Careers in Music Series: Beckie Morley - Musical Moments

Note: This article refers to Leeds College of Music (LCoM), the former name of Leeds Conservatoire

By Kath Hartley


"The whole reason that I was inspired to start the business was because of my Community Music module at LCoM."

Beckie Morley

Drawing inspiration from her participation in our Community Music module whilst she was studying BA (Hons) Music (Classical) at LCoM, Beckie has carved out a successful career as a social entrepreneur. Since establishing award-winning social enterprise Musical Moments in 2011, the organisation, which specialises in activities for older people living with dementia, continues to go from strength to strength. The North-West based venture has worked with over 300 different care homes, delivered over 5,000 music sessions and now employs 6 members of staff.

Here, Beckie caught up with us to discuss Musical Moments successes to date, how you can get involved in their plans for the future and some top tips on starting your own venture.

Tell us about Musical Moments – what is the remit of your business and who do you work to support?

Musical Moments provides interactive musical activities for community groups across most of the North West, working mostly with older people living with dementia in care homes. Our team (currently of 6 and growing) deliver musical sessions on a daily basis to members of the community, using music to interact and stimulate, mostly to people in care homes, but we also have a lot of work with charities, centres for adults with additional needs and weekend and evening community groups. Our unique style of work is in demand and we frequently receive enquiries from all across the UK, so we are trying to expand to other areas of the country and to help provide other musicians with the opportunity to do so.

How did you get started with this? Was there a specific aspect of your study at LCoM that inspired this move?

The whole reason that I was inspired to start the business was because of my Community Music module at LCoM. After graduating, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do and reached a crossroads; there were several things that I could have done but I really wanted to start working more than anything else. I realised that I loved the Community Music module and maybe I could try some of the sessions that I had delivered on my course in local care homes. I purchased some equipment and marketed my sessions to care homes; they loved it and continued to make regular bookings and the work grew and grew. The Community Music module definitely helped me understand the basics of community musicianship and inspired me to qualify further in other areas too. I also took an interest in early years music and studied for a PGCE in Early Years Music Education in 2015.

Would you class yourself as a business owner or a social entrepreneur?

I much prefer the term social entrepreneur, I don't really like to describe myself as a business owner or 'the boss', as I find a business environment has never really been my thing - I always like to work with my colleagues on an equal level and would rather be out there doing the job and networking with others rather than discussing elements of business. Of course they are important and I make sure they get done, but I'd much rather be out there doing things myself and improving and building my work instead. We are a very socially conscious business anyway and I am always thinking of new ideas to build upon our social impact.

What does a typical day at Musical Moments look like?

For me, I usually deliver two or three sessions in different care homes each day. I will usually spend the early part of the morning replying to emails or phone calls and checking our social media. I then deliver a weekly music session with a local charity that we work with, a day centre for adults with additional needs. I then go home for lunch and catch up with any emails and phone calls, before heading out in the afternoon for a session at a local care home. Some days can be quite relaxed and others can be busy, I once delivered five sessions in one day! Luckily I have a fantastic colleague Beth who keeps everything organised and manages all of our bookings, social media and accounts.

How has your degree in Classical Music contributed to you starting your business?

I think that my degree has been useful, it has definitely given me a form of credibility when I first started the business and I realised that I learnt a lot of skills that became useful in the industry, especially the industry modules, learning about tax and music licensing has been especially useful for what I do now. I am very grateful of the Community Music module especially, as I learnt a lot of important basic principles from that course that I have been able to build on since graduating.

What has been your biggest achievement since starting your business?

Winning our first ever award back in 2014 - it was from the East Cheshire Chamber of Commerce and we won the award for 'Most Promising New Business'. It was one of my most memorable moments and I'll never forget the amazing feeling, as it was the first time I'd had any formal recognition for what I do. We have won other awards since then, but this is definitely the most special one to me and something I hope that I've been able to live up to.

What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?

Too many to list here! Every day brings a challenge, some larger or smaller than others. I have definitely learnt a lot and grown as a person over the last six years and having never had any formal business education, I've had to find out a lot of things for myself, luckily I have found that most 'business sense' is just 'common sense' and that you must never under-sell yourself in any way.

What’s your next step for Musical Moments?

We hope to be able to grow to provide our services to further areas of the UK. We currently work or have worked with about 2.5% of care homes in the UK; my aim is to bring more music to older people in care homes on a large scale, so if this percentage can grow and help more people in the community, I'd be very happy. We offer a range of jobs at our Cheshire-based HQ, but as of 2017 we launched our franchise opportunity for musicians in the UK who are looking to start their own business with Musical Moments.

So Musical Moments is franchising, if we’re interested in being part of that, how do we get involved?

We'd love to hear from you if you are interested in our franchise opportunity; it's the chance to run your own tried and tested community music business that works and is successful and sustainable. I never in a million years thought I'd be able to make a living from playing my violin every day.

You can visit our website, for further information, then get in touch by emailing with your details and background. We'll send out further information including our brochure, access to our free Discovery Days and current offers and opportunities.

We offer an amazing package of absolutely everything to help you get started and to build your business, doing something that is rewarding and offers variety every day.

Can we get your top five tips for starting your own business?

  1. Go out and make your own opportunities, they won't come to you.
  2. Don't let failure get you down. I'm sure many amazing business ideas never took off because someone let a bad day or a failure get to them and they gave up. Push past it and keep going if you believe in what you're doing.
  3. Be consistent and do what you say you're going to do, don't promise something and then don't deliver, and if you find something that works, stick with it and don't be tempted to change things just for the sake of it.
  4. Keep organised, keep track of your invoices, receipts, client details, everything! Don't forget to return phone calls and emails. Organisation is the key to running a successful business.
  5. Be passionate! Have passion, zest and enthusiasm for what you're doing, I've often managed to attain clients on the basis of, 'I love your energy, so we'll give you a try'. This will shine through and if people see that you love and believe in what you do, they will too.

By Kath Hartley

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