The CONNECT Collaborator Series is an interview series where we host conversations with healthcare professionals and partners with the goal of encouraging deeper collaboration in the healthcare industry.

Watch the full CONNECT Collaborator Series video featuring our Co-Founder, Lorie Spence, Founder of Beyond the Classroom, Cathy Thompson and Director of Beyond the Studio, Adrienne Pringle here:

 

Lorie Spence: Welcome to the CONNECT Collaborator Interview Series where we host 10-minute conversations with healthcare professionals and partners with the goal of encouraging deeper collaboration in the healthcare industry.

Today’s guests are Adrienne Pringle and Cathy Thompson. 

Adrienne is a Registered Psychotherapist and Certified Music Therapist with over 20 years of clinical experience.  She co-founded Beyond the Studio, Sing it Girls! and The Canadian Music Therapy Podcast with Cathy Thompson over 10 years ago.  Adrienne works in private practice with Beyond the Studio and CHM Therapy, as an educator and supervisor with Concordia and Wilfrid Laurier Universities as well as a clinical supervisor and performer. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Music Therapy Fund and is a past President of the Canadian Association of Music Therapists.  Adrienne’s clinical work is focused on mental health, bereavement support, hospice palliative care, chronic illness, and using voice, song and music to support emotional and physical health across the lifespan.  

Cathy Thompson is a Canadian business leader having spent nearly 30 years creating companies from the ground up. She has intimate knowledge and expertise with sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, franchises, and licensing. In addition to her companies, she mentors female business owners on idea incubation, business setup, systems and operations. Cathy founded Beyond the Classroom in 1998 and has grown the company through a franchising model throughout Ontario since 2015. She is also co-founder of Beyond the Studio and Sing it Girls. In addition, Cathy co-hosts The Canadian Music Therapy Podcast, with close to 20,000 downloads since its inception in 2021. In 2022 Cathy launched her own book, The Dandelion: The Secrets to Growing Your Successful Business from the Ground Up.

Adrienne Pringle: Thanks for having us, Lorie. It’s great to be here. 

Lorie Spence: Let’s start off by talking about how you two came together as collaborators. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Adrienne Pringle: I love telling our story and it starts out more personal. So actually 20 years ago this spring, Cathy and I both had newborns and we went to a mom and baby group at the early years centre. And so the reason we both went to that group is because we were both going to be travelling with our babies home to Nova Scotia where we have family roots. So we became friends that way. Fast forward a few years later, Cathy and a different business partner, Laurel Crossley, were hosting women’s retreats called Simply Blossoming. I was very fortunate to be able to attend the retreats, present at the retreats and be inspired. So at the time, I was working as a music therapist, I’m working part-time in different places, and I had my own little private practice, but there was no room for growth in what I was doing, nor did I have the expertise for that. So in the visioning that we were doing, I had a little idea that I chatted about with Cathy because I did have a waitlist, and I could see there was more need. So I knew she had her business Beyond the Classroom, and I put it out there, “Could we collaborate and use the model or the way that Beyond the Classroom is set up and create our own company?” And Cathy was like, “Yes, let’s do it,” which was awesome. And so that’s where Beyond on the Studio came from. We were able to continue visioning, brainstorming and collaborating together and here we are 11 years later. It was a great personal and now professional collaboration.

Lorie Spence: Can you tell us about your collaborative partnership, Beyond the Studio, and how it works?

Cathy Thompson: We started out at Beyond the Studio with music lessons, private music instruction, taking people off of Adrienne’s waitlist, connecting them with our music teachers, and then slowly branched into music therapy services. Then in 2023, we started to branch into psychotherapy services. So the company has evolved a little bit and we still do all three, just to give a little bit more information about Beyond the Studio itself and what we’re doing over here. In terms of how our partnership works, I just love it because both of our strengths come together to really form this amazing company. From the time that a client reaches out, whether that’s for lessons or therapy, Adrienne speaks with them finds out what their needs are—given her background and experience—and then matches them up with someone who works with us—a therapist or an instructor—and then the process becomes seamless for our clients. From that handholding, connecting with their therapist, there’s the administrative part, and the planning part and the innovation, pieces of the organization and that’s sort of where my strengths come in. I’m in charge of the operations piece. We come together as partners with strategic planning, visioning and all that great stuff, but the day-to-day operations, Adrienne’s in touch with a therapist, she’s a recruiting and I’m more behind the scenes, looking to make sure that the company’s innovative, that we’re being responsive to what’s going on in society and what the needs are, and things are always changing. In terms of my role, that would be that piece. And then for our podcast, because Adrienne has an incredible network of therapists across Canada, she reaches out to book our guests. She really listens to the needs of our listeners on the podcast and thinking about who would be the best fit as our guests. Adrienne will reach out in that regard, then I do a little bit more of the administrative support and operations around the podcast as well. It works really, really well the two of us just coming together with our separate strengths, I would say.

