January-February 2021 "The Best of Alexandria" Annual Edition The Zebra Press

Page 16

Opal Music Studio— A Precious Gem in Old Town TEACHERS, STUDENTS, AND PARENTS SING PRAISES FOR THIS UNIQUE COMMUNITY

BY SUSAN FLEISCHMAN Opal Music Studio opened quietly in 2008. Founders and owners Hannah Williams and Molly Orlando first met when Williams was searching for piano lessons for her three young children. “I wanted them to take the lessons, but not in my tiny Old Town house with the other kids running around,” she explained. Unable to find what she was looking for, Williams realized this was something desperately needed in Old Town. Luckily, she met pianist Orlando, an accomplished performer and teacher, who shared her energy and enthusiasm for this venture. Together, the women decided to open a music studio where students would do more than take lessons. They would become part of a musical community. And thus, Opal Music Studio was born. Thirteen years later, the women’s combined vision has been realized. Opal Music Studio is a thriving community where professional musicians teach and share their passion for the art and craft of music with students young and old. Any teacher, student, or parent will tell you the same thing: Opal is a gem. “Opal is the gift that keeps on giving in our lives,” said Dale, parent of an Opal student and also a student himself. “The teachers are brilliant, and the environment is totally oriented to learning and fun.” “Opal is a warm environment where each student is pushed for greatness in their musical abilities. I really enjoy working with Al-

“I love Opal because of the way my teacher has pushed me to be better.” —Maggie, voice student

16 ZEBRA PRESS

“So grateful for all of the music Opal Studio brings into our lives!” —Jane, Opal parent lysa (teacher), and I feel like I’ve thrived and improved under her instruction,” said Caroline, a voice student.

Building community Photo: Lisa Scontras Photography

Molly Orlando (left) and Hannah Williams, founders and owners of Opal Music Studio.

“Opal is the perfect local music studio, filled with loving and talented instructors. The owners and staff are always lovely and help build a sense of community. We recommend the Opal family highly!” —Cindy, Opal parent

Photo: Opal Music Studio

Members of the Opal faculty brandishing their melodicas for a rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody at the March 2018 Faculty Showcase.

Williams and Orlando shaped their studio thoughtfully, following a shared objective of providing comprehensive music education. They knew their students would be busy with soccer and dance and sports and other activities in addition to music lessons. And they knew that learning an instrument takes practice, practice, practice. So they infused fun into the serious instruction. In addition to many recitals and performances each semester, Orlando and Williams have designed art projects to track their students’ progress. It’s a studio-wide endeavor. In one project, when students learned a specific scale or technique, they placed a pre-cut piece of colored paper on the bulletin board. Week after week, pieces of paper began to take shape. By the end of the semester, the students had created a preening theory peacock. Game Nights are on Fridays, when parents drop the younger students off for an hour or two and steal away for a glass of wine while the students play games with their teachers. (Note, COVID has not deterred these efforts – Game Nights are now held virtually on Fridays.) In place of recitals, adult students

CONTINUED ON PAGE 18

JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021