Posted by: Marie | February 23, 2010

(255) A ray of sunshine

Post #255
[Private journal entry written on Tuesday, November 10, 2009]

I’ve allowed myself a few days of being angry and depressed. Today, I decided to be in action.

During these last few days, I’ve been thinking . . .

Surely, in this tough economy, there has to be some business in our town that has a spare office or unused corner in their building in which I could set up a piano studio. While I can’t afford to lease my own space, surely I could find some under-utilized space . . . somewhere . . . if I just dug around and searched for it . . . surely someone would scoot over and create a bit of space for me if it meant a little extra money in their pocket . . .

Today, I started walking up and down Main Street and the surrounding commercial areas, looking at how each building was being utilized. Our downtown section of Main Street is about four blocks long and the surrounding commercial areas extend a couple of blocks each direction. So, a walking tour of all of those storefronts requires less than an hour to complete – not a big challenge, really.

Photo by Martin Chen

However, I didn’t have to walk anywhere near an hour. Within the first ten minutes I stumbled upon the solution to my dilemma . . .

I noticed a big building with multiple offices . . . each office has a private entrance, and each has a main floor and a second floor — they are configured rather like townhouses. I walked into an attorney’s office and asked what they had in their upstairs. They had conference rooms and an employee break room up there . . . no, they didn’t have space for a piano studio . . . but, had I talked to the print shop at the other end of the complex . . . ??

So, I headed to the print shop. I am acquainted with the owner from our business networking events . . . she has a reputation as an honest, hardworking and generous person.

As it turns out, she had just remodeled her upstairs and added a kitchenette and bathroom. The upstairs is a huge open space – about 2,400 square-feet (223 sq meters). She uses it for storage and as extra workspace for large projects. It has a living-room-like configuration at one end that is used as an employee lounge.

She remodeled it so it could be used as a community meeting room. However, she was having trouble getting it rented out because community groups don’t want to deal with the stairs.

By clearing out a few boxes and pieces of furniture from one of the dormers, she would be able to create an ideal 100-square-foot (9-sq-meter) studio for me – and it is space that she wasn’t really using anyway. She said she would rent it to me for $150/month with no minimum lease term.

It is really beautiful . . . and quiet. The print machines are on the main floor at the other end of the suite, so I can’t hear them from the dormer. And, when the employees use the upstairs space, it is for quiet activities (filing, drawing, reading, eating, etc.) So, I shouldn’t even know they are up there with me.

The living-room-like area is right next to my dormer and the owner said the parents of my students could use it during the lessons. It is perfect! I think this is going to work wonderfully!

And, at the bottom of the stairs is an exterior door – a service door. Just outside the door is a well-lit parking lot. The entrance is on the backside of the building, but the building is finished nicely on all sides so the back looks almost as much a “store front” as the front. My clients won’t have to walk through the retail part of the print shop – it’s almost like having my own private entrance! The owner said I could hang my “shingle” in the door’s window. (Is “shingle” an American term or does the rest of the world know that means a sign announcing the existence of a business?)

I will have my own key and my own access code for the security system – I can be there as late into the evening as I care to be – and on the weekends. I can even be there in the middle of the workday! I will have unlimited access – I won’t be bothering anyone and no one will be bothering me!

This means I can quit fighting with my housemates about use of the common space. I’ll just go straight to my bedroom and hang out there; I won’t attempt to use (or clean) any other part of the house. If I want to practice my piano, I can do it at the studio. If I have guests to entertain, I can entertain them at the studio.

The only concern the print shop owner has is if the piano noise will be obtrusive in their retail space that is right under the dormer. She said a little noise is fine . . . in fact, it might be a welcome addition to the din created by the print machines. She just doesn’t want it to be so loud it would create an annoyance.

So, I told her I would purchase a digital piano and bring it over to the building to test the impact. If it wasn’t an issue, then we could finalize the deal.

I tentatively scheduled my move-in date for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Now, I just have to find a piano in the very near future.

Because of the stairs, an acoustic piano is not really an option. I will need to find a high-quality digital piano that mimics an acoustic piano very well. I have $500+ saved up . . . I’ll just have to find a piano within that budget.

This additional rent will stretch my monthly budget to its absolute limit – I now have to come up with $500 a month instead of $350. I won’t have any room for unexpected expenses. However, if the number of students drops, I can break the lease anytime without penalty. So, I know it won’t put my business at risk – I can always go back to teaching at the house (as distasteful as that is to me).

However, if the number of students increases, I will now have the accommodations to handle the increase – and, it is a much more professional (and peaceful) environment. I hope that is what happens.

I feel it in every bone in my body . . . this is meant to be. I knew it was meant to be as soon as I walked up those stairs and took a first look at that space. It will come together – I just have to have faith.


  1. Aha! Excellent solution. And I know, from having purchased a very good digital piano for $100, that you found something within your budget. Plus, they can be used with headphones, for no noise at all!

    • Hey, David –

      There are some really cool pianos out there . . . and, not having to deal with keeping it tuned is worth a bunch of money!

      So . . . does that mean you play piano?

      – Marie

      • No, actually I don’t. I needed it for pitch purposes.

  2. Wonderful news. And yes other parts of the world know what it means to ‘hang out a shingle’. I guess this means the origin is British (?)

    • Yeah, Evan . . . let’s blame it on the Brit’s! Ha! Americans blame the Brit’s for everything! :)

      Thanks for being happy for me!

      – Marie

  3. How wonderful!!! I’m so thrilled for you!

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