You won’t believe the location of this new Detroit piano school

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Learning to tickle the ivories has the trappings of upper-class elegance. The instrument itself conjures images of grand parlors and sophistication. A person might learn an instrument and become a musician or performer, but the piano enjoys a reputation as a “composer’s instrument,” suggesting aspirations higher and more serious than a late-night jam session.

So you’d think a piano studio aspiring to teach the art instrument in Detroit would choose a high-toned setting: a Boston-Edison mansion, a sun-splashed townhouse in Lafayette Park, a room with commanding city views perched on one of the upper floors of a downtown skyscraper.

Actually, not at all: The newest piano studio is opening in the gritty Russell Industrial Center.

It’s called Melody Piano Detroit, and it’s the project of business owner and instructor Suzan Pleva. She’s a piano instructor who’s worked out of Metamora for six years. Lately, she’s been spending time in Detroit, where she says she’s noticed an area “thriving with extremely talented musicians,” but underserved by music educators. With her background in classical piano and music theory, she hopes to help change that.

Melody Piano Detroit will offer private piano lessons for students as young as 4, but students don’t need to be beginners: Pleva teaches immediate and advanced students as well. Lessons include piano technique, music theory, sight reading, music notation, time signatures and more.

As for the grittiness of the hulking Russell Industrial Center, Pleva doesn’t see studying piano there as incongruous at all, given that “the Russell Industrial Center is a place filled with creative minds and businesses.” In fact, she says she likes that the instrument’s evocative tones will mingle with the other arts bubbling behind the building’s rough exterior

“I know the exact demographic that I am looking for when it comes to my student base,” Pleva says. “It is the people who are able to see the core value in what a solid music education in music theory and piano can bring them.”

Curious? Interested? You don’t need to make a special appointment to peek in on Melody Piano Detroit. Drop by the Russell Industrial Center’s “Winter Open Studio” event this weekend and you can wander into Pleva’s studio, where she’ll have appetizers and refreshments, as well as some light piano music, of course. Guests are welcome after 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at 1600 Clay St., Detroit. The business opens to the public on Monday, Dec. 14.

For more information see Melody Piano Detroit’s Facebook page, or For more information, call Pleva directly at 810-338-5795. 

About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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