Sometimes in life, you meet people under circumstances based on business, but life can turn all that around by putting all parties into situations where it becomes a matter of keeping one’s sanity as a team effort. A karmic connection, where without each other being part of the mix, neither would have come out as unscathed. Friendship can endure over the years, even with sizable brakes occasionally as a factor. The biggest lesson learned: Generosity, Kindness, and openness are all transferable qualities. It’s the essence of the idea “Be the change you want to see in the world,” and I think that a large part of my demeanor and the quality of my character was forged in my relationship with my friend, Pete.Read More
Years ago, I met a family while lingering around Guitar Center. I overheard them talking about buying a guitar setup for their daughter, and so I offered my card and we had a conversation. I started lessons with them shortly after meeting them and I worked with the daughter, Christine, for several years.
I learned early on that her mother had cancer, and that she was battling for her life, so her mom’s health was often a topic that I would check in on week to week as we worked. I would do my best to help distract her from the difficulty of the situation, while also flowing with the emotional shifts that were coming with the coping process. She was a very good student, and took to the guitar and singing with an open mind and great ease.
Sadly, sometime after we started lessons, her mom passed away. It was a heavy time in their house, and I did all I could to help Christine and her father feel supported by my presence.Read More
I first met the Vawters while leading a drum circle for the Freehold Special Scouts troop 454, where they earned the music merit badge.
The gig had resulted from a referral I had received from a woman I met at a different special needs drumming event that her child attends. So it was a nice little connection.
I met the father, Jamie Vawter and we talked about having me at his home to do private lessons and drumming for his family, which included his elderly mother, a delightful woman I might add, and his son Zach, who is 20 years old with low-verbal Autism.Read More
When it comes to building trusting and loving interactions with clients over the years, there is an openness that develops, a sense of safety that one can be themselves free of judgement or condemnation. I enjoyed this level of comfort with Becca, and one day when she came into her class she went quiet and kinda smirked as she said “Can I tell you something?”.. to which I of course said, “Sure, whats up?”, and that’s when she revealed her truth to me.Read More
One of the families I worked with very early on were the McDaniels. I taught DJ, the eldest son.
I first met him, and the family when I worked at Rising Star Music in Spotswood, New Jersey when I was a relatively new music teacher. I was probably about twenty years old, and so I was still able to age-relate easily to younger teens, since I wasn’t that far ahead of them life-wise. DJ was one of my guitar students, and when I eventually left the studio, he wanted to continue on with me privately, and so we worked together for several years to come. I might have been teaching him until he graduated high school, but I don’t remember that part exactly. Even after we stopped doing lessons, I would often see him and hang out, often at the gym, or at the mall.Read More
I started working with Paul and Mike Harry around 2017, and I started them off with a father-son lesson format, something we have maintained the whole time since. They both started together, and have grown as a duo of players ever since.Read More
When I think of large, tight-knit families, the Pepes and the Clarkes come right to mind for me. I taught six members of this family over the last ten years. I have basically taught all the kids, with the exception of one sister.
With the Pepes, I taught three out of four of the sons, Pat, Joe, and Gerard, and their father Jerry. They all dabbled with guitar, bass, piano, singing, some song-writing, and a whole lot of music theory. I taught them long enough to see them through middle school to college, and even a bit beyond.Read More
Over the years, I have been very close with the Melameds, a family I started working with in 2009 or so. I was Mike and Ethan’s first music teacher, and during our time working together I taught the boys guitar, bass, drums, piano, songwriting, theory, and about being a working musician. I had the guys take part in the various music talent showcases I hosted with my band Amber Blues, and they became friendly with other students, notably Matt and Paul Rose from Blog #1. In fact they are still friendly now, almost a decade later!!
The boys parents’ Ron and Cheryl were and are still so incredibly supportive of their ambitions, and pulled out all the stops to see that they were able to learn and develop with all the resources they could possibly need.
There is almost too much that can be said about how supportive this family is not only of their kids, but also of me, my endeavors, and others in the tribe. They come to the shows, buy the merch, offer opportunities for prosperity, and are some of the most accommodating folks you’ll ever meet.Read More
Story #2: The Old Woman
Many years ago, I couldn’t even begin to guess when, but I got a call from an elderly gentleman who inquired about lessons for his eighty-five year old wife who had always wanted to play music but surprisingly never had. So this was a special type of lesson, and my first of its kind at that time.
In total I think I met with her maybe five times before she called it quits, which is still incredible. I recall those lessons being unique in the challenges that were presented. He would set us up in the living room.It seemed like a nice little break for him, as I got the impression that with her somewhat rocky state of health was a lot for him. So I was able to provide her some entertainment and exploration, while providing him a bit of a bubble to relax in for a while. In this aspect, the sessions seemed to be beneficial to all.Read More
Working with families is one of the elements at the core of what I do as a music teacher, musician, and healer. In over my 20+ years of working in my business, I have encountered so many different family dynamics, and have been able to customize my services to best serve each one in ways that are of great mutual benefit. Not all of my clients are family based, but often they are. I provide services to families with special needs, with elderly and infant members, parent and child joint sessions, and I’ve even been able to provide support in times of death, medical urgency, birth, divorce, and of course, joy. This blog series will explore some of the various experiences that I have been privileged to have a role in regarding family dynamics.
Story #1: The Roses
In 2009, I started working with a family called the Roses. I was teaching two brothers, Paul and Matt. They were both fairly young, with Paul being a teenager, and Matt, a pre-teen…Read More