Tim and Bobbi Paul deploy decades of tune savvy to helm Piano Trends, which was voted best music store and instruction studio in the Northwest Herald's Best of the Fox in 2011. The family team wrangles more than 20 voice and music instructors to bolster musicality in local schools, with established performance groups and one former American Idol finalist. In classes for every skill level from novice to megawizard, instructors teach piano, guitar, violin, and a variety of brass and woodwind instruments, and voice lessons range from Broadway training to avant-garde birdcalls. Lessons for children under the age of 6 are available, based on the child's attention span, maturity level, and desired instrument; interested customers should call ahead for more information. Piano Trends can also cater to musical needs with instrument rentals and repairs.
Play It Again Sports bedecks kids and adults alike with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor so that they can kick, swing, and punt with gusto. Scores of gently used merchandise, perfect for replacing equipment that children have grown out of because of rampant milk abuse, arrive daily and boast brand names such as Adidas, Taylor Made, and Easton. At the Frankfort location, pint-size puck handlers can improve their speed and whittle their hockey sticks with Bauer Supreme One 20 youth skates ($49.99). Crystal Lake's elliptical trainers and exercise bikes sculpt calves into steel, and Downers Grove's Wilson Evolution basketballs ($49.99) keep droves of neighborhood kids active. Each Play It Again Sports store encourages customers to bring in their own old or outgrown equipment to sell or trade for referee signal-decoder rings.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary in the end of October, the hop gurus at Brew and Grow educate burgeoning beer makers on the art of crafting cold ones via hands-on introductory courses. During 2.5-hour classes, duos learn the ins and outs of the brewing process, including basic terminology, equipment, and the differences between ales, lagers, and root beer. Pupils will sip various suds while learning about ideal ingredient combinations, then concoct customized barley pops. Though they can't immediately take class creations home, participants will be able to return to the brewery in approximately one month or after malted barley has passed its fermentation exam to tap and taste their personalized potables. At the end of the session, students will be able take home a choice of two comprehensive home brewing guides, either How To Brew by John Palmer or Radical Brewing by Chicago author Randy Mosher.
Dolphin Swim Club’s faculty of professional First Aid– and CPR-certified lifeguards help children aged 2 and older learn how to swim in a safe and encouraging environment. They lead lessons within a pool comfortably heated to 89 degrees, keeping class sizes small to ensure individual attention. After trainers assess each child’s ability, they’ll place them in one of nine levels, which they can progress through in accordance with their budding skills. Very young splashers might learn bubble blowing and breath control in Level A, while older and more experienced children in Level 7 might refine stroke mechanics, build up endurance, or learn how to properly evade pool-dwelling Venetian merchants.
Dolphin Swim Club stresses child safety above all other concerns. Its founder, Tyler Brewer, was a founding board member of the Swim For Life Foundation, which stresses the Safer 3—Safer Kids, Safer Water, and Safer Response—to prevent children from drowning.