Whether it’s a flash mob in Italy serenading a neighborhood or kids in Charlotte drumming on pails to honor first responders, music has provided welcome entertainment and relief to a home-bound global population.
For Nyshia Cook, owner of NC Music Center on Monroe Road, one of the surprises of the pandemic has been the change in tune about her students’ attitude toward music.
“Now that students are online all day with their school work, they actually look forward to getting away from electronics,” Cook said. “Practicing their instrument now seems more like a release and something they look forward to. Which has been great to see.”
Sharing a lifetime love of music
Cook has always felt a strong connection to music. “My mother says I have been singing since I was three years old.”
She studied classical voice and piano in college and now her school offers complete musical instruction for everyone from beginners to professionals. Instruction centers on ear training, note reading, theory and improvisation in voice, piano, violin, guitar, and drums.
With the onset of the virus earlier this year, the NC Music Center had to shut its doors for about six weeks during March and April.
Cook said she is “super grateful” for the core group of families that continued with online lessons through the interruption. But many customers dropped out.
To keep her business going, she explored various loan and grant options. Feedback from other local business owners convinced her that some of the federal grants required a lot of paperwork upfront and she hadn’t heard of anyone she knew that had actually been approved for a federal grant.
Fortunately, she learned of the city’s Access to Capital Small Business Recovery Program through Instagram and liked that the business papers you had to submit were straightforward. “I had all of those papers already in order,” she said. “I completed the application and literally in a few weeks I had the grant.”
Cook used the money to pay for rent, utilities and to prepare for a limited reopening. Business is slowly picking back up. “Our enrollment is not where we were last year, but I am grateful for where we are now.”
New: free online lessons for beginners
To help spread the joy and rewards of music, Cook will soon be offering free online lessons for beginners.
“The first lessons will be on the piano because it is approachable and easy to do,” she said. “If you have a keyboard or an old piano at home, we’ll take it from very basic beginner–never knew anything about piano—and teach you how to ring the piano keys, read notes and all the way up to learning how to play some simple songs.”
The free lessons will begin on Instagram Live in October.
“People have been staying at home since March and they need something to do and I think this will be a nice release for them.”
Music strikes the right chord with stay-at-home families