Guitar teacher Ryan has been a part of the Greensleeves team for just about one year. He teaches many students throughout the area, particularly in West Chester, Kennett Square, and southern Chester County. Ryan is also a student at the University of Delaware and an active performing musician. We asked him some questions about his personal pursuits, inspirations, and beliefs - read what he had to say, and view a video of him performing live - below!
1) What are you up to this summer, musically and otherwise?
This summer I've been lucky enough to spend a bunch of time playing with my 3 piece band (called The Vodka Moms) all across Delaware as well as performing by myself. The three of us have been band-mates and best friends for years, and I know that I have music itself to thank for so many amazing experiences with and without an instrument. In my free time when I don't have a guitar in my hands, I've got an impressively average volleyball serve, I like to read (I'm currently working on Siddhartha), and I try not to get too upset when the Orioles lose again.
2) What are your musical inspirations and favorite musicians?
I've had a series of favorite musicians in my life, but I think that my absolute favorite music is from John Mayer simply because of his guitar playing. His pop songs are good, but I enjoy his style of guitar particularly due to his blues and jazz influences. I always like to be challenged by listening to and learning new things on the guitar, and his music among many other great artists helps me to feel inspired and energized about music.
3) What beliefs do you have about music and musicianship?
I believe that anyone can be a musician at any level, regardless of age or experience. That is not to say that all the hard work involved comes easy, but that's just what it is: hard work. It CAN always be done and it is always within reach. We can always become better musicians than when we woke up in the morning and a dedication to bettering yourself is important, but what is even more important for me to remember is that music should ALWAYS be fun. If you can't enjoy it, what's all that hard work for? Even when playing a very serious or difficult piece that required great concentration, I find that there is a certain enjoyment even from that kind of intensity.
While long term goals are key to strong dedication, I do not think that a student should strive for some unattainable goal like becoming the greatest guitar player ever because that's almost an impossible goal, so how will you know when you've achieved something? I believe that every person on the planet should strive to become the musician they want to be, whether that truly means becoming the greatest guitar player ever, being able to strum some chords, or nothing at all. I also try to remember that as musicians, we are going to play a lot of notes in our lifetime and that "messing up" or missing one or two is in fact not the end of the world. For this reason I try to keep my lessons laid-back and fun but still very focused. In short, music is about fun for me and that fun includes personal relationships, the simple beauty of creating something, and even all the hard work that is involved.
4) What are your musical goals and/or upcoming endeavors?
I'd like to play music for my entire life if I can, whether its for a performance or not. Next summer my band-mates and I will be extremely busy, so we are definitely looking forward to that as well as the few months of solo acoustic performances until then. The band has a song on Spotify already, one recorded and ready for release, and a few projects on the way. Our next song is being released in October and we're excited to share it with the world!
5) What do you like about teaching music?
Since I never had guitar lessons growing up, I know what it's like to have 10,000 questions and no-one to ask them to. I enjoy helping others in general, but helping to connect people with something as powerful as music is very special for me. I've been helping to coach Legion Baseball (another passion of mine) in Delaware for this same reason, and watching someone's growth and the pleasure they get out of that growth makes me a happy person!
Here’s a video of Ryan’s band The Vodka Moms performing, “Twist and Shout” - enjoy!
Thank you Ryan!