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.