I’m sitting in front of my laptop preparing to join the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce. Being listed on their website means that my business will be listed alongside dozens of local businesses in the area. It will provide much-needed local exposure and validate my business for the community. It is perhaps more important than any feature a high level publication the “music industry” could provide. This is because I am playing a very different game than the one I normally play. Make no mistake, I’ve had the esteemed privilege of being a professional working musician for the past 15 years. I’ve been a soloist with world-class orchestras and collaborated with some of the top artists of our time. I’m endorsed by some of the leading companies in my business and I’ve held teaching positions at Juilliard and NYU Steinhart. I’ve worked in nearly every area of the music industry and people around the world know me and I what I bring to the table. However, this is totally different.
I remember when I moved to Westchester with my family I thought it would be so easy. After all, a musician of my caliber should have no problem putting the word out and building a successful teaching studio. I was absolutely sure that within a few months I would have a thriving business. When I first tried to put the word out by posting online, printing flyers, and emailing people, I was met with basically ZERO interest. I couldn’t understand why. It actually drove me crazy. Here I was a Juilliard trained world-renowned artist and I couldn’t find a single local student.
Let’s go back to what we’ll call my “global business” or the music industry. In the music industry people hire me based on my skills. It’s important that people like me and I’m easy to work with but, I’m there to do a job. The better I do that job, the more opportunities present themselves. In many ways it’s really simple. I’ve spent my entire adult life working with various organizations and groups of people. Many of them are my friends but we come together to perform a task. Relationships matter as they always do in any business but, the playing field is often a concert hall or a forum separate from our personal lives.
Local business is different. I’ve spent the past 4 years learning this. Standards are still high (in some cases higher) but at its core local business is about relationships. Here the playing field is our town, our homes, and the players are very often our families. This doesn’t mean that traditional boundaries don’t exist but it does mean that in local business I have to engage on very close personal level with my clients.
Going back the Hudson Valley Gateway. Every business listed on their website has a story. The people behind it are in many cases are my neighbors. They are people I will see walking down the street with my wife and son. To succeed in this environment I have had to earn their trust and become a part of their lives. I have had to learn about their families and how I can better accommodate them. There is no hiding behind “getting the job done.” I am a part of the community and the success of my business directly depends on my ability to connect.
4 years and 2 business ventures later I feel like I’m just getting started. However, the momentum is finally in my favor. I stand on the cusp of something big. The Simon Boyar School of Drums and Percussion offers our community a tremendous opportunity. We have a full roster of extremely talented students of the highest caliber and I intend to build out our offerings and create something special. Most importantly, I’m truly honored to be a member of the community.
Here are a few great places on the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce website:
Baked By Susan – If you live in the area you’ll see the logo on baked goods everywhere. Susan’s bakery has also been a Best of Westchester winner 3 times! Fantastic pies. My family loves them!
The Bean Runner Cafe – A staple in Peekskill for live music and great food. I’ve played there many times and my wife and I bring our son there often too. The owners and staff are all truly great people.
The Copland House – Composer Aaron Copland’s national historic landmark residence. Do I need to say more? A truly special place.
Embark Peekskill – A nonprofit coalition of performers, writers, and community supporters. They do a lot of very important work in the area and host great events.
Peekskill Farmer’s Market – My family and I frequent the farmer’s market all the time. It’s a great way to try awesome food from farms and restaurants all throughout NY state.
Simon Boyar School of Drums and Percussion – World class drum and percussion instruction in Westchester, NY.