Piña Madera is a dear family friend (since our oldest children were born 9+ years ago!) and an incredibly talented woman. Because I feel so fortunate to have her in my life, I want to introduce you to the Brilliance-Based Business she and her husband Michael run together.
Briefly, what are the highlights of your career story?
My mom is from Mexico, so I was raised bilingual from the beginning of my life. And my relationship with music began really early. I was playing piano at age 6. In high school, I taught a preschool music class. So music education also has been been part of my life for a long time.
When I went off to college, I stopped doing music for a while. I became a writer with a creative writing degree from Brown. Immediately following college I had a really hard year in publishing, after which I ran screaming from New York City to take a job teaching inner city kids in Lynn, Massachusetts. I loved, loved, loved teaching. I continued to teach after school hours – teaching piano privately, writing curriculum, and training teachers. Eventually I ran the Upward Bound program in Lynn.
The inner city kids I worked with included a lot of Latin families. It was really satisfying for me to use my Spanish to work with immigrants – empowering and a lot of fun. So for grad school I wanted to get close to the Mexican border. I earned a Master’s in Literature at University of New Mexico. I loved living in Albuquerque. I used my Spanish teaching a music enrichment program to elementary kids after school. My interests in music, Spanish and education continued to thrive as I fed them little by little.
When I later moved back to Boston, married my husband Michael, and started a family, it was time for us to decide what to do about language with our children. It was hard for us, even though Michael speaks Spanish, to switch to Spanish all the time during our interactions in front of the kids. So we started writing little tunes about things we did every day like brushing our teeth and crossing the street. We were surprised about how quickly the kids started singing them back to us, and we realized that we had a cool way to do it.
My passion – my Brilliance! – led us here. We started teaching Mommy and Me classes and recording a few songs. We saw we had something people super-liked that was effective in teaching language. Since then I’ve done a ton of learning and research about language acuqision for kids. I’ve made it my mission to become an expert in that area.
Chatting with a neighbor one day, another neighbor pulled up in her car, unrolled her window to let me say hello to her 3 year old son… and one of my Spanish songs was BLARING from the CD player. The child was thrilled to see me and was singing along. My creative work had brought learning, fun, joy, and Spanish into their lives, just as intended! That felt pretty good.
As best as you currently understand it, what are you here to do? Who are you here to serve? What difference do you make for your clients?
I am here to bring lightness, joy, and to help families meaningfully engage with one another. Music, and my songs are a wonderful way to do that, and I’m excited that it has that effect. Our Mommy-&-Me-style classes, based on songs I wrote with my husband, help young people (18 months to 6 years) learn Spanish.
We hope to bring language into homes everywhere—families singing, moving, and laughing as they belt out our award-winning songs about brushing teeth, washing hands, and setting the table…IN SPANISH! Families that learn together…laugh together…or something like that!
We also sell our CDs, book and learning aids on Amazon and at our own Sing-A-Lingo website.
How do you define “success” for yourself?
Dictating how I spend my time, allowing time for creative endeavors, having the freedom to raise my family and spend time with them, providing guidance, love and necessities for my family. Being honest, living frugally, and helping others.
What changes have you made or experienced in your life and business that have enabled you to experience more ease?
Creating schedules and systems brings me ease. Unbelievable what a handful of alarms on the iPhone can do for keeping me on track and relaxed.
What would you love your next breakthrough to be?
I’m eager to get our next product out, a DVD that promises to be really silly and fun, and will hopefully be of interest to the many who have already purchased our first products. Get them dancing and re-singing the songs they know so well.
What brings you joy?
Laughter. Pure and simple.
As a successful Brilliance-Based Businesswoman, what’s the best piece of advice you have for other aspiring and active Brilliance-Based Businesswomen out there?
Follow your bliss, and keep the faith. Like Steve Jobs said (paraphrasing badly)—it will all make sense at some point…the path of following the things you love will bring you to where you’re supposed to be.
What’s the best way for others to learn more about what you do?