Parenting as a Business Owner – Music and Movement for Children – Crystal Doughty

Our second interview in our “Parenting as a Business Owner” series is Crystal Doughty. Crystal is the owner of Music and Movement for Children, where she teaches Early Childhood Music classes.

How long have you been in business?

I’ve been teaching these classes for 6 years, and been owner of the business for 2 years. The previous owner, Jan Harvey, had been running the program for 35 years. I had been working with her for a few years, leading the baby and toddler classes, so when she was ready to retire, it seemed the right time to take over the business.

What programs do you offer?

I have various classes, beginning from age 6 months – 5 years. I also have a business partner who teaches an after school class that ranges in age from 5 – 7 years. I run 3 – 4 terms a year, with each term lasting 10 – 14 weeks. The classes are 45 minute long, with some being parent participation and some not. The 3 – 4-year-olds have the option to come on their own. They even have a little music workbook that they work through.

I’ve thought about offering piano for the preschool age, but I feel like at that age, their brains and fingers are just not connected enough. I find that teaching basic music concepts at an early age works much better – bringing music from the inside out. Things like rhythms, melodic echoing, and simple concepts like music going up and coming down – all these things will benefit a young child if they do go on to learn an instrument.

You were saying you have a partner?

Yes, Danielle Thompson (Miss Dani). She has been teaching an after school program one day a week for students in Kindergarten to Grade Two. It’s ideal for children who perhaps aren’t ready for piano lessons or they just want to keep going with the group style class.

Do you have a studio?

Yes! It’s on Bernard Avenue, right beside Starbright. It’s a nice big room with lots of storage for all the instruments I buy, which is one of my weaknesses. I have a waiting room for parents if they want to stay close by while their children are in a class.

When you first took over for Jan, what sort of challenges did you face?

There weren’t too many big challenges, as the program was already kind of a well oiled machine. I had already been working with Jan and because we have very similar music philosophies, it was a nice easy transition. One of the challenges I found was that I wasn’t Jan Harvey. People had known Jan for 30 years, so there were a handful that chose to move on. However, 90% of the parents have continued on with me, because they love our program.

What has been some big successes that you’ve had, since you’ve taken over?

I’ve had many successes, but my top three would have to be:

  1. Several parents have brought their children into the program, telling me how shy their children are. I tell them to just come and try and class, as there is never a moment where a child is forced to participate. Children take in information in all different kinds of ways, so if they want to sit at the side of the class and watch, it’s all good. These students, by the middle to end of the term, are fully participating in the class. They’re laughing, singing, and enjoying themselves. It’s amazing to see that transformation. And to see the parents say “I never thought my child would be able to participate in something, because they’re just so shy”. Seeing music bring that out in them is very cool.
  2. Another thing success has been the family classes. Seeing siblings make music together, where a 6 month old and their 4 year old sibling can make music together, watching the bonding between the siblings is magical.
  3. I started making videos last year, which I post on Youtube for parents and children to watch. What I used to do is send the music home with the parents, as there’s only so much you can remember in 45 minutes a week. I would hand out a sheet with the words to a song that we sang, and by the end of the year, I was looking at this stack of paper every week thinking “how many trees am I killing?”.

So I set up a Youtube channel and my families seem to love it. Parents can let their children watch tv, guilt free, and go make dinner. The children love it because they can sing along and they recognize me. This has changed the participation in class because the children know the songs better, so they’re more likely to participate.

Do you have children?

Yes, I have two boys, they are 7 and 10.

And you’ve been teaching throughout their childhood?

Yes. My youngest was 1 when I started teaching the classes. However, I’ve been teaching private piano lessons for 18 years, currently at the Kelowna Community Music School, as well as one day a week at the studio. When the boys were younger, teaching piano was awesome because I could spend the day with them and by 3 o’clock I was ready to leave the house and teach after school, from 3 – 8. This is when my boys would have dad time. Now that they’re in school, I knew that teaching from 3 – 8 each day wouldn’t work, as I wouldn’t even know what my kids looked like by the end of the week.

