Only a little more than two months after opening in downtown Rock Island, Andrzej Kozlowski is already looking at moving his Sound Conservatory to a larger location.
The music school and store opened at 2235 3rd Ave., Rock Island, on March 1, 2022, and has grown so much, it may move later this year.
Kozlowski said recently he has outgrown the space, especially with four new teachers wanting to come on board. “I don’t have the space,” he said of his building, owned by dphilms next door. “With my lessons, I’ve almost paid off my investment into the building. I’ve sold eight guitars at this point, from a limited selection, and seven pianos. I know how to market.”
He worked two months on the $20,000 renovations, completely remodeling the interior himself, including hickory-style vinyl plank flooring.
Kozlowski is working with Jack Cullen (downtown Rock Island director for the QC Chamber of Commerce) on other potential downtown locations to move the music school.
“I’m at the point where I need to expand,” Kozlowski said, noting one possible spot is the former Memorial Christian Church (217 15th St.), which has been vacant over 15 years. That sanctuary could host concerts, and the building house a piano rebuilding factory, he said.
“You have all the Sunday school classrooms that could be turned into teaching studios,” Kozlowski said. One of the owners was a performer at his April 30 scholarship benefit.
“I would love to buy that building,” he said. “It not only serves where I want to be in growth with my business, but potential future growth – it’s all there.”
Sound Conservatory is geared to students of any age. In addition to Kozlowski teaching piano, other teachers include Craig Bentley (guitar), Jenni Pickering (violin and viola), Gordon Pickering (cello and bass guitar), and Kindred Priest (bass guitar, trumpet and euphonium). They hope to hire another teacher for all brass instruments, and expand to offer woodwind instruments as well.
With the recent sale of dphilms to TAG, there will be no change to the Sound Conservatory lease, Kozlowski said.
“It’s a good problem to have, but there’s a hurdle in moving in that direction right now,” he said.
More scholarships and a fundraiser May 21
Another Sound Conservatory priority is raising money to give away scholarships for music students.
Kozlowski will have another award ceremony Thursday, for three Rock Island violin students and one cello student, for two months’ worth of lessons. Sound Conservatory has raised over $1,000 for scholarships.
There’s another benefit concert planned for May 21 at 6:30 p.m., with singer-songwriter Bethann Heidgerken.
“To me, this has been an incredible success, right off the ground. My goal is to start giving private performances at my home, for 20 people, with catering done, for people who want to donate large amounts of money toward the scholarship fund,” Kozlowski said.
The May 21 event will be the third benefit fundraiser for Sound Conservatory’s Scholarship Fund. All proceeds will be awarded as scholarships to three students from the Edison Junior High School towards music education at Sound Conservatory.
An Iowa native, Heidgerken started her musical pursuits in Dubuque, and was performing professionally in bands by age 15. She received her bachelor’s of arts at the University of Iowa and spent her college years pursuing her music as a singer-songwriter, as well as performing in local Iowa City bands. She currently lives in Davenport.
Music was “an outlet to express myself, to be heard, and it was very therapeutic,” Heidgerken says in a promo video for the benefit. “As a kid, to find some sort of activity that grounds you — music did that for me. I just continued to do it. The more you practice, the more you accomplish, the more it drives you to continue and do more.”
“I think music is necessary in the education system,” she says. “To put it simply, music is life, it has energy and flow.”
“It’s also a way for children to find their own outlets, find their own ways to express their feelings,” Heidgerken says. “Because of that, it’s incredibly important — arts in our schools and music in our schools, is a necessary part of the curriculum for children to thrive.”
Kozlowski gives scholarships to students from financially disadvantaged families, that can’t afford private lessons, but show a great interest in wanting to play.
“The goal is to get everyone, little by little. Everyone’s going to have an opportunity,” he said. They’re focusing on junior high students, to give them “that push to really learn and advance, to see what their potential is,” Kozlowski said. “Eventually, we will move into the high school level.”
Eventually, Sound Conservatory would like to offer college scholarships as well. For more information, visit the website.