Small Business Q&A: Sandpiper Music Studio

Kindergarten through senior citizen-aged students prioritize music at this teaching studio on Shallowford Road.

A miniature violin, scaled to fit the small proportions of a five year-old, waits silent for the next budding musician to pick it up. Multi-instrumentalist Marla Feeney, the founder/owner of , is an accomplished performer as well as a music tutor. Feeney teaches and mentors children, as well as, mature players who are revisiting an interest in performing music.

Feeney has students who play in area high school bands, Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra, and students who are over 50 years old who have made the cut for Roswell Senior Center bands and the East Cobb New Horizons Band program. Feeney's relationship with New Horizons goes back a couple of years when she conducted their concert and jazz bands.

"For my young violins I'll have a group class about every other month and we'll put on a recital at a senior center. The little kids don't have any other place to perform and we've found that when we play for the seniors it's more about giving the music to someone else than about the pressure to perform," Feeney shares.

You can witness Feeney bring a violin to life when she's playing Gypsy jazz with the Bonaventure Quartet, a side stream of revenue and a creative outlet for her. The Cobb resident moved here from Branson, Mo., 11 years ago with her husband. Her roots are in St. Louis, where she grew up performing on stage with her pianist father.

As of writing, the studio has four other professional teachers who pay a percentage of earnings to Sandpiper. Feeney has no employees and is proud of her new carpet-laying skills, acquired when renovating the studio space in the modest retail plaza. Look for the green tin roof on your first visit, MapQuest directions place the address on the opposite side of the road.

Q. What’s the best thing about your job?

A. I get to play music, talk about music, think about music, teach music all day.

Q. What’s the best thing about Northeast Cobb?

A. There’s a lot going on here. It’s suburban calm, not a lot of traffic, we’ve got pools, a library, you can get anything you want at the international grocery. We have strong high school band programs. And, the cultural opportunities of the city are just right down the interstate.

Q. Why did you choose to open your business in Northeast Cobb?

A. I was already teaching in the area, most of my students were already here. Many of the violin kids I have many years. I have a student who started with me when he was seven and now he’s getting ready to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?

A. It’s calm. I can do what I do. Teaching one person at a time is easier to be focused on just playing the instrument and learning about music. Private tutoring allows me to adjust to each student, every kid is different.

Q. What are some of the services you offer that people may not know about?

A. This place is pretty focused on just lessons. I do have scaled down violins that I rent out to young students. It makes sense for a family to rent because the kids grow out the small violins.

Q. When did you open your business?

A. I opened this studio in 2003. I’ve been teaching for 25 years. When I was in college I taught at junior college, when I was in grad school, I taught adjunct, and, I’ve always had private students.

Q. How did your business get started?

A. I was paying a lot of rent to local music stores where I was teaching at, so, I decided to put that rent money into my own place.

Q. Do you have advice for anyone who may want to start a small business in this area?

A. Don’t go into debt. I went in to a small amount of business debt but I paid it off working two jobs for a year. Have your act together when it comes to your money. Be responsible.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

A. Music is an investment in education. You pay for tutoring, supplies and instruments. Music is a meditative activity, it makes you more introspective, helps you to appreciate different artistic endeavors. When you learn music, you have memories of the music, memories of playing the music with and for others. And, you have the skills involved.

Marla Feeney, founder/owner/instructor

Sandpiper Music Studio

2300 Shallowford Rd, Suite 4


Robbie Huck August 27, 2012 at 02:14 AM
DATA CORRECTION: story mentions that a Sandpiper student will attend Berklee College, the correct college is Berkley in California.


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