Music Gro: Growing Creatives

How It Started…How It’s Going

A lot of people see my studio space now and are a little taken aback by the two baby grands, picture window, and chandelier. It is a gorgeous space and I am so grateful for it! But I did not start out this way. So here’s my story…

 

I started teaching on a Baldwin Acrosonic and had a handful of private students when I first started teaching from our small, split level home in Maryland. A short two years later saw us move to the north Atlanta suburbs for my husband’s job so we moved in 2010 and I started over building up a studio, this time in the front room of a rental home in a busy subdivision. While we looked for a more permanent home I was able to get involved in our local elementary school as a volunteer, teach a Sunday School class at the church we attended, and get to know other folks at my son’s pre-K school. I also joined my local MTA.

I had a handful of students pretty quickly within my neighborhood and parents were happy to share my information with friends. I was able to spread the word that I was happy to take on more students and before long I had 10, then 20 students within that first 18 months. We moved to a beautiful home where I could create a comfortable studio right inside the front door of the home in what used to be an office space. The best part was the French Doors so that parents could sit in a small waiting area, but still see inside while I taught their child. Word continued to spread and I soon had 30, then 40 students within another 18 months.

Soon after, the upright piano developed a major issue in the soundboard and I had to replace the piano. I worked with my friends at Piano Works in Duluth, GA and together we found just the right piano for my studio.

I bought a new-to-me Kawai KG-1 (baby grand) and was delighted to offer my students such a great new instrument to learn and practice on. I have had that piano for 5 1/2 years now and it has served us well with roughly 35-45 students per week depending on my enrollment.

In March 2020 when the Covid Pandemic hit and everything in our area shut down, I quickly re-arranged a few things to teach all online lessons March to mid-May that year. Below is the photo of that set up.

When others were panicked, frustrated, or confused about what to do I was calm, assuring, and directive. I was able to calmly and simply direct my clients in how online lessons would work for the time being and helped everyone record videos for an online recital that spring. Part of my personality has always been to be calm in an emergency and to know what needs to be done. I made swift decisions and took the actions I felt necessary to help students and families feel some sense of ‘normalcy’ and connection during a confusing time. While I was leading I was also looking ahead.

I knew that going forward I would always want to be able to offer both online and in-person lessons for clients. I had taught a few clients online for about 8 months prior to the pandemic and I knew online-only clients were no problem for me. I immediately saw the benefits from teaching all ages online. What I had only started to explore and suspect before the pandemic was now solid evidence for me as a teacher and a business owner.

I started dreaming about what I wanted next. How could I transform my business and my studio to meet my new vision for how to serve clients? I had been saving money to replace the Kawai at some point and I knew I could easily get a business loan if needed. What tech did I want? What set-up would work best for safe in-person lessons going forward? How much could I afford to invest? What other experts could I consult or work with? Would my investment pay off?

I had so many questions but I also knew that the summer of 2020 was the time for me to invest in myself and my future in many powerful ways. I read up on gear and equipment, tested multiple online platforms, asked for tech advice from people much more knowledgeable than me, and put out the word that I was looking for a second baby grand piano. I lined up my finances and set my budget. I drafted a new floor plan for the space and redesigned everything around my vision. I had a timeline in mind but also knew that I could wait until the right pieces fell into place.

By August 2020, with a little help from my family I completely renovated the studio. Walls were repainted, new wiring and internet cable installed, new cabinets installed, new and powerful desktop purchased, new mics and interface, new chandelier, and by the end of October a new-to-me baby grand was delivered. It was a whirlwind. But I could safely open my in-person studio and teach with all safety protocols in place, while still offering full-service online lessons to any clients who chose that option. That year, 50% of my studio remained online and 50% chose to come back in person with masks, sanitizing and social distancing.

So how are things going? Did my investments pay off?

Yes! I have maintained a very full teaching studio despite a rate increase last year. 80% of my studio is currently in-person while others remain online by choice, or by geography. I typically turn away 3 client word-of-mouth referrals a week and receive at least 10 inquiries a week through my website and internet searches. I continue to improve my offerings to add even more value to the client experiences in-person and online and continue to reach financial targets.

I cap my enrollment so that I have time for other things I enjoy like the Podcast and Coaching other music teachers and entrepreneurs in growing their own businesses. I also continue to take the summers off (mostly) and spend 10 weeks up at our family home on Lake Michigan. There, I get to work on my business one day a week while I also work with other artists and business owners in the area.

It has been an amazing journey so far. I am deeply grateful for the people I have met and lessons learned along the way. I know that as I continue to evolve as human being I will continue to offer even more experience and value for my clients.

I am clear about my purpose and my time on this earth. I am here to teach, encourage, and uplift others. So that is the heart of everything I do with my teaching, my work with other business owners, and in how I am giving back to the Creative Community.

If I can offer you anything to help you along in your journey, I am here for you. I would love to help you share your gifts in ways that make an even more profound impact in your community.

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