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My Other Life: Paul Dykstra, Classical Pianist

by Judy Lessin | November 1, 2016

“There are moments when you can feel the air leave the room because the audience is so moved by the music,” says Paul Dykstra, who is both a concert pianist and the CEO of Cosmetologists Chicago, International Nail Technicians Association (INTA), and America’s Beauty Show.

His love for the instrument was sparked in the sixth grade, when he came home one afternoon to find his father and his school band instructor delivering a piano. “I was stunned, because I’d been asking for such a long time. My mom thought it would be like any other toy — play with it for a week and be over it. But I have never to this day gotten over the piano,” he says.

Paul Dykstra

Paul Dykstra

After taking lessons locally, Dykstra studied throughout high school at a music conservatory 35 miles from his hometown of Avon, S.D. He did undergraduate and graduate work at the University of South Dakota and later studied in Austria at the American Institute of Musical Studies. “I’m still training!” Dykstra says. “Now I study with the amazing Bulgarian virtuoso Ani Gogova here in Chicago.”

After college Dykstra began working as a conductor/pianist at a dinner theatre in southern Wisconsin, and since moving to Chicago, he’s focused predominantly on his two loves — chamber collaborative piano and vocal accompaniment, especially song and operatic.  Among his musical achievements are founding the Lira Symphony in Chicago and premiering the Weinberg Piano Trio in Warsaw at the Singer Festival.

Of course, managing two demanding careers is no small feat. “It takes very serious discipline to practice,” Dykstra admits. “I go to the studio early before work and then again after.” He offers these words of heartfelt advice to anyone who is hesitant to follow their passion: “Go after it! I ‘shouldn’t’ have two careers, but without my love and desire for excellence in both, I wouldn’t be true to myself. Music and the beauty world are both arts near and dear to my very being, and being allowed to pursue both fulfills my lifetime dream.”

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