We were lucky to catch up with Steffany Butts-Boucher recently and have shared our conversation below.
Steffany, appreciate you joining us today. Parents can play a significant role in affecting how our lives and careers turn out – and so we think it’s important to look back and have conversations about what our parents did that affected us positive (or negatively) so that we can learn from the billions of experiences in each generation. What’s something you feel your parents did right that impacted you positively.
My parents Ron and Corinne Butts, greeted my interests like guests in our house. They offered me diverse experiences that supported my development: taught me how to live in and respect nature, while encouraging me to play with sound, connect with others and make art. They met me where I was and then added another step to the staircase. My interests ebbed and flowed throughout my life, but at at core my interests were always hinged to art and music. Eventually these interests deeply merged with my daily routine and making a living as a sound practitioner, meditation instructor and an artist.
My relationship with sound began probably before I was in elementary school. I grew up in Crete, Illinois where the land is flat, and lightening storms could be a bit tricky with bedrooms on the second floor. My parents would invite us down to the living room and we would each build a place to get comfy, with pillows and blankets, on the floor. We gathered our nests for the optimal view through the large picture window which looked out to what I had endeared as only the most magical forest ever. This forest still fuels my imagination, meditative and creative process.
My dad would put a record on and we would watch these spectacular lightening storms coordinate with the music. He had these round speakers and the sound would bounce around the room. The albums ranged from Mystic Moods Orchestra’s One Stormy Night to the Velvet Underground. As I watched this theatrical version of the forest, the trees and plants that were moving in the wind transformed into dancing silhouettes against the electric sky. These Silhouettes took the imaginative shape of other worldly beings, creatures or castles all choreographed to the album and supported by the booming sounds of thunder. I loved how I could feel the thunder through the floor and it would shake the windows a bit. It was through this activity, that my parents connected me to feeling the music of life. They also taught me how sound could embrace a storm and how challenges could become the kindling to fuel our creative process.
In school, my parents strongly encouraged me to study a musical instrument and to take art classes. In all honesty, I was very resistant to playing music; I loved music, but I was utterly shy and the idea of performing in front of others terrified me. Whereas, taking art classes was an absolute solace to me. I could disappear for hours working on paintings or drawings and it came very naturally to me as a solitary practice. So that was an interesting contrast to have two genuine interests one which challenged me to step into my fears in order to make progress and another which offered me respite from those same fears. I studied the clarinet in elementary school through high school. I learned how to read and compose music. I participated in solo recitals, band and orchestra until my senior year in high-school when I felt like I needed to make a choice and in that moment chose to direct the majority of my energy on art. I continued to study art through college and into grad school at Parsons School of Design in NYC. I learned through my connection to both art and music that growth is not always comfortable and stepping into our fears, within reason, is a very vital process for personal growth and empowerment.
As an adult, living in Brooklyn, my dear friend and neighbor Wally Witco offered to teach me how to play the accordion which I felt immediately energized by and drawn to. Wally demanded that I practice everyday and he would call me out when I did not. In the sticky NYC, summer nights, I would practice, under the Pulaski Bridge in Greenpoint. I loved feeling the vibrations of the accordion through my chest, I loved how this instrument breathed and my breath would sync with it; and the underside of the bridge would bounce the sound of the accordion around me. I was and am still fascinated by how sound can bounce off of objects and also move through us. And at this time I was very interested in the physicality of sound, how it felt and how to create those feelings. I began building experimental instruments and also built my own theremin in a suitcase. I reconnected with the solitary act of playing music and this time, it felt deeply meditative and healing. Wally helped reconnect me with my love of music and he became family to me.
My parents played a vital role in the course of my journey. They taught me to delve into my interests, to dream and to invest in both regardless of any challenge or fear. I also am honored to be able to see them walking their path of investing in their own interests and dreams. In my work as a sound practitioner I offer my clients an experience that reflects my sound story. Clients are offered a comfortable nest of blankets and pillows to lay in as I work with sounds that they can physically feel and atmospheric sounds that bounce around the room; and in the background a thunderstorm or nature sounds can be heard.
As my parents took the time to create a curated, tailored childhood for me, I create individual and small group sound sessions curated and tailored to my clients.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I am a certified sound practitioner, meditation instructor & artist. My practice Echo Studio is located in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
My business name Echo Studio comes from my childhood fascination with the reflection of sound waves off of a surface which return to us; and the symbiotic relationship we have to the messages we give ourselves and the world around us. The messages we put out in the world reflect back to us.
At Echo Studio I focus on meditation and individual to small group sound sessions tailored to each client. Each sound session is curated with a fusion of modalities including sound healing with theta music, meditation, aromatherapy, tapping, acupressure, reflexology and guided meditation. The instruments I use include tuning forks, weighted acupressure forks, Tibetan bowls, a gong and experimental instruments that I have built.
