July 2007 was a good month. I got engaged to my now-husband, and then just a few days later, passed the board certification exam to become an official board-certified music therapist. This photo was taken the following month — the earliest one I have in a work setting with those four letters (MT-BC) behind my name.
These past 10 years have been full of learning, growing, and stretching myself in ways I never though possible. I thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane, highlighting my music therapy journey from the beginning to where I am now.
When we first started offering early childhood and preschool music classes, there were 2 options: a morning class and an evening class. And before every session, I worried that we wouldn’t have enough families sign up, and we would have to cancel a class.
Thankfully that never happened, although there were plenty of sessions with small class sizes throughout those first few months. But with each session, we learned what worked (and what didn’t) when it came to filling classes. Over the last two years, we have consistently filled 5 different classes per session — a huge feat considering where we started.
Before our summer session began this week, my business partner Katey and I set specific goals for class registration numbers. We aimed high because we love a good challenge, and then we came up with a plan to meet those goals.
Katey and I had a little emoji party on Monday after I texted her that not only had we achieved those pie-in-the-sky registration numbers, but we had actually exceeded them with a waitlist for several of the classes. What the what?!
I would love to share with you our specific strategies for maxing out this session of early childhood and preschool music classes, because I know the struggle all too well.
Most days, being a business owner is far from glamorous. The majority of my work is done from home, sitting at my desk in front of the computer, balanced out with a few hours of music therapy sessions, music classes, and meetings throughout the week.
I’m definitely not complaining; as an introvert, this was the ideal work life I envisioned for myself all those years ago when I became a full-time business owner. But every once in a while, I have those days away from my desk that remind me how rewarding and fun business ownership can be.
Today was one of those days.
In the summer of 2007, I started a little side hustle called Music Therapy Connections. That side hustle grew into an actual business that took up all the hours I wasn’t working at my full-time job, and it eventually replaced my full-time job. In time, it grew into a partnership with another music therapist and didn’t stop there.
10 years in, Music Therapy Connections is a full-fledged brick and mortar business with a team of 10 that serves hundreds of families within our walls and hundreds of people in the community each week. What a wild ride it’s been.
And through it all, I’ve not only run the business, but also provided music therapy, led early childhood music classes, and taught piano, voice and guitar lessons. I’ve taken two summer maternity leaves and extended summer breaks to be with my kids, but always returned to my students in the fall.
Earlier this week, I came across a blog post I wrote almost three years ago detailing a typical day in my life as a music therapist. I got a little nostalgic as I read it, thinking back to a time when I only had one baby and he still spent his days at home. It’s amazing how much life can change in just a short time.
That blog post was actually based on my original “day in the life” post written in 2011, when I had NO kids and still worked full-time at The Hope Institute, with a private practice on the side. Talk about a blast from the past! I remember that time well, but it seems so, so long ago after everything I’ve been through since.
I really wish I had written this kind of post last year, when I was in the thick of having a baby still at home and a business undergoing huge growth and changes. I think back on it and wonder how I managed to do everything, but somehow I did.
Life is nowhere near as challenging these days, since both of my kids are in daycare and preschool all day (except Fridays) and I have plenty of time devoted to work. But having all that time creates a different kind of challenge — figuring out how to manage it in the best possible way with my priorities in mind.
I still have a long way to go with this, but I’m making progress. I’ve learned that the best way to combat misuse of time is to plan out my day the night before (I use and absolutely could not live without Trello, the online tool that keeps my entire life organized), so that when I sit down to work the next morning, I know exactly where to begin.
If you’re anything like my business partner Katey and myself, this month has been all about establishing goals, setting intentions, and making plans for 2017. Every year, we create a mantra — words to live by and guide our actions both personally and professionally. This year’s mantra is as follows:
Waste less. Share more. Live our why.
We come back to these words every time we have a decision to make, pursue a new project, or feel like we might be veering off course. It’s so important to know our “why” so that we make sure everything we do is in alignment with our values and ideals.