5 ways Music Lessons in Barrie Ontario just got different

Jul 20, 2021 10:02 PM

A story about how lucky I am to have found my calling in life

In 2003 I began teaching guitar at Cosmo Music. Back then, Cosmo was on Yonge st. in Richmond Hill. I remember my first lesson well. The rooms were barely large enough for 2 adults to sit in. No windows on the doors. The atmosphere was stale to say the least. Not to mention I was terrified and felt like a fraud. 

It took me 2-3 years to finally shake that feeling and start to develop a method and style that works not just for my students, but for my own personal teaching style. After 5 years with Cosmo, I made my way west to Vancouver, where I taught with Deep Cove School of Music from 2008-2011. I also began to teach privately out of my home studio in East Van. By the end of 2010, I was teaching 50 students a week and building a waiting list and a reputation. That is when I realized that the method I had created and developed over the past 6 to 7 years was not only working, but it was successful. 

in 2016 I returned to the place where I grew up, beautiful Barrie, Ontario. After taking some time to get our family established here (my partner Katelin Goheen is a local midwife, and we have three amazing children aged 6, 2 and not yet 1), I have returned to teaching music privately out of my home studio in Alladale (21 Tower cres), offering the music teaching method I've been using more than 15 years now. 

So, just what makes this method so successful and why do students seem to stick with my lessons? It is a question I've given a lot of thought to. I think there are 5 key reasons why my lessons are so popular with students, and I'll share them with you now.

    1. I take time to get interested in and learn about my students

    By learning my students musical interests, I can tailor the repertoire, technique and style of a students practice. So, you'll learn songs you enjoy, and you'll learn how to play them in a way that you enjoy. 

    2. I don't believe music is out of anyone's reach

    I've had so many students, particularly older students, who lament "I just don't have the ear for it" or "music doesn't run in our family". Neither of my parents played a musical instrument, and I didn't play an instrument until I was 14. If you want to learn to play, you can learn how to play. It takes time and practice. There is no such thing as a "natural musician" in my view. Only those who choose to put in the necessary work.

    3. I help take away some of the "mystery" behind music.

    I get it. Music seems INCREDIBLY daunting to the inexperienced musician. How in the world do you go from not knowing a B from a G to playing entire songs? I break down chord structures and scales into component parts, and for those students who are interested, I explain the physics/mathematics of music. When you peak behind the curtain you can see there is no Wizard of Oz, only a system of combinations that is actually pretty easy to learn.

    4. I teach my students to "jam" on guitar, piano, or bass

    I believe the goal for every musician should be to play with others. My students learn how to "jam" in their first year of lessons. If I have another student who shares similar musical sensibilities, I encourage a group lesson and show them how to play together, listen to each other and eventually start making music with one another. I reserve at least 5 minutes in every lesson for "jamming".

    5. I Love to teach music

    Plain and simple. Nothing gives me more joy than watching my students succeed. This past year I've had a 6 year old student learn to play John Lennon's "Imagine", a teenage student learn a huge chunk of Pink Floyd's entire catalog, and a 9 year old student learn the Super Mario theme. My students come in each week with excitement in their eyes and pride on their faces, and I know right away that it's going to be a good lesson. I love this feeling, and I want to share it. Hopefully I can share it with you too.

    Following these 5 tenets, and employing a few tricks and tips I've developed over the years has allowed me to become a very successful music teacher all these years later. And it's not just guitar this works for. I now teach this method on piano too, providing a completely unique piano lesson experience that is oh so different to the traditional model. Yes we will learn the all important basics of sight reading, music theory and the like, but we will do it in a way that is fun (trust me!) and helps students understand WHY knowing these things can help make you a lifelong musician. 

Being back in Barrie was important to us for a lot of reasons. We have a number of deep ties to the community (and it doesn't hurt to have Nana and Papa around!). I believe very much in community and I hope my students will be a part of that community that I am working towards building. Together, I hope we can put the Barrie music scene on the map! 

Thanks for reading my first blog entry, and I hope you'll consider reaching out if you have any questions:

Take care, and keep playing.


Modern Music Studio

111 Toronto st. Barrie, Ontario


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