by Desiree M. Cooper
"I get to do what I love to make money." – Sharron Whipple
Sharron Whipple, an Eastern New Mexico University graduate, owns the Sharon Whipple Music Studio in Amarillo.
“I gradually built the studio starting in 1996,” she explained. “After a few years of having a home studio, I ventured out to leasing a commercial building and, at one time, had 14 teachers working for me.
She moved the studio, which serves students from as far as two hours away, back to her home last August and still has three teachers.
“We now teach piano, voice and guitar. We have such a long waiting list for voice that I am looking for another voice teacher.”
Her studio has two performances a year for students. They are divided into two groups at each performance, so the shows don't last “so long that people get bored. I also take some piano students to a festival that West Texas A&M University puts on every year, so that they can be judged.
“I enjoy teaching piano the most. I also like the interaction with the other teachers, the administrative part of the studio, the marketing of the studio and talking to current and prospective parents and students.
“I enjoy interviewing prospective teachers and the hiring process. I've never had to fire anyone,” she said. “The teachers are all very productive, well-educated people and do a great job.”
Her husband, John, has assumed the bookkeeping chores and sends out invoices.
“I guess I'm spoiled a little because of that,” said Mrs. Whipple.
“The most challenging part of the studio was trying to make money at the commercial site and keep prices down so that people could actually afford the lessons.
“Since I moved the studio home, it has been much easier. Now that my children are grown, I have three rooms in my home where we can teach and have much less overhead than at the commercial site.”
Mrs. Whipple grew up on a ranch northeast of Clayton.
She chose to attend Eastern in 1973 because it was close to home, had a well-known music school at the time and felt right.
“I started as a piano major and should have continued with it,” said Mrs. Whipple, who earned a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in music in 1976. “I remember feeling lost when I changed my degree, but was unsure of what I could really do with a music major. I changed to accounting because I thought that would be a good job.”
She met her husband, a technical service representative for Stratacare, at ENMU during their undergraduate years.
She and John got married after graduating and moved to Truth or Consequences. After a year and a half, they returned to ENMU and both earned an MBA (she had an emphasis in accounting, while his was in information technology).
Mrs. Whipple was “active in the Baptist Student Union, although I am not a Baptist. I was also in band. I took piano lessons from Thomas Uchtmann and loved them.”
The Whipples lived in Portales for a few years before moving to Amarillo for a job John was interested in. They have two children, both of whom were born in Portales.
Sarah, 32, is married and lives in Corpus Cristi with her husband, Micah Blake.
Brian, 27, is married to Janice and lives in Colorado Springs. Their son, Samuel, was born in December.
“After my children were in elementary school, I went back to my first love of music and continued with teaching piano,” said Mrs. Whipple, who had her first piano student during high school and taught piano when she lived in Truth or Consequences.
“At ENMU, I was a part of the piano pedagogy program and taught students. Those students participated in the recitals, which provided teaching experience that I still use,” she explained. “It gave me enough confidence to start my studio here.”
She completed a Master of Arts in Music this spring at WTAMU, because she had “never earned a music degree. I really enjoyed going back to school and learned a lot. It was a privilege to be able to do that.
Her hobbies include deep water aerobics, painting watercolors, interior design, composing and piano. She and her husband have been remodeling a home that they bought three years ago.
“Yes, I get to do what I love to make money,” said Mrs. Whipple. “Imagine that!”