by Nathan Warner
The lilting notes of Debussy’s Arabesque float in the air of Jean Bostrom’s Zimmerman home where she teaches music to K–12 students. “It’s a perfect union of science and art,” she reflects warmly. “You learn the notes, and then you make the music.”
Music was a family affair for her throughout her childhood. “My whole family was very musical,” she recalls. “My father was a singer, our whole family played in the school band, and we sang in the church choir.”
Growing up, playing the piano was a natural part of everyday life.
“My whole family played the piano and I followed in their footsteps,” she said. “My sister played very well and I loved to listen to her. I wanted to play like she did.” Bostrom began learning piano at the age of 7, but it wasn’t until college that her appreciation for the piano deepened and she graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in music education.
After graduating, Jean married Don Bostrom and taught piano intermittently. They moved to Zimmerman in 1980, but she waited until her daughter was born in 1986 to begin teaching piano full time. “I wanted to do something where I could stay home and not have to send my children to day care,” she says.
Teaching piano was natural for her. “I put an ad in the paper offering my services, but most people came to me by word of mouth,” she said. Since that first day, she has never had to advertise again.
Education is an important part of her life and all of her children have graduated from college. Her own appreciation for music grew to new heights when her son began playing the piano in their Zimmerman home.
“I really love listening to him play — it’s a special connection between us,” she said.
Jean loves teaching children and it was only natural that she shared her knowledge and love of music with the community, including playing the organ at St. John Lutheran Church in Zimmerman.
“My favorite part of teaching the piano is the wonderful families that I’ve met,” she said. “You get to know people when they come into your home. It’s a very personal experience and the more the parents are involved the better the students do.”
Many of her students over the years have studied with her from first grade through senior high and many go on to study music in college, including two of her more recent students, Gus Gleiter and Allison Roberts.
Currently, Jean teaches about 50 students from her home. She also teaches classes at St. John Lutheran School in Nowthen and through Community Education in the summer.
“Each learner is different,” she said. “I like the challenge of meeting them at their own level.”