Missouri music teacher helps clients find their voice

Plenty of entrepreneurs like to think of their business as one of a kind, but for Dr. Heather Nelson it might actually be true.

Heather owns Heather Nelson Studio in Springfield, Mo. Heather’s unique musical training certainly qualifies her as a piano and vocal teacher, but she primarily works with those suffering from vocal injuries. While her typical clients range from novices to professional vocalists, Heather also provides vocal regimens and techniques to those who have damaged their vocal cords or been diagnosed with nodes or polyps to help them sing again.

Before she started her business, Heather spent a lot of time in school. She has a bachelor's degree in music business from Southwest Baptist University, a master's in vocal performance from Truman State University, a master's in vocal pedagogy from Missouri State University and a doctorate in vocal pedagogy and music education from the University of Kansas.

“I was one of the first five people to graduate from the University of Kansas with a doctorate in my field,” Heather says. “And it’s the only university in the country offering this specific program.”

While working toward her doctorate, Heather focused on the detailed study of the anatomy and physiology of the voice. She completed an extensive clinical training program with a laryngologist in Kansas City and worked as part of the practice’s voice care team to develop and implement treatment plans for singers and professional voice users. Heather continues this work today as a singing voice specialist in the Springfield area, where she is also very involved with her community, serving as Director of Worship at First Baptist Church in Republic, Mo., and as an instructor at Play and Sing His Praises Academy.

Unfortunately, Heather has struggled to get her business off the ground, mostly due to her student debt and a lack of capital investment. She is, however, able to afford health insurance for the first time thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and is singing the law’s praises. (To learn more about healthcare options for your small business, check out our Health Coverage Guide.) 

“I’m a success story for the ACA marketplace, as I was previously uninsured for ten years,” she said. “Now I can afford a plan with money left over to invest in my business and continue my research and education, which is very important to me.”

Despite some challenges, Heather is headed for international renown. She has presented her research in voice science at over a dozen national and international conferences, and she plans to travel overseas to become an international solo artist, which will help her in her end goal of becoming a world-renowned specialist in her field.

“I’m glad that I’ve been able to use my research to help people get back to doing what they love—singing. And I hope to grow my business so I can bring these recovery techniques to as many people as possible.”

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