In conversation with small business owner Darren Flower of Mississauga’s Rock It Up.
What exactly does "Rock It Up!" do?
Rock It Up! is an In-Home Music/Art School. We travel all over Mississauga/Oakville/Milton and give students a unique, creative experience. We don't just want you to learn how to play an instrument, we also encourage you to write your own songs and draw/paint your own pictures. We also have a radio show for UTM, had a Rogers TV show, and have interviewed many prominent musicians and music industry professionals.
How long have you been in business?
Rock It Up! was founded in 2011 and has been in business for 8 years.
What's the most rewarding aspect of your business?
We really enjoy teaching music/art, love to meet new people and really enjoy helping them learn. Working with kids is a lot of fun and we find it very rewarding.
What's your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge we have is advertising but it is also fun to come up with a variety of different marketing strategies and work within a budget. It is kind of fun to see which strategies perform well and which ones don't.
How have you overcome it?
We have been around for 8 years. I think we have proven to the public that we are good at what we do, are professional, and are committed to our business. People can see this and they find this very attractive. We have accomplished quite a bit over the last 8 years and it shows that we can be trusted to do business with the public.
Why did you pick Mississauga for your business?
Mississauga is a great city to do business in. There are over 700,000 people in this city and there are a lot of kids who could use a break from video games, TV/YouTube and social media.
What's the current state of the Mississauga music scene?
Playing music in Mississauga can be frustrating. It is in between Hamilton and Toronto(which both have a much stronger scene)and has no real venue to showcase original music. Mississauga bands shouldn't let this get in the way of living out their dreams. There are plenty of places to play all over Ontario and bands should be prepared to play them all. Not just Mississauga or Toronto. I want to see Mississauga bands work hard, gig a lot, and make smart business decisions.
What do you think the scene will look like next year?
The scene will most likely stay the same. I'm not sure what we can do to make a serious change. Our friends at Mississauga Music are trying their best to do something special for this city and they should be commended for all the hard work they have put into our city over the last 3 years.
What's the biggest myth regarding songwriting?
I think the biggest myth about songwriting is that you have to be a super-accomplished instrumentalist to be a great songwriter. This is not true. They are two very different skills. Some of the best songwriters over the last 50 years( Neil Young, Kurt Cobain) were not very accomplished guitar players but could write melodies and lyrics that can connect with people. Songwriting is more important than playing your guitar as fast as you can.
How do you separate yourself from the competition?
There are a lot of great music schools and music teachers all over the GTA. There are quite a few In-Home music schools but Rock It Up! offers both music and art. We are also very personable and animated, and have a way with children.We seem to be really good at connecting with both children and adults. We work mostly with kids but have had our share of adult students. What I like about the adults is that they are more focused during the lesson but kids are certainly more fun! Both Leticia(the art teacher) and I have previously worked in private schools and preschools and have spent a lot of time with children. We also have a very special resume that perhaps most teachers don't have. We are also slightly cheaper than our competition.
What does the rest of 2019 look like for Rock It Up?
2019 has been very good to us so far and it looks like it will get better. We are starting our own 10 week music course called Ukulele Friends and will be teaching at a variety of private schools in the immediate future. We will continue to spread the good word of Rock it Up! and will look forward to finding new opportunities for us.