Solfeggio frequencies are utilized to attune the body at the molecular level, clear energetic blockages and rebalance the energetic system. Bilateral auditory stimulation, guided meditation and theta tuning provide a deeply relaxing experience. Bilateral auditory stimulation in sound therapy is a -left ear -right ear -left ear -right ear rotational pattern of listening to sound.
This pattern, created with a tuning fork, crossing over the corpus callosum alternately stimulating the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
My clients visit me for a variety of intentions. Some benefits of meditation and sound sessions may include improved focus – improved balance – stronger self compassion – and deep relaxation. I also teach meditation and art classes with Kreuser Gallery and Recover Simply at the Manitou Art Center. The art classes that I teach are focused primarily on processes that may feel meditative or relaxing while encouraging self expression through the development of artistic techniques. I have been teaching within the arts for more than twenty years and I love it.
Becoming a sound practitioner arose out of several experiences throughout my life: from listening to albums and watching lightening storms and studying music to healing from trauma myself. I first started practicing meditation and receiving acupuncture in 2001 as a way to manage my stress levels related to living in NYC during 9/11.
After moving to Colorado Springs, I started auditory EMDR therapy as I was experiencing ptsd when I would witness or hear low-flying planes. I personally felt that the EMDR process was very intensive, but highly beneficial. Through both meditation and EMDR, I was able to process the experiences and process what I was being triggered by instead of having an automatic reaction to the triggers; I felt in control again and it was empowering. When I reached this place, I expressed to my therapist that I feel that we have these experiences to assist others in empowering themselves. I asked her what modalities she felt may be a good fit for me to try and even study. Sound Therapy. As soon as she said the words, it clicked, and as soon as I tried a session, I fell in love. As a certified sound practitioner, I continually study to received certifications in additional modalities and to continue my education with sound towards my annual required CE’s.
What makes my practice something that I am deeply proud of and unique is the fusion of modalities, the individual focus and the time I am able to connect with clients before, during and after each session. I offer individual and small group sessions with limited numbers of participants to ensure that each person receives tailored attention. I also provide sound experiences and individual sessions at private, wellness-centered retreats; and my meditations have also been utilized in specific art exhibits and installations. Within each session, I teach clients meditation techniques and valuable resources to try on their own.
I have a deep love of science, music, art and the intersection of where science and soul unite!
Can you tell us about what’s worked well for you in terms of growing your clientele?
The most effective strategy in growing clientele I have found is through fostering connections with clients and community. Word-of-mouth referrals and testimonials from clients who have experienced your product or service are also deeply valuable.
Cross marketing with other businesses and practitioners is important in creating a strong relationship with community. Attending or volunteering at community events is a great way to meet people and connect. Offering gift certificates or products as door prizes and raffles for special events are also nice offerings. I also take time to learn about and try local businesses in town including restaurants, specialty shops and BnB’s. I keep business cards on hand to refer clients to the places I love and have my business cards at those locations as well. When I offer refreshments, I do my best to offer something special and local.
Networking with other practitioners and learning about their modality in depth through experiencing their sessions is also an important aspect of creating a strong referral service that both clients and practitioners can trust.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
When I decided to open my business it was in the midst of Covid. My current job was transitioning from a position that was on-site to remote. Shortly after I went remote, one of my favorite retail spaces in Manitou Springs, CO had opened up and was right next door to a dear friend’s business. I crunched numbers, I created a budget of projected expenses and gains, a budget of time. I looked at my savings which was really enough to cover the initial lease requirements on the space and I asked my friend if she needed help in her shop next door to generate another line of income. I decided if she said yes, then I was going to apply and hopefully sign the lease.
My whole being was on fire with this internal alarm of -now or never- and I was absolutely terrified. I learned to relabel this feeling as “exciting” and I felt stronger. I showed up every day, client or no client and put energy into my business. And while the level of excitement continued, the level of terrified and my relationship to that feeling shifted. My business broke even in the first month and was showing gains in the second. Once I felt steady, the road construction started outside of our businesses. I utilized a total of nine speakers to drown out the noise and I escorted clients across construction zones to their vehicles. I dreamed of a different space, quiet and with parking. And about a month before my lease was up, I was contacted by a stranger, who is now a friend: she was leaving her quiet studio with a parking lot and wanted to know if I was interested. I moved in.
Making it through the thick of covid, keeping clients happy, safe and navigating restrictions was challenging, but I learned so many valuable lessons along the way that I continue to benefit from and I am still truly excited every day.
- Website: https://www.echofrequencystudio.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/echohealingartsstudio
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EchoHealingArtsStudio