Hi, I’m Brandon Pearce, Founder, and CEO of Music Teacher’s Helper. Although, 15 years ago, I never would have imagined I’d be serving tens of thousands of music teachers and students with a team of over 20 employees while traveling nomadically to over 30 countries with my family of five.
It’s been a long yet fulfilling road getting to this point. And today, I’d like to tell you the story of how Music Teacher’s Helper was born and how we got to where we are. Along the way, I’ll share some personal anecdotes and show how my life has also changed through the process.
It started back in 2003 when I was working full-time at a customer service job in a call center. I was also teaching piano lessons out of my apartment on the weekends and studying computer programming at a university in the evenings. My small family (which at the time included my wife and baby girl) was struggling to make ends meet.
I had no ambition to run a business, but I loved music, I loved computers, and I loved planning and organizing things.
A Solution to My Problem
Like many music teachers, I realized there were aspects of teaching that seemed to take more time and energy than necessary. For example, when my students would come to me and ask, “How much do I owe you?” it would take me time to search through my records, check their payment history, and calculate the amount I then had to awkwardly ask them for.
In addition to finances, sometimes my students forgot when their lessons were, or forgot their books, or didn’t pass an important message onto their parents. I started thinking that there must be a better way to handle these things.
Fortunately, I’d been programming since I was twelve years old, and I saw a fun new challenge. So in my spare time (early mornings, lunch breaks, and late evenings), I created a program to help me keep track of my teaching studio. It was simple. I made a way to input my students, their contact information, lesson rates, payments, schedules, assignments, and anything else I could think of related to teaching them. And I made the software do the hard work of organizing and calculating everything.
Expanding the Idea
I used this program for myself for several months and loved it! I no longer had to worry about figuring out how much a student owed because the software did it for me. And I always had a quick reference for how many lessons I’d taught in a given time period.
But then I had another idea.
Why not let my students log in from home? Then they could check their schedules themselves and even pay online before they get to their lesson! I could leave notes for the parents about how the lesson went, and we wouldn’t have to take up any lesson time with money discussions or information that didn’t get passed on. Everything would be communicated more clearly.
I made these changes, and they saved me even more time and made the teaching experience much more enjoyable for my students, their parents, and me.
Creating a Business
As I told some of my friends about this program I’d created, I started realizing that of course, other music teachers could benefit from this, too! So I decided to make it available online for other teachers to use. I called it “Music Teacher’s Helper”, and by early 2004, we were in business!
Teachers loved it! Many teachers said that it’s the kind of system they’ve been looking for their whole teaching career! Students and parents loved how it kept them in the loop and made everything easier to understand.
I was elated to hear these stories, and it felt good to know that I’d created a product that people saw as worth paying for.
But I wasn’t finished yet.
Our customers had many great ideas for how to improve Music Teacher’s Helper even more. I added the ability to send invoices to students, and for the software to do it automatically. I made it easier to send lesson notes and assignments to students and parents. I added a lending library to keep track of books lent out to students. I gave students practice incentives through a practice logging tool. And dozens of other features I could go on and on about.
And over time, more and more teachers began using Music Teacher’s Helper, and I looked back amazed at how much we’d grown in a few short years.
Building a Team
In the early days, I was doing everything myself, from the programming, to the design, support, marketing, accounting, and more. Having never run a business before, I learned as I went along. It was challenging, but I’ve come to love running this business. And now one of my favorite parts is working together with a great team of people to create something beautiful and useful.
Music Teacher’s Helper has always grown organically and with heart. We’ve never received funding, taken out a loan, or sought investors. We’ve hired people only as we could afford to, always making sure we can give our customers the best experience possible along the way.
Eventually, we grew to the point where I could quit my job (then as a full-time programmer) and work on building Music Teacher’s Helper full-time. I still remember the days when I was glued to the screen, programming new features from morning until night while jumping into “Support” mode every few minutes in order to give a speedy reply to customer questions.
Now, about 14 years later, we have a fantastic Customer Service team that handles phone, email, and chat support around the clock. And our development team is constantly updating the software to make it more useful.
