Boston Business Profile: Musician’s Playground
Imagine a world in which practicing the guitar is as much a part of your lifestyle and routine as is going to the gym. Imagine having the ability to practice your instrument regardless of its size, or where you are. What if you had space and access to an instrument no matter what city you were in. That’s Alyssa O’ Toole’s vision.
Alyssa, founder and Director of Musician’s Playground, a Boston-based company providing adult music lessons, is the definition of a hustler. Alyssa, at the age of 7, began teaching herself how to play the piano, her mother wondering where she had learned these skills, offered to sign her up for lessons. “It was a very genuine, authentic journey of growth” says Alyssa, one that has involved years of teaching lessons out of her bedroom, taking out loans from her grandmother, and learning what it means to run a business and become a manager. Alyssa graduated from college,and moved to Boston to pursue her music dreams.
Missing some key elements of training, both Berklee and the Boston Conservatory denied her acceptance, thus propelling Alyssa to take up jobs at Dunkin Donuts to supplement the lessons she was giving folks out of her one bedroom apartment. Alyssa spent her early years in Boston taking her bed out of the closet every night, and putting it back in every morning all in an effort to maintain the illusion that this was her teaching studio, and not where she also lived.
Growing a Business
All of Alyssa’s hard work resulted in the need to hire additional instructors, which she did through Craigslist ads, “the most unique thing I think all of the people I have been able to hire share is their genuine love for personal expression in life, and how they want this life to be a manifestation of all of their values that they can provide others, but also their passions and I think that this is just a storm of an amazing collective of people, and that’s why I really enjoy this place.”
Musician’s Playground challenges the stigma we have around music lessons, especially for adults. No longer do you have to scour the internet for someone offering piano lessons out of their basement, but you can become part of a bigger community who “value mental wellness, who value creating that collective space for “co-creation” and who are looking to again reach that higher level of themselves through productive hobby” says Alyssa.
Meet Musician’s Playground
Musician’s Playground recently relocated to a new space in Downtown Crossing with high ceilings, an open floor plan, lots of windows and plenty of room for gathering. Classes are uniquely structured in that you can sign up for both private lessons, and/or group classes. Group lessons are arranged so that you begin exactly where you are talent wise. Foundational group classes will get you started, eventually allowing you to move on to larger group lessons. Even in group lessons, you will find varying levels of proficiency among students, and throughout class, the instructor will give modifications for students who are at different levels. This type of lesson enables everyone to be where they are individually, and yet move forward together. Private lessons on the other hand, are completely tailored to the student and instrument and are scheduled separately.
Alyssa and her team value more than just the physicality of music, but place an emphasis on the mental and emotional journey that happens through the expression of music. Her team leads sound meditations, morning breath meditations and all kinds of evening happy hours and social programs to engage the community and connect on even deeper levels with yourself and with the Musician's Playground community.
Sitting with Alyssa, in her new space, and learning about her journey, her hurdles, and her vision is inspiring, especially as a woman in the music industry. Alyssa is the true definition of a disruptor. She’s changing the way we approach the individual musical journey and is doing so through a holistic method. You can feel the passion in Alyssa’s voice when she talks about her plans for Musician’s Playground, the people that work with her, and her clients.
One day, Alyssa hopes to have studios across the U.S. that will allow for clients to maintain a regular practice schedule much like visiting the gym. Alyssa deeply understands the personal journey that goes with music and it’s clear that creating a space to allow for that is her calling. Her laughter radiates through the walls, reverberating off of her very first piano that sits in the main room, and it becomes quite clear to me that while Alyssa exudes warmth and has a carefree air about her - she is not to be underestimated. She’s hardworking, smart, passionate and undeniably talented.
“What’s amazing about music is that there is a point of entry for everyone, no matter their walk of life, their diverse background, color of their skin, age, things that seemingly separate people these days, that all washes away when someone sits down at an instrument with another person,” says Alyssa and that’s a community worth cultivating. There is no stopping this woman and I can’t wait to see what is in store for her.
To learn more about Musician’s Playground or sign up for classes, please visit their website: http://musiciansplayground.com/
Join Musician’s Playground for Valentine’s Day
It’s like paint nite for music!
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
February 14, 2019
$25 for admission for 1 and $40 for a couple.
Participants of all skill levels are welcome, and will learn, play and drink. By the end of the evening, participants will play as a band and leave with a recording of their group's performance! It's a perfect idea for an unconventional date night! Book now: 617-837-6742
Allie Kovalik is a content contributor who has an ear for music, an eye for dogs, and a taste for tacos. Follow all three of her adventures (and many more) on Instagram: @alliek20