Ali Edwards

This is my story

Funky Monkey Keyboard Classes was launched in 2003 with a view to educating children, primarily between the ages of 4 and 9 years in not only the art and discipline of learning an instrument, but also how to read and write their own music. The electronic keyboard seemed the perfect choice as it is an inexpensive, accessible instrument, with the added bonus of headphones to aid concentration within a group session. I have approximately 10 centres in SE and SW London and Kent offering after school and weekend classes. It is not franchised, but managed with sub-contracted staff.

Upon returning from studies abroad in first study oboe, my private piano teaching practice built rapidly in London and it was this that inspired me to write my own set of books to encourage children to enjoy learning an instrument in a group environment, alongside freelance playing. This has graduated from just me taking the classes, to employing teachers to teach the classes on my behalf. Now, I run the business pretty much full time alongside some private teaching here in Sevenoaks and being mum to 2 daughters.

In a nutshell

  • Name: Ali Edwards, Managing Director and Founder
  • Company: Funky Monkey Keyboard Classes
  • Established: 2003
  • Web: www.funkymonkey.info
Funky Monkey logo

Pupils

Employees

Venues

Why did you decide to set up FMKC?
To help me make the most of my time as both a teacher and freelance musician. I also love the format of a more physical class rather than being sat at a piano for hours on end!

How long did it take you to get your first classes up and running?
6 months I’d say – not long at all once I’d written the books, bought the kit and the word was out.

Tell us about the process of recruiting teachers and setting up a new class venue
A chicken and egg situation! I often choose a location (for instance, Putney, Camberwell and Tonbridge are all in the plan for 2017) then find a location to house us, then recruit a teacher, normally through existing contacts or music colleges. During this time we build the interest and promote the new area with a free trial.  I also took to social media and wrote editorials for publications.  Then it snowballs from word of mouth with any luck as well as flyers to schools in the area and magazine advertising.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Seeing the kids succeed and love what you have created, providing a service that is effective but less expensive than most other options and being able to be at home for the kids (and husband!)

What are the biggest day to day challenges?
Keeping the numbers up in each class to ensure profit is made on each session. Juggling when things don’t go to plan!

What is special about what you offer your students, that other music classes don’t?
The fact that we teach in groups and that we cover reading and writing music too. Also the lesson is very physical, unlike private tuition!