From orchestra fame to music mentor

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association (bfa), explains why you should take your passion by the French horns.


Let’s be honest, most people have had that dream of walking out on a dead end job and beginning a quest to find your true calling. Some, however, are lucky enough to find their zest for life early, such as mine for franchising, but I appreciate I am exceptionally fortunate in this regard.

Katherine Mayes was also fortunate, like me, always being engrossed in music. A former professional violinist, she didn’t ever believe she would find a career that she could be more passionate about than playing music: “From an early age, I knew music would play a significant role in my life, but what I didn’t know was that it would lead to a career in franchising,” explains Katherine.

After graduating from The Royal College of Music in London and gaining a BMus (Hons) and PG Diploma in Orchestral Performance and Teaching, Katherine went on to have a lucrative career in music, touring the world as a concert violinist with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and working with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on numerous TV and radio performances.

Time for a change

Nearly 20 years on, Katherine decided that the long and demanding work of being a professional violinist was enough, explaining: “I made the decision to seriously change my lifestyle. I sought after a new career with flexibility to spend more time with my family, albeit still being ambitious and seeking challenges. Although I enjoyed performing, it was hard work, and I was tired of the weekly 20-hour commute, returning home late after concerts. I desperately wanted to be at home in the evenings, to cook dinner and read to my boys at bedtime!”

A new calling

Katherine found that she enjoyed teaching young children and sharing her enthusiasm for music with the next generation. Her gut feeling was confirmed after taking her kids to Monkey Music, a company specialising in music classes for babies and young children. She found that their ethos and values matched her own.

“Attending Monkey Music classes with my boys confirmed my instinctive belief in the value of early music education. My passion for its importance intensified with my parental insight into increased cuts in music education, implemented by local schools.”

A supportive business

By the end of 2018, Katherine had become a franchisee for Monkey Music Baldock, Hitchin, and Welwyn. She has found it to be a welcoming opportunity, not only receiving support from Monkey Music HQ, but making friends with other franchisees in the Monkey Music network who want her to feel a part of the family. Katherine enthuses: “From the very start I had fantastic support from Head Office. This was entirely reflected by the can do attitude and generosity of all other franchisees. Together with the amazing progressive curricula, I feel very content and secure in my new lifestyle.”

A learning curve

The great thing about wanting to be a part of the franchise industry is that you can be from all backgrounds and careers, and still find an opportunity that you can relate to. Franchises look for more than business know-how,but rather vision, passion and a willingness to learn. Katherine has found this especially appealing. “Prior to Monkey Music I’d had no business expertise, but with guidance from Head Office and extensive professional training, I now feel competent and assured running my own business.”

Follow the music

It’s important to gain some perspective when following your dreams. You need to ask yourself… what you do you want out of it? Is it fulfilling? And how can you share your passion? I admire anyone who is brave enough to not only quit their career, but quit a career they love in order to go where they truly belong.

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