Do your kids think of you as a teacher, a business owner, or both?

When they’re asked what mom does, they say I’m a music teacher. I test everything out on them. When they were 4 and 5, I would have them try a song with me and give me feedback. They gave me the best ideas, because they know. They were my guinea pigs.

Do they see your classroom?

They have, but I try to keep it as separate as possible. Occasionally, if childcare doesn’t work out, then my kids come with me and become my helpers. They hand out the instruments, etc. My oldest especially loves helping, and calls the children “little ones”. It’s not a regular thing, but they know what happens in music class. And they both also went through Jan’s program, before I started working with her so I got to see it from a parent’s perspective, as well as from a teacher’s perspective. They loved the program and Jan so much.

Was there a reason you wanted to take on the business?

The timing was perfect. I knew that Jan was the best in the business and had a huge following. I also knew it was what I wanted to do – it’s my passion. All of those things put together just meant that if I had to suck up the admin part, then I would. I would rather just show up and teach, but admin is part of owning a business. Thankfully, the love of teaching far outweighs all the other things.

What advice would you give to somebody who has the opportunity to take over a business or start a business?

Jump in with both feet. If you’re one of the lucky people who find what they are passionate about, that’s what you have to do. There are so many people out there who go into their job everyday and hate what they do. Whether you’re a parent or not, life is too short. So if you find what you love and you can make money at it, that’s win win. Make it work. I know a lot of parents out there battle with the balance between home and work, but if your children see you doing what you love and following your passion then that is motivating for them. Even if it’s a few less hours spent at home a week or a day or whatever it happens to be. If they see that in you that’s inspiring to them.

Anything else you want to add?

Our classes are filling up fast, so if you’re thinking about registering your child, do so soon! The Monday morning family classes are full, but there’s some room in all the other classes.

 

Pleasantries versus honesty

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you see someone you know. Rather than speaking with honesty, the pleasantries begin:

“Hi! How are you?”

“Hey! I’m good. How are you?”

“I’m good”.

This exchange takes seconds then you each move on, both wishing you’d been able to speak with honesty and say:

“Hey! Not so good. My stomach hurts. How are you?”

“Sorry to hear about your stomach. I’m feeling kind of sad today, as I just heard one of my friends is in the hospital”.

“Oh, that sounds rough”.

This type of honest exchange would require significantly more time to engage in. Stopping to learn how someone was actually feeling would be difficult if you were running late for a meeting, for example. In this instance, apologizing for your inability to stop would be appropriate.

I was walking through a grocery store once when I saw someone I recognized. They stopped and said:

“Hi! How are you?”

The answer I provided shocked them enough that they weren’t quite sure how to answer:

“Not so good. I haven’t been sleeping well”.

I knew that answer would likely throw this person off guard. In fact, this person looked at me as if momentarily stunned. However, that didn’t stop me from speaking with honesty. I wasn’t “fine” – I felt exhausted and stressed. This person muttered something about being sorry to hear that, then moved on.

Perhaps it wasn’t fair of me to not stick with societal norms. Of course, how does change happen if no one is willing to shake things up a bit?

 

 

 

 

Live your life with passion, purpose, and positivity

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Watching someone live their life with passion, purpose, and positivity is an inspiring sight to behold. I have had the distinct pleasure to meet and spend time with these types of individuals over the years and their energy is enticing.

We all share the same blue orb. Those members of the global community who believe that reaching out to their fellow human being is important are often the same people who:

  • See a learning experience in each setback
  • Understand the impact they have on the world around them
  • Have the confidence to stand up and speak love when others speak hatred and negativity

These are the types of people I choose to call my tribe. It is said that actions speak louder than words — I believe this to be true. Words can be void of sincerity and truth while actions show intent and commitment.

Start to live your life with passion, purpose, and positivity!

