HEY! I'm Stephanie,

and I'm here to help you ditch the "starving artist" vibes and start writing good music - every day.


If you're here reading this, you (or someone you love, like your kid) are ready to make music with a real message.

I always hear parents, teachers, thought leaders, and Instagram goddesses raving about one whimsical nugget of wisdom: "Find your authentic voice."

But what does that even mean? You can't make yourself be authentic. That's like telling a teenage girl: "Just go find the man of your dreams!" No matter how badly she may want to, she needs to discover for herself what it means to get her heart broken, be vulnerable, develop strength, and love herself. 

The same goes for the creative process.

If you want to write more music than you've ever written before in your life, you have to be OK with failing and making crappy art.

How do I do that? Not by getting to the source of procrastination, shyness, and self doubt -- instead, by creating new approaches to how I deal with those areas.

And I’m about to do the same for you.

Here's who I work with:



You're just looking for any way to get your kid to practice for a few minutes while you cook dinner.


You were born to be a artist, but you can’t seem to finish your album - hell, you can barely finish a song.


You don’t have much money in the bank, but you’re hustling like crazy and ready to up your game.

And me? That’s exactly what I do.

I help you get freed up from your crazy self-doubt so you’re a creative machine.

(Seriously. It's driving you crazy, right?)

The Mission of Free Spirits Music

Free Spirits Music exists to empower and enable musical pioneers in radically altering the world.

We do this by writing authentic, radical, and beautiful music about the things people truly care about.

In any Free Spirits Music program, we promise to train you in:

Inspirational songwriting -  Being the kind of artist who moves and inspires people

Unstoppable Confidence - Having total faith in yourself to accomplish anything you want to

Ruthless compassion - Having total love & acceptance for yourself & the people around you

Fierce Talent - Being a confident, radiant rockstar who can perform in any situation

Artistic Leader - Able to create and manifest your visions with an action plan

Ooh! A few more things about me:

I love music,
but I hate the music industry.

I used to think the whole point of being a musician was to be rich and famous. Now I just think that's gross. I'd rather focus on doing good work that matters.

# 2
I don’t believe
you need to go college
or even read music
to be a profound musician.

Does it help? Sure. Is it cool if you don't? Duh.
I started reading music on the flute in 4th grade. I hated practicing. Still do, in fact. And the conclusion I've come to is that the two functions of reading music are to (1) develop an understanding of music theory (which you can do anyway) and (2) communicate a musical idea to someone else (which you can do anyway). So if that's stopping you from playing music, you better stop letting that stop you.

I ditched the clubs + bars
for yoga classes + yoga festivals.

I hated the traditional way of touring. Late nights in dank clubs wasn't for me. I don't even really drink. So when I got clear on my purpose as a musician - to start a conversation of transformation - I started playing live music classes and touring yoga festivals. And just like that, I found my tribe.

Photo credit: Daniel Akselrad

Photo credit: Daniel Akselrad

I bring songwriting to hospitals.

I created the curriculum for the John Lennon® Real Love Project, a transformational songwriting workshop which I have led at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx and at Gilda’s Club, NYC.  A program of Theatre Within, the grassroots non-profit behind the Annual John Lennon® Tribute, the John Lennon Real Love Project is offered at no cost to eligible facilities and has earned the warm support of Yoko Ono.

There is nothing I love
more than a good cup of coffee.

Yup, I'm that coffee snob - I will never, ever settle for a burnt espresso, and I spend exactly 4.25 minutes laboring over my french press every morning. The best coffee in the world? Bulletproof.

I write music, too!

 I’ve been dubbed "a deep and powerful musical tsunami" with "salient and ethereal messages of peace and tranquility. Listen at

Meet the teaching team at our brooklyn outpost

+ Stephanie Carlin

Hi! I'm Stephanie Carlin, and I am so damn committed to creating a world where kids can express themselves without getting derailed by fear or self-doubt.

This program a gift for the right child. It's not for everyone - just for the right people.

Before I founded Free Spirits Music I taught at countless music schools. The staff was underpaid and overworked. The locations were often a beat up church or the basement of a school, with little to no aesthetic or equipment. Teachers did their best to squeak a couple chords out of the kids, but they had limited training on how to comfort, encourage, or nourish the profundities of their students' thoughts.

At Free Spirits Music, I've changed all that.

My classes are taught in high-performing studios built for rockstars. I create rock shows with packed crowds overflowing with excitement. Our prices are higher than other studios because we offer a heightened experience. I pride myself on paying our music educators a competitive wage - something that is severely lacking in today's industry.

I stand for every child being fully self-expressed in their artistic spirit. I created Free Spirits Music to give voice to exactly that.

I cannot wait to meet you.

+Mel Johnston

My name is Mel Johnston and I'm a musician, writer, and educator based. I am committed to cultivating a love of music with my students that they will always carry with them.

The first song I can remember performing onstage was Frank Sinatra's "All the Way" at the age of six. From an even earlier age, though, I always had a love for singing and experimenting with my voice. As I grew older, I immersed myself in classical voice and music theory, skills that I use each day as a teacher, even if at the time I preferred belting my face off over the sounds of the rock and jazz bands I played with through high school and college.

While a student at New York University, I ditched my studies in classical voice in favor of studying literature and poetry, but still found myself making music every single day, on and off-campus. Now, as a teacher and performer, I've unified my deep loves of music and storytelling in order to empower the people I teach.

+Sam Decker

My name is Sam Decker, and as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, I perform and teach keyboard, drums, composition, and woodwinds.

Originally from the Chicago area, I attended New England Conservatory in Boston, where I studied with George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Moses, Ken Radnofsky, John McNeil, Frank Carlberg, and Cecil McBee. I also studied contemporary classical composition and improvisation with Katarina Miljkovic. During my time at NEC, I was selected to perform with John Hollenbeck, Dave Holland, Jason Moran, Lee Konitz, and under Christian Wolff during residencies, and was featured on New England Conservatory’s Jazz 40th Anniversary CD.

I am a member of the band Green and Glass and I co lead the Decker/LoRe Quartet with Alex LoRe, which released its first EP in 2012. I'm also a part of the Logan Strohsal Group, and our first record Up Go We was recently released by Sunnyside Records.

I currently teach at the Woodside Music Studio in Park Ridge NJ and I am a Teaching Artist with Arts Connection. I am a proud member of the Free Spirits Music family.

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