“Natural talent is overrated!” exclaimed Ryan Fleming when asked the most important lesson he learned from his music teachers. He added, “The time and effort you put into learning something—not your innate gifts—determine how successful you’ll be at it.”
Ryan has been a guitar, ukulele, and piano instructor at Centre Music House since 2003. During this time, his teaching experiences confirmed this lesson learned as a student. He has seen students of all levels of natural ability. He shared “My most successful students aren’t necessarily the most gifted, but they practice almost every day and know it will pay off.”
As a child, Ryan found himself enthralled with the music that reverberated throughout his home. He was introduced to a wide variety of music by his parents, neither of whom were musically inclined. “Music was all around me at home growing up,” recalled Ryan. “My parents aren’t musicians, but they played music constantly at the house and in the car and my ears just grabbed onto it.”
The first to pick up an instrument in Ryan’s family was his older brother, a highly accomplished musician. From a young age, he was extremely influential on Ryan. With his parents sharing their love of music and watching his older brother make music, Ryan decided to try his hand at violin and guitar. Says Ryan about this time: “I didn’t take many guitar lessons when I was young, but I took violin lessons for a few years from a wonderful, kind teacher. I think about him often when I teach.”
As a young guitar student, he found the full-size guitar to be a bit too unwieldly. “I was too small to comfortably hold a guitar, so I started on baritone ukulele—it’s similar to guitar and was easier to play.” He experienced a completely different challenge later on after learning some songs. Ryan adds,“Another difficulty was finding other people to play with—I’m glad there are now more opportunities like the Centre Music Rock Band Adventure programs for young musicians to meet one another.”
All these experiences provided Ryan with much to draw from as a music teacher. As an instructor, he shared that “one-on-one lessons create an interpersonal rapport between a student and instructor that’s crucial for learning music.” With the internet providing competing instructional material, Ryan is concerned about the lack of feedback provided to budding musicians. Private lessons let teachers and students “talk and share questions and answers in a way that can’t be duplicated in a non-interactive online lesson.”
In addition, he is “especially concerned about students developing a strong sense of rhythm—I think it’s the most important aspect of being a musician. My job is to help students learn the music they like, whatever the style, including their own music if they’re songwriters. I try to expose them to new music and help them develop their tastes.”
Learn to play “Happy ‘Birthday” with Ryan!
Ryan has been a mainstay at Centre Music House for well over a decade. What keeps him at 18 Main Street after all these years? “Centre Music House has a well-earned reputation as a wonderful place to study music. The Larsons and the rest of the staff have spent years building a business based on honesty and integrity. It feels like a second home to me.”
If you’d like to catch Ryan performing live, he shared,“My main public performances are with my acoustic duo, The Two-Timers ( thetwotimers.com). We currently play in places like Worcester, Gardner and Leominster, but we hope to play closer to Framingham soon so more people can check us out. I’m also the musical director of a wedding band called Boss, so if your friend’s getting married perhaps you’ll see and hear me there!”
For more information about lessons at Centre Music House, visit us here.