In 2014, I was teaching 20 young piano students out of my home—a challenge, for sure. I had to keep my house spotless and child-proof, and there was literally no room for growth.
I dreamed about expanding my home-based business so that I could provide space and solid career opportunities for other music teachers, and to build a community of musicians more diverse than what I could offer as a solo teacher.
To fulfill this dream, I decided to move my business into a small commercial space—a neat little house close to my home. In the process of moving, I rebranded what had been known as Kay Barker Studios to Musicologie.
Today, at this one location, we have 20 teachers serving nearly 500 students, and we teach everything from piano to voice to trombone.
Getting into rhythm
As I sought to move my home-based business to a separate location, I had a checklist of things I was looking for. Music lessons don’t require a lot of space, but I needed several small rooms (so we could have multiple lessons at once), affordable rent and a convenient location for our clients.
I knew we’d found the perfect fit when we toured a single-family house with four tiny rooms in a lively, walkable neighborhood. We rented the back of the house for $800 a month, and a family lived in front.
I didn’t lose a single client because of the move, and five months on, I was operating at full capacity with 50 students. Shortly after that, we added a guitar teacher, a violin teacher and another piano teacher—gradually adding more teachers as demand grew.
The first year was what I call “bootstrappy.” We didn’t invest a ton but eventually made improvements to mitigate sound by adding better doors, carpet, insulation and sound-absorbing panels. After a year, we rented and retrofitted an adjacent garage, which my husband and business partner, Joseph, used as his recording studio. At that point, our monthly rent rose to $1,050.
In 2022, we purchased the property, which we now occupy fully. Since then, we’ve added a basement for storage, three more practice rooms and an employee break room. We use the upstairs area as a business office.
Hitting a high note
Moving my business out of our home has probably been the smartest move I’ve made, and I should have done it sooner. It seemed like a big risk at the time, but in retrospect, the real risk was not seizing the opportunities that a larger space and a new, more-centralized neighborhood provided.
Relocating gave me room to expand my operations and allowed me to think more strategically and opportunely about how I wanted to achieve my dream. Between 2018 and 2021, we brought on partners (usually music teachers) and opened five more Musicologie locations—three more in the Columbus area, one in Cleveland and one in Cincinnati. Our studios now serve 6,000 students in all, and we’ve become experts at scouting new locations—everything from office parks to strip malls.
These newer locations are partnerships with a 50-50 revenue share between us and the teachers running the studio. We put up the capital and provide branding and front- and back-office functions through our proprietary software. Our next goal is to franchise, and we are hoping to open Musicologie studios across the Midwest and eventually nationwide.
My vision for Musicologie has always been to support music educators, performers and entrepreneurs while bringing high-quality music lessons to communities everywhere. Moving the business out of my home was the first big step in bringing this vision to life.Print this article