We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaron Gray and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Aaron, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I had always played with the idea of opening my own music studio, but never really pursued it, until one day I got fed up with my full time job at the time and walked out that day. I decided finally that I was going to work for myself and immediately started grinding.

I reached out to a friend of mine, Sam Specht-Burns, who ended up becoming the co-owner of Practice Makes Perfect. We built the studio to be a safe a welcoming place, Sam being an out lesbian, and myself being a POC saw a huge need for a business that represented people like us, and was owned by people like us. We strive to be inclusive, diverse and welcoming to everyone and anyone!

What should our readers know about your business?

Practice Makes Perfect is the only black owned, woman owned ,and LGBTQIA+ owned music studio in our region. I’m extremely proud that we have grown a diverse, inclusive studio in an area that is less than welcoming. Growing up in this area I saw the need for a diverse, welcoming, safe space for LGBTQIA+ and POC. When I finally committed to starting a business I knew that part of our mission had to be inclusion, community and education.

Getting to the point we are at now was not easy, we have had and continue to have many obstacles in our path that we need to overcome. We started our business a week before covid closed down business, we didn’t have a physical location, and we didn’t have any teachers. Luckily we were able to teach virtually, contact some friends to hire teachers, and thanks to partnerships with other local business like the Green Beacon Gallery and Danniella DiClaudio Productions we found locations to teach out of.

We are very committed to the community as well, we often volunteer for different events and organizations, Pflag Greensburg, Voice of Westmoreland, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra and UniSound are all some of the organizations Practice Makes Perfect has partnered with in the past. We also raise funds for our students to be able to take lessons for free or for a reduced price, and it also helps pay for instruments and repairs for those instruments.

We also have our own child development classes developed by my wife Julia, and Sam’s wife Bree they developed a course for children as young as 6months old to come learn music with their families! It is an amazing class and my own daughter takes it. They learn to socialize, develop fine motor skills, coordination and learn basic musical skills in addition to developing a love for music.

Over the past couple years I’ve learned that you need to depend on others and let go in order to flourish.
We are now 30 teachers strong, with over 200 students in four different physical locations, Greensburg, Charleroi, Lancaster and Connellsville.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well if we are staying in town, we would definitely hit the White Rabbit Cafe or Sundawg Cafe for breakfast, probably shoot around town and check out the Green Beacon Gallery, and the Westmoreland Museum for art. I love Sundawg Cafe for lunch/breakfast foods too. At some point we would probably head to Pittsburgh/Millvale if there is a concert my favorite small venue is Mr. Smalls, an old church repurposed into a concert venue. And depending on which friend we would probably find some local live music or theater at one of the amazing venues around, there are just too many to choose from!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well I have two very obvious answers: my friend and co-owner Sam, & my wife Julia. Without them the business never would have made it off the ground. I also have to give a huge shoutout to the teachers, students and parents we have, without each and every one of them we wouldn’t have a studio at all!

Website: pmpmusicstudio.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pmpmusicstudio/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Practic07817386

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pmpmusicstudio

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeoPBF9IpcLUTPDskwgi78Q

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