Extreme Studio Makeover: Becky's Story



Ever wonder what it's like for someone to move from a comfortable place and yet feel the nudge to take a risk AND jump on it?

Becky Cappelli did just that and it's a great story. (By the way, she is even sweeter than she looks!) Becky and  I met at NCKP 2013 and now count each other as good friends after a couple of personal consultations and a trip to David Cutler's Savvy Musician In Action Event this past summer. (If you haven't done so yet, buy his book The Savvy Music Teacher now!)

Becky was looking for advice for Off Bench time in her studio. Around that same time, she was also considering a major studio expansion. Her piano and voice studio was gorgeous but was too small for her big dreams. The feature photo of this blog is her "old" studio. I was SO excited for her and was extremely curious (maybe even nosy?) about how she was going to go about the process of expanding.


What you'll learn below are the steps and setbacks Becky experienced over the past year as she has worked hard to build an even MORE popular studio than she had one year ago. It's in journal style in Becky's own words. If I had the camera crew, I'd LOVE to turn this into a TV show--ahem--remember Extreme Home Makeover?

The back drop

Becky's independently owned and operated Songbird Studio is located in the heart of suburban Chicago. She offers piano and voice lessons to all ages and she holds a lon...ng wait list.

Her vibrant studio with hip decor was bursting at the seams in a business triplex located in a high traffic area.  For years, the space between her studio and the landlord's doctors office had remained vacant. Her present landlord considered letting her expand into the vacant space. Becky was excited with his consideration BUT, as time went on, Becky discovered that he was a "YES" man--always saying yes but usually it meant "SORRY, I CHANGED MY MIND."

Becky heard the "YES" and began her plans for expansion, had teachers 35e7e57lined up, the decorator had paint colors chosen, finances were in order--everything was set to go. Then she heard a "SORRY, I CHANGED MY MIND." This happened a couple of times!

The trail of opportunities leading to disappointments led Becky and her husband to search for other locations.

Below is Becky's description (in HER words) of their location options.

There's been about 4 other locations that we considered:

  • "Tornado alley"
  • "Cute yellow cottage with scary basement"
  • "Intimidating landlord"
  • "Swanky"

Each has pros and cons. Some more cons than others but all were still entertained as viable options.

Tornado alley - a house that is zoned for business. Great space and lots of room for continued expansion. Just so happened that when a tornado rolled through our area last year, this particular building was right in its path.... so, lots of work needed. Therefore, more of an investment and re-model than we were looking for.

Cute yellow cottage with scary basement - well, this one is very cute from the outside and even the inside, although somewhat smaller than I was hoping, and it is very well maintained... but the one existing bathroom in this space is located in a very scary basement! 

Intimidating landlord - this particular building is probably been the one we have most entertained as an options. It has great parking, still a good location on the same main road I am currently located, and has a good amount of space. There would need to be some changes internally but very doable. The rent is matched to the amount I had set up if I were to expand. The landlord is VERY intimidating and has already laid out an endless list of rules.😱

Swanky - So VERY beautiful with very little amount of work needed. I'm in love with this place. But... if I were to call my current studio "stage one" and the next step I'm looking to take in expanding "stage two" - this swanky building is definitely "stage three" and comes with a bigger price tag than I had planned.

Lastly, my current landlords have re-opened the option for me to expand into the space next to my already existing studio. Just as we originally planned! Unbelievable! I feel like we've come full circle. They also offered for us to consider buying the building.

So... update - we are in negotiations, yet again, with my current landlord and keeping the other options as prospects (such as "intimidating landlord") as well.

Eiyiyi.... I'm ready to just land somewhere and get rolling. It's exhausting!

Hopefully, the next email you receive from me will be the final decision! - again, fingers crossed. 😁

To be continued....

Stay tuned for next week's post of Extreme Studio Makeover and learn which studio Becky chose and how she's transformed it into a rock-star studio. BTW, do you have a story similar to Becky's? Want to share it?


Rhythm Webinar with pics

Looking for an extreme makeover in how you teach rhythm? Then you will want to check out the next 88 Creative Keys Webinar called Lock in Rhythm Skills and Unlock Creativity slated for Monday, September 26th, 11:00 EST.

I'm SO eager to share what's been working in my studio and of course Bradley Sowash will have oodles of tips for you to build your rhythm and creative skills and those of your students.

Bonus: the handout will feature a terrific chart to help teach polyrhythms and you are guaranteed to use our freebie every day at lessons. I hope to see you there!

Register here.