Our Shared Future

Powers Music School was just finishing 6 months in our new facility as discussion turned to a new strategic plan. With the move from Concord Ave into one building checked off, Board members, staff, and leadership began to wonder, what’s next?

Coincidently or not, the urge to start dreaming bigger coincided with the beginning of our two- year celebration of Powers’ 60th anniversary. It’s a time to reflect on our past, and a time to imagine what the future holds – both for Powers as an organization and for the people who make up our community. What path are we on now? What drives us forward?

The new location, strong and increasing lesson and class enrollment, and a culture of increasing resilience, enthusiasm, trust, and teamwork has led Powers to a transition into a more solid and mature organization. We are ready and committed to grow in impact, funding, and operations in a way that will attract and deepen support on all levels. As Powers turns 60, we are positioned well to more fully achieve our mission.

We invite you to dive into any section below to learn more about our process, what we learned, and how we’re translating that into action.

Strategic Planning Committee & Process

2023 Strategic Planning Committee

  • Kelly Webber, Co-Chair, Dir. of Communications
  • Dr. Meghan Miller, Co-Chair, Associate Director
  • Evan Louden, Board President, Powers Parent
  • Karen Gut, Board Secretary, Powers Student
  • Steve Cohen, Board Member
  • Dr. Karl Orvik, String Department Chair, Violin/Viola Faculty
  • Mary Cicconetti, Winds, Brass, Percussion Chair, Oboe Faculty
  • Dr. Kyra Zhao, Piano Faculty
  • Krystal Bloom, Music Therapy Faculty
  • Job Salazar Fonseca, Violin/Viola Faculty

The Strategic Planning Committee began their work with a kick-off meetng at the end of April 2023. The first task was to get an updated, holistic view of what our constituents felt was important to them, and important for Powers. We created a survey to help us answer some key questions and gain a better understanding of our priorities and what our future might involve.

The committee sent this survey out in early May, marking the beginning of the “Tomorrow” phase of our work. This first phase involved discussions amongst committee members, detailed survey analysis of 80 survey responses from students, parents, faculty, and donors, and interviews with Powers students, faculty, and parents. The insights from this phase allowed us to more fully understand our organization’s strengths, areas for improvement, and the context of what was happening inside and outside Powers that might affect or even decide our path forward.

In mid June, we finished the “Tomorrow” phase by creating a new Mission, Vision, and Values, keeping the core elements of Powers Music School’s original mission and refreshing it to stay relevant for 2023 and beyond.

Mid June through September marked the “Today” phase, involving analysis of Powers’ organizational health, business model, capacity, programs, culture, and facilities. We also looked at how national and global trends might influence the way we set priorities.

Finally, during October, the committee finished with the “Closing the Gap” phase by bringing all of our thoughts, findings, and ideas together, mapping out a strategy, settng some overarching priorities, and a timeline for covering as much as our capacity allows in the next three fiscal years.

November involved the drafting of an implementation timeline, ideas for accountability, and presentation to the full Board of Directors.

Survey & Committee Insights

Through our spring 2023 survey, we asked Powers students, parents, faculty, staff, Board, and donors what their musical goals were, what they valued most, what Powers was doing well, and where we needed to make improvements. Here’s what we learned:

What’s most important to our community is:

  • joy, emotion, and self-expression through music
  • developing work ethic, critical thinking and risk-taking skills
  • building confidence and self-esteem

Our students’ and participants’ top goals are:

  • to play and enjoy music with others
  • to become competent at playing
  • to experience and appreciate different types of music

Powers’ Signature Strengths

1. Flexible, customized learning

Everyone learns differently, and so everyone’s definition of success and their journey towards their goals will be different.

Our teachers have exceptional expertise and experience. At the same time, students are equal collaborators in their learning path, and should have some agency in the process. Teachers and students listen to each other and work as a team towards the student’s goal.

To that end, Powers instruction is personalized, high quality, supportive, and empowering. Our teachers are experts in musical skills, but they’re also coaches who know how to gently push us and motivate us to keep going despite perceived setbacks. They provide a formal structure of working towards excellence in a joyful way.

Our community also loves the diverse range of offerings that Powers is always dreaming up! Lessons are the foundation of learning, but it doesn’t – and shouldn’t – stop there. Our staff and faculty work together to identify and create whatever would help people reach their goals. This might mean a recital with multiple studios, a group class to work on improvisation, or a week-long summer immersion of a genre or instrument.

2. A collaborative culture that values every person

We believe that every person is different, and every person has worth.

This means that the way we each learn is unique. That all of our perspectives and opinions count. And that when we solve problems and make improvements, we do it together.

