Lansing Mosaic caught up with Rodney Page, founder of the Full Engagement Experience in Lansing, Michigan. Rodney Page began his violin studies at the age of 10. He earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music education at Michigan State University. During his collegiate career, Rodney Page also studied piano. After graduation, Page taught music in the East Lansing Public School District and the St. Johns Public Schools District in Michigan. He talks about what motivated him to start his business and challenges he’d faced during the years.
Lansing Mosaic: Tell us a little bit about your business.
Page: The name Full Engagement Experience plays on the word “Engagement”, and basically means I’m available to play at any special event that you made that may require music. I provide DJ services, violin services and Master of Ceremony services.
Lansing Mosaic: What inspired you to found this business?
Page: I was already performing before I found the Full Engagement Experience, but I didn’t have a distinct business name, or a website either. So I was basically running my business through word-of-mouth, and I would use social media as a website. Four years ago, I decided to have an extra business name and a real website, because what was happening is that prospect clients want to hire me. They would have to see a video, for example, from YouTube, or from Facebook. It’s something more professional.
Lansing Mosaic: You started your violin studies at the age of 10. Was it your own idea, or your parents’ will?
Page: It was my parents’ idea. I didn’t reject it, but I didn’t necessarily encourage it either. Those were my mother’s wishes, and to appease her, I would practice, I wouldn’t fight her about practicing instantly.
Lansing Mosaic: Have you ever thought of giving up the violin during your childhood?
Page: I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about quitting. There were definitely times that I want to step away. Actually, ironically enough, last July, I took a month off playing violin. I didn’t play anywhere, and I didn’t practice. That was the longest break I’ve had from the violin.
Lansing Mosaic: You said that music is a vastly overlooked important part of children’s’ education, could you give me some examples?
Page: It’s funny when I went to Tokyo as a Fulbright, I was observing how to teach strings in Japan and we went to a couple of different schools. I don’t speak Japanese and I can’t read Japanese, but I could read the music. I could sit there with the high school students and play when they are playing. I didn’t know what it was, but I can play. It’s like a universal language, and I think it can connect people from different cultures. And I do think it’s overlooked a lot of times, at least in this country. Most kids have music classes in America, but there’re some schools that don’t enough music resources, such as orchestra and choir.
Lansing Mosaic: Are your sons learning any instrument right now?
Page: Both of them play the violin. My 13-year old started playing when he was 4 and he’s been playing for 9 years. And the 4-year old started playing when he was basically 3.
Lansing Mosaic: Do you teach them how to play?
Page: I do work with them at home, but they do have lessons at Michigan State University Community Music School and have individual private lesson teachers.
Lansing Mosaic: Will they follow your step to be a musician in the future?
Page: In the 4-year old I don’t know. But the 13-year old, if I had to guess, I would say, probably not. I don’t think he dislikes it, but one of the things I told him form a very start of his lessons was that I want you to be exposed to music and have an appreciation for it, so I didn’t want to start out pushing him to be a musician, I want him to be whatever he wants to be when he is an adult.
Lansing Mosaic: Do you have a busy schedule every day?
Page: I don’t. I think people think I’m busier than I actually am. My business time would be right around now, like during the summer, because I play at weddings. But you know, weddings are only on the weekends. During the week, I’m usually around my family.
Lansing Mosaic: What have you learned from your business?
Page: What draws me to music is the connection with different types of people. It has been nice to have my own business. There have been a lot of mistakes I’ve made, because I didn’t have the training, I didn’t go to school for business. I had to learn the business, such as when is the busier time, when is the slower time.
Lansing Mosaic: What do you consider yourself to be?
Page: My degree from Michigan State is in music education. It’s not in performing. Because of my business, I kind of gravitated more towards performing. I’m more a music educator than a performer, even today.