This feature on Notes N’ Beats is part the #LoudounPossible Success Story series compiled in celebration of Loudoun Small Business Week 2022. For more information on the week’s festivities, plus other engaging stories of sustainable business growth, please visit LoudounSmallBiz.org.
Turning a Passion Project Into a Profession
Born and raised in India, Veena Pandiri earned her undergraduate degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University before immigrating to the U.S. Here, she earned master’s degrees and lived in Ohio and Texas before moving east.
Like so many in her field, she was drawn to Northern Virginia in the late 1990s to work in the region’s vibrant tech industry. She found a very welcoming community.
“Loudoun County is a hub for cultural diversity, especially for Indians,” she said.
Despite climbing the corporate ladder in her career, Pandiri found herself surprisingly unfulfilled at work.
“My time in technology was interesting and provided me with enough challenge, but the element of satisfaction was missing,” she said. “In 2005, it was by chance that I started this journey and it was when I discovered my passion for teaching music.”
Pandiri taught music for five years before ever considering it as a career path. It was during that time that she realized how music could be taught differently and better.
“Children of today want to connect with what they are doing, and want more active learning methods,” she explained.
Teaching music according to this philosophy ignited her own passions and creativity. “The ability to make quick decisions and eliminate the layers of bureaucracy was a welcome break and I loved it!”
In 2012, while still working her day job, Pandiri opened Notes N’ Beats in Ashburn. Over the next year, she shortened her commute, and eventually went full-time with her entrepreneurial pursuit in 2015.
“I started Notes N’ Beats to fuse the foundational concepts of classical music to traces of non-classical music that children understand and relate to,” she said. “Notes N’ Beats provides diverse styles of music, like Indian, classical, rock and pop because of the varied cultural backgrounds for each faculty member.
“The diversity of music that Notes n’ Beats offers is very relatable to families in Loudoun County.”
In Indian culture, music is believed to have originated from the gods and is treated with great respect.
“Music is an integral part of Indian culture. The songs of today refer to cultural aspects of families from the past and present,” she said. “Indian classical music is several centuries old but it is kept alive through music and dance schools.”
Pandiri mentioned that Loudoun’s robust Indian-American community has embraced Notes N’ Beats as a conduit of culture.
“The music we teach at our school is most relevant to second generation Americans of Indian origin, who have gracefully adapted the best of both cultures,” she said. “Notes n’ Beats brings a piece from their faraway land to the homeland they live in. Parents of our students tell us that they bond with their children because of the music we teach at our school.”
Pandiri also credits her time in tech for preparing her to run a music business.
“I deeply value my experience in technology, and an education in engineering and math helps me with my business on a daily basis,” she said. “The many skills that I learned as a software developer and as a product manager allow me to build an efficient model of operations at Notes N’ Beats.”
Community Support Through Thick and Thin
In the decade since opening, the roster of students at Notes N’ Beats has grown to more than 500, and sustained through the virtual push surrounding COVID-19.
“The pandemic forced us to make changes to many aspects of our business,” she said. “While we missed meeting in person, the staff and students developed new skills to create music and music videos and go digital. These are skills that are required in this new digital age.
“The hybrid model is here to stay. It provides the flexibility for working parents to save on travel times on their busy days. It has also allowed for staff members who drive up to 1.5 hours to our studio to spend more time teaching instead of traveling.”
To support this new reality, Notes N’ Beats applied for and received a $50,000 Loudoun County Business Reinvestment and Recovery Grant, with funding allocated by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors from the American Recovery Plan Act. The money will be used to invest in new technology, new Loudoun locations, and new jobs.
“Our county has provided immense support to our school and for all that we do! We are grateful for the help they provide to small businesses like ours,” she said. “I say this with all honesty: the success of my business can be hugely attributed to the fact that it is situated in Loudoun County.”
To give back, Notes N’ Beats launched a non-profit arm called The Stage, which leverages music to support non-profits.
“This year, our students will be performing on Sept. 11 to raise awareness of mental health issues, and fundraising for First Responders and Veterans Moving Forward, both non-profit organizations in Loudoun County,” Pandiri said. “The show will include popular music from India and from the U.S., and we are so excited to perform.”
Needless to say, Pandiri is bullish on her #LoudounPossible future, and encourages anyone with a passion project and consider opening a business here.
“Loudoun offers countless opportunities, but the bar for performance is high in our county,” she said. “Families in Loudoun have high expectations for services. Any business starting in the county better strap their seatbelts and be ready for the race, which I guarantee will be challenging yet fun!”
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