Musical Bumps

This is my story

I’m Sarah – I’m mum to three musical teenagers and owner of Musical Bumps.  I also teach music in a primary school – so you’ll see I’m pretty busy!

Musical Bumps was born fifteen years ago – when my three were all under five (I like a challenge!). We offer music classes for babies, toddlers and preschool children – as well as after school clubs.  I trained to teach music in secondary schools – but found that I most enjoyed working with really young children.  I think this is partly because music at this stage is such a fun subject to teach – we have puppets, percussion, a giant colourful elastic band (nicknamed our “scrunchie”) for circle games and a huge piece of lycra for bouncing puppets on or hiding under!

Classes were really successful straight away – and so we decided to franchise the business.  We’ve grown fairly steadily – that’s partly because I’ve juggled being a mum with working, and partly because we don’t want to grow at any cost – we want the right people and we want to keep it a family friendly business!

In a nutshell

  • Name: Sarah Marsh, Founder
  • Company: Musical Bumps.  Real music…real education…real fun!
  • Established: 2002  (our fifteenth birthday this year!)
  • Web: www.musicalbumps.com 
Sarah Marsh headshot

Years Established

Number of Teachers working with Musical Bumps

Number of songs in the Musical Bumps repertoire (and counting..)

Tell us about the first year after you started.  How did the business work in the early days?

In the early days, I played the piano for every session!  I got quite good at playing whilst my peering over my shoulder to run the class!  We soon realised we’d need some backing tracks to enable teachers to really lead each session – and with backing tracks, there’s no need for pianists.  Plenty of our class, however, is delivered without backing tracks – acappella is the way to go!  This probably sets us apart from most franchised music teaching companies!

Your business is now a successful franchise.  How long did it take to get to the franchising stage and was it always the plan from the start?

Never the plan at the start  – but then a music teacher friend of mine said she’d like to have a go too – so we started formulating a plan.  It didn’t take long to get her up and running – but getting everything in place to cope with more than one took a while.  We used a franchising consultant to help us through the process – we are still using some of his systems today, although we’ve moved from “franchising” to licensing teachers – reflecting the fact that many of our team are skilled teachers/musicians before joining us.

Tell us a little about the process of franchising.  Did you learn as you went along?  Where did you get advice from as to how to go about it?

As I said – we used a consultant.  I’ve always been a little wary of “franchising” as a model – legally it’s fine, but in the creative world I worry that it’s a little constricting.  That’s why we’ve changed track to licensing.  A franchise would give the new business owner a “business in a box” to run exactly as dictated.  Our business model allows for more individuality than that – and we’re not training people from scratch either – so our model is a little different.

Initial training for all our teachers is via our online teacher training site – as well as a day with all the new teachers at our head quarters in West Kent.

Our teachers use our songs and our branding – we also collaborate on advertising, marketing etc. and we get together regularly to sing and learn more about the business.  We also have a website – everyone has their own page they can edit with local information.

You must be incredibly busy as you are also a primary school music teacher, as well as a Mum.  How do you manage?  What things do you outsource to help you stay on top of everything?

I am incredibly busy – yes!  I have lots of help though.  At home my husband and I work very much as a team.  At school – again – it’s a great team.  At Musical Bumps headquarters we have a super group of people; some are employed and work with us on a day to day basis and some tasks are outsourced.  I’ve always tried my best to use contractors who know a bit about what we do. Our designers all have children who attended Musical Bumps classes – as did our accountant’s children and our business consultant’s children.  Our composer and arranger was in Kent Youth Orchestra with me back in the 1980s….. The list goes on.  Our professional friends all know and love the business – we really trust them!

What’s the best thing about running your business?

I get to make music every day.  It’s what I love best and keeps me smiling!

What are your future plans for musical bumps?

My children are a bit older now – so it’s time for some serious expansion – in the UK and beyond.  Musical Bumps China launches next month and that is the first in a plan for Musical Bumps English Language Schools which we hope will become popular around the world!