Lorie Spence: As co-founders, how important is it to have different, yet complementary skills?

Cathy Thompson: Luckily, we do have that personal connection. We work really well together acknowledging each other’s strengths. I think it would be more difficult if we had a very similar skill set. We also have things that we obviously aren’t great at like social media or our podcast production, we bring in experts to help us with those aspects because again, it needs to be that collaboration, that partnership.

Lorie Spence: From your point of view, what is unique about having a partner?

Cathy Thompson: I would say just in terms of what I was talking about, in that seamless process for the clients in terms of using our services here at Beyond the Studio. We also have a programme called Sing it Girls, which is a licenced programme. And so again, going back to Adrienne’s connections, the programme is meant to be purchased by music therapists in Canada, the US, the UK, to run it in their communities with young women to help them express self-esteem and strong voices. With that piece, the music therapists are in connection with Adrienne, they trust her, she’s been the head of the CAMT, over 20 years in the field. And I think that in terms of that piece, the music therapists as clients with that programme, again, there’s that seamless operations side and the client-facing side with Adrienne.

Lorie Spence: What outcomes do you envision from your collaboration and hope for in the future?

Adrienne Pringle: We really want to keep reaching out with that Sing it Girls programme. Our vision would be that we have young women ages 7 to 15 around the world who are learning and growing. We also want to keep going with the podcast and keep putting Canadian music therapy on the map in this way, it’s really important to us. Cathy and I do a lot of presenting, so spreading the word, and presenting at conferences. We just published a journal article in the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy and so spreading the word more widely. Advocacy for the profession is really important to me as well and that’s something that we’ve really been able to focus on. We’ve been able to shine a bright light on Canadian music therapy and tell amazing stories and that’s what’s really touching about the work that we do as music therapists. We want to keep helping people right across the lifespan using music therapy and psychotherapy, which is an area that we’re really moving into now, providing those services and music psychotherapy. And at the heart of Beyond the Studio, what we’re really trying to do is help people nurture a lifelong love of music and so we want to keep doing more and more of that.

Lorie Spence: What is the benefit of your unique partnership?

Adrienne Pringle: I have lived the benefit of having this unique partnership because I was doing something before that was much smaller. We’ve been able to really grow together. Cathy really challenges me. She’ll ask me like “Let’s hear about what your vision is for the next 10 years,” and then really deep dive on those things. The best example I can give is the podcast because this was an idea that Cathy had through different planning that we do. And I was like, “No way. No, I’m doing it.” And look at it now. Right? She’s just that gentle encouragement. She takes the time to understand why and then we just jump in and try new things and supporting one another through it. 

I also just want to say a couple of words about Sing it Girls. Sing it Girls is such an amazing example of our collaboration both as Cathy as a business person and me as a therapist. But Cathy brings a whole other wealth of experience with her work at CAMH and programme that she developed there for supporting girls mental health and so we’re really able to bring both of our areas of expertise together in creating this programme and we’ve been able to help hundreds of girls from coast to coast across Canada through this program

Lorie Spence: Where is the best place for people to connect with you?

Cathy Thompson: I would say our websites, beyondthestudio.ca or singitgirls.ca. You can find more information about Beyond the Studio and Sing it Girls along with our podcast and the journal article that we just published.

Lorie Spence: Thank you for joining us! And we wish you the best of luck as you continue with your partnership and ongoing journey on social media.

Cathy Thompson: Thank you, Lorie.

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