Business Spotlight: Morin Music
Morin Music is a private studio that specializes in high-quality musical education. What started as a collective of classical musicians offering lessons in Calgary has cumulated in Morin Music becoming one of Calgary's leading musical education centres.
"Since opening our doors, we have had a very strong and clear vision for what we believe is best for our students and their learning, and I believe our company has been successful because of our commitment to our principles and philosophy," says Carmen Morin, owner and executive director.
The Role Morin Music Serves
Carmen explains that their programs are dedicated solely to classical music training, with emphasis on character development through musical training. "We could have adjusted our programs, offering a more relaxed approach, play programs, etc. But instead we have always placed our energy and resources on educating families and parents on what is required, and also the long list of benefits that come from musical training in classical and formal lessons. This success, of course, would also not be possible without the high quality of teachers we choose to welcome to our faculty who bring with them a breadth of knowledge and experience in this field."
The business was a success from the start, which resulted in a steep learning curve for Carmen.
"When we opened our doors we grew quite rapidly, welcoming 500 students in weekly lessons within the first two years," she says. "At the time it felt like a bit of a whirlwind and looking back, I've learned the importance of having administrative systems to organize such a high volume of students. I have learned that it is possible (and also more efficient) to have systems in place while still maintaining a personalized approach for such a large group of students."
While there are many different music programs in Calgary, Morin Music remains dedicated to its roots of classical training, knowing that this approach will help students that are very serious about developing their musical talent.
The Values and Philosophies of Morin Music
"I believe that even if music and the arts is an industry that parents may not be educated in, they understand the value of formal musical training for their children," asserts Carmen. "In recent years, as delayed gratification and growth mindset becomes more challenging for students in our fast-paced world, we have seen an influx of programs that focus on play and fun to try to avoid the challenges that come through learning a musical instrument. These challenges, however, are where most of the joy and reward lie. We have always focused on giving our students tools to navigate challenges as opposed to avoiding them."
She continues, "We, of course, focus on joy and encouragement for our students but have always aimed to help students find this at a deeper level. By preparing our students with tools to approach challenges and the growth mindset needed to build confidence, they cultivate values and tools of resiliency that they can apply to all areas of their lives. We have always emphasized that music lessons are more educational than entertainment, and this allows our students to feel more joy and reward as they progress and learn."
How the Recession Has Affected Businesses in Calgary
Although Calgary was hit hard by the latest recession, an economic slump that saw many small businesses falter or close their doors, Morin Music continued to thrive.
"We opened our doors in 2013 during the recession but have had steady growth with a retention rate of over 98 per cent each year. We are in the process of expanding our studio location.
"Although our programs and registrations have been healthy, I am certainly cognizant of the challenges many Calgarians are facing. Now, more than ever, I maintain the importance of the highest-quality training and value in our teaching and programs. Our teachers have a minimum of university-level training, with many having graduate and doctoral degrees. We continue to invest back into our team and programs for ongoing growth and refinement of what we offer our students.
"The tools that students learn and develop through musical training is not only profoundly beneficial to their brain development, but formal training is also celebrated for building resilience and an understanding of delayed gratification. Each student comes to us brimming with potential, and to honour that we make sure we are prepared and comfortable to collaborate with students and their families to help them to reach their goals and grow as lifelong learners throughout the process."
Calgary's Place in the Culture of Morin Music
Calgary holds a special place in Carmen's heart, and she couldn't be happier to establish the business in this city.
"I am a born and raised Calgarian and I'm very proud to have grown up in Calgary's music community," Carmen smiles. "Calgary has flourished and grown so much in my lifetime, but I still feel the genuine camaraderie among Calgarians. [When I travel] I always appreciate coming home to our clean and beautiful city, where people are so genuinely friendly and helpful to their neighbours."
"I believe that Calgarians are known for their work ethic, and I believe that we aim to cultivate strong work habits for our students as well. Calgary continues to have a growing appreciation for music and the arts, which makes it a wonderful place for musicians and entrepreneurs."
Spreading Music Across Calgary
Carmen is also happy to give back to the city she loves. Morin Music founded Love of Music Calgary (loveofmusiccalgary.com) in 2015, a program that extends the reach of music education to those who may not otherwise have the means.
"Formal and classical music education have increasingly been available only to certain demographics, so our goal was to extend the opportunity to students and families who are passionate about learning music but may not be able to afford the costs," Carmen explains. "In this program, we have partnered with several schools and private teachers, and also generously receive instrument donations from local Calgarians to be able to provide instruments and lessons to low-income families."
Morin Music also provides free concerts at senior's residences and in the community, and has an annual charity concert where proceeds are donated to a good cause. The last two concerts raised over $15,000 for YWCA.
"We feel it is very important for our students to see the many ways music and the arts can impact the community. We, as teachers, find this quite gratifying as well."
In 2015 Morin Music was honoured as a finalist, out of 500 local businesses, in the Calgary Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards in the BDC Emerging Growth category. In 2016 Carmen received the Horizon Award from Mount Royal University Alumni Awards. The recognitions prove that Morin Music is making a much-needed impact on Calgary.
The Benefits of Music Lessons Upon Children and Adults
"The list of benefits to music lessons seems to be never-ending," says Carmen. "There are obvious cognitive benefits — no other activity activates all regions of our brains and neural subsystems. It has been proven to be profoundly beneficial for children to learn to play a musical instrument, but as we learn more about the brain, these benefits continue at all ages.
"Aside from its many cognitive benefits though, music stands in its own value. There is no society in recorded past that has ever lacked music, and the way that we as humans experience and process music makes it arguably clear that humans are musical beings hardwired for musical expression. The language of music is a very powerful means of expression that I feel we all should explore."
Carmen thanks the teachers, students, and parents that keep Morin Music thriving. She is pleased to announce the addition of eight studio spaces in their current location, which will be complete during the fall season of 2019.