Eskay’s Music Lessons showcases melodious students
When Sarah Khan’s 23 students, including several from the Oyster Bay area, recently took the stage at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center Recital Hall, it represented a substantial milestone for Eskay’s Music Lessons, her fledgling business centered on providing private music instruction for students throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The Brookville native, who is a Jericho High School alum, founded the school in August 2016. Nearly two years later, she boasts 100 students sprinkled throughout numerous communities including Jericho, Syosset, Manhasset, Great Neck and Dix Hills. Khan leads a staff of six instructors, including herself, who teach piano, guitar, violin and viola to pupils ranging from 4 to 15 years of age, along with a handful of adults.
Khan is heavily involved with all aspects of her school—meeting with every student for their first lesson along with their instructor. Having worked as an instructor at a number of other music schools before deciding to plant her own flag, the budding entrepreneur wanted to ensure that her venture was infused with a combined distinct personal touch and flexibility when it comes to mapping out instruction and payment plans.
“When I was working at a lot of these schools, I barely met the owner. I never saw the manager and I could tell that they were not as available to the people that they were working with. I wanted to set up a system where the person who started it was not a mystery behind the curtain,” she said. “I wanted to give families the ability to put lessons on hold if they needed to take a break or stop and not lock them into long-term things. It’s all about having a lot of flexibility, even with our teachers. I also wanted to create something where the teachers felt important and the owner, in this case me, has their back. I didn’t feel that way when I was working at a lot of these schools. I also check in with our families, students and teachers all the time. I always say to everyone that if they’re not sure about something, to always ask me because I’m always happy to answer anyone’s questions. It’s not annoying, which is why I had to cut down on my teaching schedule a bit so that I can be available.”
Lessons are in the 30-minute, 45-minute and 60-minute range, depending on a potential student’s ability level.
This love of one-on-one instruction dates back to Khan’s own days of having a teacher come to her home to give lessons. An accomplished, piano-playing singer-songwriter in her own right, who has performed at venues like Manhattan’s Bitter End and has an EP under her belt, the Brookville resident grew up the oldest of three.
After her family moved to Brookville from Smithtown when she was in seventh grade, Khan overcame her shyness to eventually play in Jericho’s middle and high school orchestra, in addition to the Gemini Youth Orchestra, a musical outfit she had to audition to join.
While she earned a B.A. from New York University in film and television, music has always been at the forefront of Khan’s life, dating back to a childhood of gorging on MTV every time her mother left to go grocery shopping while Khan watched her sister.
After having creative differences with the team that worked on her first release, Khan dabbled with teaching a few students privately before deciding to return to NYU to earn her master’s. After a false start, Khan decided to strike out on her own.
“In the midst of teaching a few students privately, I was performing and making records. It wasn’t until 2009, that I decided to go back to school for a graduate degree in music education because I thought I wanted to work in a school system,” she explained. “I realized it wasn’t for me. I worked at a charter school for a very brief period and going through that was the inspiration for me to want to start my own program and my own music school.”
Khan avoids calling the upcoming Adelphi University event a recital, as she feels it’s less a serious endeavor and more a chance for students to shine without any pressure. To that end, participation is voluntary. And unlike other schools, the musicians don’t have to pay to be involved and moreover, admission is free. Khan was so caught up in the idea of doing something like this, that she booked it a couple of months after she started her business, even before she knew how large her student body was going to be.
“I always knew that provided that the school was going to grow, I wanted to have a showcase at a nice venue, as opposed to the basement of a piano shop or someone’s home. Adelphi hosts these kinds of things, so even before I had the teachers and students I have, I actually booked this space back in 2016,” she recalled. “I like to use the word showcase as opposed to the word recital, because sometimes people think of recitals as being very serious. This is very much the opposite. It’s going to be a day where our students can share what they have been learning with their teacher and sharing it with their friends and families. It’s something that they can be proud of doing at the end of it all.”
For more information about Eskay’s Music Lessons, visit www.eskaysmusiclessons.com or call 516-415-1825.