Having a safe, judgement-free, supportive environment where we all listen to and cheer each other on is crucial, not only for achieving our goals, but for recognizing our accomplishments and our own self-worth. Welcoming our whole selves and expressing what’s in our hearts are skills that we can develop, and that we will carry and use throughout our entire lives.

As we move forward, we’re striving to make Powers a place where including and valuing each person – students, parents, faculty, board members, volunteers, donors, and more – is not just what we want, it’s the norm.

Areas of Improvement

Through the process, we identified a few areas we hope to improve at Powers:

  • Flexibility in the learning process and scheduling
  • Efficiency and communication about placement / registration
  • Festival and recital experiences
  • Exposure to more diverse music
  • Facilities (accessibility, sound, and temperature)
  • Program impact measurement and funding

Trends and Influences

We also identified the following local, national, and global trends that might have an impact on our plans:

  • Demand for personalization and convenience
  • Growth in technology
  • Unpredictable economic shifts
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Decreased funding for the arts, but increased funding for wellness

Our Purpose at Powers

The change we want to make in our community is to help every person we teach and serve use music as a means to ultimately realize that they are capable, valued, and worthy.

The customized guidance of our faculty, the support system a school community provides, and the recognition of progress (in whatever form progress takes) are equally important tools to help our constituents feel celebrated and valued.

These are crucial outcomes in a local and global context where kids, teens, and even adults are increasingly disconnected from each other, lacking good communication and collaboration skills, and defining their self-worth by how they present themselves and interact online.

The committee also spoke at length about the importance of self-expression, that what we feel and think as humans can and should be expressed through music when words are not enough. We interpret the “joy” of music-making to be the ability to express ALL emotions. To make this possible for all students and our community, we need to provide an environment that is physically and emotionally safe, welcoming, and judgement-free, where people from all perspectives can listen, learn, communicate, and collaborate with each other in ways that value each individual.

With all of that in mind, the committee crafted the following to guide us into our next phase:

Our vision is for every person to realize their self-worth through their own personal journey towards excellence. We aim to create a safe, encouraging space to freely express ourselves, develop resiliency, and cheer each other on.

We inspire and empower people of all ages to strive for excellence in their unique musical goals. We do this through the expert, personalized instruction of caring, supportive teachers, ensembles and performances that push us to take risks, and shared experiences that open our minds to what’s possible when we lift each other up.

At Powers, we aim high, stay the course, and are there for each other. We believe in…
Pushing ourselves to grow
Accepting and facing challenges
Empathy and open-mindedness
Kind encouragement for others

Strategy & Goals

Our strategy for the next several years means doubling down on our strengths and the value that allows Powers and our community to shine – the “custom path to excellence” for every individual, and a culture where we trust each other and collaborate across roles, departments, and groups to solve challenges and keep growing.

Bringing all of our thoughts and ideas together onto one page, the committee set 3 goals for the next three fiscal years:

  1. Define and streamline the custom path to excellence
    – Improve placement and registration
    – Set, track, and celebrate progress
    – Build out supplementary learning
    – Measure outcomes

2. Strengthen our collaborative culture
– Build welcoming spaces
– Increase exposure to diversity of music and perspectives
– Strengthen relationships and collaboration

3. Secure funding to build the future
    Learn more about our 60th Anniversary Campaign here!

What are we working on THIS year?

  • Smoothing out the registration and placement process with our new Registrar
  • Improving the learning process through goal-setting, reporting, and celebrating progress
  • Streamlining communication about opportunities for students (ensembles, classes, performances, events)
  • Defining program outcomes and aligning them with our mission and vision
  • Transformation of the Tracy Powers Concert Hall
  • Researching options to improve ADA compliance and accessibility of our building
  • Increasing revenue through several streams (event fees, local sponsorship, donors, enrollment, and tuition)
  • Continuing to gather feedback and ideas from our community – that’s you!

Student & Parent Coffee Hour

Thursday, February 29, 6:30 pm
Tracy Powers Concert Hall at Powers

Share your thoughts and ask questions about the new Strategic Plan with Powers staff and committee Co-Chairs!

Send Us Your Story!

You (the students and people who make up the Powers family) are the most important part of this organization. We’d love to put the mic down now and hear more from YOU, highlighting your goals, progress, and joyful moments in music.

  • What do our new Mission, Vision, and Values mean to you?
  • What personal music goals do you have? How are you working towards them?
  • What risks are you excited to take this year?
  • How is music helping you feel valued or connected with others this year?

Share your story here! 

We’ll feature some of your stories on the Powers website, emails, social media pages, and in our buildings, but if you’d rather keep it private, that’s fine too!