Rhythm of the heart: Teacher’s love of music spreads to Truckee
This year, music teacher Meadow DeVor will watch her very first piano student graduate from high school and go away to college.
“It’s sad. I was so young when I started teaching her,” DeVor said, pointing to a picture of her student pinned up on a wall in her Truckee office. “She’s like my best friend now.”
DeVor, 29, began teaching piano out of her home in 1992 to help pay for her physics and mathematics education at Sierra Nevada College.
She had five students.
In 1996, she started the Tahoe Conservatory of Music. A year later, just before her college graduation, DeVor found a lump in her breast. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away that same year.
“That was the year I needed something to pour my heart into,” said the Truckee resident. “I realized I don’t love science. I love the kids I teach.”
DeVor opened her Kings Beach location in September 1998. The conservatory filled up quickly, with students of all ages from all over Tahoe and the Reno area.
She hired instructors, many of whom have college degrees in their various musical disciplines.
“A lot of them went to school for this. I didn’t. I’m the weird one here,” DeVor said of her 11 instructors.
On May 5, DeVor took what she called “a leap of faith” and opened a location in Truckee on May 5.
“We’re filling up so fast,” she said. “I thought maybe we’d be this busy by October, but we filled up after the first week.”
Now more than 250 students receive their musical instruction at Tahoe Conservatory of Music in piano, guitar, bass guitar, violin, viola, cello, flute, recorder and voice.
“It looks like we’re going to need a bigger facility in Truckee,” she said, looking around her office and laughing.
Music’s in the blood
DeVor comes from a family of musicians. Her father and uncle are both professional musicians in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and her cousin is a tango violinist touring South America, Europe, Japan and the United States.
DeVor began playing piano at a young age, but her parents couldn’t afford for her to continue. DeVor’s instructor saw potential in her and gave her free lessons from age 6 to 18.
“This is what I do for a living. If my teacher hadn’t given me those lessons, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Now DeVor hands out $10,000 in scholarships each year for students who can’t afford lessons. The conservatory also offers a free string ensemble and group lessons.
“I don’t want it to be that music is only for the people who can afford it,” she said. “It gets expensive for some families.”
Like her students, DeVor has grown up with the conservatory, whether it’s through her family struggles or learning the ins and outs of business. She even has a 9-month-old baby who hangs out at the office while she works.
“Every year I learn more,” she said. “I look back at the past year and say, ‘Gosh, I didn’t know anything then.'”
Tahoe Conservatory of Music’s new location is at 10106 Church St. in Truckee. For more information on the Tahoe Conservatory of Music, call 546-2356 or visit its Web site at http://www.tahoeconservatory.com.
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