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meditation

Sonny Stancarone will be hosting a new piano relaxation program in Port Jefferson. Photo by Julianne Mosher

What do you get when you combine meditation, mindfulness, yoga and pianos? A new piano relaxation center in Upper Port.

Vic “Sonny” Stancarone, owner of Sonny’s Pianos at 1500 Main St., decided to open another spot right across from his store, that will be beneficial to the community — especially after a stressful 2020. 

On Friday, April 30, a dozen people gathered at his new Piano Relaxation Center, now located at 6 North Country Road. The idea behind it, he said, was to give people a new space to learn piano in a stress-free way. 

He said that this has been something he’s wanted to do “forever.”

“I love buying and selling pianos,” he said. “But I love working with people and now I circle back to doing what I’ve always wanted.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

At his other shop, Stancarone buys and sells refurbished pianos. From Steinways to Young Changs, he cleans them up, tunes them and helps them find new homes. He is also known for his art case collection — often vintage pianos with decorative artwork painted throughout the instrument.

But on top of selling pianos at wholesale prices, he had an extensive career in health, fitness and wellness — while also being a piano performer. 

Stancarone is a former health and fitness director for big-name corporations, adjunct professor and yoga practitioner. He said learning breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation techniques, yoga and marital arts helped cure him of crippling childhood asthma at 11 years old. That experience always stuck with him and, with whatever career path he followed, he always tried to help others the way he was helped, before. 

His piano playing and teaching methods are based on breathing with the diaphragm, relaxing with emphasis on enjoying the playing rather than playing perfectly. He calls his method “piano yoga.”

“I feel that piano playing is wonderful, creative, therapeutic, life-enhancing, stress-reducing vehicle that everyone can enjoy,” he said. “The biggest problem with the piano is that people are intimidated by it, they think, ‘Oh, I don’t have talent,’ or ‘I can’t play it,’ but it has nothing to do with talent.”

He added that interested people just need to sit down and try. The way to success is approaching the keys like one would for meditation or mindfulness.

“I want them to read, relax and clear their heads of everything,” Stancarone said. “To just kind of connect to what I call the musician with them, so that they could just get into the flow.”

So, the new relaxation center is a new way for people to learn piano, learn how to decompress or just jam out. 

“People are looking to get out of the house,” he said. “They’ve all been cooped up. So, something like this is very nonthreatening. It’s very relaxing. It’s very easy and my approach is just now sitting down to play.”

The main thing is just to relax and enjoy the instrument. 

Sonny Stancarone instructing two piano players at his new space. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“My mission is to let people see that everyone can do this,” he said. “And show someone that the piano is the most accessible of all instruments — you can just sit down and you’re making music.”

The space will offer classes of 10 people — each receiving their own spot at a piano. 

“I teach them breathing techniques, stress management techniques, relaxation techniques,” Stancarone said. “We do a little sitting chair yoga … so, it really incorporates a lot of different things.”

Priya Kapoor-Lasky recently started up a business where she sets up meditation rooms. Photo from Kapoor-Lasky

Visitors to Smithtown Historical Society events are used to seeing the smiling face of Executive Director Priya Kapoor-Lasky, so the fact that she practices meditation regularly comes as no surprise.

Now Kapoor-Lasky is starting up a new business where she is setting up meditation rooms or corners for customers, when she’s not working at the historical society.

She’s always had a separate room of her own, she said, until recently when she got married and her son moved back in with her. She added that her daughter also lives with her.

The solution, she said, was setting up a meditation corner in her bedroom because she felt like something was missing without a space dedicated to the practice.

“It looked so pretty in the room that everybody kept saying that ‘you have a natural talent for this, you should do this,’” she said. “And that’s when I said, ‘OK, you know what, that does sound like a good idea.’”

It’s something that she’s done all her life for family and friends and even helping in her temple.

Kapoor-Lasky said having the space is a reminder that the practice is an important one. She said the goal of meditation is to enjoy it so much that when you’re doing it nothing else comes to mind. She added that it’s a difficult goal to achieve, even though there are benefits while trying to do so.

“What happens is the process itself is so soothing that most of your issues, most of your problems, get solved during the process, or you just feel peaceful when you’re sitting there,” she said. “It’s like your very warm and cozy area where you’re just sitting, and you feel safe.”

Kapoor-Lasky, who grew up in India and is Hindu, said her parents were religious when she was growing up and still are. They would teach her if she needed to deal with something to take a few minutes to meditate.

“That became my go-to thing,” she said. “I teach the same thing to my kids now.’

Meditation spaces are also important for offices, she said, especially after many have been working from home for a year. Kapoor-Lasky added that a designated space provides employees a way to step away from their desk to recharge or rest their eyes after looking at a computer screen for hours.

“You need some unconventional things which were not there before,” she said.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 917-310-8742.