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Inspiring Conversations with Melissa Chin of Melissa T Music Lessons

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Chin.

Hi Melissa, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My earliest memories involve music. I remember writing songs and teaching them to other kids. I created a girl group at the YMCA during summer camp and performed original music during talent shows. In high school, I was the president of the gospel choir. I directed choirs at my church and other churches throughout Philadelphia. I sang with my high school choir in Budapest and Prague.

As I went on to college, I joined the gospel choir, wrote songs with friends, and even began recording professionally. Oddly enough, I didn’t go to school for music. I studied psychology. I was fascinated with how the mind worked. I went on to graduate school and studied counseling psychology. As a clinician, I did individual and group therapy for people suffering from addiction, developmental disorders, and other mental health issues.

I loved being a therapist. What made it even more amazing was the opportunity to do music therapy, creative writing therapy, and host talent shows to encourage clients to write songs to process their emotions and tell their stories. No matter what I was doing, music was a part. In 2016, I moved to Baltimore with my husband and 1-year-old daughter. I was was also pregnant with my son.

It became very hard to find a job as a therapist despite being licensed, having research publications, and years of experience. Though no one will admit it, my pregnant belly was a huge deterrent to hiring me. I became settled on being a stay-at-home mom and raising my two children while my husband and his partner planted a brand new church in Baltimore City. At the time, we rented our home. Our landlord noticed we had a keyboard. She asked if I could teach her daughter piano. I was hesitant because I’d never taught anyone else to play piano before.

But I just said yes! In 2017, I started teaching her daughter to play the piano. The amount of students I had slowly increased as information about my lessons spread by word of mouth. I finally decided to publicly announce that I was giving lessons via social media. Later that year. I hosted my first recital in my dining room. I had about 10-12 students.

That was when I realized how all the pieces of my life started to come together. My experience in psychology really gave me an understanding of how people learn. I was able to connect with children and adults from all backgrounds. I eventually moved from lessons in my home to renting a space in a church. I also partnered with a local school and gave lessons and accompanied their choir. Right at what I thought was the peak of my entrepreneurial venture, COVID hit. The amount of students I had cut in half; maybe even more.

I was slightly discouraged but decided to use that time to pull my children out of school and begin to homeschool them. For the students that I did keep, I held the lessons virtually on face time and Zoom. As the word spread that I was teaching online, the number of students I had doubled! I had students all across the country. Since then, the amount of students I have continued to grow.

I had more students than I had actual time to teach. The next obvious step was to hire teachers. I began hiring other musicians to teach. I hired people who were very good with children, patient, and fun. I wanted to, in essence, duplicate myself. Now, Melissa T Music Lessons provides voice, piano, organ, trumpet, drums, guitar, French horn, trombone, violin, music production, and more. The teachers are from all over the world. We even have a piano instructor from Serbia who is amazing!

I never would have imagined that saying yes to teaching my landlord’s daughter piano would be the beginning of an indescribable entrepreneurial adventure. There are days I just pause and thank God because I’m living what I prayed for. I get to teach music and share the gifts of creativity and confidence across the globe. COVID opened my eyes to something bigger: The virtual world of teaching music. It’s not only convenient but it’s efficient, Online is the first place people go for information now.

Children, especially, are used to learning in this way and it has shown to be very successful. We’ve had several online recitals now. This coming May we will have 2 recitals; one virtual and one in person. There’s so much more to the story. Since teaching piano, I’ve developed my own preferences for how to communicate the learning process. I’ve also found that the more traditional piano method books have a lack of representation in the illustrations as well as in the sound of the music.

So I am publishing my own piano lesson book for kids. The book will be released in May!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. I would describe it as a winding road. I was always moving forward but there were days I wasn’t sure of exactly where I was going. While I LOVED teaching, I knew the business was hitting a ceiling because there was only one of me!

I honestly wished there were more hours in a day or that I could clone myself. Juggling the music studio and having two young children was tough. There were many days I didn’t feel qualified to do what I do. Not until a recital and I would the students making beautiful music! And then I would remember that I was more than qualified. I was made for this. Chosen for this.

The pandemic was an obstacle but thanks to my tech-savvy husband we pushed through. I now have a studio in my basement that I teach from with all we need to have a fantastic online learning experience for the students. The pandemic is what jump-started the second wave of growth for my business.

Focusing on online learning is what gave many more students access to the lessons we provide at Melissa T Music Lessons.

As you know, we’re big fans of Melissa T Music Lessons. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Melissa T Music Lessons is an online music studio that provides music lessons for all skill levels.

We provide voice, piano, organ, drums and percussion, guitar, ukulele, violin, trumpet, trombone, French horn, music theory, music production, and more virtually. What really sets us apart from others is that we are such a diverse group of teachers. Our teachers are not just from Baltimore.

We have teachers from Africa, Europe, and South America! The types of music we teach are also vast. We have teachers who teach classical, gospel, Afro-Cuban, pop, country, rock and roll, jazz, and contemporary. Students aren’t just a number with us. Students and teachers become family.

We love surprises, fun facts, and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I’m left-handed.

Pricing:

  • $30-$40/LESSON.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
T. Chin Solutions

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