This week, South Austin Moms interviewed Alena Bystritskiy, founder of Learn a Gift Music and Creative Arts Center.
Alena, thank you for allowing us to tell local families about you and your business. Can you tell us more about yourself and your family?
I was born in one of the most beautiful cities in Russia — St. Petersburg! When I was 8 years old, my entire family moved to Germany. In Berlin, I finished school specializing in harp performing. I attended the harp conservatory in Rostock, and after graduation, I performed with symphony orchestras of Germany. I also taught at the State Music School of Berlin.
I am a professional musician, ballroom dancer, and a teacher. Having lived in three countries, I am fluent in Russian, German, and English. My husband and I met in New York, and we have two children. After we moved to Austin three years ago, I wanted to find somewhere local that taught languages and performing arts to children, just like we had where I grew up, but I could not find any. So, I decided to create my own!
Please tell us about your company! Where did the business name come from?
Each class is specially tailored for kid’s ages and interests. We love to blend different art forms together, incorporating music, art, and movement in each lesson, in order to enrich kid’s experiences and booster their skills. We learn through play and engaging activities, which open up children’s creativity and spark their imagination and development.
The name “Learn a gift” came from my little daughter! She told me that learning to make the right dance move or singing a song makes other kids happy, as if they just got a Christmas present. So, we are learning a gift, she told me. To me, it was a great idea — and a great name for what we do here!
How has COVID affected your business?
Learn a Gift originally opened just before COVID hit, and I had no other choice but to transfer all sessions online. To be honest, some of the classes were affected more than others – especially performance art and musical painting. You see, kids need emotions and in-person contact in order to achieve best results, especially when it involves art. With these kinds of classes being held online, it is easy to ruin concentration and focus. However, with restrictions lifted, we offer both online and in-person sessions, making it convenient for parents, as they have more options to pick from
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
I really love Taverna and Yanagi. As for kid-friendly restaurants, Flores Mexican is our go-to spot!
Our mission is to give moms the gift of time. What are your best time-saving tips/resources as a mom?
I try to resolve all problems as soon as possible. I’ve noticed if I start postponing, things will just keep adding up and then there’s no way back. For me it’s very important to do everything on time. And I’ve learned to do everything together with my kids. Do not underestimate the power of time management!
Thank you, Alena for your time! For more information on classes and schedules, visit Learn A Gift