Curious Chords

Music school in Kyle sees enrollment crescendo

When Jenny Sandoval started Curious Chords music school five years ago, there weren't eight studio rooms and 18 instructors—it was a business she managed from the spare room in her home in Kyle until about the time she signed up her 55th customer.

"I was the only teacher, and when I started I had 12 students," Sandoval said.

Sandoval moved the business to 168 Kirkham Circle in 2008, and after finding out she was pregnant with triplets in 2009, she decided to sell the business to the most eager buyer she could find: her mother, Kathy Brown.

"She took over and hit the ground running like crazy, I mean, like, insane," Sandoval said.

Brown managed to split her time between the business and working at a college planning company until mid-2012, when she quit to focus on Curious Chords full-time.

Today, the business has 240 students and offers classes in piano, guitar, trumpet, drums, cello, violin and less traditional instruments such as the Irish whistle and dulcimer. Curious Chords also offers Kindermusik, an education program aimed at children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years.

Brown and Sandoval believe in Kindermusik so deeply that each of Sandoval's five children has been enrolled in it.

"It really helps with bonding with the parents, and it helps a lot with motor skills," Sandoval said. "There's a big focus for the child to be able to explore what the curriculum is teaching them in any way that is appropriate for each child individually."

Brown said she has not been surprised by the business' growth because of Kyle's population increase. Between 2000 and 2010, the city experienced a 427 percent growth rate as the population grew to more than 28,000. But the population is not the only thing that keeps her enrollment growing, she said.

"I don't just hire people off of Craigslist," Brown said. "They have to come recommended by someone, we go through two to three interview processes, then the other music teachers have to meet that person. They have to have a love for kids."

The business expanded into the second half of the building it currently occupies in August 2011. Brown said she anticipates that in a year and a half Curious Chords will be working on building its own music studio. Wanting to have lots of extra space, she applied a lesson she learned while singing in church choirs.

"People aren't going to join you if you look like you don't have room," Brown said. "They'll say, 'Oh they don't need us.'"

Brown said the business' growth can be illustrated in the types of treats she offers her students. When there were 40 children coming to the house each week, she would make sure to have fresh-baked cookies waiting for them. But she said a new batch each day would not be able to keep up with the students who are enrolling.

It is not unusual for children who are walking or biking near Curious Chords to drop in unannounced just to say "Hi" to "Miss Kathy," who never sends the children out without a hug and a few questions about their last lesson, Brown said.

"I think they feel at home here," Brown said. "I feel like I don't have eight grandchildren—I have 240, and I just love them."

More information

Curious Chords offers a wide range of class options, including:

  • Private instruction—Half hour private plus half hour theory lab, $99 per month
  • Private instruction—One hour private plus half hour theory lab, $188 per month
  • Kindermusik classes—$60 per month

Curious Chords also has financing options available for families looking to buy an instrument from select Austin vendors

Curious Chords, 168 Kirkham Circle, Kyle, 512-268-0168, www.curiouschords.com