FORT LUPTON — A new music school opened in town Oct. 3 at 150 Main St., behind the Sonic to provide an affordable way to learn to play a musical instrument.
The school’s founder, Preethi Burkholder created the school to approach music education from a variety of methods including piano lessons, childrens’ music ensemble classes and music therapy programs for seniors.
“Mezzo in Italian – you have so many Italian terms in music – it means moderate or half. I wanted it to be an all-inclusive music place, not emphasizing a certain or rigid style, but a moderate and inclusive music place,” Burkholder said.
Burkholder started practicing piano when she was five years old living in her native Sri Lanka, an island nation off the coast of India.
“Every morning I got up to the sounds of Beethoven and Bach. My father, especially, played an important role in giving me an appreciation of classical music when I was very young,” Burkholder said. “I remember my father would always say it was my passport to go different places, and it truly opened up doors for me and put me in touch with wonderful people.”
Burkholder practiced every day and eventually earned scholarships to come to the United States to continue her piano studies.
“It’s really because of classical piano that I got a chance to come here as an immigrant,” Burkholder said. “I passed with high honors in piano performance from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.”
She went on to get her masters degree in ethnomusicology from Tufts University.
“So that’s my formal background, but in between that, I participated in several music festivals,” Burkholder said. “The reason why I ended up in Colorado is because I received a scholarship to be in the Aspen Music Festival as a classical pianist.”
Burkholder has taken her music knowledge to find ways to give back, including providing musical therapy to help heal patients.
“When I play at long-term care facilities, I don’t just play classical music,” Burkholder said. “Because that can be too heavy for the seniors listening. I play the piano in over 100 long-term care facilities throughout Colorado, and I play songs such as ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’ and ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ – you know, light music.”
Burkholder volunteered to lead a community sing-a-long Oct. 13 at the seniors’ lunch at the Fort Lupton Recreation Center.
While her focus in on helping children and seniors, Burkholder believes piano playing is a skill for any age.
“Piano, if you get it started early, can make a big difference before your finger positions are formed,” Burkholder said. “But I have also met many seniors who have come up to say that they wish they started playing piano when they were younger and they ask, ‘is it too late?’ And I’ve met people who are 70 years old and 80 years old and they just want to learn to play a basic song. And I’ve taught them to play because it’s never too late to start.”
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email email@example.com.