Since childhood, the joy of music has played an integral part in Nissa Anderson’s life.
“[Music] was always something I wanted to do,” she said. “I had been very interested in music since I was 4 years old, begging my older brother to teach me to play songs on the guitar.”
Eventually gravitating toward violin, Anderson attended school in LaGrange-Brookfield District 102, where as a fourth-grader she had the opportunity to join the orchestra — an extracurricular most elementary districts don’t offer.
By seventh grade at Park Junior High School, Anderson’s parents noticed she was more than just “interested” in violin — she was fixated on the instrument, working tirelessly to master her craft.
It was that dedication that convinced Anderson’s parents to enroll her in Suzuki-method violin lessons, whose philosophy encourages learning music in a way that parallels acquiring a native language and emphasizes the development of a child’s character.
Moving on to the orchestra at Lyons Township High School, the LaGrange Park native knew that as she approached adulthood, she couldn’t let her passion for music fall to the wayside.
Somehow, Anderson had to make music her life’s calling.
“By the end of high school, I realized this is a huge part of my life, and I can’t see myself being happy years down the road if this is not what I’m doing with my life,” she said.
Anderson attended Lake Forest College, continuing to play violin, completing Suzuki method training and graduating in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in music education.
At first, Anderson had stints teaching violin and viola in public schools and students’ homes. However, she soon realized that bouncing between locations would not be sustainable long term.
While teaching at A Sound Education in Brookfield, it dawned on her — why not open a studio of her own?
While Anderson, now a Westchester resident, was welcomed by A Sound Education to teach out of their space, one year later she began scouting locations to open her own business in the Riverside area.
“Part of why I picked Riverside is because I know Riverside has a pretty strong community, and a community that is particularly supportive of the arts,” Anderson said. “When I noticed that Riverside itself doesn’t have something like this to boast already, I thought, ‘That doesn’t make a lot of sense, so I should fill that need.’”
She eventually settled upon a quiet space in the lower level of Riverside’s Ascension Lutheran Church, 400 Nuttall Road.
“I really liked the fact that Ascension is right across from Ames School, because it makes it very easy to locate, and it also makes you feel like you’re in a relatively safe place,” she said. “The church has a beautifully maintained garden and looks like a nice, welcoming space when you pull up.”
Officially in the new space since last September, Anderson Music Studio is focused on specifically training students in the Suzuki method.
“The Suzuki method is very different from a traditional methodology where the child gets dropped off at their lesson and the parent disappears and then the parent picks them up later,” she said. “The Suzuki method heavily involves the parents in everything we do, so it’s a very collaborative environment where the parent and teacher are working together to nurture this student into a well-rounded performer over the course of several years.”
In addition to her teaching, Anderson Music Studio only has one other teacher, Grace Walker, though Anderson says she will soon have to look to add more faculty to her roster.
“Part of the Suzuki method specifically is that we are not only trying to nurture these very accomplished musicians that are capable of playing at a really high level, but we’re also very much interested in instilling those transfer skills, like discipline, confidence, poise and perseverance,” she said.
Anderson, who has taught children through seniors, says students of all ages are welcome to the new studio.
To learn more about the studio, visit andersonmusic.studio.