Meredith Roman Pizzi is a board-certified music therapist. She is also a small business owner, the founder and director of a growing, thriving business, Roman Music Therapy Services in Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts area. In this AMTA-Pro podcast, Meredith shares tips and strategies for making it work, excelling both as a therapist and a business person. Click on the text of this AMTA-Pro podcast for samples of flyers, logos, and other business tools.


Making it Work: MT-BC and Small Business Owner
AMTA-Pro Podcast August, 2011
Meredith R. Pizzi, MT-BC

Podcast Discussion Outline

I. Introduction

II. Small Business Know-How

A. If you are in private practice, you are a small business owner. If you want to make a career of being a self-employed music therapist, you must work on your business. The more you are able to embrace the role of a small business owner, the more success you will have. Learn about your role as a business owner, and grow as a business owner. If you do not take purposeful steps, your business will not grow, you will not make any money, you will burn out, and you will eventually have to go to work for someone else. You may become so burned out you end up doing something else

B. READ! Look for marketing books and books for small business owners at the library and other sources. Ask for recommendations from all of your professional advisors. One of the best business books I’ve ever read was recommended to me by my accountant.

C. Find communities, local and online communities, for small business owners. Some of my favorites are Make Mine a Million, SCORE, and SBA. Take a look in the resource section of this AMTA-Pro for contact information for these and other recommended communities.

D. Build your team of professional resources. You must learn about the areas of business with a direct impact on your work. Since you cannot be an expert in all of these areas, seek out others with the training, talent and experience to help us. Ask for help! People are more than willing to give it.

I have gathered this group of people on my team:
• Accountant
• Bookkeeper
• Clinical mentors and supervisors
• Professional mentors and advisors
• Other music therapists. AMTA is a great resource and can often connect you to other music therapists, locally and around the country.
• Marketing advisors
• Small business advisors
• Graphic designers
• Web designers
• Virtual assistants

E. Sometimes you must pay your team members and sometimes their services and advice are free. It is certainly worth your money in the long run to pay for some of this expertise because you have to spend money to earn money. You may be able to withdraw the paid supports over time. For example, I started out paying a marketing and Enewsletter consultant to help me get my newsletters started.  Now that I have a better handle on how it works, I do it by myself and no longer use her help.

Some paid consultants are short term. For example, graphic designers and web designer have the skills and time to put into these projects. Your time is better spent in other areas.

F. As far as “free” mentoring, find folks with experience and a good spirit, people with a positive attitude backed by knowledge. People in your network are often more than willing to share their knowledge and expertise. I have had a very positive experience with SCORE, being matched up with what I call my free CFO! If your assigned adviser isn’t a good match, meet with someone else until you find the right match. Other help came from my local Chamber of Commerce, a free marketing consultant who knows the local community and opportunities that are out there, as well as my accountant and banker. I’ve also gained valuable information from daycare providers, teachers, and parents. Remember to show your appreciation with emails, cards, and thank you notes.

III. The Importance of Professional Communication

A. Take time to be an advocate in three key areas: your clients, your services, and your profession.

B. Educate your clients and their families to be advocates for music therapy services and for your business. In all of your communications with a client, their families, staff and administrators, communicate with them what you are doing and why. Give them succinct summaries about the impact of music therapy on your client’s life and clinical situation. If you are unable to articulate those points, you will not have any paying clients! If this doesn’t come naturally to you, find a music therapist or administrator who can help you develop those skills.

C. Build Partnerships with local community resources providing assistance or services to your clients and their families.

D. Use printed and online materials to communicate who you are and what you do. Use multiple methods for staying in touch: website, E-Newsletter, postcards, flyers, brochures, and business cards.

IV. Diversify Services and Income Streams

A. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. With some exceptions, self-employment is a great business position to be in no matter the economy since music therapists have a great skill set to draw from in creating jobs.

B. As a music therapist and a small business owner, constantly look for a need and for an opportunity. Ask the question: Who can pay me? I’ve had great success with birthday parties, mother’s groups, playmates, parent groups, coffee shops, children’s museums, and libraries. At libraries, for example, I give programs for kids, presentations for parents/teachers, and concerts for large groups. The programming great for the library, providing exposure for music therapy, and the performing experiences are great for my clients.

