16 Mar 2015

Brooklyn Music Lessons celebrates its 6th anniversary this month. With this, I have an important announcement which may come as a bit of a shock to both teachers and students.

This Friday March 20, 2015 will be our last day of business.

As many of you know, facilitating successful musical relationships has been the mission of Brooklyn Music Lessons. We value all the relationships we’ve helped to foster, and because of this, we wish for these relationships to continue to flourish.

Please review these important points to understand how things will continue after this Friday:

  • As of 12:00am Saturday March 21, 2015 all students and teachers will be released from their contracts, thus giving full control of all billing and scheduling to the teachers. This means that students and teachers will be responsible for handling all scheduling and payment matters directly with one another.
  • Students will receive full refund for any credits purchased on or after September 20th, 2014, which were not redeemed by 11:59pm Friday March 20, 2015. Any credits purchased before September 20, 2014 fall outside of our 6-month lesson credit expiration window and will not be refunded.
  • Purchasers of unexpired Gift Certificates will also receive refund as stated above. This means that if you are a student who received a Gift Certificate within the last 6 months, and there are still credits remaining in it, you will not be the one receiving the refund for the unused credits, instead the refund will go to the original purchaser.
  • Please bear with us as we collect our records and issue refunds. We will begin this process on Monday, March 23, 2015, and expect to complete the task by April 15, 2015. Any purchases made more than 90 days in the past cannot be refunded electronically, instead, a check will be issued to the current mailing address on file.

Why we’re calling it quits

Behind the scenes at Brooklyn Music Lessons

To start, some people may have misconceptions about BML. They may assume that it runs smoothly, on its own, with very little input from living humans, and that as a result, it makes a nice profit. While hearing this view from people can be a pat on the back for how I’ve made BML appear on the surface, it’s just not the case in actuality. BML is run by three humans (myself and two volunteers) and if you tally our hours, our individual hourly pay wouldn’t be more than a few dollars each.

Much as I loved the idea of running a music lessons company, the reality of Brooklyn Music Lessons has been emotionally and physically exhausting. It’s been stressful never being able to step away from the business and take a real vacation due to the need to be on call at nearly any hour should a new order arrive or a teacher or student need help.

In addition to being the business owner, I wore many hats including teacher, customer service rep, teacher-student matchmaker, graphic designer, web developer, videographer, copywriter, content writer, online editor, advertising and social media marketer, coach to teachers, creator of teacher training materials, and bookkeeper. For the acronym-savvy readers, that’s basically the CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO, CSO, CCO and CKO.

Wearing all these hats ultimately prevented me from having the time and energy to devote to giving BML what it needed most–building the website into a fully functioning web application with the ability to process orders without human input, facilitate scheduling between teachers and students, track lesson schedules and payments, and report financial data to students, teachers, and admins. Without this, BML is stuck, and the truth of the matter is that the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away and too costly to my health, stress level, and overall well-being to continue.

Gratitude for the BML Team

BML Accounts

For the past 5 years, my mom, Alice has been waking up each morning to process credit renewals for students. She collects all completed lesson submissions from teachers, enters them into our records, and uses this data to calculate upcoming renewal dates. In other words, when you received a ‘Payment Processed’ email at 7:00am on Sunday morning, that was because Alice was awake at that time to make sure that the lesson you had scheduled with your teacher for Monday could proceed without pause.

Should any billing situation arise that needed quick action, she did her best to be on it right away. Her job was not easy, but she never complained.

Alice, your willingness to tirelessly do the work that no one else would do has kept BML afloat these past few years. I am 100% certain that without your help, the company would have closed by 2011. If you are a teacher, or student who has benefitted from BML since 2010, I encourage you to take a moment and reach out to Alice to thank her for her contribution. She has been a behind-the-scenes character who I’m sure would be delighted to receive some direct gratitude from teachers and students.

BML HR, Spiritual Advisor

Nearly four years ago, I met my now, fiancée, Betsy. Together, we realized that her previous 10 years experience as a social worker, and strong communication skills/intuition could be a huge asset to the business, and so she quickly joined BML as volunteer #2.

When Betsy joined, she first created a new hiring and orientation process. She coached new and current teachers on policy/procedure and how to set and maintain best practices with students. She would also step in with any students or teachers when any difficulty would arise, coaching teachers on boundaries, time management, and how to handle difficult relationships.

As a result of working with Betsy, many teachers found the overall quality of their life improved inside and outside of teaching. It was really amazing to hear that the teachers who were receiving help with BML matters often found that those issues applied to their life in other ways, and that the new changes positively affected the whole of their life and relationships.

Betsy, you have helped to transform BML these past few years. You helped to navigate the ship through some difficult waters. My gratitude for your counsel in everything from customer service emails to important executive decisions is beyond measure. Thank you.

BML Teachers

My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all the teachers who have been a part of Brooklyn Music Lessons since 2009. Without you there truly would be no BML. I really appreciate your time and dedication to teaching, working with us, and your creativity and artistry. It has been a true inspiration to witness and work with such a talented and artistically diverse group of individuals creating their own lives dedicated to music learning.

Onward

I started BML because I wanted to be able to spend more time doing what I loved most–making music. In reality, what ended up happening was that I quit playing music altogether in order to allocate more time to running the business. Throughout the past 6 years, making music had become a decreasing priority in my life, and now it is time for creative musical expression to regain priority. Betsy and I have plans to move out of the city–where we have lived for over a decade–to a cabin in upstate NY. I will be focusing on all of the things in my life that have been neglected, from making music to taking daily walks in nature.

Additionally, Betsy and I have started a company to support her intuitive coaching business and in the past few months, it has really taken off. Like music, this is heart-centered work that really speaks to my spirit. Our aim is to create a lifestyle that supports us and our dreams to start a healthy, vibrant family in the coming years.

Thank you each and every student and family for your support, love and dedication to music education. It has been an honor to serve you and watch you all grow. I wish you the best in all that you do.

Bryan Noll
March 16, 2015

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