Music is a powerful expression not only for mood, memory and motivation but also to build bridges between people, transcend cultural and socio-economic boundaries and to strengthen helpful insights as people pursue their dreams. In 1991 I was a brand new music therapist and there were no music therapy jobs for which to apply. If I was to do the work I was excited about, I would have to create a private practice and access clients myself.
The big dream is the cornerstone of any business, regardless of its size. When you step into the role of entrepreneur and business owner, you are essentially claiming your spot as a leader and trailblazer within your sector and community. My dream was to introduce music therapy to a new community (Calgary) and work with all those who would benefit from this incredible profession they didn’t know about yet. In order to do that I needed to do TWO important things:
1. Know the dream.
Defining the dream, as simple as that sounds, coupled with setting the culture/spirit/feeling of your private practice is one of the most critical factors when building a business. It sets the course and makes the next decision easier.
A business’s vision typically starts with one person – the Founder, the CEO, the Owner. In those very few months of starting my private practice, I didn’t have a vision written down – but I sure felt it. I envisioned every one of my future clients from two months old to 106 and how music therapy would impact their life. Feeling that dream would help me share the dream later on. Over time I was able to define it more and more. The latest incarnation can be found in our mission statement:
JB Music Therapy is a company that empowers and connects every person to their best self regardless of circumstance. We champion music therapy through excellence in clinical practice and public education, transforming lives one note at a time.
As soon as my personal practice filled up (within the first year) I knew that if I was to serve all those who would benefit I wouldn’t be able to do it alone. It was time to share the dream.
2. Share the dream.
In the early years, I kept my business mission inside of me – just letting it out bits and pieces at a time. I did this because I wasn’t sure it would grow. Was it possible to build a sustainable service that no one had heard about – yet?
Organically JB Music Therapy grew and grew. And soon it became evident that JB Music Therapy belonged to a much bigger group – our team, our clients, the larger organizations that support our clients, the families of our clients, and our larger community. The late Warren Bennis reminds us that “at the heart of every great group is a shared dream.” The more we shared – the bigger our group became.
Here are some of the ways our dream has been expressed over the last 30 years:
- On average we provide 7500 clinical hours each year with infants to elders in hospitals, care homes, day programs, and online.
- Built a therapy team to twenty certified music therapists (MTAs) from across North America.
- Entered into some incredible partnerships to provide music therapy in complex organizations and across many facilities.
- Helped over 50 new music therapists complete their required 1000-hour internship to become certified music therapists (MTAs).
- Participated in several research studies.
- Shared music therapy stories and music’s health and wellness benefits at national and international conferences.
- Been awarded service recognitions by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Association of the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured, Project HOPE, Canadian Association of Music Therapists, Calgary Board of Education, and nominated for the Community Impact Award through Calgary’s Chamber of Commerce.
Social purpose businesses like ours need to focus on more than the bottom line, they need to look up to the top line, the higher purpose and the people that your business is serving and advocating for. There is no better way to engage in the importance of this than interacting with the dream – knowing it and sharing it.
As the owner of JB Music Therapy, it is important that I continue to Drive this Dream to the best of my abilities – and this means remembering I can always share the wheel and pull over to refuel. It is important to always have enough fuel in the tank because your dream is meant to be shared!