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April 2016

What Do You Do?: Sandra Kilpatrick Jordan

From the April 2016 issue

by Geoff Giordano

JOB TITLE: Owner, Sandra Kilpatrick Jordan Consulting
WHAT SHE DOES: Plans and develops education programs for music and the arts

WhatDoYouDo-SandraKilpatrickJordan

Music industry consultant and communications expert Sandra Kilpatrick Jordan uses her skills as a writer, speaker, and networker to help forge relationships between educators and people in the music business.

As the owner of her own company, Jordan often finds herself working on many different projects for different clients, and music is often at the forefront of her assignments. Her skills as a writer and businessperson—combined with her musical knowledge—go back to her school days, when she started planning her future career. “I knew I wanted a creative profession and I loved writing poetry,” Jordan says. In college, she studied creative writing and education, but realized she “wasn’t drawn to an academic life.” Her studies did, however, “lead to 12 years writing and producing [educational materials] for Sesame Street,” she says. She later worked on music education programs at NAMM (the National Association of Music Merchants). “This allowed me to refine my leadership skills” and learn more about working with non-profit organizations.

Her track record at those companies, and the relationships she’s made over the course of her career, have helped Jordan find a wide range of clients for her own business, which she founded in 2001. Since 2014, Casio America has been among her largest accounts. She helps the company’s Electronic Musical Instruments division work with educators to bring its keyboards into schools. “I work with music administrators, dealers, and nonprofits to help remove the barriers to a child’s access to a quality digital piano.”

Her “typical” workday routine is anything but typical. Though her base is in Lancaster, Pa., she often travels and works remotely. “I have to be ready to adapt to other time zones,” Jordan says. “I may be working with people in New York, Sydney, or Stockholm. Today I’m inviting music conservatory faculty to events in San Francisco and Dallas. I’m proofreading the invitations and formatting the names and addresses so the printer can produce the labels.” That particular workday also included conversations with non-profit organizations to help raise money for musical instrument donations, research into crowd-funding as a source for scholarship money, and more. “I’m also getting ready to sell a children’s animated TV series to a national distributor for one of my clients,” she says.

It’s no accident that Jordan has found a market for her creative, communication, business, and organizational skills in the music business. “Musical notation was my first written language,” she says. “My mother was a clarinetist and choir director, my oldest brother is a professor of lower brass, my ex-husband is a jazz musician, and our daughter is a singer-songwriter, private music teacher, and author of a children’s book series about music. I studied piano, clarinet, bassoon, guitar, and sang in the choir. I was always the first-chair clarinet, but I really love to harmonize—which is an apt metaphor for my work as a leader whose job is often to enhance other voices.”

The keys to success as an independent consultant, Jordan says, are to be self-disciplined, upbeat, and approachable. “It’s important to maintain positive daily contact with each client so that they always feel as though they’ve made a great investment by hiring me,” she explains. “As an independent, you can never afford to simply rest on your most recent home run. I make sure my clients know I have their best interests at the forefront of everything I do.”

Ultimately, to succeed in a self-directed career, she says, “you have to be willing to put your ego aside and see what opportunities may be presenting themselves. Be true to your roots, be humble, take your time, and be prepared for that moment when you are asked to step up to the plate in a new way. You can make a lasting contribution wherever you find yourself.”