For 32 years, music education and exploration has been a high note for Kevin and Patricia Richards. The husband-and-wife duo founded the Fairmount School of Music in 1988 by offering private lessons and workshops for those who wandered into the Cleveland Heights business curious about exploring the guitar, banjo, piano, mandolin and more.
“Music should be fun and engaging. Not regimented and choreographed,” says Patricia. “It should motivate and energize. Students and instructors should be able to enjoy it.”
But, with COVID-19 causing a 20% loss in business and forcing them to alter the way they teach lessons, the couple is now expanding their outreach by partnering with Musicologie.
With four studios in Columbus and a team of more than 60 instructors with diverse backgrounds and specialties, Musicologie is the largest music education organization in Ohio. Founded in 2014 by former touring musicians and educators Joseph and Kay Barker, their online presence is geared to creating an inclusive community of musicians using digital technology to allow for virtual lessons.
“I had always been looking for young entrepreneurs who wanted to embrace technology as an educational tool,” says Kevin.
In September, the Richards partnered with the Barkers to transition their longtime hub into a Musicologie studio, the company’s first outside of Columbus. The partnership allows the Richards access to weekly staff meetings with their business partners across Columbus to improve their studio through professional development workshops, marketing and education opportunities. Attending these meetings provides them support to expand their reach in Cleveland, as well as understand how their partners in Columbus are working and developing professional goals.
“They have really helped us generate a lot of excitement in the Cleveland Heights area by getting our names and our story out there,” says Patricia. “They helped us find new students and teachers.”
It’s the excitement and willingness to change that keeps the couple moving forward.
“We can even get teachers from Columbus to help educate students on a specific instrument that’s not offered in the Cleveland area,” Kevin says. “The education world has been turned upside down, in a good way, by the internet.”
Currently, the school has more than 120 students enrolled, with 80% learning through virtual lessons. The couple is also working on plans to begin renovating their space, combining 12 in-house studios to create a larger workspace for sessions.
“We still have the core group of teachers and students that have been with us for decades,” Kevin says. “What has changed is from a technological standpoint.