How turning 42 brought wisdom

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Today, I celebrate my birthday. They say that with age comes wisdom. After experiencing personal growth on this very day, perhaps this saying is correct.

I was able to care for myself today by making a decision that I knew would disappoint other people, but was the right choice for me. All my life, I’ve avoided confrontation, for fear it may hurt someone else. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that it was hurting someone – myself.

I hope you will celebrate with me, as I pat myself on the back for this small step towards a healthier, happier me.

Volunteering and networking

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If you’re a business owner or someone trying to find a job, networking is vital to your success. What better way to network than through volunteering? Don’t know what you want to do or where to find volunteer opportunities? Here are a few simple steps to guide your quest:

  1. What hobbies do you enjoy? What are you passionate about? Are you a crafty person? Perhaps you’re good with words or have a way with animals. Make a list of your interests/talents/skills.
  2. Match those interests and skills with an organization that requires volunteers.
  3. Contact that organization and ask if you can volunteer with them.

As you begin volunteering, you’ll meet people with similar values to you. You’ll likely have the opportunity to participate in a fundraising event for the particular organization you’re volunteering with. Typically, fundraising events are advertised through local and social media.

This exposure can provide your business the chance to be associated with ‘doing good’, which gives potential clients and customers a positive view of you and your business. This positive view can lead to sales/referrals. If you’re seeking employment, consider all the potential employers you could meet!

Do you currently volunteer? Have you found it helpful in growing your business? Perhaps you’ve secured employment through volunteering. Share your story!

Early risers

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Are you among the many early risers? My mother used to wake at 5 am for the sole purpose of enjoying her cup of coffee in peace and quiet before waking myself and my siblings.

As I age, I see the wisdom in her practice. There is something so peaceful about the early morning hours – the stillness allows my mind to focus. I like to take advantage of the quiet to review the day’s business goals, as well as celebrate the previous day’s accomplishments. Celebrating each step reached motivates me to continue the climb.

Are you someone who rises early?

Who are you?

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Who are you?

If someone asked who you are, what would you answer? You would probably state your name, talk about your job, your kids/spouse and maybe your physical appearance. Or maybe you would talk about what makes you unique. Consider this acronym – WHO:

W: What talents or special skills do you have? What about unique hobbies?

H: Have you made a difference in the world? Have you changed someone’s life, even in a small way? This isn’t an exercise in pride, but an exercise is recognizing your worth and your ability to reach out beyond yourself.

O: Open up to others – it’s how we humans connect. Have you helped someone else on their journey by opening up to them? Knowing others face similar challenges can be very healing.

WHO am I? I am a woman, mother, wife, educator, and writer. I trust my intuition, I love to sing, and my special skill is the ability to rapidly recite the alphabet backwards.

WHO are you? Please share!

“He who has a ‘why to live’ can bear with almost any ‘how’” Friedrich Nietzsche

When to correct someone’s spelling or grammar

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Using correct spelling and grammar is not something that comes easily to everyone. Most people fully admit to their shortcomings in regards to word usage. We all have our talents.

With the advent of Social Media, incorrect spelling and grammar have become somewhat acceptable. Saying ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ is sometimes required, when available characters are limited (thank you, Twitter). Some believe it’s simple laziness – people can’t be bothered to take the time and proofread what they’ve written before pressing ‘send’. Others think that learning disabilities come into play, making it difficult for some to know the difference between “they’re”, “there” and “their”.

Whatever the reason, when you notice that someone has spelled a word incorrectly, you can choose to ignore it or you can correct them. I used to believe that if I didn’t educate others by correcting their spelling and grammar, I wasn’t doing my duty. I now believe there are just two times when you should correct someone’s spelling or grammar:

  1. You’ve been ASKED by a friend to proofread a document. If proofreading and/or editing is something you do professionally, helping a friend for free is a decision you need to make.
  2. You’ve been PAID to proofread or edit a document. For “spelling and grammar Nazis” (not a term I am terribly fond of but one that is commonly understood), editing is one of the best jobs in the world.

