Small business success #41: Peter Thomsen, Thomsen Music

By Mark G. Auerbach

If you’ve been following this season’s NBC music competition, The Voice, you’ve probably noticed Massachusetts teen Brynn Cartelli singing her way into the semi-finals. She has been taking lessons and getting coached in person and via Skype by Peter Thomsen of Thomsen Music in Longmedow, MA.

Thomsen is a much-sought-after music coach and mentor. He and his wife, pianist Abby Thomsen, founded Thomsen Music in 2008. She is a piano teacher and accompanist. He is a professional singer, guitarist, keyboardist and percussionist. He has coached Aaron Lewis, the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and founding member of the alternative metal band Staind; Meghann Fahy, the actress and singer, known for her roles in the Broadway musical Next to Normal, and as Hannah O’Connor on TV’s One Life to Live David Tinervia, the baritone 2016 New England Regional Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions finalist, and guitarist/composer David Rosenthal have also worked with Thomsen.

Thomsen Music provides piano and voice lessons, vocal coaching for singers, actors, broadcasters; audio-video recording services for auditions and college applications, and Thomsen’s specialized vocal training. The training and techniques are customized to the singer’s abilities and interests.

Starting early

Thomsen grew up in Nyack, NY, and began drumming with his friend Rupert Holmes, best known for “The Pina Colada Song” and the score to the Broadway musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Peter received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from The Crane School of Music, a major music program whose alumni include opera star Renee Fleming

Thomsen served as the first coordinator of Music, Grades K-12 for the Longmeadow Public Schools, as well as chairman of Fine Arts at Longmeadow High School for many years. The Longmeadow Music Department won three Grammy Awards from the National Association of Recording Artists during his tenure. His ensembles traveled to perform at Carnegie Hall, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, as well as in Montreal, Italy, Germany, Austria and Hungary, and won great recognition for their artistry.

Once Thomsen retired from the Longmeadow school system, he put his energies into Thomsen Music. He still performs regularly in clubs and concerts, most often with Abby Thomsen or with Dave Brinnel. He has served as vice president of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Longmeadow Cultural Council, and recently co-starred as Javert in an area theatre’s production of Les Miserables.

Thomsen began coaching almost immediately after college. As the years passed, he continued his studies in vocal techniques and training, and offered clinics for students regionally. “Currently, my clients range in age from 10 to 60,” he says. “More of them come regularly as vocal development is about improved coordination. Artistic development requires the same regular attention. I do always have people that I see less frequently or for specific needs at the time. A local cantor who has a performance, a performer who has an upcoming recording session, video or performance.”

Thomsen says that his client base primarily comes via referral–word of mouth, and he realizes that he needs a more formal marketing program, “although some people find our website through a Google search,” Thomsen added. “But, there were no formal classes in management or administration of running a music teaching or coaching business. We learned everything ‘on the job.’ When I went to New York with Rupert Holmes and our band, The Nomads, we interacted with the clubs and the recording industry. I did receive formal university training in administration when I coordinated music at Longmeadow High School.”

Technology expands his market

Skype has opened doors for Thomsen to coach long-distance. “My online business is small but powerful. I have students from Brazil and throughout the U.S. Mostly these people have been aspiring professionals. I have learned a great from teaching online that has informed my in-person work. I love it actually,” says Thomsen.

[amazon_link asins=’B0081G8P5C’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingin-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’53b0e21e-5547-11e8-85ed-cfcbe9403322′]The Thomsens have revised their business models, as they study what others do. “We attend the NAMM Show in Anaheim, and other teaching conferences in Chicago, and the CD Baby Nashville,” he said.

Thomsen continues to study voice, to bring his clients the most innovative and cutting-edge techniques. “I began study with Jeanette LoVetri in NYC in 2008. I become certified in Somatic Voicework, The LoVetri Method, and taught with her at Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia for several years. Combined with my experience and study throughout my career with many of the leading voice experts and practitioners, I have a unique set of skills to offer today. I am a perpetual student and have a passion for learning and helping others realize what is important to them.”

Investing in people

Two people gave Thomsen the best advice that has helped him move forward. “My dad, Irving Thomsen, was the most honest person I have ever known and he believed a person was nothing without that. Secondly, I was mentored by a great teacher and musician, Wilfred Burkle. He tried to help me as a young man to understand that you can’t understand what someone else really knows or what they want without investing a great deal of time and an open heart. If they come to trust you, you may be able to help them. I see my life as an continuing investment in people and in helping them fulfill their dreams.”

If the Peter Thomsen of today could have a chat with the Peter Thomsen just starting out, he offers the lessons he’s learned from on the job experiences. “I was advised to invest in mankind by all of the people who mattered in my life. I am a very happy man with an amazing wife, who is my best friend and a great musician. We have great family ties and friendships. If I could go back, I would do the same thing and pay more attention along the way.”

And, that’s succeeding in small business.

For details on Thomsen Music, located in Longmeadow, MA:


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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