Is it Worth it? : Teaching Music Through the Back Door
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Brett Ridgeway
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Is it Worth it?

by Brett Ridgeway on 06/23/15

First of all, I want to explain a few things about me personally. I love music…and more than listening to it, I love making it. I love traditional instruments…the history…the music and emotions they evoke. Music is far more than a hobby for me…music is my life. I used to teach at the former GitterPicker String Factory in Twinsburg, Ohio.  I spent my working days surrounded by music, by instruments, and mostly as a teacher. I would spend hours with my students teaching a variety of instruments all day long. And after work, when I got home, kicked off my shoes, had dinner, I spent my evenings relaxing…playing music. It’s my life and passion.

I also love teaching. I actually love teaching this music more than performing it. I’ve taught students from age three to one student at around 90 years old. If I were self-sufficient, I have often said I would teach my music free-of-charge. But there is value to what I do. Don’t get me wrong. I HAVE taught numerous students free-of-charge, and, when it is laid on my heart, will continue to do so. I have free lessons on my site…no charge…no gimmick…lessons than take me hours of preparation and my wife hours of editing and publishing. But sometimes, you just give back…and need to give back.

Taking what you love, and turning it into a business is a tricky balance. I once offered the members of a church I attended free lessons to anyone who might be interested. What I found, is that because it is free, out of five or six students participating, only one was faithful and actually continued. She even used her music on a regular basis and played regularly in church every Sunday.

When I was a teenager, I wanted banjo lessons. My parents wouldn’t pay for a banjo or for lessons because I was one of those kids who quit everything he started. So I got a job. I bought my first banjo from a Service Merchandise store, which some of my readers will remember. And I paid for every lesson myself. And no one ever told me to practice. It had value to me. I worked for it. I paid for it. Just a few years ago, when visiting with my folks, my mother apologized that they had not paid for those lessons. I laughed and told her I really never thought about it in that they made me do it myself…but I am glad they did. And since then, I have worked and paid and worked…I have invested much of my life in music, far beyond any financial measure.

I have been fortunate enough to try and make a living out of what I love.  Some people teach…on the side. They have full-time jobs and teach for some extra cash. Others work part-time…and still others are retired. But myself, like many others, teach and perform full time. It’s our “paycheck”. It’s our income.  It’s a lot of work…and it has value.

Comments (2)

1. Tim said on 6/24/15 - 07:51AM
Excellent read, excellent attitude!
2. Tish Westman said on 6/26/15 - 08:15AM
Yes Brett, It is Worth it! As you know, my life is all about music as well. Play it, teach it, build it and play it some more. And yes, it is worth it!

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