When Patricia Wooldridge’s young son took piano lessons through Oregon’s Academy of Sound, she observed his newfound passion for music.
That sparked an idea for the Mariposa Learning Center director — bringing the two businesses together to teach children music. Seeing how her son now flourishes as a pianist, she wanted to bring that same enthusiasm to her students up to 9 years old.
Wooldridge said younger children, like her son was when he started, are in the most critical stages of development, rendering them extra capable of absorbing creative disciplines like music and language.
“We didn’t know he had this passion for playing an instrument,” she said. “We were given a piano from our neighbor. He got really interested and we got him the lessons.”
The nationally accredited center Mariposa Learning Center is known for its emphasis on Spanish and the arts, Wooldridge said, and Academy of Sound is locally known for its offering of private music lessons.
Wooldridge originally approached Erin Chisman, Academy of Sound owner, last winter and found they had similar philosophies about how youngsters learn, the same love for Spanish and a strong enthusiasm for music.
“It was like a perfect match,” Chisman said. “I couldn’t have imagined it being more cohesive. We hit it off immediately.”
The idea turned into a business partnership. How that partnership fares however, is contingent upon a rapidly evolving and uncertain health crisis – one that has already shuttered businesses across the globe, Wooldridge said.
The Mariposa Learning Center’s current facility is located at 720 Nygaard St. in Stoughton. The hope is that come June 15, Mariposa Learning Center will move into its new building currently under construction on 4870 Brassica Road, Fitchburg, right in front of the Oregon School District’s Forest Edge Elementary School.
The new facility features a space for Mariposa students to create music to their heart’s content with Academy of Sound music expertise.
Wooldridge said Mariposa Learning Center has outgrown its Stoughton-based facility. The Fitchburg building will offer more amenities for students, in addition to the music room equipped with instruments like pianos, brass and others.
“We originally thought we would expand and have multiple locations,” she said. “With the size of the location in Fitchburg, it would make it hard for me to focus on two different sites.”
Fitchburg’s center will include an art studio, a natural playground and a garden.
Efforts to merge the two businesses together were seamless, Wooldridge said. She has high hopes everything will come together just as effortlessly.
So plans were set in motion — the two owners joined forces and made sure there was a spot for Mariposa Learning Center students to be exposed to music at an early age.
Exactly how that end result will be achieved is a waiting game, both owners said.
Mariposa Learning Center is deemed an essential child care facility under Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” orders, which he extended to May 26. The center already has its enrollment numbers for summer and autumn, Wooldridge said.
“We still have plenty of people who are essential workers who have somewhere to send their children to,” she said.
But, Wooldridge said the school has cut its staff by 50% while the illness spreads.
As for Academy of Sound, Chisman said the business has adapted well to offering virtual music lessons to its students. The academy had to close its building, which meant a decrease in foot traffic in its shop. Chisman said the Academy hasn’t lost any students of its own.
“I’m shocked,” she said.
Both owners said as the pandemic evolves, so too will their business partnership. Both expressed no indication it will be falling through anytime soon — they just have to continue to plan as developments come up.
“We have very supportive families,” Wooldridge added. “We have high hopes that we will get through this. We are doing much better than I thought we would be.”