Jeanetta Hopkins started Bull City Music School in Durham two years ago. 


Downtown Hillsborough has a new music school, and, although the grand opening of the school isn’t until August, the Bull City Music School’s Hillsborough doors are already open for voice, piano, strings and other music lessons.

“We made the decision last year to expand — I chose Hillsborough because I was looking for an area where the arts are thriving but there’s still the feel of a quaint, charming small town,” Jeanetta Hopkins, the founder of the school, said. 

Hopkins, a Memphis native, learned piano from her uncle, who was a jazz pianist for the actress and singer Pearl Bailey. She trained in piano from the age of five through college at Jackson State University, where she played in the symphony orchestra and majored in music education with a focus on piano. She plays the viola and has experience playing with city, county and state orchestras, and was also a classroom teacher with Durham Public Schools and other districts in Tennessee, Texas and Florida.

This combination of experience proved to be the perfect storm for opening a music school. Hopkins founded Bull City Music in Durham two years ago. Now, she has built a team of teachers and loyal students — a team that she hopes to increase in Hillsborough.

“We want to let the community know we’re here, network with everyone,” she said. “This community is welcoming to the arts and there’s lots of foot traffic, too. The kids from the Durham location will intermingle with the Hillsborough students at times and some of our Durham students who are commuting will be joining us at the new location as well.”

The school’s new space is in downtown Hillsborough, on the back side of the town’s Mercantile Center. The school has four spacious classrooms and a Steinway concert piano for practice, and students can enroll in beginning through advanced-level classes in piano, viola, violin, cello, guitar, drums and preschool pre-violin and pre-piano.

Through her years of teaching, Hopkins has developed a method of teaching that emphasizes the communal nature of music and that offers students a range of opportunities. 

Her students often play at community events and recitals feature performances by both instructors and students, and instruction runs the gamut of musical styles and eras.

“We do it all,” Hopkins said. “We give you the foundation, because there’s no escape for skill or technique, but we also want the school to have a modern feel — we’ll take you from Bach to Cee-Lo Green.”

For Hillsborough, the music school could mean an increase in traffic to downtown businesses as well as the addition of another component to the arts scene in town.

“We’re excited to have Bull City Music School in downtown because it generates diversity in the types of businesses and services we have to offer,” Town of Hillsborough Economic Development Planner Shannan Campbell said. “We’ll likely see music students and their families eating and shopping in town before and after lessons. Additionally, the owner is very enthusiastic and wants to be a part of our community, which means that partnerships will likely form and lead to future opportunities.”