Have you seen the quotation from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “though she be but little, she is fierce” (Act 3, Scene 2, line 325)? It’s been on all kinds of websites and memes about girl power, and I identified with it a lot. Because though I am but little, I am fierce.
Just to be absolutely clear, I am NOT talking about “fierce” in the sense of being mean or predatory at all. If you’re familiar with the Mightly Girl campaign, you’ll know that it’s about empowerment, not anger.
What does “fierce” mean? I think in this context it means determined, self-confident, self-assured, having integrity, and lots of other positive things along those lines.
I consider myself to be fierce. I am 5 feet tall (5 feet and ½ inch if my doctor is feeling generous). I have always been the smallest. I was born 5 weeks premature weighing 3 ½ lbs. I was teased mercilessly and called “shrimp” in school because I was so little. When I was in second grade, a well-meaning teacher once tried to “return” me to the kindergarten playground. Track and Field day was my most dreaded day of every year because I never won a race. Ever. I used a car seat until I was almost 9 years old because I had not yet reached 40 lbs.
As an adult, in my previous life as an HR and Compensation specialist, I did a lot of my job on the phone. When I traveled to conduct trainings, I invariably heard, “Shanta, from your voice I imagined you being so much bigger.” When I sang leading roles in community theater shows, I often heard, “You look so much taller on stage.” Even now at my church singing job, I often hear, “I couldn’t believe such a huge voice was coming out of such a tiny person!” Honestly, I take comments like these as sincere and wonderful compliments. They let me know that I have a strong and authoritative presence—which is what I want and need to be a good performer, to be a great music instructor, and to run my music teaching studio!
I sometimes wonder how I developed into a confident, self-assured person when my entire existence has involved being “belittled.” I’m sure that my wonderful parents deserve partial credit. It was my mother who suggested that I chase down and give a big kiss on the cheek to anyone who called me “shrimp”—because after all, shrimp are expensive so it’s actually an unintentional compliment! (Yes, this put a stop to the teasing pretty quickly.)
Another big piece of credit goes to music. I spent 8 years in a very good children’s choir, the Colorado Springs Childrens’ Chorale. Finally, my size didn’t matter, only my skill and how hard I worked! I could achieve beautiful things with my compatriots that those jerks who used to tease me could never dream! I could have a profound emotional impact on complete strangers through music! That was when I first got compliments for being small—the choir director used to call me “Small Wonder.” When I was singing with the CSCC, we even started winning international competitions.
Through my early music training, I was empowered to achieve my goals through persistence, hard work, a little risk taking, and heart. I became daring enough to quit my stable day job and start a piano studio when I wanted more time with my daughter. I became confident enough to charge a rate that I could live on for my piano lessons even though I was just starting out. I became persistent enough to still be going strong 5 years later, even through all the inevitable ups and downs. In short (pun intended), I became fierce.
Why am I writing all this rather personal stuff? Because my goal for this blog and for the classes I develop is to empower music instructors like you to run strong, stable, sustainable businesses. I want to help you become more fierce too. And by being fierce, I hope that you can help your students grow into confident, self assured, empowered, fierce people too.
How did you become fierce? I’d love to have your story in the comments.
P.S. Over the next several weeks, I will be posting a series I’m calling “The Business End Series,” and I’ll address topics ranging from the safest way to set up your finances, to choosing professionals to help you, to software that will streamline your music teaching studio. I hope you’ll keep reading!