Pianimals Kids Club of Mason teaches preschool children how to play the piano using animals to introduce musical concepts. Operating under the philosophy that “every child can learn to play,” Thompson teaches children ages four through eight, including children with ADHD and dyslexia. She reaches about 60 students in eight preschools across northern Cincinnati; four teachers assist.
Her 2013 growth plan included expanding to 12 schools and adding at least two more teachers. Thompson started her business in 2011, after moving with her daughter from Indianapolis to Mason in order to take care of her elderly mother. An ordained Disciples of Christ minister, Thompson decided that the move was also a good time for a career change. 2 As a child she had had six years of private piano instruction at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She holds a minor in music from the University of Redlands and a Child Care Professional credential issued by the State of Florida.
“This program is unique because it effectively teaches the joy of piano playing to children as young as four and children with learning challenges such as ADHD and dyslexia,” said Thompson. “Many piano teachers do not accept children for piano lessons until they are seven or eight years of age; however, studies have shown that children who begin private piano lessons in preschool test higher in spatial reasoning, which is fundamental for math and science. Also, piano lessons help develop the preschool child’s eye-to-hand coordination, ability to concentrate and build the child’s confidence.”
SCORE assisted this growing niche business, which meets an unfilled customer need get organized by helping Deborah develop and manage financials, work on her sales presentation and brochure, address human resource issues, such as job descriptions, hiring, contracts, background checks and liability insurance and set multi-year business objectives.
Thane Brown of Cincinnati is Thompson’s SCORE counselor. Brown worked for P&G for 36 years in both engineering and manufacturing roles, retiring as director of North American Engineering. “Deborah has a niche business which meets an unfilled customer need and she puts the children she teaches first,” said Brown. “Initially, we worked on pulling together a business plan. Since Deborah did not need a loan, a plan was developed to help her get organized. We also spent considerable time developing financial predictions, working on her sales presentation, and pulling together a tri-fold brochure for her to use attracting customers.
“As the business grew, PKC got to the point where Deborah could not do all the teaching, so we worked on hiring questions: contractors versus employees; contracts; background checks; and liability insurance. Now we are working on managing financials, setting multi-year business objectives and restructuring Deborah’s job so she can manage 3 and expand her business.” “I've always said that piano teaching is 50 percent cheerleader,” said Flo Arnold, creator of the Pianimals teaching system. “Deborah truly understands the cheerleader mentality and her experience as a pastor only enhances the way she interacts with children, their parents, and the teachers she is hiring. Bottom line is that she knows how to treat people to make them feel special. She is teaching children piano....not piano to children.”