A Spanish Fork music school is hoping to continue to encourage residents to discover creative outlets during quarantine by offering in-person and online lessons.
The Spanish Fork Yamaha Music School opened in fall 2019 as the first Yamaha franchise location to open in the United States. The second location opened a short time later in Plano, Texas.
Director Tommy Kratochvil has been a part of the music industry for about 30 years, working in several various positions over those three decades.
For some time, Kratochvil worked in music retail, working as a music manager for Barnes and Noble and lessons manager for the Guitar Center before applying for an open position with Yamaha in January. He was offered the position that same month.
Not long into his time at the music school, the coronavirus pandemic shook Utah, shutting down schools, businesses and public services.
With less than three months under his belt, Kratochvil made the decision to close the school’s facility, and he and his team worked tirelessly to switch their in-person music lessons to distanced, online sessions.
“The challenge, of course, was how do we continue to teach lessons?” he said. “We did close the school for three months based on the recommendations from the governor and CDC, but during that time we were able to continue teaching our lessons online and using Zoom.”
In June, the Yamaha Music School was able to open its doors to in-person lessons once again.
Even with the facility ready to welcome residents back into its COVID-adapted rooms, Kratochvil said the school is still allowing its clients to take lessons online or over Zoom. When students commit to in-person classes, they also acknowledge a number of new protocols that the school has in place.
Before the lesson begins, clients are required to check in, sanitize at the sanitization station, wear a mask and abide by a social distancing standard of 6 feet.
The vast majority of customers, however, elected to participate in the face-to-face classes, with only one or two students taking classes online. In fact, Kratochvil said, the Spanish Fork-based Yamaha Music School reported unusually high attendance in recent months despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the pandemic, the months-old school was supporting over 40 students as they began learning about music and music theory. In March, the student population dipped to 30 before crawling up to 35 between March and August.
Kratochvil attributes that strong attendance to a number of factors, including the presence of experienced and personable teachers, a highly-developed curriculum and a strong sense of loyalty between the school and its clients.
Additionally, Kratochvil said, residents have found a meaningful way to make the most of their free time, improve mental health and connect with family through music.
“If you were stuck at home for the last few months — indoors and especially as a child — you need outlets, you need things to do,” he said. “Taking lessons stimulates the mind and of course helps with all kinds of different skills.”
Kratochvil said the school is looking forward to welcoming more students and faculty, with an expectation to reach about 100-150 students in the near future. On the school’s first anniversary of the school’s opening quickly approaching in September, Kratochvil said he is hoping to give back to the Spanish Fork community.
The celebration, which is currently scheduled for Sept. 11-12, will including free music lessons, live music, booths and food trucks. Kratochvil said state health recommendations will be followed during the events.
“We just want continue to get out our message that students can learn and have fun and follow the Yamaha Method,” he said.
Yamaha franchise school use the Yamaha Method to teach students about music and music theory.
The method is based off of the Yamaha education system founded in Japan in the 1950s and later introduced to the US in 1965. The Yamaha Method emphasizes the general study of music as a training instead of a study of performance using a specific instrument.