About Us

Our hours:

Monday – Friday 11 am – 6 pm

Saturday – 11 am – 3 pm

Sunday – Closed

 About Music & Families

Music & Families was started to help families discover and apply the joy and knowledge of music in their lives. Our own family is very passionate about music. Collectively, we have studied, played and enjoyed music for over 100 years!
Our motto is “Strengthening Families through Music.” We have a great family history of music, and have experienced the joy of playing and performing music together on many occasions. We feel that enjoying music together is a fabulous way to bring the generations together.

Our Vision

Music & Families is not just a store or a studio, it is an idea. It’s memories of playing a violin duet with a grandmother or a parent jamming with their teenagers. It’s seeing the wonder in a toddler’s eyes the first time they discover that they can reach the piano keys. That is the feel of who we are and why we are here. 

Music is not easy, and unfortunately in our world of instant gratification, it sometimes becomes only a spectator sport. Learning music can bring out the best in us and in our families as well, teaching commitment and work ethic, goal-setting, and bringing much joy and satisfaction. We love what we do and want to be a resource of music for thousands of families.

Our Story

Claude began to play the violin when he was in junior high. He stopped after that year, though he enjoyed singing and listening to music for years until he and Larene started taking violin lessons together when he was 45 and she was 8. He has since taught himself to play the viola, and is now learning the guitar and flute. With his engineering background, and his love of music and woodworking, he began to make and repair violins and other instruments. He opened a business in 1997 called Nielsen Strings ‘n’ Things. Deanna took piano lessons when she was growing up and set a wonderful example of music for her children by enjoying singing and playing the piano, and spent many years shuttling them to and from music lessons, recitals and other performances. She was the accompanist for their many violin performances. LDS ward choir and community orchestra were always a must in our family! Claude and Deanna have 5 children and 22 grandchildren.

Larene started taking piano lessons when she was 6 and violin when she was 8. She started teaching lessons in both when she was 14. She won scholarships for and attended summer music camps for four years when she was a teen. Larene majored in piano performance at Idaho State University for a year before she left school to have a family. She is now taking voice and mandolin lessons.

Barry has always loved music. He played the violin for a year when he was 10 in the after-school strings program, and started playing trumpet in band when he was 11. He played trumpet in band throughout junior high and high school and received the John Philip Sousa Band Award in high school. He was also the drum major for Irving Junior High and Pocatello High School bands. Fresh home from his LDS mission in 2000 he applied for college at Idaho State University, majoring in Music. Barry became the drum major for the ISU marching band his first semester. He continued learning music at ISU and at the University of Idaho.

Larene and Barry met in their music theory class the first semester of school at ISU in 2000, found they had much in common – from eclectic ears for music to a love for Star Trek – got married at the end of the semester, and they now have five children, five cats, two goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits… and lots & lots of musical instruments!
When Larene, Andrea and their younger sister Montana were in grade school the Nielsen family decided to home school. That was a major turning point in our lives. We share a passion for music, reading and learning, and we believe it is important to continue to learn every day of our lives!

How we Started a Music Store

One day Claude, Deanna, Larene, Barry and Andrea were sitting around talking. We started throwing around the idea of expanding Claude’s violin making & repair business. We thought that it could turn into something that could help homeschooling families learn how to make music together. We changed “Nielsen Strings ‘n’ Things” to “Music & Families,” opened an account with a wholesale music business, attended a homeschool conference, and got more excited about the possibilities.

The next thing you know, we were discussing opening a brick-and-mortar store and looking around our small town of Blackfoot, Idaho for a good location. We opened a store at 91 N. Broadway in the fall of 2008. We soon realized that we needed more space and a better location. We found a wonderful building at 593 W Bridge and moved there in the fall of 2009.

Heritage of Music

Grandparents can have a great influence on their grandchildren. Larene’s grandma, Irene Hammond, came to almost all of their recitals and performances. Even though she wasn’t musical herself, she was always there to listen and show how important music was to her. Larene also remembers being quite impressed when she was a child to see her other grandma, Lawana Nielsen, taking piano lessons and using some of the same books Larene was!
Music is found throughout our heritage. One of the pictures you’ll see above is of Barry’s grandma, Harriet Wardle, in the Los Angeles Youth orchestra in 1929. Harriet played the violin and piano beautifully, and was a church organist in her LDS ward for over 70 years. She passed on in 2011 & that picture is one of Barry’s most precious possessions. Grandma Wardle passed her love of music on to 30 grandchildren & innumerable great grandchildren. Barry and Larene have the violin that she was playing in that picture.

Another picture is of Henry Marvin Beckstead playing the banjo. Henry Beckstead could pick up any instrument and play it. He is Claude’s grandfather. Claude inherited Henry’s violin, and wishes he could have known him! Seeing that violin around the house is what prompted Larene to ask to learn violin.

George Hammond was a Mormon Pioneer, and played in bands after he came across the plains. The picture shown is of the Grantsville, Utah band in 1882. George is the third from the right, and is Larene’s great-great grandfather. His grandson, Murray Hammond (Larene’s grandfather) is shown in the last picture. This picture is of Murray (third from the left) and his 7 brothers singing at a cousin’s wedding in 1963. They were accompanied by their sister, Ida.
Our family has been greatly impacted by generations of music. We encourage all to try music in your family!