Since DSM and MusickEd operate outside of academia, our year follows a traditional business year more closely than an academic one. There are however some similarities between DSM and traditional schools or 'band programs'. For example, at this time of year we are preparing our students for Holiday Showcases and we will have a well deserved two weeks off for winter break.
As we look back at 2008 we ask ourselves 'What have we learned?'
At this time last year we were putting in extra hours to complete the Discovery Series software. We had set a 'deadline' and by the close of business December 19, 2007 we were hell bent on finishing the impossible task of packaging 20 'units' times 45 instruments for the online store. This meant hours of 'encryption' and 'building' each of the roughly 900 products. Once complete, these needed to be transferred to our server and uploaded to be made available to the public. We celebrated completion at the 11th hour with a great dinner at one of our favorite places called Sweet Basil. I'm sure the waiters wondered what 4 bleary-eyed guys were doing starting dinner at 10:30 PM with a hearty round of drinks! Nonetheless, we were thrilled to 'be done'.
It didn't take long to realize however that we indeed weren't 'done' and that we had a fantastic opportunity to re-do the software to make things even better. So when we returned in January we set out to not only redesign the look, feel and navigation of the software but also streamline the process of creating future products (i.e. The Jazz Series, The Children's Series, The Band Series, etc.). The work of reorganizing the infrastructure of our product from creation of content to production, editing, and even storage remains underway.
There are also changes being made in the structure at DSM. For over 15 years the core founding members have searched high and low for talented staff to 'come aboard' and be part of our amazing team. We offered many people positions and a chance to pitch in and make themselves a career. We never made a distinction between part time and full time faculty or Partners and Associates as far as the pricing structure for our students. But over the years we have come to realize that there is a difference. Our students and families see it and the entire staff sees it. Now the 'tenured' (to use an academic term) faculty tuition reflects that change.
This is a bittersweet development because as you know (if you are an avid reader of this blog), we have had high expectations for the entire profession of private music education. Our vision in part is to pave the way for successful models of DSM to pop up all over the country. This would give teachers (and future teachers) a viable, healthy option for employment outside of academia and allow local community music programs to benefit from professional education. Although that goal will not be reached in the time frame that we had hoped...we forge ahead!
Still in all, DSM remains a vibrant, healthy jewel serving an avid community of music enthusiasts and parents who want the best for their children. And MusickEd's time is coming! We are indeed thankful for a great year and look forward to a fantastic 2009!!
Happy Holidays to one and all.