E-J Walker

Owner/Centre Director, Lead Teacher - TipToe Music

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Lianna Harrington

Who is E-J Walker, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi!  I’m an expat mum and proud business owner of TipToe Music. I left the UK in 2008 moving to Hong Kong and eventually on to Canada in 2014. We are now happily settled in Oakville, Ontario. I’ve been a music-maker all my life (my sisters were always telling me to be quiet, to stop singing!) and when I’m not teaching or leading groups in music-making, you will find me at the side of a rugby pitch cheering for my kids, or somewhere that sells good coffee trying to enjoy a quiet cup!

What is your business and when did you start?

TipToe Music was born with the help of a group of mom friends and their little ones in Hong Kong in 2014. We officially opened in Canada in 2015, bringing early childhood music education to preschools in Oakville.  In 2017 we expanded adding family Music Together programming and in 2020 we added The Rhythm Kids programme for older kids!  We’ve been teaching kids ages birth -8 years old in Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga ever since!

What inspired you to start your business?

My kids!  When we lived in Hong Kong we loved our weekly family Music Together classes so much – we were  given access to a quality musical education for young kids and I just had to get into the serious fun of teaching it too when the opportunity arose!  After taking my Music Together training in Australia in 2013 I was ready to go!  Now I get to make music with so many families here in Canada every week – it’s awesome!

What were the challenges in the initial stages of your business and how did you overcome them?

Initially the biggest challenges were time and money – finding time to start and grow a business with young children in a brand new country was extremely difficult, imagine not knowing the simplest thing like how to register your business name!  But finding the support of fellow business owners, taking time to learn and be mindful of family needs allowed me the personal growth needed to take the business to the next level. Remaining focused on my goals of making the world more musical and  knowing that what I was doing was making a difference to so many families lives was enough to drive me on!

What motivates you about your business?

I love it when I can see in classes that young children are learning early music skills, I love to see families connecting with each other through music, and that despite the pandemic we can still make a difference in so many lives through our online and outside music classes.  Every child is born musical, and we believe music is a birthright.  By helping parents become musical role models for their children, we are able to help families achieve so much and children begin a lifetime of music making!

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Trust your gut!  If you’ve done your homework and are prepared to work hard you can do it!  Be mindful of burn out – it is HARD starting a business – but you can do it!  Work with partners, look for opportunities, and enjoy it!

Interesting fact most of the people do not know about you?

My business background is in Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility – this has had a direct impact on how I want to run my business and why I partner with organisations such as Safetynet Charities.  Good business is good for business!

The best business advice I ever received was…

From a fellow Music Together teacher who once said to me – “Don’t forget teaching Music Together is supposed to be fun!” She was right – it is fundamental to helping kids learn!

My definition of success is…

Seeing families grow and understand that music learning affects all learning, that it’s never too early to start learning basic music skills and that by following the principles of our Music Together programme they can affect their child’s musical ability later in life.  Music is a birthright!

If I could go back in time when I started my business, I would tell myself to…

Trust your gut!  If you’ve done your homework and are prepared to work hard you can do it!  But be mindful of burn out – it is HARD starting and growing a business – but you can do it if you believe you can!

Three books I recommend for entrepreneurs are…

Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
 The Courage to Teach by Parker J Palmer

My personal tagline is…

I want to make the world a better place by making it more musical and make music making accessible to all! Music brings joy, especially now in the midst of a pandemic when we need to be mindful of our mental health.  Everyone is born musical – I’m on a mission to help as many children as possible have access to a quality musical education!

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