When a child picks up an instrument, it isn’t just musical talent that develops. Confidence, creativity, work ethic and self-discipline will also become ingrained, in the success of struggling through and nailing a difficult piece of music, or through the hours of practice required to master the violin or trumpet. Well-resourced schools have offered programs providing musical instruction, like orchestra, band or choir, but their prevalence has been waning in recent years. As a result, schools like the Powell Academy of Music, offering private and group lessons to kids and adults, are trying to pick up the slack.
The school started eight years ago, and back then, it was really just one person: Chad Ebert. Ebert, a Columbus native, knew music from an early age, starting on piano as a toddler and eventually attending The Ohio State University for jazz piano. With a passion for music and teaching, he took his skills to various music schools around the area, but felt he could do better with his own business.
Its original purpose, to take musically inclined students and prepare them for top-notch schools like Juilliard or Berklee, quickly adapted to its clientele.
“The biggest thing is just listening to what our families and parents are actually looking for, and what they really want,” said Ebert. “After I started doing this for a couple years, I really figured out people don’t really want their kids to go to Juilliard. This is more of a fun activity for their kids, and they want their kids to get all the benefits from these lessons.”
The school tends to cater to pupils between ages 5 and 18, and most of them are complete beginners (about 60 percent). Students can work at their own pace in one-on-one lessons or in groups, like their string ensemble or children’s choir. To showcase what they’ve learned, Powell Academy of Music throws an Over the Top recital, complete with a red carpet and professional photography. They’re looking into traveling performances, too, and are working toward a visit to Carnegie Hall in the next year and a half.
The Academy stayed small for a few years, just Ebert and a couple of his friends. About three or four years in, they “started taking it a lot more seriously, treating it like a business,” and since then, they’ve grown to 25 teachers, and their home at 4012 Presidential Parkway is feeling tight.
To address the growing pains, Ebert joined ScaleUp America’s Entrepreneur Exchange program. Two months in, Ebert has already taken away some valuable perspectives on how to manage a staff that size, as well as how to interact with creative minds.
“I think sometimes as a business owner or business owners, we get bogged down in marketing and details and leases and financing, and we forget that we need to really take time to create an environment for our employees to thrive and be successful. I think that’s the biggest part of it,” he said. “As far as management outside of that, I think it’s learning how to communicate well with musicians.
“Musicians don’t always talk and interact and think like maybe somebody from Corporate America would, so we’ve been working on, specifically, how do you engage and handle and communicate with highly creative people.”
Learning these management skills will no doubt make the opening of the Academy’s second location a lot smoother. Ebert is planning an expansion at the end of this year, setting up another academy in Lewis Center.
For more information, visit powellacademyofmusic.com.
To take the next step in scaling up your business, visit YourManagementTeam.com/EE to apply and learn more about the Entrepreneur Exchange Program, funded by SBA ScaleUp America.
YMT Consultants is a microbusiness consulting and training firm providing monthly consulting and business development. We help microbusiness owners change their mindset, resulting in greater control of their business, increased revenue and bottom-line, and a strategic growth plan to achieve their “big-picture” vision for them and their business.