We're excited to bring you another crazy talented music teacher today!
Andrew White is the owner and instructor at AWSOM - a music school offering in-home piano and guitar lessons. He travels throughout the Puget Sound region for his lessons, hence the shot with his fun car below!
It was so fun hearing about Andrew's business model, and spend an afternoon with him at his lessons. He's super fun and engaging and by the end of my time with him, I was dreaming about pulling my violin out of storage and taking lessons again!
Tell me a bit about AWSOM.
The Andrew White School of Music (AWSOM) was founded in January 2014. Our mission is to provide affordable, excellent, and fun music lessons to students from 3 to 103, across Seattle and the Eastside, in the comfort of the student's home. We currently offer music lessons to over 100 piano and guitar students from Lynnwood to Tacoma.
How long have you been dreaming about starting AWSOM? What made you finally go for it?
I started teaching in my home country, England, when I was younger, and three years ago moved to teaching full time. Last year with 65 students a week in my calendar, and 75 students on the wait list we decided it was time to expand and bring in another piano teacher, which we did, and subsequently have added a guitar teacher also. I was apprehensive at first about the thought of expanding the teaching to something more than just me, but after a good friend and local piano teacher approached me about working together, I couldn't resist!
What is your favorite part about running AWSOM? Least favorite part?
My favourite part of running AWSOM has to be the summer and winter recitals we host in Bellevue! We hold three shows in May and another three in December for students to showcase their improvements in performance as well as a number of students performing their own handwritten masterpieces! My least favorite part of AWSOM, or perhaps the hardest part, would be when students move away. We have a very low turnover of students, and so seeing students move has to be the hardest thing! Though, we now are offering online lessons, which has allowed me to reconnect with students in Nevada, Utah and California! I love it!
What has been the best business advice you've received?
My best piece of business advice would probably have been to find your niche, do it very well and expand from there. Which is what we have done, by teaching students in their own homes, as opposed to a music studio, or the teachers home. Our clients really enjoy the convenience and it provides a nice change of scenery for the music teacher!
Tell me about your greatest AWSOM success and your biggest challenge.
Oh I love this part - I get to tell you about my Student of the Year 2013! Bruce - my biggest success AND my biggest challenge! Bruce started lessons back in early 2012, a boy with autism and a huge personality. I arrived early to his introductory lesson, saw him fling himself of his school bus, and run screaming and jumping all the way to his front door! Oh no - what was I in for? He had a half hour lesson scheduled, but just ten minutes in, tears were flowing and his agitation growing… It was the toughest introductory lesson to date, but what a kid! Fast forward to December 2013, Bruce was enrolled in the Music Writing 101 track that we offer at AWSOM, he moved to a one hour a week lesson which he sits through peacefully and with full concentration, he also learns trombone for fun in our lesson. That month, Bruce was awarded with the prestigious Student of the Year 2013 Award! Bruce, my greatest challenge and success!
Where do you hope AWSOM is in one year? Five years?
In one year, I hope that AWSOM offers music lessons in not just piano and guitar, but violin, drums, flute, and vocals. Expanding to ideally six or seven teachers by next summer would be my goal. And then my five year goal would be offering musical lessons in all of the top fifteen most popular musical instruments, with immediate availability for new students. This making AWSOM the go-to music school for the highest quality teachers and the most convenient school with in-home lessons across the Puget Sound area. Further expansion will hopefully see AWSOM spread to other states before becoming a nationwide company.
What would you do with AWSOM if you knew you couldn't fail?
If I knew there was no way that AWSOM could fail, I would go out and hire twenty teachers for the Seattle and Eastside area, fill their schedules with dozens of students, and seek to appoint regional directors in other areas. I'd take AWSOM national and possibly internationally to give me just another excuse to visit England and my family!
Thank you for sharing your heart + story with us, Andrew! Be sure to check out AWSOM for more information on their lessons!
Know someone running their own small business? We'd love to feature them! Tell us in the comments below (or send us an email!)