Beverly's Music School offers lessons to all ages, skill levels
February 8, 2023 at 5:55 a.m.
Tiny fingers dance down the keys as Sienna Park, 8, follows along with her music book’s song. The room smells like fresh paint and is home to an acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele and keyboard.
Beverly’s Music School opened its permanent location in Bay Street Village on Holly Street Jan. 2. Owner Beverly Greencorn has taught remote lessons in Bellingham since August 2022, however, she wanted to minimize travel time so she could teach more people, so she decided to look for a studio. Greencorn and her husband, Tim Greencorn, spent 40 hours over the holidays setting up the new digs.
“We’re going to be in the C position again, which we’ll be in for a while now,” Greencorn says in her soft, kindergarten-teacher-like voice. “So where do you set your hands up in the C position?”
One-by-one, Sienna places her fingers in the position — hesitating when she gets to her pinky. Greencorn reminds her, “Our pinky goes on C … Very nice.”
Sienna’s sisters can be heard playing in the adjacent waiting room, where their mom, Aimée Park, is equipped with snacks and an iPad in preparation for her daughters’ two 30-minute lessons.
The Park family has been taking lessons from Greencorn since September 2022. The girls take weekly piano lessons and their dad, Zach, takes guitar. Aimée, who took piano lessons as a kid, said she would love to eventually learn ukulele or guitar.
Greencorn, 28, graduated from Berklee College of Music in April 2022. Originally from Connecticut, Greencorn moved to Bellingham at 21 after visiting her brother and enjoying the city’s music and art scene. With some community college under her belt, she finished her associate degree at Whatcom Community College before starting remote learning in January 2020 at Berklee.
Greencorn, who felt lucky to begin remote learning before the pandemic, loved remote learning. Composing is her favorite aspect of music — she especially loves writing songs for movies, more so than TV or video games.
“I was just kind of born loving writing songs. I've been writing songs my whole life,” Greencorn said. “I still remember the first song I ever wrote. I was 5 years old. Just a little piano song, it was like four notes.”
After playing piano for 10 years, Greencorn started learning guitar (and later ukulele) at age 15 in Connecticut from a teacher who she “clicked” with, which put her on the path of teaching music, too.
“There was a time I quit [music],” Greencorn said. “Honestly, I was a bad student.” At 16, Greencorn quit playing for a year — until she woke up one day and realized she had to go back. By 19 years old, she had her own music students.
Greencorn teaches ages 5 and up, and has had a student as old as 90 before. Her favorite part of the job is meeting people, watching students learn to play a song they love, and of course, watching beginners go from knowing nothing to knowing something.
One of Greencorn’s goals is to host a recital for her students in the spring. As someone who didn’t play in a piano recital until she was 19, more than a decade after she started playing, Greencorn believes it’s an important part of the process to perform in front of others.
“It's terrifying to perform in front of people. I still feel terrified performing in front of people,” Greencorn said. “But I love that supportive group of people all getting together, seeing all my students in one place playing for each other. It's so much fun.”
The most challenging aspect has been learning the logistics of owning her own business — but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to do more.
She has “a million other goals,” including watching a live orchestra play something she’s written, expanding the school with other teachers, and maybe even opening a piano bar one day.
Since moving to Bellingham, Greencorn already met one of her goals: to start a band. After convincing her then-boyfriend, Tim, to learn the bass, they found a drummer and became Rose’s Thorn in 2017.
“We went to [the drummer’s] garage and we just jammed. And all of us had no idea what we were really doing,” Greencorn said. “I had more of an idea, but I had never been in a band before. And [Tim] had no idea what he was doing for sure, but he learned very quickly.”
Greencorn wrote all the songs for Rose’s Thorn, which recorded an EP and played shows in Bellingham, Seattle and even Los Angeles. They stopped playing when COVID hit and, though they don’t plan on getting back together, Greencorn aspires to play in a jazz band one day.
Back in the studio, Greencorn points to a symbol in the workbook. “What does that tell you to do?” she asks.
“Repeat the song,” Sienna answers. She begins to play it again.
When the song is over, Greencorn goes through flashcards with her student. Sienna knows them all: loud (she slams some keys); quiet (she delicately plays a few notes); repeat a song; whole and half notes (and how many beats each gets); and she learns two new terms — a quarter rest and an eighth note.
“When we see this, we’re going to rest for one beat,” Greencorn says, pointing out the symbol. She plays a note, then pauses and whispers “rest” during the silence.
Sienna recognizes eighth notes from her “Frozen” music book at home, and Greencorn sings a couple of lines from the Disney favorite “Let it Go.”
“I think ‘Frozen 2’ is actually my favorite movie,” Sienna says. The two agree that the music is better in the sequel.
While going over her homework for the upcoming week, Sienna, an over-achiever, reminds Greencorn she likes to play extra songs at home. When her lesson is over, Sienna’s sister, Aria Park, 5, takes the seat for her turn.
“Piano lessons are a beautiful thing,” Aimée said. “The books are super engaging because they’re real songs.”
Unlike when Aimée learned piano in her childhood when her mom would set a timer to make her practice, Sienna and Aria (young enough to be “sponges,” Aimée said) love practicing on their upright piano at home, especially when the songs are ones they recognize, like “Jingle Bells.”
“It’s not a chore for these guys and I love that,” Aimée said.
For more information, visit beverlysmusicschool.com.