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Life & Work with Bethany Nikstad of Tower Grove East

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bethany Nikstad.

Hi Bethany, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m the owner of The Music Room, which is a small neighborhood music school in Tower Grove East. I manage a team of eight teachers and teach piano full-time.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The building was in foreclosure when I bought it and the learning curve on the renovations was steep! The roof leaked, the plaster was falling off the walls, and we couldn’t turn the water on because there were missing sections of pipes. I moved in before the building had heat. It’s been a multi-year endeavor, but I like to think our building has had a major glow-up. Another challenge was in getting our business license. While the building has a storefront, it’s zoned residential. So, we needed a variance from the board of adjustment. They only meet once per month, and their agenda was full for the next three months. The delays were frustrating, but they did grant our request for a variance, and we were able to begin building out our school. Emotionally, the hardest part of the last eight years has been losing one of our beloved teachers, Lisa, to cancer in 2020. We miss her all the time.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
The Music Room offers private instruction on piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele. After several years of training, I’m especially proud to offer the Suzuki piano method, which emphasizes ear-training and a young start. We strive to create an environment that is welcoming to LGBTQ students. I think our neurodivergent students are thriving. Recently, we’ve focused on making music by black composers central to our curriculum.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
We had some good luck that an incredible commercial building was on the market when we were ready to buy. We’ve received a lot of kindness and support over the years – from Messiah Lutheran Church who hosted us when we opened, our students during the pandemic lockdown, and from the neighborhood for the duration.
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Image Credits
Sara Wilson Photography

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