As much as it may be tempting to grab the metaphorical red pen and start slashing away at someone’s post, take a breath. They haven’t asked for your help. The only one affected by their errors is them. Shake your head and keep scrolling down…

 

 

 

41 reasons to be grateful

Last year, I wrote my thoughts on turning 40. Today is my 41st birthday and I thought I would keep the tradition alive. Because I could only think of 31 reasons to be grateful, I’ve added 10 things I am grateful for. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Because it feels good
  2. It helps you stay healthy
  3. You look better when you smile
  4. People will enjoy your company more
  5. You are better equipped to handle challenges
  6. You are appreciative of those around you
  7. Opportunities for adventure seem to find you
  8. Creativity has the opportunity to blossom
  9. Your ability to problem solve increases
  10. You won’t get involved in other people’s drama as much
  11. If you have or work with children, you will be a positive role model
  12. You have a better chance at success, whatever that means for you
  13. Your expectations are not so high that it’s painful when they crash
  14. You could easily live a minimalist lifestyle
  15. You begin to develop a sense of charity
  16. You will know what’s important in your life and what can be released
  17. Your sleep may improve, as you won’t dwell on what you don’t have
  18. You may choose not to purchase ‘things’ to make you happy, thus saving you money
  19. You tend to laugh more, and laughter is excellent medicine
  20. You will take smarter risks, leading either to great opportunities or great lessons
  21. Food tastes better (that might just be me)
  22. You will have more energy and be more productive
  23. Because it’s infectious – your gratitude will encourage others to be grateful
  24. You may develop a deeper spiritual connection with whatever higher power you believe in
  25. You will be more resilient
  26. You will see lessons and opportunities instead of problems and setbacks
  27. You will feel proud of your accomplishments, but not develop an inflated ego
  28. People want to give you things (though not a great reason to be grateful, it’s a perk)
  29. You may notice things in nature that other people miss – birds chirping or a simple rainbow
  30. Developing a sense of gratitude can assist with managing depression and anxiety
  31. You notice and congratulate others on their accomplishments, leading to their happiness

Here are 1o things I am grateful for:

  1. My health
  2. My family
  3. My friends
  4. My God
  5. Fresh air
  6. Clean water
  7. Healthy food
  8. A washing machine/dryer
  9. A warm, comfortable bed
  10. A roof over my head

I could add so many more but it’s my birthday and I want to go play with my two little boys 🙂

 

Want to work from home? Consider these challenges…

computer-15812_640As a freelance writer and editor, I have the ability to work from home. I frequently have deadlines, which I can typically meet. There are times, when I’m struggling with a particular piece, that the deadline seems closer than it is. It seems to be during those times when my children require the most attention. It’s as if they sense my level of stress rising and they wish to push it over the edge.

If you’ve ever considered working from home, take some time to reflect upon a few things. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do you react to stress? Do you reach for ‘comfort food’ to soothe your soul? If this is the case, working from home could lead to tremendous weight gain, depending on your level of self-discipline.
  2. Speaking of self-discipline, how do you rate? If you have an important project that requires attention and your favourite tv show is on, where does your priority lie? Keeping focus on the big picture is a major aspect of being your own boss.
  3. If you have young children likely to be around while you’re working, how do you plan to keep them occupied? Timing also comes into play here. Avoid beginning a project near your children’s typical breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack times. In the case of my children, they can eat their weight equivalent in food (maybe only a slight exaggeration, but not much). I won’t even look at my projects until each of my boys have had their fill. Even then, my window of opportunity is approximately two hours, so I must work quickly and furiously.
  4. Are you a Social Media addict? While working on an article, sales letter, email reply, whatever your business requires, keeping that Facebook tab open may be a bad idea. The temptation to check and see if anyone’s responded to your last post can be difficult to resist for some people.

These are only a few aspects of the work at home experience that must be considered. Are you someone who works from home? What challenges have you faced?