A pioneer at heart. That’s me in today’s modern world. Creating and forging new territory, I’m a multi-passionate musicpreneur, and I love what I do.
Born in a small dusty town in the California Mojave Desert, my fierce free spirit swept me far away like a tumbleweed. In 11th and 12th grade, my life began to drastically change after taking an audition with the Idyllwild Arts Academy. I was accepted with a full scholarship to their boarding school and it was such an amazing honor to be one of four American musicians received there. I was able to spend time enhancing my viola skills as well as sharing my passion with like-minded musicians from all over the world. Each week, we journeyed three-hours to study privately with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
After graduation, the tumbleweed gained momentum and rolled into the cold climate of upstate New York where I attended the renowned Eastman School of Music. It was truly a special time of growing up, learning life lessons, and developing musically. Some of the lessons learned there were foundational to what I do now. (Read more about it on my Heartstrings page.) I graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance and Music Education.
After Eastman, it was time to venture out into the career world. I landed an amazing job just outside of New York City. Monroe-Woodbury Middle School wasn’t just any public school. It was listed as one of the top 100 best-music-programs in the country.
Once I tasted teaching, I felt, for the first time in my life, this was my calling.There is no better job than spending time with creative and clever middle school kids while making music all day. During the summers, I earned my first master’s degree in Music Education at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. Grateful to attend yet another top music school, I enjoyed my time there and realized just how much I love learning and being in school!
Still young and early in my career, and always hungry for a good adventure, I thought about moving back to the west coast to be a little closer to family. While hunting for a job, I saw a posting for a school in Hawaii and I thought, who wouldn’t want to live and teach in Hawaii? I took on a one-year interim position as a music teacher at the prestigious Punahou School. Yes, this is the same school that both President Obama and Michelle Wie attended. Excited and fearless, I was able to satisfy my desire for adventure and teaching at the same time.
Falling in love with the islands, I began playing violin on the worship team at New Hope Oahu—a mega church of about 14,000 people. During my time there, I started the New Hope Strings Ministry and helped cultivate an orchestra of over 30-stringed worshipers to improvise and play on the team.
Through New Hope, I have been honored to play on stage and in arenas with several Christian Artists including Nicole C. Mullen and Anna Gilbert. Leading thousands of people into worshiping God is really an experience that cannot be compared.
During this season of ministry, I attended Pacific Rim Bible College and went on several mission trips to places like India, Argentina, and even Scotland. It was a wonderful time filled with adventure and the unique experience that comes from being exposed to new cultures.
After Punahou, I decided to stay in Hawaii and focused my energies on building my own teaching studio. It was not a new endeavor—after all, I had been teaching privately since I was 15. Instead, it was about blooming what was already inside me—my entrepreneurial spirit and passion for teaching. I started out with 10 students and my business grew quickly. With the help of my reputation, the numbers multiplied and soon I had 70 plus students.
Realizing my passion for helping others, I earned a second master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Chaminade University (I know, I LOVE learning). This degree birthed something that has been inside me for years: Heartstrings Performance Coaching. Using my psychology training, I can better help students recognize their value and potential both musically and personally.
It is my desire that all of my students would realize how special they are and thereby play with joy and confidence. A few years later, school started calling my name once again. This time, it was an online business school. Upon completion, the pioneer in me looked out and saw new land on the horizon—land where I would coach other music teachers to cultivate their skills and ignite a passion for entrepreneurism. That’s when The Thriving Music Studio was born. Through this training, I show teachers all over the world how to survive and thrive financially while maintaining satisfied students.
After getting married and having two amazing little boys, we excitedly moved around the country, as the U.S. Army sent us base to base. Moving frequently, I developed the skills to build a full string teaching studio before arriving to our new location. And while learning to balance a career with being a new mommy, I took this quick building experience and wrote a book for music teachers called The Handbook of Marketing Strategies for Music Teachers.
While at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, I created the Waynesville Youth Symphony. This group emerged from a small home school co-op violin class and blossomed into to a thriving string orchestra of thirty plus children.
Most recently, we have moved back to that small dusty town of Ridgecrest. I am so very excited to finally plant some roots, be near family, and give back to the town and music programs that made me.
As I look back, it’s hard to believe this little tumbleweed blew so far and to so many places. But when I look, I don’t see a tumbleweed anymore. I see a dew-drenched daisy rooted in rich soil. Rooted, beautiful and ready to impart her knowledge to the world.
What OUR PARENTS ARE SAYING
This is an amazing group of music teachers and young musicians!!!! Michelle Findley, Parent & Musician