The following article is an installment of our Faculty Spotlight series, which highlights the stories and experiences of Real School instructors.
Leighann Hodgkins interviews instructor Liam Bliven in this installment of the Faculty Spotlight Series. Liam teaches guitar lessons for beginners through advanced students. A diverse musician with a strong interest in music technology, Liam also teaches bass, ukulele, and audio production at Real School in Andover, MA.
Leighann: You're fairly new to Real School and we're really excited that you've joined us. When did you start playing and teaching guitar?
Liam: I started playing guitar when I was about 14 and I started teaching guitar around 1997 at a local music store after I got out of the Hartt School.
Leighann: Parents and students are often curious to learn more about our instructors. Tell me why you believe you'd be the perfect fit for a student.
Liam: Our students are here because they want to be here. My approach is to get to know them and find out their goals. I tend to tailor the lessons to their needs and whatever they want to learn, depending on their age and background. For kids, I have a method and approach where we're going to have fun and learn all of the basics. But for adults, I like to tailor it to their needs. My job is to help guide them to be able to teach themselves and to be self-directed at home.
Leighann: You also have a background in audio production and engineering. What inspired you to get into that?
Liam: Honestly, it was probably more of a back up plan (laughs)! But there is so much that you can do with it. It's a great practicing aid. I typically introduce a lot of this to my students and just let him know what they have access to it and how to use it.
Leighann: What kind of student can benefit from taking audio production lessons with you?
Liam: Singer-songwriters could benefit by learning to create their own demos. Also, students who are into hip-hop and who want to learn how to create beats. Really, all students can use these tools for themselves and their bands. I know for me personally, I would have loved to have this technology back in the day! There are great tools which are fairly easy to learn and fairly inexpensive.
Leighann: How has playing and teaching music made a positive impact on your life?
Liam: Playing and teaching have both been great. I think for most people who are musicians, playing music is just in your blood and it's what you do. As far as teaching, there's nothing greater than seeing a student make progress. It definitely has a lot of personal satisfaction. In the beginning, it took a little while to get used to, but then I just really started to develop a passion for it. I know I'm actually making a positive difference.
Leighann: Why did you decide to join the faculty at Real School, and what do you like best about it?
Liam: It's basically got the whole package, and I especially like the ensembles. In places where I've taught before, I've always tried to do ensembles and bands, and it's been difficult due to space issues. But I feel that playing in a band is important to utilize the material you're learning in your lessons. Not all students want to do it, and that's fine, but I encourage them to try because I know how much they will benefit from it. And it's not just about improving as a musician. Being in a band and performing can help kids come out of their shell and develop social skills.
Leighann: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
Liam: I'm a musician 24/7! I don't like to think of myself as that one-dimensional, but I'm always doing something with music, whether it's drums, bass, or guitar. I'm really active playing in my church band. I also love hanging out with my friends and just having a good time.
Leighann: It's been having a great getting to know you better! Your a great addition to Real School!
Liam: Thanks! I'm excited to be here and look forward to big things to come.
If you'd like to study guitar, bass, ukulele, or audio production with Liam, or if you're just looking for more information, sign up for a free trial lesson or contact us in Andover at (978) 475-1223.
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