Startup Musical Child – Carol Biddiss invites you to read the story
Carol Biddiss tells you about the startup of Musical Child
Welcome to my world of preschool music. I’m Carol Biddiss, a music educator and publisher of preschool music education activities. In this, the first post, I want to go to the beginning and tell you the story of the startup of Musical Child, my music education service. If you are thinking of running music classes for children or indeed for groups of parents and children or in your community centre, daycare, preschool or kindergarten class, perhaps you’ll find it helpful. You can search this blog for specific items of interest using the categories on the side e.g. “Music Curriculum”, or just use any search term such as “instruments” to find helpful advice.
Why I wanted to startup
It was 2003 and three things came together in my mind to startup this venture:
- first – a desire to teach again after a long gap recovering from severe depression;
- second – an irresistible desire to talk to and make faces at babies and toddlers out shopping with their mothers;
- and third – a strange, recurring morning shower experience. I kept hearing myself singing “Ooh, baby love, my baby love, I need you, oh how I need you” by Diana Ross and the Supremes, right?
It was all too much to ignore. At that time of my life I was helping my partner with his long held dream of running an art gallery in the front rooms of our Victorian era shop-front home near the beach in Grange, South Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. It was enjoyable working with artists but I was missing my two core interests – music and education. Why I was inspired to work with the very young at that time, I still can’t say. Maybe it was a grand-motherly form of cluckiness. But the journey from that moment to this, some eight years later, has been exhilarating, and now I get lots of ‘baby love’ every week.
How I managed the startup
So that’s the ‘why’, here’s the ‘how’. In the first few months there was a lot of reading in order to catch up on the latest research. I was also writing draft programs and playing lots of music in order to gather a repertoire of songs. At first I had to imagine which ones would work with which age. I’d chosen two age ranges, loosely one to three years and then three to four which I later extended to five. It had been my intention to include a baby program, but it was so much work getting the toddler and preschooler up and running, the baby had to be kept waiting. Mums and grandparents do that.
I knew I wanted to work with groups and I also knew that I needed lots of interesting stuff to keep children and parents interested in making music together for a decent stretch of time. A piano lesson for a five year-old might last 30 minutes so I thought I could stretch that out to 45 if there were lots of different activities and different pieces of music.
Planning this endeavour was getting harder by the minute! One of the best decisions I made was to choose my kit of instruments with great care, considering safety and insisting on beautiful sound for my percussion. I also made sure that I had enough for everyone to play their own at the same time.
Finally I chose some venues and started advertising in my local papers. I learned a lot about what kind of venue works for group sessions that require floor-work, can get loud, need to be free from distractions – let alone the cost of hire, parking and temperature management (it can get very hot in Adelaide). One of my venues was a room in the garden at the back of my house. That kept me tidy! It was kind of thrilling and chaotic at the same time to have a new lesson written in time for each week for forty weeks. But there was joy in the accomplishment of getting those ideas about children’s natural musicality ‘out there’ in the wider world, albeit in only three suburbs.
As for marketing, that was a bugbear and as a music educator I made a terrible marketer. However, word of mouth is a wondrous thing and I survived the first year despite running a few sessions with only one or two children present- very hard work! The less there are of them the more they fuss.
The next phase of the business is where other music educators join me and the plot thickens, but that is a story for another blog. I’d love it if you could join me on my blogging journey about working with toddlers and preschoolers using our preschool music activities.
All the Musical Child music activities and lesson plans are ready to download now.
Please visit www.musicalchild.com.au for all your preschool music activity needs : )