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CLIVE, Iowa — For Blake Dreckman, Emma Fuhrmeister and Alexa Davis a piano studio in Clive has been a much-needed break from pandemic life. “I’ve been taking lessons here past year.” Blake says, “and mostly via Zoom.”

Instructor Whitney Maxwell explains that most of the learning happens under headphones, so it works well on Zoom.  But by last spring, she and her students were ready to ditch Zoom and bloom instead. “Having that in-person connection,” Maxwell sighs, “there’s just no comparison.”

She’s never known a life without music. She started playing violin at four and piano at seven. She’s been playing ever since, and first started teaching on the side in 2001 before leaving the corporate world for dueling pianos gigs all over the country, and the world. “A lot of countries in Europe,” she says, “I did seven cruise contracts. Then right before Covid, I did a military tour where we flew to Turkey – then Great Britain. We got on a tour bus, like a rock star tour bus, and went from Belgium to Germany. We stopped at 10 military bases and played for US troops.”

Then Covid canceled everything. Whitney came home to Iowa and started teaching again.  “I was able to sub via Zoom for a piano teacher who was on maternity leave and that was huge.” And that’s how the seeds of Bloom Music Studio were planted.  Whitney says “The hope and the goal is brightening their day, and growing their confidence. Watching that is so rewarding.”

Melina Mena-Davis signed her daughter up for lessons last spring. “On her first day Alexa – my daughter – was wearing a Beatles shirt and Miss Whitney just loved it and said – yes, this is the right place for you!”

Alexa’s grandmother was a music teacher for forty years. “We’ve always known the importance of music education and it fuels that creative side of your brain,” explains Melina, “and my daughter is very much a science person so we wanted to feed that creative side of hers.”

When asked if she has any regrets about coming home and starting an entirely different career, Maxwell says, “Absolutely not. This was meant to be. I was meant to connect with these people and I am so grateful for them,”

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