Despite a pandemic that hit the arts harder than many industries, the Ossining-based Mike Risko Music School did not slow down on its devotion to its students or community.
“Even though we had to lock the door, we did not turn the lights off,” Miriam Risko says.
While wearing masks and being six feet apart was the new norm, Mike and Miriam were constructing ways to keep the rhythm going. The two worked with the Ossining Library to create singing telegrams as a way to help keep the library afloat. The duo also spent Mother’s Day going room to room in nursing homes to provide residents with some musical joy. “You have to give back, and bring people together,” Miriam says.
Miriam and Mike’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Mike Risko Music School recently received an award from the National Association of Music Merchants, being named the “Best Community Retail Store.” It was also a finalist in the “Music Makes a Difference,” “Best Customer Service,” and “Best Sales and Marketing” categories.
With their music school, Mike and Miriam Risko have taught children beginning their instrumental journey, plus adults who have rock-star dreams, and sold musical equipment including instruments and amps.
The Riskos say that it’s rewarding to enrich generations of musicians and to energize their community in ways that feel purposeful and significant. “They’re all people who we taught who now bring their kids to us,” says Miriam. “It’s become surreal.”
The Riskos’ love of sharing music to the masses goes back 25 years ago while they split the spotlight in a rock band.
“My mom used to say I would sing before I could talk,” jokes Miriam, who teaches voice and piano. Mike, who was teaching private guitar lessons before Miriam decided to join him and expand their reach, attributes his love of music to listening to his grandfather’s old radio with a headset. He says he was fascinated by how the dials affected the music. From that moment, he knew that this beauty and art was something he needed to share with the people around him.