In fact, what started with just me creating some software for myself, has now grown into a team of over 20 talented people helping grow and improve Music Teacher’s Helper! With tens of thousands of teachers and students now using it, and with our vision for constant improvement and high-quality service, there is no way I could still be doing this on my own.
A Remote Work Environment
Music Teacher’s Helper has never had a physical office, and our team works 100% remotely. So everyone works from home, from an Internet café, or from the beach, if they choose, wherever they are in the world. Except for the Customer Service team, we also allow very flexible work hours, to maximize the happiness of our team members.
Our team is currently spread across the globe, from the USA to the UK, Europe, and Asia. Working remotely allows us to hire talented people everywhere, while saving our employees on commute time and transportation costs, and helping the environment. We all communicate online through various tools, and work together to create a unique company culture.
A Travel Lifestyle
Because this business is completely online and can be run from anywhere, in 2009, my family and I decided to sell our house and almost all our possessions to travel and live in other parts of the world. We hoped it would be an educational experience for our kids, and be a catalyst for personal growth for us, expanding our own minds about in the process. We also had a hunch it would bring us closer together as a family. At this time, we had two daughters, ages 5 and 3.
We started in Costa Rica, where we lived for a year and a half. We loved the slower pace of life there, the incredible nature, fresh fruits, and the lower cost of living. There, we also gave birth to our third daughter! We’ve continued to travel since then, having now visited and lived in over 32 countries.
Encouraging Growth Through Travel
Travel has been such a life-changing experience for us, increasing our awareness and appreciation for the differences in the world. And we’ve most certainly grown closer as a family through the experiences we’ve shared together. Living out of carry-on luggage, we’ve also realized how little we truly need to be happy. I encourage all our team members to travel, as well as any families who are interested in feeling more connected to the human family or to nature.
When we started traveling nomadically as a family in 2009, we didn’t know anyone else who was doing it. And many people thought we were crazy to sell everything and move to a place we’d never been. But thanks to the Internet and the abundance of online work opportunities, travel has never been easier and safer than it is today.
Thousands of families are now enjoying the benefits of travel and living in various countries as part of their lifestyle. To support this movement, in 2017, my wife and I created a conference called The Family Adventure Summit for families interested in travel and location independence. There, we have speakers, workshops, discussions, and fun games and activities for kids and adults. We discuss topics like travel destinations, earning income on the road, education, safety, community, and more. It’s exciting for us to see more families enjoy the benefits of travel together.
Incidentally, this lifestyle becomes possible for music teachers when they transition their students to video lessons. More and more teachers are doing this. And we’re grateful that my daughters can take singing, songwriting, and violin lessons with teachers around the world via Skype.
A Personal Connection
I’m really proud of what we’ve created at Music Teacher’s Helper. I’m proud of how we help teachers not only save time and organize their studios, but also to connect better with their students, grow their studios to a new level of professionalism and income, and ultimately to become more effective and fulfilled as teachers.
Because ultimately, creating happier and more engaged teachers and students is what we’re about at the core.
Our mission is to inspire more moments of connection between teachers and students and to bring more happiness, confidence, and freedom to the music teaching community.
If you teach music, thank you. Thank you for all you do to bring more music into the world, and for being part of the music teaching community. You are needed and you are making a difference.
Making a Difference
We’re also honored to able be give back in ways that serve the music teaching community. Recently, a large flood in the Southern United States affected one of our customers, who lost all their studio equipment, and we were able to help contribute to bringing them back in business.
With the help of our customers, we’ve also funded over 24 music education projects in schools and elsewhere through our DonorsChoose.org page. And we’re continuing to increase our efforts in these types of projects because we believe in the power of music and we want to help you succeed.
Well, I think that about brings you up to date on our story. If you’ve read this far, thank you! I hope you feel a greater sense now of what Music Teacher’s Helper is and what we stand for.
As you know, we’re here to serve you, and we’re always looking for ways to improve, so feel free to get in touch if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or other ways we can help you have more happiness, confidence, and freedom.
Thank you, and Happy Teaching!
Brandon Pearce, Founder and CEO
Music Teacher’s Helper