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Meet Fred Wofford of Dedham School of Music

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fred Wofford.

Fred, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Myself and two other founders were former school board members who were elected just after the previous school board eliminated instrumental music in the grammar schools. We knew the importance of a vibrant music program, one that began in the pre-adolescent years could do for the students and their parents.

Well we tried to get the music program back into the school’s budget, but we were not able to do it. Fast forward several years, post school board and there we were together with some other great people at a funeral of a like-minded friend. I floated the idea of a music school. Well the rest is history and the Dedham School of Music (“DSM”) was started.

DSM opened our doors in 2008 with eight private lesson students (finishing the year with a recital of only 6). In 2010, we started an after-school band program in the elementary schools. By 2012 DSM had over 200 students, a full-time executive director, a part-time assistant, bookkeeper and 18 part-time teachers.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s has never been smooth. Like any growing business, growth generates a lot of expenses.

As you grow, financial reporting requirements, payroll taxes, insurance, support staff all grow. In 2016, we lost our executive director to a fantastic opportunity in Boston. It took several months to find the right successor. Our new executive director is fantastic! Though she started after the school year (and grant season!) began, she has caught-up and the school continues to move ahead!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Dedham School of Music’s mission is to culturally enrich the town of Dedham and surrounding communities (Boston and its suburbs) by providing a supportive environment for musicians of all ages and abilities to perform, create, appreciate and learn to play music.

We are student focused, providing each student with a teacher who is a teacher first and foremost, but who is also an accomplished performer. We source, select and compensate our teachers well to ensure the most positive experience for our students.

Most of our students come to us by word-of-mouth from students and/or parents who like what we do, and how we do it. Candidly, we give all the credit to the teachers!

What were you like growing up?
For me it was baseball and basketball after-school and playing trumpet in a garage band in the late 60’s and early 70s. I was the youngest in the band and looked up to the others and thought music was just a cool as sports.

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