We had the good fortune of connecting with H-Town Strings and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi H-Town, how does your business help the community or world?
H-Town Strings is a music school for students age three to adults. The majority of students we work with are school age. We feel that especially in these challenging times when students’ educational structures have shifted so dramatically, we are able to be somewhat of a constant in each family’s life. The Suzuki philosophy encourages character first education, so we are using music as a vehicle to develop the whole child, to develop skills that they will continue to use even if they don’t pursue a career in music. Another aspect that is so unique to long-term music education is the length of time that we are able to work with our students and to oversee their development. It’s wonderful to watch these students grow and progress so much through the years!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As well as freelancing in the Houston area, education has become more of a passion for us in the last five years. Ed and I (Katherine) met when I was studying at the Royal College of Music in London. After I finished my Masters, my visa to stay in the UK ran out, and we needed to find a country to move to that would take both of us! We ended up teaching at an international school in Singapore for three years and running the strings department together. It was over those years where we learned to work together and how best to use each others strengths to create the best programs for our students. We’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the direct impact that music and music education can have on students lives, and we’re still in touch with many of them which is awesome! As our studio grew here in Houston and we needed a dedicated space for our teaching—our young daughter and our dog make our living room a pretty distracting environment—we bought a house with a falling down garage and started renovations on our backyard studio. In spite of our destructive 9 month old, a loud construction zone outside, the beginnings of a global pandemic and then a pivot to online lessons, looking back on it, I think the normalcy that we were able to provide for families in this time has been really valuable for all of us, and made it all worth it! We even decided to host our very first Online Summer Workshop, which we called Rise to the Challenge. We ended up with over 30 students and 12 faculty zooming in from 10 different states across the country, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience, for us as well as the students. It’s inspiring to watch our students and parents fight to keep the music going during this difficult period, and they continue to make phenomenal progress!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston has such an interesting and diverse arts scene, it’s hard to know where to start. A big highlight for us would be Miller Outdoor Theatre, in the summer time you can get a wonderful array of different kinds of music, theatre and dance, and they have great programming for young kids too. It’s wonderfully accessible to anyone who visits Hermann park, we love to get over there for an open-air concert whenever we can! Discovery Green also puts on great shows and performances, and that’s such a fun location, right in the heart of downtown. Between us, Ed and I have played a number of great arts venues around town too, Stages Repertory Theatre, the George Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, the Hobby Center, there’s so much to check out and we really hope people will support these organizations as they try to find their feet again post-lockdown. Oh, and the Sunday brunch at the Rustic is not to be missed, plus they always have great live music going on!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many people who helped both of us get to where we are. First and foremost, our parents, who made us stick with it through the many inevitable rough patches that come with learning how to play an instrument. There were many bribes involved! To the parents out there who are sometimes wondering if it’s worth it, hang in there! They will thank you later! Also to our teachers, who encouraged and inspired or maybe even dragged us along the very difficult path of learning to play our instruments. We definitely would not have made it to where we are without the dedication and support of our educational mentors, and we try to remember that responsibility as we step into the role ourselves.