Under the Spotlight: Kathy Doolan

Under the Spotlight: Kathy Doolan

Published: 19/12/2018

Alumna Kathy Doolan (DRSAMD 1974) was enjoying a successful career in teaching after graduating from Scotland’s national conservatoire. While raising her children, she saw how music aided their development and spotted a gap in the market for a new business in her local community.

Now Kathy’s award-winning organisation, Rhythm Time, has 45 franchisees helping more than 12,500 children all over the country reap the benefits of making music.

Mark Good meets Kathy as she goes Under the Spotlight”¦


What led you to establish Rhythm Time?

KD: I started my business after seeing first-hand how music making with my children helped their language, concentration and overall development. No one in my local community was running music classes for the under-fives and I realised that parents didn’t have the confidence to sing or play simple percussion instruments with their children.

I always wanted to run my own business and suddenly I could see a real opportunity to get involved in my local community doing something I loved, while still being there for my young family. It ticked all the right boxes.


How has the company grown over time?

KD: With no business experience, I started Rhythm Time in Solihull in 1995 and franchised it in 2000. Since then I have expanded and now have 45 franchisees with more than 12,500 children enjoying the benefits throughout the country.

I have a fantastic group of franchisees who are passionate about delivering our quality courses to babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers in halls, nurseries, special needs groups and in retirement homes.


How important is music in enhancing the development of babies and toddlers?

KD: Music and singing is fundamental to every child’s development and over the past 15 years scientists have carried out research into the benefits of early music making. They’ve discovered that music engages all three ways of learning: auditory, visual and multi-sensory. In other words, music will give a child’s brain a developmental boost and is the key to unlocking full potential.

Every child is born musical and as a parent all you have to do is nurture this innate ability.


Looking back, how do you reflect on your studies at what was then the RSAMD?

KD: Being a student at the RSAMD was a wonderful experience for me and I felt so proud to be part of it. I remember trying to get there really early in the morning to book a practice room in the main building. I learned so much from the fantastic teachers who I really admired, and I am still friends with many of my fellow students.

Can you provide a rough timeline of your musical career after graduating?

KD: I graduated with a DRSAMD in 1974 then went on to Moray House to get my teaching diploma. I started teaching in South Queensferry High then moved back to Glasgow, becoming head of music in Lochend Secondary School.


How did your studies help equip you with the skills for the career which followed?

KD: My student days enriched my life and fuelled my love of music and singing. My studies taught me resilience and perseverance which has been beneficial for running a business, with all its challenges.


Bearing in mind your own entrepreneurial artistic path, what advice would you have for music students preparing to enter the industry today?

KD: Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s often through failure and setbacks that you learn the most so that you can go on to succeed.

When I was younger I never dreamed I would be running a successful business and it has been a fantastic journey.

Music changed my life and although my parents never had much money, it was the greatest gift they gave me.

You might also be interested in reading


An evening of Gaelic and Scots Song from the nation’s brightest new voices

A new song, written by one of Scotland’s leading traditional musicians, will be unveiled at a concert at RCS this week, which will showcase some of the nation’s brightest new voices. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Traditional Music department will stage A Showcase of Gaelic and Scots Song, an hour-long concert on Thursday 22 February