New Kid on the Block: Further Music School

When I went to visit Further Music School, I pretty much begged owner Carrie Shi to play for me — I imagined shooting a video of the space with the piano as the background music. After all, she has a bachelor’s and master’s from Juilliard in piano, and before the pandemic preformed regularly. But she declined. She insisted instead that the talents of the teacher are not as important as the challenges in front of the student, and the skills they develop along the way. It’s the kids she wanted me to hear playing.

Shi started teaching in 2007, just after receiving her Master of Music degree, in the apartment she shared with a violin player who was also from China. “I didn’t really think of it as a business because I was the only teacher,” she said of those early days. But when her roommate moved back home, she decided to expand and rent a commercial space on the Upper East Side. That was 2011. She now has 45 teachers and 5000 students at six schools across the country, including one in Forest Hills and one in Manhasset (Flushing closed during the pandemic). Investors help with the capital build-out.

Shi still practices two hours a day, but she stopped teaching three years ago in order to focus on the business. “Piano is still my major — I want to keep my skills — but I love running the business. Since I was a kid that was my big passion. Piano was more of my hobby.”

The space on Broadway and Barclay has six rooms all equipped with pianos but the focus is classical training across all instruments, not just piano: violin, drum, guitar, flute, saxophone, voice. There are private and group lessons for kids and adults as well as an early childhood program and a concert tour series.

Shi had never been to the neighborhood, but her students had suggested she open a location down here since they said it was a big family location. (Correct!) Shi liked how central it was to transportation and other parts of the city.

As for the name, it’s part of her ethos.

“This is my spirit,” Shi said. “In Chinese culture you can always challenge yourself and move past difficulties and do better. And Better Music school sounded silly.”

Further Music School
225 Broadway at Barclay, Suite 640