were rare, and art galleries didn’t exist. The city lacked a general sense of artistic expression. Sixteen years ago, Jersey City resident Christine Goodman was just an actor and student of the arts searching for a place to host her first open mic night. Today, she is the Executive Director and creative force behind Jersey City’s art venue, Art House Productions.

Art House Productions started out very small and grew alongside Jersey City. As the community’s interest in the arts grew, so did Art House Productions. As the programs expanded, so did the staff, as well as the business. Naturally, so did Christine. She grew as an artist, teaching people of all ages, but more importantly, as a business owner.

In addition to searching locations, applying for permits, hiring a staff, social media advertising and filing to become an official non-profit organization, she’s even helped create the Jersey City Arts Council, where people can go and ask all the art-related questions pertaining to all art endeavors in Jersey City.

Today, the Art House Productions is a multi-art venue, offering programs in music, art and theatre. There are programs available all year round, from acting classes for adults, open mics, dance programs, theatre festivals and their very popular program, STAGES! Theater company for Youth. This is a semester-long, afterschool program for performers ages 7-17 years old. At the end of the semester, the kids put on an actual performance for the public.

Their newest program is the Access Committee, which accommodates those individuals with disabilities. The program not only introduces the differently abled to the arts, they are encouraged to attend the shows and participate in them as well. A few weeks ago, the committee hosted, “The Twelve Dates of Christmas,” a one-woman show, featuring Rachel Handler, an amputee.

Still a proud Jersey City resident, but now a wife and mom to two little ones, Christine is proud of what her dream has become. As we sat in the art gallery chatting, I could sense the pride she has for all flourishing artists. I can’t wait for Lola to break a leg next year and attend the STAGES! Program!