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Meet Theresa Cheng of Opus Music School in San Gabriel Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Theresa Cheng.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started playing piano at the age of six. When asked as a young girl, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” my reply would be, “concert pianist.” My dreams were cut short when my parents urged me to pursue a business degree in college since it would be more practical. As a daughter of Asian immigrants, I listened to their advice and eventually majored in business-economics and started a career in finance.

I had a good career as a CPA in Downtown LA with a steady paycheck and good benefits. Life seemed pretty good but it wasn’t fulfilling. I always wanted to pursue my passion of music but was afraid to quit the stable job that my parents spoke so highly of.

After spending years unfulfilled in the accounting field, my husband urged me to follow my dream of pursuing music. I quit my job as a CPA and started teaching piano in my hometown of Hacienda Heights. I started with one piano student in a small 350 square foot studio. My first store sign was a piece of paper taped to the studio window that said “Opus Music School.” My student enrollment grew quickly. My husband filled in as a receptionist on busy days. Within one year of quitting my corporate job, Opus Music School had 100 music students.

Today, the school has grown to over 300 students and 15 teachers. It has been quite a journey, but I’m so glad I took that first step towards pursuing my passion. It finally feels like this is what I’m meant to be doing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. One of my biggest recent struggles was when I became a new mom three years ago. When my son was born, I cut back my work hours significantly to spend more time with him. It was eye-opening to see just how life-changing it was after having a newborn baby. It was difficult to balance raising a baby while managing a growing business. But I learned that the only thing you can do is do your best. I also became much more appreciative of both stay at home moms and working parents!

Please tell us about Opus Music School.
Opus Music School is now the largest music school in Hacienda Heights. We are a family-oriented school that specializes in making music learning fun! Our lessons incorporate music learning with fun songs that students want to learn and play. For example, we have students as young as five years old playing songs by current pop artists like Katy Perry and Charlie Puth. Our students stay because we make music fun and they enjoy it.

We also have many opportunities for our students to perform publicly. I am proud of our Opus Summer Tour, where every summer we visit a different city to give our students experience performing in professional concert halls. Our next summer tour in 2020 will be the first time our students will be traveling out of state. We also have periodic Open Mic Nights, performances at neighborhood concerts and concerts at city events. We provide unique performance opportunities that give students memorable experiences and keeps them excited about music.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
As my business mentor often tells me: “life is imperfectly perfect.”

Of course, I have learned many lessons and could have done things differently, but starting this business has taught me a tremendous amount and each bump was a learning opportunity.

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Image Credit:

Pink Box, Opus Music School

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