I like watching documentaries and biographies on TV or through a book. I am always on the search for a really good one. Understanding the lives and paths different people take to become successful at whatever they do is interesting and telling.
There are folks much closer to home that have stories worthy of those biographies I watch on TV or read in books. They have faced hardships, battled life, taken risks, and leaned on their faith and came through it all successful through the journey.
Kyla Duckworth is one of those people.
I caught up with Kyla to discuss her journey and her successful and growing business, Musicality.
Treye Hanner: Tell our readers about your business. How did it begin and why did you decide to get into your field?
Kyla Duckworth: Musicality officially began as a business in September of 2018, but the story started quite some time before that. I have taught piano and voice lessons for about 20 years ever since my childhood piano teacher, Mrs. Gail Anderson, began letting me teach in her studio in Morris when I was 17 years old.
For most of my early years teaching, I was also a worship pastor, so I just taught as a side gig. Then in 2015, we found out one of my sons had cancer, so I stopped teaching for a bit. He went through chemo and radiation and was cancer-free the following year and, praise the Lord, he still is now and is a thriving eight-year-old.
In January of 2017, after my son was well, I went through a significant life change. I found myself single, jobless, and with three kids. Mainly out of desperation and falling back on what I felt God had gifted me to do, I started teaching again out of my father’s basement in Kimberly.
One of my childhood friends signed her daughter up for piano lessons. She told me she was starting a homeschool co-op at a church in Mt Olive and asked if I would teach music for them. In exchange, they’d let me use the building to teach my other students as well. So, in the Fall of 2017, with less than ten students, I started teaching in the basement of Mt. Olive Alliance Church.
Over the next year, Musicality started growing so much that I couldn’t handle all the students on my own anymore. I had recently gotten married and moved to Sumiton, so I started teaching out of my church there also.
In the fall of 2018, seemingly overnight, I went from 24 students to 48. With all this growth, I figured it was time to be official, so I got my business license and hired a long-time friend to help me teach. Within a few months, we were up to 64 students. I hired some young student teachers to help teach all the students and started focusing on organizing and building the business.
In January of 2020, we renovated our home to have a home studio in Sumiton, right off of Main Street. By December of 2020, even during all the covid stuff, we had grown to 100 students and had clearly outgrown the churches we were using. We were very thankful for our time there, but it was time to try and find a location of our own. So, in March of 2021, we moved our Gardendale students into our first business location on Tarrant Rd., affectionately known as the old Sprouse’s Butcher Shop.
Then, in May of 2021, my husband, Dustin, quit his job of 17 years to join Musicality full-time. It was a leap of faith, but we knew that was what God was calling us to do. Now, we’ve been at our Gardendale location one year, and we have 155 students.
We also have another location in Sumiton. In Jasper, we have partnered with a non-profit called The Willow Project to offer music lessons to underprivileged kids of Walker County.
Treye Hanner: Why did you choose Gardendale as the place for your business?
Kyla Duckworth: When looking for a business location, I knew I wanted Musicality to be in Gardendale because I have always loved the community. With so many of our students from Gardendale and the surrounding areas, I felt like we were already a part of the Gardendale community, and it was just the obvious choice.
I am originally from Kimberly and grew up coming to Gardendale for everything. I have lots of memories here and knew it would be a place I wanted to bring my business. Gardendale is central to so many surrounding communities, yet there aren’t many choices for music lessons locally. I feel it is a great need in our area, and I’m excited that Musicality can offer our community this much-needed business.
Treye Hanner: What changes have you seen in Gardendale that have effected your business since it began?
Kyla Duckworth: We have only been located in Gardendale for about a year now, but we felt welcome from day one. The Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce welcomed us warmly with a ribbon-cutting right away.
Shortly after that, we were invited to let some of our students and teachers perform for one of the Gardendale Food Truck nights. Recently, we were permitted to hold our all-day concert at the Gardendale Civic Center Outdoor Amphitheater this coming May.
Anything I have asked of Gardendale, they have been willing to help with, and being a part of the Chamber of Commerce has benefited us as well. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful.
Treye Hanner: Are there any changes you would like to see in Gardendale that would help your business grow?
Kyla Duckworth: I would love to see a thriving Arts Council. I know we’ve had one in the past, and I’m very thankful for what they’ve done. However, I would love to see even more of the arts welcomed in Gardendale.
We are improving our parks for sports, and I love that, but I would also love to see a place that artsy people could enjoy. More concerts, art walks and plays. I believe many young people in Gardendale are so very talented, but there are a limited number of places they can perform and showcase their art.
Musicality would love to provide support for those gifted kids in our community.
Treye Hanner: Finally, why do you believe your business has been so successful and what would you like prospective customers to know about why they should buy from a local business like yours?
Kyla Duckworth: First and foremost, I believe my business has been successful and grown because I have surrendered it to God. I know this is what He has called me to do, and I’ve tried to be obedient to Him in all the decision-making, and I give Him all the glory for the rapid growth that we have experienced.
Secondly, I believe that the families of Gardendale and the surrounding areas have been such great support. There are great music schools outside of our area, but I appreciate it when families come to us for lessons instead of driving 30 minutes or more to a school in Birmingham. I appreciate that the families have given a new business that kind of trust with their kids, their most precious treasures.
I want prospective customers to know that we are more than just music lessons. We strive to teach kids that their sound matters and give them opportunities to release that sound to the world! We want to be a blessing to the families that bring their kids to us and a place of joy and peace that the kids get to come to each week!
I believe it is essential that kids in the arts connect with other kids in their own community. We love putting students together to perform. So many of our students take lessons together and perform together.
I grew up in a musical family and knew that I was created to connect with God with music from a young age. I also wanted my music to bless others and help them connect with God. Having this foundation helped me stay on track as a young person. Knowing who I was in God, what I was created to do, and surrounding myself with other young musicians saved me from getting into some of the trouble young people can get into.
Later in my life, I did go through some things and made some terrible decisions, but it was my passion for music that God used to draw me back to Him. In a hopeless time of my life, God awakened hope in me for a good future by reminding me of what He had created me for and what He had called me to do.
At Musicality, we believe everyone has a sound that the world needs to hear. It is our job to help you find, develop, and release that sound to the world! We don’t want to just teach music lessons. We want to inspire kids to create!
We want them to know that they are important and there is a purpose for their lives.