Business

Melissa's Music Studio transitions to some online instruction for Corridor music lessons

'My business is not just one person teaching everything'

Ophelia Barton, 11, claps after performing an exercise as she has a piano lesson with Melissa Brobston who operates Meli
Ophelia Barton, 11, claps after performing an exercise as she has a piano lesson with Melissa Brobston who operates Melissa’s Music Studio in her home piano studio in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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Melissa Brobston started taking piano lessons from her grandmother — who lived just a mile away from her family’s farm in northwest Iowa — when she was in elementary school.

She started playing trumpet in fifth grade band.

“I saw all my other friends playing the flute and I wanted to try something different,” she recalled.

“I actually couldn’t even make a sound on the trumpet, but I thought it was so cool and I wanted to learn how to play it.”

By the time Brobston was in high school she had not only figured out how to play the trumpet, but was earning first chair and opportunities to participate in honor bands and jazz band championship, among other achievements.

Her love of making music followed her into the professional world. Brobston today is the owner of and main instructor for Melissa’s Music Studio, which she started upon moving to Iowa City in the early 2000s.

Since then, she has added other instructors in other specialty areas to provide a variety of musical instruction on brass, woodwind, string, piano, voice and percussion instruments.

“My business is not just one person teaching everything because I don’t think anybody can be that for every instrument,” she said.

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“In 2015 I had my highest number of students at 40,” she said, recalling that she started with just two piano students.

“And I thought, ‘Wow, that had always been my goal.’ I always felt like if I made it the 40 students, I was just going to be over the moon. And I was. This has just evolved.”

She now offers lessons in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.

The numbers and types of students at Melissa’s Music Studio in any given year ebbs and flows. Most are children, but there are a few adults, as well.

While Brobston doesn’t have quite that many students today, she believes it is a good thing as this year has meant a full transition to online instruction.

“I started 25 beginners online this summer from home,” she said. “It was a little bit of a challenge because I was hearing a lot of teachers saying it can’t be done. It does take more time and you have to just have to be more patient.”

She’s grateful that a friend asked her to teach her son to play trombone remotely back in 2016, as it gave her the confidence to know virtual instruction could happen during the pandemic.

She is used to being flexible in her work, as over the years Brobston has managed to fit in teaching lessons and building and operating her business while working as a band instructor at local schools and while working on her master’s degree.

“I also like to build students’ confidence so that whether they continue playing their instrument or maybe start up again later they always have a passion and appreciation for music,” Brobston said.

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“They take those skills of practicing and being dedicated to something and building their confidence so that they can go on and when they do other things, they can bring those skills with them.”

Know a Corridor business that might make for a really interesting “My Biz” feature? Let us know about it. Email michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

Melissa’s Music Studio

• Owner and instructor: Melissa Brobston

• Address: Iowa City and Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 930-2969

• Website: melissasmusicstudioiowa.com

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