Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music


A Gift to our Community that Keeps on Growing

By Kelly Murphy-Redd, CEcd

Marlayna Goosby, founder and director of Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music uses her gift to grow the gifts of others.

Born in Louisiana and a military “brat,” Marlayna lived in England, Alaska and Alabama before moving to Fort Walton Beach in 1995. Her father was Command Chief at Hurlburt Field and her husband is a retired reservist Chief Master Sergeant from Duke Field.

She attended Fort Walton Beach High School and was appointed to the All-County Honor Band all four years and the Florida All-State Honor Band one year. Marlayna received a music scholarship to the University of Southern Mississippi. As First Clarinet in the university symphony, Marlayna played alongside Doc Severinsen and the original cast of Les Miserable and graduated with a degree in music.

Marlayna has wonderful memories of her 32 years as a musician. She remembers practicing in her basement, on a stool, on the concrete floor when she was very young, and being taken to group lessons in Anchorage, Alaska when it was ten to twenty degrees below zero. She lights up when talking about playing in the Viking Band at Fort Walton Beach High School under the tutelage of Mr. Randy Folsom and Mr. Ernest Hebson, who still mentor her today. Marlayna insists the years spent with these gentlemen also helped make her and her fellow students into good adults.

Coming home from college, Marlayna worked as a mail clerk at Troy University, and after five years, she moved up to academic advisor. She was the grants director for the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast and the Director of Academic Advising and Testing for Northwest Florida State College. Marlayna began playing with the Emerald Coast Community Band in 2017.

Deciding to begin teaching music lessons in her home, she grew the number of students to 23 and had a waiting list of 11 students.

The next decision was to expand. She prayed and began working with a realtor to find an appropriate space to rent. Every location they looked at had daytime businesses next door that might not appreciate the music all day. She needed a stand-alone building. The realtor suggested they look at a building on Beal with road frontage. It turned out to be the building Marlayna took music lessons in when she was younger!

Marlayna and her husband worked day and night to paint the purple walls and grind down the orange concrete floors. The renovation was a labor of love. Starting small, Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music opened on May 6, 2019, with one employee. In October 2021, they outgrew the space and found a new location in Harbor Village on Beal.

Since opening its new location, Grow Your Gift has served 300 students per week in the building and through community partnerships such as the Montessori Learning Center, Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast, Choctaw High School, Meigs Middle School, Sinfonia Gulf Coast Youth Orchestra, St. Mary’s Middle School, Shoal River Middle School, Davidson Middle School, Ruckel Middle School, and Liza Jackson Preparatory School. Playground Music donated 20 instruments to help the outreach to the Boys and Girls Club through the Full Circle Foundation.
Grow Your Gift PicMarlayna created the Full Circle Foundation to provide scholarships to students who need access to music education but do not have the ability to pay. With community help, she raised $20,000 in two years.

Grow Your Gift is built on the vision of being the preeminent music institution in the community and that healing comes through music. Students can find their unique voice, gain confidence and self-esteem, and unleash their creativity. Friendships are built through group lessons because Grow Your Gift emphasizes collaboration, making sure the students get to know each other. Students share in the community through performances, learn new concepts, engage in peer-to-peer mentoring, and are held accountable because the group depends on each other. Grow Your Gift provides a high level of service, organization, and commitment.

The conservatory teaches 15 different instruments to students from six months old to 74 years old. There are 16 employees who are all musicians and Marlayna’s entire family are musicians.

An ardent proponent of music as an instrument to change lives, Marlayna shares her own daughter’s experience. Kilaya was struggling academically and had low self-esteem. When she started playing the trombone in the fifth grade, she blossomed, finding an outlet for her creativity and personality.

Marlayna says adult students feel they are finally doing something for themselves and are proud they can learn something new later in life.

There are two major performances each year in the spring and at Christmas. There are other smaller performances throughout the community. Recently, the students were invited to perform at The International Festival and Military Appreciation Day. The most dedicated students have the opportunity to participate in these performances.

Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music offers private lessons, group lessons, and summer camps. The Summer Music Camps include a Broadway production of The Little Mermaid, Jr. with a cast of kids from the Emerald Coast, an Irish fiddling camp, a drumline camp, a kids’ piano camp, and a piano camp for adults to learn to play during their lunch break. Registration is taking place now.

Growing the gifts of students of all ages and seeing the positive impact is a wonderful gift in itself for Marlayna Goosby. She isn’t going to rest on her laurels. She has plans to expand even more and continue to grow your gifts.

For more information call (850) 483-0800 or go to