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Conversations with Desirae Salas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Desirae Salas.

Hi Desirae, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I started Mindful Music Center almost five years ago. After receiving my Bachelor of Education degree in Music Education at Palm Beach Atlantic University, I got my first real music teaching job at a small school in Palm Beach County. During the two years I taught there, it became increasingly apparent to me that there was a great need for music education for students with exceptionalities. I became very interested in learning more about various disabilities and how I could serve that population of kids. I then went on to earn my Master of Education degree in Exceptional Student Education at the University of Central Florida and relocated to the Sanford/Lake Mary area. Upon completing my program, I immediately went into teaching in a preschool Autism classroom, and later a K-2 Autism classroom. The demands of the job were very intense and I really missed teaching music, so I incorporated music into my classroom here and there, and I noticed a very positive response among the majority of my students with exceptionalities. Remarkably, I saw first-hand how music helped one of my non-verbal students begin to verbalize and even sing!

As I continued to see the positive impact of music on my students, I decided to open my own music studio, with the goal of teaching piano and voice lessons to students of all abilities, learning styles, and ways of thinking. My desire remains to provide a place where students of all ages can not only learn an instrument from highly-qualified instructors but where they can also enrich their lives through the many benefits of music education. Mindful Music Center opened in 2015, with my first student, a young adult on the autism spectrum, who I am still teaching today. Since then, I have been privileged to teach a wide range of students, from infants all the way to adults, including about eight students with ASD and one student with Down Syndrome. As Mindful Music Center continued to grow over the years, I decided to bring on more teachers to better serve the community. Now, we have a team of four teachers, and we offer piano, voice, guitar, and ukulele lessons, as well as classes for infants and toddlers, and group classes.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a fairly smooth road, until recently, actually. When I first opened my studio, I was very fortunate that I did not have any trouble getting clients, and it took minimal effort to market and advertise. When one student would quit lessons for one reason or another, it just so happened that another student would then sign up. I had that flow for several years and even had a consistent waitlist. Then, when I got pregnant with my now 2-year-old son, I needed a substitute teacher for my students, so I brought on one of our piano teachers, Damion, and he’s been with Mindful Music Center ever since. There were of course new challenges as a new mother and business owner, so I was glad to have Damion stay on and take on more students as well.

I also added our guitar teacher, Zack to our team. It was pretty exhausting having a nursing infant, and running a business, with two independent contractors while continuing to teach my own students, but it was definitely manageable, and I love a good challenge! Things continued to run smoothly until Covid-19 hit. The whole studio transitioned to virtual lessons, which was especially challenging for my students with exceptionalities. Many of them were not able to thrive in virtual lessons as well as they had with in-person lessons. Others were too high-risk for face-to-face lessons. Many of my students with exceptionalities decided to take a break. I certainly was not expecting to have to continue with virtual lessons for so long either. It’s been ten months now! I miss being able to see my students in person, especially my students with exceptionalities because many of them learn best in a hands-on learning environment. I have been amazed by my students and parents who have risen to meet the challenge of virtual lessons, even though we are all eager to return safely to in-person classes. I am really looking forward to that day when I can safely open up my doors again to all my students!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
A lot goes into running a music studio. I am a musician, a teacher, a businesswoman, and an employer, and it is a continuous learning and growing experience. I specialize in teaching students with ASD, and I absolutely love how unique each of my students is. I love finding what works best for each student and figuring out how to best teach each individual. Although my passion for piano started I was just five years old and continued to grow throughout high school and especially college, I also studied voice as my secondary instrument in college and have grown to love teaching voice lessons as well. I am continuously learning more and more about vocal pedagogy and how to teach various vocal techniques.

One of my favorite things about being an elementary music teacher was having my own choir and putting on performances. I also really enjoy teaching piano to young students, around 3 to 4-years-old. It truly amazes me how much they can pick up and absorb at that age. I started two of my current students in a group class when they were both 3-years-old, and they are still with me now, at age six! I also really love teaching infants and toddlers in our mini-musicians class, which is now even more exciting since my own two-year-old can participate. It is so fun to see how babies can tap rhythm sticks, play hand drums, repeat rhythmic and tonal patterns, and move to the music. I truly love music and love to share the joy and the benefits of music with others in hopes that they too will enjoy making music a life-time pursuit.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
What makes me so happy is being able to witness those moments when a concept finally “clicks” for one of my students. I love to see their practice turn into progress and see the joy and accomplishment on their faces when they master a skill or piece. That’s the best part about being a teacher.

Pricing:

  • $120 a month for weekly, 30-minute piano, voice, guitar, or ukulele classes.
  • $80 for a 10-week adult, group Ukulele class.

Contact Info:

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