Music School Turned to Zoom to Survive Pandemic

Danvers, MA — Coming from the Berklee College of Music, Darren Muise was pulled into music instruction in the early '90s. After landing his first teaching gig at a local music shop, Muise started looking into opening his own school. That was in 1995. The Music Connection has been going strong ever since. "We've weathered a lot of storms throughout the last 26 years or so," Muise said, "the biggest one being back in 2008 when people were losing their jobs, houses, everything. The first thing tha

DEVORA Interview: ‘Music Can Be Life-Saving’

"I've been singing and writing since I could talk," DEVORA said. "Growing up in a small town in Arizona called Cave Creek, there were sort of two different areas of music that I grew up listening to. Country music was very prevalent during my upbringing — Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton — but Arizona has quite a dark, really strong Goth Industrial music scene. Cut to now, the two of them have both influenced me so much and I've always wanted to blend the genres because I've never really heard anyth

The Bent Spoon Adapts to the Pandemic

"Both of us grew up with families who had gardens and we were used to eating the warm tomato from the sun, that kind of thing," Carbone said. "We were steeped in the rising culture at the time. That's where our headspace was at: why can't we — especially a place that's calling itself the Garden State — use so many things?" At the time, coming up against enormous companies with comprehensive contracts, it was incredibly difficult to get locally sourced ingredients. But it is a challenge and conce

fiVO Design Rebrands, Pivots During Covid

With twenty years in business as Landmark Finish, the small business — which started out as a high-end residential cabinetry company — weathered the recession of 2008, and for the last year-and-a-half, have been continuously finding creative ways to weather the ongoing pandemic. In March of 2020, Landmark Finish came out with a line of clear, plastic barriers dubbed "Safe-Guards," which became instrumental for the safer openings of a multitude of local businesses and schools. More recently, the

Flavors of Your Palate Brings New Twist to Catering

"I've always had this love for building community, and I said 'well, what better way to build community than to break bread,'" Casado said. "People are always interested in food and culture, and I said, 'let's fuse the two things,' and that's how Flavors of Your Palate was born." Before the pandemic incited nationwide lockdowns, a hallmark of Flavors of Your Palate was a community food event called "Dining With Strangers." "I would book halls and sell tickets," Casado said. "While I was cooking

Ninja Warrior Gym Opens New Location Amid Pandemic Struggles

Joshua Rudin — who had become friendly with its then-owner — purchased the gym in 2017. "My wife and I were always very interested in helping unhealthy kids get in shape," Rudin said. "We were looking for ways to do it when we found Gymja Warrior." Coming in, Rudin cleaned up processes and set his sights on expansion, recently opening a new location in Maynard. "After a long Covid break and mostly Covid delays, we had our grand opening weekend July 24 and July 25 and it was huge," Rudin said. "

Dance Studio Turns to Zoom During Pandemic

"As I went along in my dancing classes and conventions and going into college, I just wanted to continue the dancing," Bracale said. Even though there were detours – working as a legal assistant, for instance – she never let go of the dream. Eventually, she decided to go all in. "It was difficult doing both, so I loved kids — still do — and wanted to continue my passion with them, so that's when I said 'I'm going to open up a dance school,'" Bracale said. "And now it's 40 years later. This is o

‘Future is Bright’ for Local Dance School

Melrose, MA — Falling in love with the art of dance at the age of two, Amanda Bruno Thompson has dedicated her life to pursuing that love. In 2013, Thompson, after getting certifications from places like CLI Studios and The Dance Teacher's Club of Boston, and after working for several local dance studious, had a chance to buy one of her own. She has been the owner and artistic director of Melrose Dance Academy ever since. "I just knew this was the right path for me to take," Thompson said. "It

Yoga Center Survives Lockdowns

"I enjoyed the puzzle aspects of it, how to put all the parts together to make it work," Van Nuys said. "I got into yoga originally to get my head out of my computers because I could get a bug in my program and I couldn't sleep at night. Then, I realized how much I enjoyed it. When it became obvious that the owner of the studio I was taking classes at was moving, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to do something with more people around that I really enjoy." Van Nuys still finds tha

Georgia Music School Survives Pandemic

Alpharetta, GA — Katie Pearsall started playing music when she was in middle school. Inspired by a teacher who discovered her near-perfect pitch and encouraged her to simply try, she did whatever she could to gain and further her expertise. It wasn't long before she realized how much she wanted to own her own music school. "I went to college and got my teaching degree, teaching license, everything," Pearsall said. "I'm glad I had the experience, but I realized I needed to hold onto that dream.

