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October 16, 2013

A new beat at Musical Suite

Longtime Port music school changes hands

NEWBURYPORT — The Musical Suite has hummed along harmoniously in the Newburyport community for 25 years.

Over those years, its six studios have welcomed many hundreds of experienced and novice musicians of all ages to express themselves on piano, strings, woodwinds, brass and guitar, or in song.

Wielding the baton since she opened the music school in 1989, Nancy Hayes, a Juilliard-trained violinist, has poured her passion and business acumen into what its regulars fondly call The Suite.

But after 38 years of teaching, the word “retirement” struck a chord, and Hayes has decided to pass the baton on to a new generation.

“I am excited to announce that Zach Field and I recently reached an agreement, and as of Jan. 1, 2014, he will be the new owner of The Musical Suite,” Hayes said.

Field is the owner of Zach Field Drum Studios, two zig-zags away from The Suite down the Tannery corridor. “This is not a merger,” he said. “The two schools will be operated separately.

“Nothing will change at The Suite except the owner’s name on the letterhead,” Field said. “I don’t want to change the business or teaching model; I want to build on its success.” He added that current Suite administrative director Chuck Walker would continue in his position.

The school has thrived ever since Hayes’ first-year student body of four blossomed into 60 by year’s end. Today’s tally is approximately 300. It is estimated that the Musical Suite has served more than 1,000 families in its 25-year history. Even during the recent recession, when Hayes feared arts instruction would be the first item in people’s budgets to be cut, “We did not see any drop in our student registration,” she said. “It says a lot for the community’s faith in the school and in having music in their lives.”

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