Florida couple came to eastern Idaho to retire, now own music academy where they teach 200 students - East Idaho News

Florida couple came to eastern Idaho to retire, now own music academy where they teach 200 students

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Blake and Esther Leopold are the owners of Idaho Falls Music Academy at 1341 East 17th Street. See what a vocal training session is like in the video above. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.



Retirement on hold for local couple as new music academy thrives

music room
Room where guitar lessons are taught at Idaho Falls Music Academy. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – Retirement is turning out to be busier and more profitable than Blake and Esther Leopold ever thought it would be.

The Florida couple moved to the area in 2021 after teaching music for 28 years. In March, they opened Idaho Falls Music Academy at 1341 East 17th Street.

The academy provides one-on-one instruction for piano, guitar, violin, ukelele and other string instruments. Blake also provides vocal training. See what it’s like in the video above.

The couple previously owned two music academies near Tampa. In the last six months, Blake tells EastIdahoNews.com they’ve acquired nearly 200 clients throughout eastern Idaho.

“We retained a few of our Florida students on an online basis and decided we would take a couple local students as well,” he said. “Through word of mouth, we started getting phone calls.”

Blake was a professional opera singer in his younger days and performed across the country. Esther made a supplemental income as a piano teacher.

He started teaching when kids came along so that he could be closer to home and “provide a comfortable living” for his family.

“It slowly became less of one and more of the other,” says Blake.

Taking trips together is something the Leopolds have enjoyed over the years. After fishing and hiking in Swan Valley years ago, it became a place they visited regularly. Idaho Falls is where they’d go grocery shopping.

They sold their Florida home in 2021 and decided to make Idaho Falls their hometown.

Though they never intended any of this to happen, they’re thrilled with the response.

“Gratitude to the community. They’ve been super in supporting us,” says Blake. “We plan to stay the course and continue to develop musicians.”

Pianos inside the preschool room at Idaho Falls Music Academy. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

The legacy aspect is what Blake finds most rewarding about teaching. He’s referring to his students who’ve found success doing what they love to do.

One of his former students, Sarah Hester Ross, is now a headline performer in Las Vegas. Another is making a name as an opera singer throughout Italy.

Countless others have gone on to teach music privately and in the public school system, and Blake is proud that he played a role in that.

“It’s more of a kick for me to see them accomplish (things). That’s what keeps me going,” he says.

The couple’s small building on 17th Street is nearly bursting at the seams, and Blake says expansion might be inevitable.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” the 68-year-old says, quoting a scripture in Matthew. “Right now, we’re trying to make sure that we grow in a smart fashion and that we can maintain the quality of our teaching and of our students.”

To sign up for lessons or learn more, call (208) 607-5088. You can also visit the website or Facebook page.

Blake Leopold teaches
Blake Leopold, right, working with one of his vocal students. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

preschool room
The preschool room at Idaho Falls Music Academy. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com


Local businesses partnering with Toys for Tots this season

IDAHO FALLS – The 2023 season for Toys for Tots is underway, and it’s partnering with several Idaho Falls businesses to collect gifts.

Ross’ Diesel & Auto Repair at 2787 North Cessna is giving away two $500 Visa gift cards. Bring in a toy and get a raffle ticket to be entered into a drawing. Those who buy a gift for a teen will receive two tickets.

Sandwich Tree at 500 West 17th Street is giving a 10% discount to anyone that brings in a new unwrapped toy.

Broulims at 1855 West Broadway is doing a total roundup and collecting toys.

Homestead Pizza and Bowling at 1770 West Broadway will be hosting a Toys For Tots Day on Nov. 27. Show up with a flyer, included below, and 50% of your food total will be donated to the not-for-profit. Buy a gift card and 20% will go towards it.

Rigby Chamber gearing up for festival of lights parade

RIGBY – The Rigby Chamber of Commerce is inviting businesses to participate in the 2023 festival of lights parade.

The event will kick off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1. It will start in front of Dollar Tree on 1st West and Main Street and end on Clark Street.

This year’s theme is “Visions of Sugar Plums.” Santa Claus will be making an appearance.

Those interested in being part of the parade need to submit a form. For details, call Chamber President Teresa Anderson at (208) 745-8715. You can also email teresa.anderson@FSTE.com.


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