The new Studio E music school opens its doors – The Scarlet and Black

By Ohana Sarvotham
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Erin Bustin, who has lived and taught music at Grinnell for 7 years, welcomed visitors to her new music school, Studio E, on Saturday November 6th. The opening was an opportunity for people to come and discover the new studio. Friends and well-wishers celebrated the opening of the new venture while the students gave their first of hopefully many performances in space. However, beyond just offering music lessons, Bustin hopes Studio E will help fill a void that she believes exists in the Grinnell music community.

“What I’ve seen in my years here is a lot of families taking their kids, or adult students, to Des Moines or Iowa City for classes. At the same time, we have musicians who come to Grinnell several times a week who are willing to teach, but don’t want to teach in home studios. Bustin’s goal was to create a bridge between these groups of people so that music lessons – already a big financial and time commitment for many – would become more accessible to members of the Grinnell community.

The sad truth is that we are at a time when music is something we consume, and not necessarily something most people actively participate in; there is this estrangement from participatory musical creation. -Erin Bustin, owner of Studio E

Bustin, who has been actively involved in music since the age of six, previously lived in Toronto, Canada, where she sang professionally and worked in arts management. Since moving to Grinnell, she has worked at various music-related nonprofits and has taught home vocal lessons. She currently teaches students between the ages of seven and 70. She leads a group lesson at Studio E called Music Together, which is an international early childhood music and movement program for children from birth to eight, so her youngest “student” is a three months. One of Bustin’s key principles in music education is that music is important at all ages.

“In my own experience, I find teaching adult students incredibly rewarding,” Bustin said. “The sad truth is that we are at a time when music is something we consume, and not necessarily something most people actively participate in; there is this estrangement from participatory musical creation. This means that when adults with no prior musical experience seek music lessons, Bustin actively helps them find that opportunity. “It really aligns with my own values ​​and beliefs around music making,” she said. “Especially, as a singer, literally helping people find their voice is, I think, really amazing at any age.”

Studio E currently offers private lessons in vocals and various instruments, with students having virtual and in-person options, as well as group lessons such as the Music Together course. “Hopefully I can expand based on what the community wants,” Bustin said. If the demand for lessons in a certain instrument is high enough, she hopes to bring in regional music teachers to offer lessons at Studio E.

As for the future of Studio E, Bustin’s vision is for it to be a space that fosters the music community at Grinnell, especially after the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I love the community building that happens in music communities,” Bustin said. “After the pandemic, for music lovers, for those involved in music, giving up singing together and making music together has been horrible. And so, as pandemic restrictions ease, people want to make music together.

The sad truth is that we are at a time when music is something we consume, and not necessarily something most people actively participate in; there is this estrangement from participatory musical creation. -Erin Bustin, owner of Studio E

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