Matt Dawson & The Story of ‘Inspire Music School’

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Inspire Music School was born out of the passion for teaching the guitar. It was something that has always brought me such joy and I was always keen for others to have the same experience.

Where We Started

Originally I come from a sales background. I had studied music for quite a number of years in higher education but as some may know, music is a very tough industry to earn a living from. I originally started teaching as a home tutor for a bit of spare money. It was here that I discovered my love for teaching and realised that I was pretty good at it. After a year or so of teaching in homes I then went on to teach in Secondary Schools as a resident guitar teacher. Eventually I was given the chance to manage in a guitar school in St Albans and I’ve been teaching here ever since.

In December of 2016 the school made the tough decision to close it’s doors. This took me by surprise and I was not happy with the decision, I felt the reasons to close were not good enough and with a bit of elbow grease we could save our school.  I was left with a large number of committed students who didn’t want to stop playing. The only problem was I had nowhere to teach them. I found myself at a bit of a crossroads, to go back to a ‘normal job’ or dare to take the leap into running my own business and making a go of opening my own guitar school. To say I was nervous was an understatement, I found the biggest obstacle in forming the school was quite often myself. I’m quite a harsh critique of my own work and I could think of a million reasons to not do this, the main one was me trying to convince myself that I was ‘not qualified’ to run a company. I would often think ‘ but I’m just a guitar tutor’ and ‘what’s a limited company? What’s a business bank account? How exactly does taxes for business, VAT, P&L, Capital etc work again?’. I had to read up on a lot of different aspects of running a business and the clock was ticking fast to get it all done.

 

The school in its current state was set to close it’s doors and everyone involved was prepping to step away. I was changing the name, lesson structure, payment structure and practically rebranding the school in its entirety. I was hellbent on having as seamless a transition for our students as possible between one school to the other. I had to restore order within our school and get all our students (clients) confidence back in our vision for what I believed our school could, should  and come hell or high water, what I believed it would be.

 

The good news was every single student we had was cheering me on. The fact I was determined to not let our guitar school just vanish and was willing take on 100% of the responsibility to ensure everyone could still have guitar lessons and stay true to my passion obviously meant so much to our little community.

 

On the 11th of February 2017 the school under all its previous company names finished and the Director and other teachers except myself went their separate ways along with all the assets and equipment. Two days later I opened the doors under the assumption of ‘business as usual’ with all new logo’s and signage, website, student learning programme and equipment. I breathed a sigh of relief after the first week. I looked back and gave myself a rather nice pat on the back, whilst thinking ‘I’ve created a solid structure for our company on a decent budget, secured our building, restored all our student’s faith in our school, built a website that actually works with no previous experience, and created a whole new method of study for the students all in two months…not bad for a 28 year old kitchen salesman without a maths GCSE’.

 

On the 13th of February, Inspire Music School opened it’s doors and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Where We Are Now

Well for starters our attitude and ethos as a school has changed completely, it isn’t about the money anymore. The way I see it, if we put our students and parents of students in the centre everything that we do then the profits and cash will take care of itself. Slowly but surely, they have been and the morale within the school has greatly improved with it.

 

We are constantly reviewing the way that we work as a school. I’m always looking at ways to better our lesson structures and improve on myself as a teacher and I find this to be far more beneficial for our school as a whole. The school at the end of last year is totally different from where we are today. Our student numbers have totally grown miraculously and dramatically since the launch and as a company we are now in a far more financially stable place then at the end of 2016 which has enabled us to do much more for our clients.

 

Our student performance has also skyrocketed and we’ve welcomed many new students into our school along the way. As I’m writing this, I’m aware that the school is still finding it’s feet but I’m far more content with our school in it’s current state than ever before. Nobody is arguing about money; parents and clients can only say nice things, communication between school and student is clear and constant and the students are working harder. What more could a guitar teacher ask for?

 

The Future

I’m not sure what the future will look like for us. As a first time business owner I sometimes fall into the trap of setting ‘safe goals’ and not being very bold in my vision casting. I think things like ‘well it would be nice to have some regular students and do a concert once and in a while’, unfortunately that sort of thinking has no benefit to our students and therefore no place in our school. So I often encourage myself to think about a second, third, maybe even a fourth Inspire Music School in various other locations. Who knows?

 

I would like to have a group of teachers around me whereby the thoughts of the day centre around bringing inventive and innovative approaches to our lessons. Eventually I would like to see us teaching more than one instrument, yes, dare I say that I would bring in teachers more qualified than the ‘Boss’ in areas of music that I’m not versed in in order to improve our school. These things are only thoughts at this stage and some may not materialise. However, if Inspire Music School is genuine about putting its students first, then we as a school will need to cast daring, ambitious visions of what the school could be and not play it safe. Even if we only achieve half of it, we’ll have not settled with just being a predictable establishment that gives mediocre guitar lessons.

 

Find out more about Matt and Inspire Music School here