WATERLOO — Chandar Boyle hadn’t secured a permanent location when she left her job to start a business offering private music lessons.
She and two other piano teachers initially operated what is now known as Music Hill Studios out of a former real estate office owned by a friend after the August 2017 opening. But they had limited amount of time to use the facility, which was being sold. Besides, Boyle had other ideas for the business.
The Cedar Falls woman had her eye on the former Calvary Baptist Church at 1509 Rainbow Drive, a high-profile location at Rainbow’s intersection with Greenhill Road.
“I knew that this building was what I wanted,” said Boyle. She liked the central location, and its easy access to U.S. Highway 218, as well as its visibility perched on the crest of a hill.
She proposed renting the facility, but the church still owned it and only wanted to sell. Her husband was skeptical that they had the money to buy the building. After all, Boyle had just quit her longtime job as the worship pastor at Heartland Vineyard Church and he was uncertain if the new business would bring in the money to fund the purchase.
Eventually, she convinced him that it would be viable based on the growing list of students coming to her for piano lessons. So, several months after opening the business, Boyle again approached Calvary Baptist, which had just decided to put the building back on the market. The two sides agreed to a sale price and she got possession of the building just before Thanksgiving 2017.
“I really consider our acquisition of this building to be a God story,” said Boyle.
She is now one of eight teachers offering lessons at the location and estimates that they have a combined 125 students each week. While the first three instructors all taught piano, others are teaching lessons in drums, guitar, bass, cello and ukulele. They also added voice instruction when Lis March Vocal Academy moved into the building while another teacher is hoping to provide drama lessons.
Once they had the building, though, there was limited time before it needed to be ready for students and music lessons. The business needed to move out of the temporary location by the end of December.
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“It was a huge project and it had to happen quick,” said Boyle. Carpet needed to be ripped out and new flooring installed. Painting and drywall work was necessary as they covered over some doorways between rooms.
The main floor, aside from the former sanctuary space and the restrooms, was gutted to complete the updates. Now they’re repairing stucco on the building’s exterior and will repaint it. Work has not yet begun on the building’s lower level.
“A lot of it’s been my husband, David, and a lot of friends,” she noted. They started operating out of the building in January 2018.
“It has been a fabulous facility,” said Boyle. “It needed a lot of work, but we’ve put a lot of TLC into it and we’re continuing to do that. And the acoustics in (the sanctuary) are awesome.”
Originally, the music studios were known as Rock N Bach. But months ago she was contacted by a business with a similar name that claimed trademark infringement.
“Since we were so new, I didn’t want to pay for legal fees,” said Boyle, so she decided to change the name, which was done by the end of May. Getting the signs with the new name has taken longer. Currently, she is seeking bids for signage.
Individual lessons are offered at Music Hill Studios along with group lessons for adults and children as young as preschool age. With a larger group performance space built in, teachers also bring their individual students together at times to form bands. Organizing students into bands is something Boyle brings from her former position with Heartland Vineyard, where she was involved in mentoring younger worship leaders.
“What I love is the collaboration with the teachers,” said Boyle. “We work together as a team, but we are all autonomous.”
She is looking for more teachers for the fall and would like to grow the variety of lessons offered, including an expansion to art. Learn more about the business and contact Boyle online at musichillstudios.com.