Piano teacher plays right notes to make business fly
It started with his love for music and his passion to teach others to learn the art.
Before they had it officially registered as a legitimate business in 2004, Denis Namocatcat used to go to his client’s homes to give them piano lessons.
Today, the Cebu Music Learning Center offers a wide range of music lessons to over a hundred students every month.
Namocatcat partnered with his wife Sandra to take care of the company’s financial operations while he takes care of the daily operations.
They started with only three part-time teachers to help them teach music lessons when they opened for business in 2004.
The couple initially invested P10,000 to set up the learning center in a rented condominium room in Cebu City back then.
He said he only hired part-time teachers who shared the same passion to teach music like them, because most people only want to learn music during vacations or during summer.
Since 2004, the school now has 10 part-time teachers.
“For most of my teachers, they’re more into it because they love to teach young students their art and the money part is only a fraction of the reason to teach,” said Namocatcat.
From offering piano lessons, Namocatcat eventually added more classes according to the demands of their customers.
“We always listen to what they want. If we see that there are many who like to learn to play drums then we offer them lessons,” said Namocatcat.
Today, they offer lessons for piano, voice, guitar, violin, drums, flute, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet at their learning center in V. Rama Avenue, Guadalupe, Cebu City.
This year, they’re seeing a growing interest on learning how to play the ukulele, which has become popular among musicians today.
“We’ve seen Jason Mraz using ukulele in his music and people are beginning to see it as an instrument of interest so we are also offering that,” he said.
Mraz is an American singer, musician, whose song “I’m Yours” won a Grammy Award as the Best Song in 2009.
Mraz used a ukulele in that song.
The center’s rates are between P4,000 and P5,000 for 12 sessions.
“Our piano lessons is at P4.300 for 12 sessions, one hour per session while our trumpet or saxophone classes are the most expensive starting at P5,000 per 12 sessions,” said Namocatcat.
Summer is the center’s busiest time of the year with the center having many students enroling in music classes.
Their students include those, who had been with them for a long time, and come back every summer for more music lessons. They also have students from abroad, who visit Cebu and take up music classes here while on vacation.
“We usually have them from June to October. Our leanest months start from November to January. People have other things to do in these months and so they usually put aside music classes. That’s when we usually do promos to still get enrollees,” said Namocatcat.
While there are Filipinos who are passionate about music, still there are a few who’d spend for classes to learn it formally, said Namocatcat.
“Unlike in other countries like Singapore, learning music here is a luxury. To most of us it’s just an option and will depend if we can afford it. In Singapore and other Asian countries however, music is considered a ‘plus’ factor for them. Schools there are serious about music and they consider it a must learn,” said Namocatcat.
Namocatcat said his center could start handling students as young as two years old with their “Music Land Adventure” packages, where kids would be exposed to different musical instruments and would help slowly define which instruments they would be interested to play.
“We incorporate fun in our classes with kids that young so that they will find it fun to learn music,” said Namocatcat.
For the couple’s plans for the center, Namocatcat said he and his wife were planning to diversify the business by opening a music instruments and accessories shop.
“Now we usually refer our students to shops in the malls for instruments and we see that as an opportunity loss. And so, we are thinking of opening one so that if they will need accessories, they can easily find it in our shop,” said Namocatcat, who plan to set up the shop within the year.
Namocatcat said when other music schools buy the center’s books for their music classes, then this is a sign that the center is giving quality training.
He also cited the school’s teachers who had made a career in music such as Jake Gacang, the “dancing violinist,” who is known nationwide for his craft.
“We are proud of him. He started teaching in our center and it was when he was with us that he slowly developed his art. We hope to make more music champions like him either from our students or teachers in the years to come,” said Namocatcat.
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