When Gian Timothy Gho and Justyn Angel Ball first met at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM) Orientation Day back in 2017, neither of them had any idea that just four years later they would be starting a small business together. They came to AIM to study music and ended up with much more than they ever expected.
Angel is originally from Sydney where she was raised in a Filipino family, and Tim had recently moved to Sydney all the way from Indonesia. Nobody could have predicted that these two dedicated musicians from different places would share a professional future.
“I grew up in Western Sydney and formally learnt vocals and classical piano, but I have also picked up other instruments like the guitar and ukulele on the side. Because music is such a prevalent part of Filipino culture, my love for music started from a very young age. I actually learnt how to read through a karaoke machine my parents had at home. I only solidified my choice of doing music for a living after studying piano,” explained Angel.
“I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and moved to Sydney in 2015,” Tim said. “Piano was the first instrument I learnt but somehow didn’t enjoy it so much. When I was in year eight, I watched a video of someone playing the drums and I thought it was really cool. From then on, I fell in love with drums and have been playing ever since.”
Over the years they studied music at AIM, Tim and Angel ended up by chance in many of the same classes.
“You’d be surprised, but we met on Orientation Day in 2017,” both Angel and Tim explained together.
“We got grouped in the same cluster for a tour of the school and found ourselves in about 80% of the same classes, and participating in a lot of the same rehearsals during our time at AIM. Before we started the business together, we had known each other for a total of four years. Our values and principles from a musical, teaching and business perspective aligned perfectly, so it wasn’t hard to put trust in each other to start the Studio.”
Angel graduated with her Bachelor of Music (Contemporary Performance) majoring in voice in 2019, and her Masters of Music (Composition and Music Production) in 2021. After graduating, she remained in the AIM community, teaching AIM’s short courses for ensembles, vocal skills and composition over the course of a year.
Tim graduated from AIM in 2019 with a Bachelor of Music (Contemporary Performance), majoring in drums. He also found a passion for teaching during his time at AIM and is still currently teaching the Ensemble Short Courses and the Backstage Pass program.
During their studies, both Angel and Tim began tutoring music on the side, and both discovered they loved sharing their knowledge and passion for music with young students.
They began to discuss the idea of one day starting their own music tutoring business, but it took a suggestion from a friend and a lot of hard work to finally make that dream a reality.
“Studio Daydream was a dream that Angel had wanted to start halfway through her Bachelor’s.” Angel and Tim explained. “During our time at AIM, both of us had spent a lot of time teaching for other music tuition studios in all corners of Sydney, as well as each having our own private practices.
It wasn’t until the end of November 2022 that our fellow friend and owner of ‘Gsus4 Music Supply and Gear,’ Kang approached Tim about potentially using some of the extra rooms in his space to open a school.
It took a lot of number crunching and discussing with family members about taking this leap of faith. It was seriously overwhelming at the time. Studio Daydream had seemed like something that was years of experience away, and all of a sudden it was in the palm of our hands, handed to us on a silver platter. We immediately took the opportunity and got to building the website and scrubbing the place up ready to take students on in 2023.”
Whatever fears they might have had about starting their business at such a fast pace were quickly proved untrue.
Studio Daydream became an overnight success: within the first six months, Angel and Tim had already accumulated 40 students.
“Our schedules got packed pretty quickly and demand for other instruments was also growing,” they said, “So we had to expand by hiring a couple of other teachers, who to our surprise just happened to be AIM Alumni also.”
As it turns out, they had a combination of luck and business acumen in choosing their location, in terms of supply and demand.
“Because we were located in an area where music tuition that specialises in contemporary popular music is scarce but demand is high, we’d like to say we were pretty lucky in filling out the gap in the industry in our location,” Angel and Tim explained.
Although some professional musicians and music students may be concerned that starting a music business would detract from their own time to work on their music, Angel and Tim in fact discovered the opposite.
“Running our own education business actually gave us more freedom with our time; we can spend time with family members, whilst also designating whatever time we’d like to building and growing the school. Dealing with students who may become the future face of our music industry, has also been such a rewarding experience,” they explained.
Both Tim and Angel found that their music studies at AIM were essential in providing a foundation on which to build their business success.
Tim said, “I was able to learn many genres and this definitely helps with teaching. I can teach students regardless of their favourite music.”
Angel agreed, “I’ve been able to carry over some research and practices in vocal techniques that I had picked up in my major study courses in both my Bachelors and Masters for most of my vocal students. I’ve definitely also used some of the lesson structures of vocal masterclasses to help me structure masterclasses of my own at Studio Daydream, in conjunction with other vocal music studios and tutors.”
With their skills and business savvy, no doubt Studio Daydream will go on to grow and expand its successes in the years to come. Do Tim and Angel have any tips for other entrepreneurial music students who want music career success?
“Practice, practice, practice,” said Tim, “Also, socialise with everyone. You never know where your next gig is coming from. Always say yes to any opportunities you get. I was able to meet so many great musicians around town by saying yes to gigs.”
Angel suggested, “Use the facilities [at your institution] to hone in on your instrument and exercise your creativity. The support you get from AIM is immeasurable, and the people you practise with will be the people you’ll be playing with out in the field: they’ll be the people who think of you for your next gig. I’ve learnt that 70% of a gig is definitely practice and 30% of it is your ability to play.”