We had the good fortune of connecting with Marianthe Bezzerides and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marianthe, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My journey to starting my own business was a bit circuitous, and not necessarily deliberate, but that’s probably how a lot of people get started doing their own business. I studied music composition in college and in grad school, and had some success with writing music for films and videogames, but I didn’t quite know how to gain more traction and keep the momentum going to propel my composing career forward. Like many aspiring composers (and actors, directors, writers, painters, etc.) one must have some type of day job. Many composers follow the track of assisting other well established composers, and I did want to go that route, but I didn’t have much confidence in my abilities, nor did I have the connections or wherewithal to really pursue this path. I did think it would make the most sense for my day job to still be music related, even it if wasn’t exactly composing music for films. So after several different day jobs, in the height of the 2008 recession, I started teaching piano lessons with a small company in Los Angeles. I taught for many years, and started slowly building up my own studio independently of that company. The time seemed right for me to branch out completely on my own, and when I started to feel like I was getting student requests in neighborhoods I lived to far from, I made the decision to start hiring a couple teachers to help me out. It grew and grew, and now I contract with about 15 music instructors and have probably taught 300 students over the years. Eventually in this time period I made the decision to stop teaching lessons myself, save for a couple here and there. I felt that my expertise was better utilized as a coordinator, marketer, customer service representative, and a manager than as a music teacher. My desire to find fantastic teachers and pair them with eager students has definitely been a driving force keeping me motivated, and it has also allowed me time to pursue my music and composing career. On top of this, I had a baby almost a year ago, and having my own business has allowed me a certain level of flexibility I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t pursued starting my own business.
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 business is called Piano Teacher Girl, where we provide high quality music instruction to students in the Greater Los Angeles area. One thing that sets us apart from other music schools is our attention to providing a great experience to each student. Since we aren’t too big, we can provide individualized attention when it comes to scheduling, makeup lessons, and handling any issues that come up between families and teachers. Also, our teachers customize the lessons to each of their students, and bring with them a wealth of expertise. They are active performers, arrangers, producers and composers, in addition to being amazing educators. And although Covid has definitely made things challenging initially, being able to pivot to remote lessons has been surprisingly successful, and is now providing us new opportunities to grow and expand. We are excited to be able to provide lessons to anyone, anywhere, and we are planning on launching a new learning library sometime next year, where we’ll be providing access to videos via a monthly subscription with educational content and instruction. Some things were easy about this business, but some things were definitely hard. For me, becoming more of a manager and leader has been one of the most challenging things to work through. I have had to learn to be more assertive and decisive, two things that don’t come naturally to me. Also, there has been a steep learning curve in becoming more experienced handling issues that come up, from a customer service standpoint. I would like the world to know that we are a small company with big aspirations, and our main goal is to provide great music education to our wonderful students for years to come.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I used to live in Los Angeles, but now I live in Long Beach. If my best friend was visiting (and she has!), there are definitely some great things to show her. First, I would want to show a visitor to all of the great breweries, from the small ones in Torrance, to Ballast Point in Long Beach. I would also want to show someone the Long Beach Aquarium, because who doesn’t love seeing sea animals? I would definitely consider showing a friend some hiking trails in Newport Beach, and specifically the Crystal Cove area. For places to eat, I would take a friend to any of the restaurants on 2nd St. in Belmont Shore, specifically Saints and Seconds, Simmzy’s, Roe Seafood, and Open Sesame. There are some great coffee shops in Long Beach like Philz, and Pietris is a lovely bakery with very good coffee, food and pastries. Finally, I would definitely show someone any of the great beaches and take them for a walk on the strand going along Redondo Beach, as I think its one of the most picturesque beaches with the outcropping of Palos Verdes to the south.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this Shoutout to my mom, who has always supported my musical endeavors as a kid, and as an adult. She has always believed I could forge a career and business for myself, and never once told me I should give up and take an easier path. Even when things have been really hard professionally, she has always been there either helping me see a different way forward, or offering support when I needed a boost. I hope I can be as supportive of my daughter when she needs encouragement for her pursuits and goals, and will look at the example my mom set for me for my daughter’s future.
Fitz Carlile, Taegen Carter