Massage Therapist Branches Out In Face of Pandemic

"I had known for a long time that I was itching to do something new and different, but I didn't quite know what that was," Donnelly said. "When I turned 40, it seemed like the perfect time for me to take a sabbatical and figure out what that was. During that time, I had taken a leave of absence, and we did the cliche 'let's go to the mountains and find ourselves.'" On the last day of her trip, Donnelly fell and later found out that she had sustained a bad break in multiple places. The recovery f

Verge Yoga Survives The Pandemic

"Owning my own yoga studio has always been a dream of mine," Forte said. "I did my yoga teacher training at Verge back in 2012 and ever since then, I've been teaching yoga. When the opportunity came up, it was my home yoga studio, so it was something I felt I had to take advantage of. I left my full-time job in higher education and I became the owner." After having been open for only two-and-a-half months, Forte, like most every small business owner around the country, was forced to close the st

Valencia Music Weathers Pandemic with Remote Lessons

"My husband and I met in college and we kind of fell into teaching during college and a little bit afterwards," Bennet said. "As we started kind of being more teachers than performers, in a professional sense, we actually started to say 'we really enjoy this, this is an amazing thing to do.' We started the school officially in 2014, about a month before we got married. And then we found a space that let us have one office, and little by little, we grew." That gradual growth has resulted in a cur

Martinez Martial Arts Grows During Pandemic

"I was teaching classes in different REC centers, trying to give back just the way my instructors taught me," Martinez said. "That led to me just trying to do it as a part-time gig. And that led, after having my fourth child, I decided I could do this full-time. That's how Martinez Martial Arts evolved. We currently have two locations and at this point, we do more than martial arts." The different facets and opportunities that Martinez Martial Arts now offers — summer camps, day camps, fitness i

Fencing School Figures Out Instruction During The Pandemic

Livingston, NJ — Patrick Durkan coached fencing for several years in New York before deciding that he wanted to expand his program, making it more available to kids. In pursuit of that mission, he and his wife, Amy, opened Durkan Fencing Academy in the Fall of 2014. "We wanted to expand the program, offer it to more students, especially to kids," Amy Durkan, part-owner and administrator of Durkan Fencing Academy said. "We opened this club in New Jersey because we were able to get a larger facil

Music School Embraces Online Learning Through Pandemic

"In 2006, I decided to make it more of an official pursuit," Kurzawa said. "I set up the LLC, started having meetings with the SBA and started to put a lot of effort into it. We've been doing it ever since." When the initial pandemic lockdowns began in mid-March of 2020, Kurzawa shut down the academy for what was intended to be an informal spring break. "I spent that week trying to figure out how to make the school an online school because I just felt that this was going to last a lot longer th

Yoga Studio Perseveres Throughout Pandemic

West Orange, NJ — The Yoga Ground, a yoga studio in West Orange, first opened its doors in February of 2019, just a month before the pandemic-incited lockdowns that would keep the nation restricted for more than a year. It is a studio with a specific mission: to make the practice of yoga affordable and accessible to the community. "I always say it was never my lifelong dream to own a yoga studio," Kristen Brunello, owner of The Yoga Ground said. "The time just sort of felt right. I felt like th

Do-Re-Mi School Adapts to Pandemic Restrictions

"I started doing it in my house," Marina Goldin, the owner of the school said. "The group of five kids came, the next week it was 14 kids. I remember the day when someone came and I said 'I'm sorry I cannot take you; I don't have room in my house.'" After about a year and a half of teaching piano out of her house, Goldin started looking for a place to expand. During this process, she began gathering good, respected teachers to her to evolve what the Do-Re-Mi school was, from a piano school to an

Rolling Robots Keeps Focus On Students Throughout Pandemic

Los Angeles, CA — Aerospace engineers Bing Jiang and Dr. George Kirkman abandoned the high-paced environment of satellite construction in the early 2000s, chasing instead a passion for teaching kids to establish the family-owned business Rolling Robots. It was that passion for instructing kids that led the couple to open up Rolling Robots in 2008, a company that has gone through several adaptations since its opening. "I have this passion forever to want to work with young kids," Jiang said, "b

Kids On Stage Keeps Kids Engaged

Santa Monica, CA — Elaine Hall started Kids On Stage in 1987 as a way for kids to express their creativity. Galanty-Blaney took over the school in 2004 and worked with current Artistic Director Cari Derbise to increase the school's offerings, building more classes, camps and after-school programs, and increasing their presence in schools across Los Angeles. "She had this vision that every kid is a star, that you shouldn't have to audition to get in," Beth Galanty-Blaney, the current executive
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