5 Steps of Design Thinking: How We Put Students First

At its core, Design Thinking is a problem-solving process that begins with the needs of the user. Here at Music Junkie Studios, we use Design Thinking to empower our students to take control of their education and create a learning experience that is tailored to their individual needs.  You’ll probably hear us around the studio talking about “Student-Led Customization.” This is just our special music/education word for Design Thinking! Keep reading to learn more about how we use Design Thinking in our school and how you can apply this process to your own life.

Design Thinking Step 1: Empathize

The first step in Design Thinking is to empathize with the user. This means putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their needs from their perspective. In our case, the user is the student and we need to deeply understand their unique needs, strengths, and challenges in order to provide them with a customized learning experience. 

We facilitate empathy-enabling conversations and experiences with students in a variety of ways. In fact, MJS instructors engage in this process regularly with students, beginning with the very first lesson, where students work through a student profile with their instructors. This profile consists of questions about each student’s personal interests, goals, educational needs, and preferred support methods. By listening to our students, we can see how they are experiencing the learning environment. 

Design Thinking Step 2: Define

Once we have a good understanding of the student’s needs, we can define the problem that we are trying to solve. In our case, we want to provide each student with a personalized music learning plan that meets their individual needs. That starts with proper goal setting. We help our students to verbalize, focus, and prioritize their goals, then we assist them in writing them down.  

Keeping documentation of your clear, concise goals is an important step in actually making progress towards those goals. It also really helps to serve as a compass for lessons, ensuring students and instructors don’t get carried away with the wind of a passing idea and instead, stay on course with the student’s goals. 

Design Thinking Step 3: Ideate

The next step is to come up with ideas for how you can solve the problem. This is where we get creative and think outside the box. In our case, we use a variety of methods to customize each student’s learning experience, beginning with our signature ADVANCE process. I created this process directly from what I’ve learned in my many years of practicing Design Thinking. I’ve seen that it’s extremely effective in helping my instructors assist students in setting and achieving exciting, realistic, and challenging goals. The steps of this process are Assess, Decide, Validate, Acquire, Nourish, Cement, and Evolve.

design thinking cardboard box with brain and idea inscriptions
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

Design Thinking Step 4: Prototype

The fourth step is to create a prototype of your solution. This helps you to test your idea and make sure it will work in practice. In our case, we start by making a Level Up plan that includes goals, desired outcomes, strategies, and milestones. Then we put the plan into practice in the lessons. Over a timespan, which is specifically defined in the plan, they can give the plan their best efforts and spend time seeing how the program works for them. 

Design Thinking Step 5: Test & Scale or Scrap

The final step is to test your solution on a small scale and then either scale it up or scrap it altogether depending on the results. In our case, we continuously assess each student’s progress and adjust their individualized program as needed so they can reach their full potential. Once we find learning strategies that work well for the student, we can turn the volume up and accelerate progress! If we see that something isn’t working, we’ll take the time to Scrap that approach, communicate with the student, and start again with ideation! 


Design Thinking is a powerful problem-solving tool that begins with the specific needs of the user. These five steps are an iterative process of invention, reflection, and re-creation. Maintaining this as an iterative process not only improves overall quality of results, but improves the likelihood of achieving bigger goals. 

Music Junkies use Design Thinking to put students first and provide them with a personalized learning experience. We see students taking greater ownership over their learning and our educators increasingly collaborating and communicating with each other and their students. If you want to learn more about how we use Design Thinking in our school, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us today.

Read the previous blog

Growing Your LOVE of Music | Cultivating Interests | Expanding Understanding | Honing Skills

Music Junkie Studios  location: 1701 Enderly Place Fort Worth, TX 76104  phone: (682) 499-5732 email: musicjunkiestudios@gmail.com

Find Out More About Our 1-on-1 Music Lessons Here

Piano Lessons Voice Lessons Guitar Lessons Bass Lessons Drum Lessons Violin Lessons Ukulele Lessons Songwriting Lessons Home Recording Lessons BANDS

We fully customize all Music Lesson instruction because:

  1. We value about who you are as an individual
  2. We care to know what you need to succeed & have fun while doing it
  3. We care about your goals and interests
  4. We know one-size-fits-all programs don’t work

Ready to get started with Music Lessons at MJS? 

Amazing! We can’t wait to welcome you. Just click here to sign up online  🙂

Copyright Music Junkie Studios October 2022 – Kristi Judd

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.