We’re taking you on an exclusive look into the history of Destiny Studio! Owner and vocal coach, Sarah Darby, takes us through the journey that she has traveled, both personally and professionally, in making her musical & professional dreams become the reality that began over six years ago.
This Q&A interview features behind-the-scenes details on what has been and what’s to come. Sarah shares her heart and her vision for why she has chosen a career in bringing music into the lives of others. Join us in digging deeper in our understanding of what Destiny Studio is really all about…
What was your vision for opening Destiny Studio?
“In the very beginning, I didn’t have much of a vision for a business. I was living in Nashville, Tennessee, and was looking for a way to move home after being there for about 7 years. I LOVED Nashville so much, but after some challenging situations, I was homesick. I had a degree in Commercial Music from Belmont University and a lot of experience performing, but I had never taught voice lessons or even thought about it. I did, however, love people, and I’ve always had a teacher heart. I’m the firstborn of 4! I’ve been “teaching” for as long as I can remember. Ha!
So, I was making plans to move and wondering what kind of work I would do. I thought, “Maybe I could teach voice lessons.” Long story short, it worked out.
Within a couple of weeks of working with singers of all ages and backgrounds, I was smitten. There was no doubt that this was what I wanted to devote my life to!
However, I had absolutely no business plan. The last 6 years have been an experiment that just keeps working. It’s amazing. I have two very entrepreneurial parents, and I credit them with infusing courage in me to try things. I have never felt afraid or wondered if the studio would fail, and I believe that is a significant piece of the puzzle.
The vision has been developing over the last several years. Today, I have a much clearer perspective than I did in 2009, and I am very excited about what God is building and what our future looks like.”
When did the studio officially open for business?
“After posting a few ads on Craigslist (back when you could do that), I taught my first lesson in January of 2009 in the upstairs bonus room of my mom's house. Within a few months, I was teaching about a dozen lessons a week. I was so delighted!
In April of the same year, I had the opportunity to move into the space we are in now - the building Dr. Irving has been so gracious to share with us. We both thought I would be there for just a little while, until I "figured out what I wanted to do". But, I was becoming more passionate about teaching everyday and couldn't dream of doing anything else. We have been in business for 6.5 years now!”
What demographic did you expect to see taking lessons? Has that differed from what you see today?
“I had never taken voice lessons until I went to college, so I had no idea who my clients would be. Do people take voice lessons? I didn't even know. I started teaching during the height of popularity for American Idol and the wave of entertainment competitions on TV. So people were especially interested in developing their talent -- especially parents of kids and teens that expressed an interest in singing.
Over the years, we have worked with the most amazing and special group of singers and musicians. ALL ages -- from adorable little ones to seasoned seniors. Extremely talented and industry focused singers to those just exploring an interest. We have also had the incredible privilege of working with people who have unique learning and behavior challenges who experience music as therapy.
One of my personal favorites was Sonny - a widower and retiree who lived in an assisted living community, required oxygen to breathe, yet had always wanted to record some of his favorite gospel songs. Sonny felt that the time was right, so I worked with him to prepare for his first studio recording at the age of 75! We finished our lessons together when he felt ready for that project. A few months later he sent me a copy of his CD with the kindest note of thanks. I could go on and on with other precious stories of personal victories and successes for clients, but that is still one of my favorite memories.”
What instruments are taught? Plans to add more?
“We are teaching voice, piano, drums, and guitar right now. We also offer workshops and camps that are meant to be an extension of the private lessons. We love working with songwriters and cultivating that kind of creativity, as well. The only other instrument I would like to add is violin, and it looks like we'll be able to do that this fall!”
What sets Destiny apart from other music lessons being taught in the area?
“As a business owner, it's really important that you know what your organization does well and that you just focus on doing that thing. So for us - we do commercial music really well! All of the staff at Destiny Studio has extensive performance experience and understands all genres of music, so there's no style we can't teach.
If you're looking for a formal and classical approach (which is also valuable for some people), we are probably not the right fit. We also don't do group lessons. That can be a great introduction for beginner students but I highly value one-on-one coaching over group instruction. Even though group lessons are more profitable for a studio owner, the quality of individual instruction suffers and I'm not ok with that.
We also offer lots of classes and workshops throughout the year that provide practical learning and application experiences, which other studios do not offer. It's always been so important to me that our clients are able to use what they are learning to prepare them, if they so desire, for professional opportunities.”
How many recitals/concerts per year? Why?
“We do two major showcases per year -- summer and winter. The preparation for showcases keeps students focused in their lessons and always gives us something important to work on. The showcases are SO special! We see our students overcome fear and gain confidence in a way that completely changes their perception of themselves. The coaches are every bit as proud of the students as the parents! It's an amazing experience.”
What are you most proud of?
"Without a doubt - I am most proud of my family. My husband and daughter bring me tremendous joy. The life we are building together makes me so proud. I can't wait for Sadie's first showcase performance at Destiny Studio! ;-)
I am also really proud - but mostly grateful - for the challenges that I've overcome in my young adult life. There was a stretch of several years that were dark and overwhelming and I could see just a glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel. However - I wouldn't change a single thing. I learned how to persevere and gained the strength and fortitude required to succeed in life. God has been so good to me. I'm forever grateful.