We had the good fortune of connecting with Machiko Hill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Machiko, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My journey towards establishing my own business started with teaching piano to my friends’ children when I was in college. After that experience, my desire to have children enjoy learning the piano became more resolute. I thoroughly enjoy seeing their eyes light up when they realize they are doing well, and they always make me smile. I was desperate to gain knowledge for piano teaching and improve my teaching skill, so I read many teaching method books and blogs. Within a month of graduation with a B.A. in arts with a piano performance emphasis, I was hired as a piano teacher by a local music store in San Francisco. They gave me at least 30 students as soon as I started teaching there. While striving to be a better employee, I started thinking about my future vision. I said to myself that one day I am going to start my own teaching business. I bought a notebook to write my ideas and goals towards establishing a piano teaching business. One day, while I was randomly looking through job search websites, I came across a job posting stating, “I will help you build your own piano studio.” I contacted her immediately, and I visited her house in the Bay Area. She told me about piano teacher training and workshops I can attend. Then encouraged me to start my own teaching business and taught me how to set up my website. As I slowly got inquiries and new students outside of the store, I became more confident as a teacher. My desire to leave the store and work on my own business grew more vital at the same time. When the number of students reached ten, I decided to quit working for the store and opened my studio.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My piano studio offers accelerated piano lessons that are innovative, fun, and engaging. Since April last year, I began implementing this program after taking a course from my piano/business coach. I often hear from people around me that they learned the piano when they were young, but quit the piano lessons because it was boring or unmotivated. I use exciting apps for note reading, rhythm practice, and communication and strive for my students to find the piano lessons as enjoyable as the game, although it can sometimes be challenging. I’m a member of the piano teachers’ association and groups to continue my study, improving my teaching skills, and getting a lot of fun ideas for teaching. It was tough to restart my piano teaching business when my husband and I moved to Culver City from San Francisco in 2017 for his job. But, words from my life mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, helped me to start fresh at a new place. He says, “Praying and taking action are vital aspects of advancing in our Buddhist practice so that we can bring forth our greatest potential and live the most fulfilling and happy lives.” After setting up my business page on the nextdoor app, google, and yelp page, I slowly gained students through those platforms. It took time, but now 99% of my clients come from word of mouth. I appreciate my students and their parents very much. I have many excellent students who enjoy playing the piano every week. I’m very grateful for that. Whether I’m happy, sad, or creative, I can always go back to my piano. I was able to find my gift of music because of my parents, who took me to music classes and piano lessons. I’m grateful that I can express myself through the love of playing the piano, and I know you can do that too! I want everyone who decides to take lessons to experience this positive feeling by playing the piano.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Go to Culver City Stairs and Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park for hiking and a nice view. Have dinner at Sushi Mashiko in Culver City for delicious sushis. Walk at the Santa Monica Pier and just relax and catch up. Have lunch and multiple desserts at Urth Cafe. Drive down to Newport Beach. Walk around the beach and have Lobster rolls at Hook and Anchor Fish & Lobster House!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout out to my awesome parents who are open-mind and give me great ideas and advice. They always believe in my potential and encourage me to move forward, no matter what happens. I appreciate my husband who is also an artist. His creativity and arts inspire me. He supports me whenever I feel stuck or lack confidence. I’m grateful to have such an excellent life partner to share victories, struggles and everything and spend time every day. I’m grateful for my life mentor, Daisaku Ikeda. I read many of his books and I am encouraged a lot by his words. He taught me that there’s no need to compare myself to others because everyone has a unique mission that only one can accomplish. I’m thankful for the SGI-USA Buddhist organization. It’s a community where people share their victories, struggles, encourage each other, and study together. I chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo every morning and evening to elevate my life condition and bring out my highest self.
Brandon O Hill