Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashley Koch, owner of Blackbird Music Services LLC., located in Wilton, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is a small private practice of music therapy that offers music therapy services (group and individual), music classes, and private lessons for guitar, voice, piano, ukulele, and adaptive lessons for any of the previous instruments listed. My practice primarily serves both children & adults with a variety of life challenges. My mission as a clinician, instructor, and business owner is to provide memorable and success-oriented music experiences for people with varying abilities.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Ashley Koch, and I'm a board-certified music therapist, mother, and owner of Blackbird Music Services LLC. I have been a lover of music my whole life, and this career has truly been a blessing. I live with my family in Wilton, NY, though I hail from Queensbury, NY. My education includes a Bachelor's degree in Music Therapy from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA, and I have several years of professional music therapy practice with various populations/age groups. I completed my music therapy internship at Grafton Integrated Health Network in Berryville, VA, working with children and adolescents with a variety of complex behavioral health challenges and intellectual disabilities. My clinical experiences have shaped my professional work and have led me to develop a holistic, client-centered, multi-sensory, and success-oriented approach to music therapy.

This year marks seven years I have been working professionally in the field of music therapy. After significant growth at my previous job, I felt it was time to challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone, and make my own opportunities. Becoming a wife and parent was an immense driving force in my decision to start my practice. I'm grateful to have imperative time with my family while still keeping a foot in this fulfilling field. Balance is everything! Starting this practice has ignited sparks in my spirit and brought back my passion for music therapy and music making. The many "musical miracles" (I witness on the daily such as hearing non-verbal clients sing), the endless smiles, laughter, and watching my students find gratification through learning an instrument (just like how it brought me joy so many years ago) is what keeps me going.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a new business owner so far has been getting my practice up and running with a thriving caseload in less than three months. Once I have my mind set on something, I am bound and determined to make it happen. I am beyond thankful for my family, mentors, colleagues, and everyone who helped me get to this place in my career, believed I could when I couldn't, and continued supporting me on this journey.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is staying focused, organized, and driven even when it comes to the "not so fun" things like paperwork. Since I am my own boss, it is important to complete paperwork, respond to phone calls/emails, session notes, billing sheets, and send invoices/receipts in a timely manner despite the lack of official deadlines. You really need to stay motivated and create some sort of a routine to keep you on track when there are so many hats to wear. I recently joined a HIPPA-compliant music therapy documentation portal which has helped me stay organized in so many ways.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Networking- Knowing others in your field and making professional connections can help build and grow your business. I highly recommend attending conferences, connecting with old college alumni and professors, and going to different workshops/fairs to spread awareness about your profession.
  2. If you really want it, it will most likely be worth it- Starting any business is a risk in itself, but sometimes the risk is worth making. It could be a good thing and bring you more purpose and joy than you ever imagined. You won't know unless you try!
  3. Stay humble- No matter what business you are in, those who are humble and kind will always win! Customers and clients are more likely to do business with someone who has a good personality, is approachable, polite, and makes themselves known (whether they are the employee or CEO).

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

About Music Therapy:
Music therapy is a health profession in which a board-certified music therapist uses music as a tool to work on non-musical goals. Projected goals can involve maintaining, increasing, or improving certain areas of functioning. Targeted goals are based on the six domains: socialization, communication/language, physical functioning, emotional skills, sensory skills, and cognitive functioning. Music therapy sessions involve singing, playing instruments, moving to music, and actively listening to music depending on the client's strengths, needs, and musical preferences. Music therapy sessions' playful yet structured nature promotes a success-oriented learning and growth environment.

About Music Classes & Lessons:
Music classes and lessons focus on learning a particular musical skill(s) or instrument of choice from the following options: Guitar, piano, voice, ukulele, or adaptive (for the previous instruments listed). Since I am a music therapist, I take a holistic, multi-sensory, success-oriented, and client-centered approach in classes/lessons because I believe everyone benefits from different teaching styles.

Here at Blackbird Music Services LLC:
-I believe music is for everyone regardless of age and abilities.
-I believe music is a practical tool for learning and growth.
​-I believe musical moments can truly improve one's quality of life.
​-I believe that active music making is powerful, encouraging, collaborative, and promotes positive relationships.
​-I believe learning to play an instrument fosters persistence, self-discipline, confidence, leisure skills, and leadership skills.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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