Happy Birthday, Grow Your Gift!

Wednesday May 8, 2024

Having a ‘FIVE YEAR PLAN’ can sometimes sound cliche. People always ask “So what’s your five-year plan?” Especially when talking about business. Investors want to know the five-year plan. Lenders want to know the five-year plan. But as a business owner, five years can seem like a lifetime. Whether we look forward five years or look back, it seems like a lifetime.

At the beginning of this journey, I shared thoughts about what was happening around me and put them on our website for all to see. I reflected on my journey to opening the Conservatory and shared what was going on at the Conservatory. However, within the last five years, I have focused on establishing Grow Your Gift in the community by serving on various boards and organizations. I focused on recruiting top music educators who could change the landscape of music education in our community. I focused on creating fun, exciting, and valuable programming that will set us apart from the reputation of learning music. (We now know it’s for the coolest kids on earth!) I wanted our music community to be cool, an inclusive place where people of all ages could come find their place in the world. My five-year plan was to change lives through music.

We have hit the five-year mark and my heart couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished. From a mere prayer and a mustard seed size of faith, God made a way over and over and over for my purpose t be fulfilled. He created me to serve the people of Fort Walton Beach and beyond and I am honored that He did. Through literal blood, sweat, and tears, we have built a company that truly stands apart from anything like it in the panhandle of Florida. I have visited many venues for music education, spoken to their teachers, directors, and owners, pulled from their ideas, perspectives, and approaches, and formed them to execute the vision God has for us. I have not built Grow Your Gift by myself. From a surprise investor to mentors in the field, to counterparts, colleagues, students, parents, and of course, my family and friends, I did not do this alone. I can only hope my enthusiasm combined with my hard work has caused others to be excited and believe in the transformations that have happened throughout the last five years.

The transformations have been more than I’d ever imagined. Here are just a few examples:

Transformation #1: We opened our doors on May 6, 2019. To date, 23 of our current students have been here since the very beginning. Many of the students who have left over the years only did because of their family moving, usually due to being in the military. They’ve assured us they would otherwise remain an active part of the Grow Your Gift Family.

Transformation #2: While all of our students experience personal growth in countless ways, Caden’s journey is my favorite. Seven years ago I began teaching him and he had significant difficulty manipulating the keys of the piano due to a health condition. In those early moments, I focused less on Caden accomplishing a song on the piano and helping to make sure he felt included and as important as every other child in that music classroom. I made sure to have the other kids cheer for him when he made even the slightest bit of progress. But of course, every child received the wildest of applauses for merely trying. Fast forward to today and the manipulation obstacles of old are no longer noticeable. Caden has been working with Ms. Debra since we opened Grow Your Gift. Her dedication and perseverance in helping to make sure Caden continues to progress have been astounding to watch. Caden now plays full pieces on the piano with beautifully curved fingers. But even more than his improved musicianship, his confidence is soaring. He knows he belongs to a beautiful community and it has traversed his life as he also serves in leadership at Fort Walton Beach High School. Watching Caden grow into the young man he is today is just one of the many reasons Grow Your Gift had no choice but to thrive. Praise God.

Transformation #3: When I present to a group of people, educating them about Grow Your Gift, my favorite statement is that our youngest student is 6 months old and our oldest is 75 years old. That statement is always received with “Wows!”. Recently, I was excited to invite our oldest student, Mr. Ron to the Fort Walton Beach Chamber Committee meeting so he could share about his musical journey. Ron was 69 when he first put the saxophone together 6 years ago. He was a retired husband and father who built quite a beautiful life for his family and was ready to do something just for himself. Here we are 6 years later and what once was a struggle to make a sound on the instrument has turned into learning to play written classical music, learning and applying all major and some minor scales, to learning to read AND IMPROVISE jazz music! Mr. Ron is learning to improv along with some of his favorite jazz tunes and doesn’t miss an opportunity to share about all the ways playing the saxophone has given him a renewed purpose in his retirement years. Mr. Ron is a ‘snowbird’ and is only local three months out of the year. When he’s in town, he comes to the Conservatory and we have a great time. When he is in his home state, he learns with me virtually, and we have a great time.

Transformation #4: Last but not least, the number of companies and organizations we have collaborated with is hard for me to wrap my mind around. Schools like the Montessori Learning Center of Fort Walton Beach and the Choctawhatchee Style Marchers believed in us from the very beginning. We’ve been blessed to secure annual contracts with both and work with the most incredible young musicians. Our instructors have built a special rapport with all of the students they teach. The relationships with the directors have been just as beautiful. We are heading into another year of incredible partnerships and are making room for more!

As we move forward, implementing our NEXT five-year plan, you can expect growth in our locations, growth in our instructors and schedules, and growth in the incredible administrative team that makes it all happen. We strive to provide a valuable experience and consider every piece of information you share. If you are a current student or parent, please never hesitate to tell us how we are doing and how we can improve. If you aren’t yet a member of our music community, stop by for a tour and learn more about who we are. We would love to have you!

If you have read this far, thank you for your interest, time, and dedication to learn more about Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music. Because of our incredible team, I can have the availability to share our journey with you consistently. Stay tuned to learn about what we are doing each month!

In love and music,

Marlayna Goosby

Founder & Director

Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music

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