An Iraq war veteran is teaching local students how to make beautiful music in Long Island City. NY1's Clodagh McGowan filed the following report.
For Jason Sagebiel, music has always been a way of overcoming challenges.
While deployed in Iraq, the Marine Corps Sergeant suffered from a traumatic brain injury. Through his own therapy — he learned the power of teaching others.
"The process of having to relearn as an adult, which got me excited about the learning process," Sagebiel said. "And so, through that brain injury in the Middle East, which is actually how I got into education founding the school here."
His business, Sage Music, offers guitar, piano, cello, violin and voice lessons in Long Island City.
"What we do is we transform students into musicians," said Sagebiel.
In April, Sagebiel was awarded the “Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year" award by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
He says he's honored to serve as an example for fellow veterans.
"I think there's often a certain stigma with veterans," said Sagebiel. "I think, they come back from wherever they deploy and they aren't always seen as kind of regular citizens. And you know, we have many veterans here at the school, we have retired military and police and they're just as artistic and they're just as creative as everyone else, you know, the general population."
He says he found unexpected musical inspiration while serving in the Middle East.
"I learned the oud, which is the Middle East instrument, kind of in the middle of the war, so despite the war, I had this incredibly rich cultural time in Iraq, so music and the military both have been part of my life for quite some time," said Sagebiel.
Outside of the music studio, Sagebiel also helps organize a free summer concert series at Gantry Plaza State Park. He says it is important to connect with the community.
"We depend on the community as much as they depend on us. So the more we're able to give into the neighborhood," said Sagebiel.
For more information about Sagebiel and the classes he teaches at Sage Music, visit his web site.