Other opportunities that have worked well for me are presentations and events for Parent Teacher organizations, afterschool groups, community open houses, family events, group services, and retail sales. I have also provided therapeutically appropriate entertainment for association for individuals with disabilities and other special needs.

C. Know your funding sources. Explore grants, community partnerships, scholarships, and other sources. You do not necessarily need to write the grants or ask directly for the funding, but you do need to be knowledgable so you can  know where to direct others to find funding for a program, project, or ongoing services.

D. Be persistent in developing new leads. Not every lead will come through, and sometimes you will connect in an unexpected place.

V. Looking ahead

A. What does your growing music therapy practice look like?

B. You need to think about what you want to get out of your business, how you want to structure your professional time, and then put that plan into action. For example, if you are looking for a flexible schedule, you must define the hours you want to work, then find clients who are available during that time. Do you want to have a center-based or do you prefer working out of your home and/or car? Do you want employees and/or subcontractors? Ask yourself these and other questions so you can plan purposefully and shape your business according to your vision.

VI. Examples of business tools for Roman Music Therapy Services

M. Pizzi – 2010 Fall Flyer for Roman Music Therapy Services

M. Pizzi – Flyer for Sprouting Melodies

M Pizzi-Front of business card for Roman Music Therapy Services

M. Pizzi – Back of business card for Roman Music Therapy Services

M. Pizzi- Roman Music Therapy Services Letterhead & AMTA-Pro podcast outline

VI. Contact Information

Meredith Pizzi, MT-BC is the owner and executive director of Roman Music Therapy Services
 in Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts. You can contact her about any aspect of this podcast via e-mail <> or phone,  781-665-0700. For more information about Roman Music Therapy Services, please visit


Resources related to small business

Gerber, M. (1995). The e-myth revisited: Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, inc.

Hayden, C.J. (2007). Get clients now! (2nd ed.). New York, NY: AMACOM.

Turner, S. (2010). The little black book of management. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies.


Entrepreneur Magazine,

Inc. Magazine,

SBA: Small Business Administration,

SCORE: Service Corps of Retired Executives,

Resources specific to music therapy business

Knoll, C., Knoll, D., & Henry, D. (2011). MT Career Success. Stephenville, TX:

Knoll, C., Henry, D. (2011). You’re the boss! Self-employment strategies for music therapists. Stephenville, TX:

2008 Business Institute: Essential Business Tools for Building a Successful Music Therapy Practice. Can be ordered from AMTA,

Music Therapy Maven,

Music Works Publications,

Resources related to productivity

Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.

Covey, S. (1990). The seven habits of highly effective people. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Ferriss, T. (2009). The 4-hour workweek. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group

Rath, T. (2007). Strengths finder 2.0. New York, NY: Gallup Press.

Resources related to women in business

Monosoff, T. (2007). Secrets of millionaire moms. New York, NY: McGraw-Hills Companies.

Sachs, W. (2005). How she really does it: Secrets of successful stay-at-work moms. Da Capo Press.

Solovic, S. (2008). The girls’ guide to building a million-dollar business. New York, NY: MJF Books.

Stanny, B. (2002, 2004). Secrets of six-figure women: Surprising strategies to up your earnings and change your life. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, inc.

Ali Brown: Business coach for women entrepreneurs.

Resources related to business plans


Make Mine a Million,

About the Podcast Speaker

Meredith Roman Pizzi, MT-BC, is the Founder and Director of Roman Music Therapy Services, a music therapy agency in Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts which focuses on serving children and adults with social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and educational needs. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and completed her music therapy internship at Alternatives for Children in Long Island, NY working in an early intervention and therapeutic integrated preschool setting. Primary areas of Meredith’s clinical work include working with children and young adults from newborn to 22 years of age in private, educational, and community settings and she has extensive experience working with young children with and without disabilities, individuals of all ages with complex medical and developmental needs, non-verbal learners, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, and other developmental disabilities. In addition to clinical and administrative work, Meredith supervises music therapy students and interns in their training and provides numerous presentations and workshops throughout the year to a wide-ranging audience, including parents, educators, librarians, music therapy students and music therapists. Meredith makes the most of her self-employment status by taking Mondays off her with her three young children. Meredith Pizzi, MT-BC can be contacted by phone at 781-665-0700 or by email at More information about Roman Music Therapy Services can be found at