With the difficult times we are facing at the moment, it is the perfect time to try something new whilst you are forced to stay indoors and over the next couple of weeks we are interviewing acts that are putting on everything from projects to lessons. Today, we are talking to an Richard Burrell a music instructor in London who teaches both the guitar and the ukulele. Just like a lot of musicians his normal routine and work has had to be adapted to work in Lockdown situations. I caught up with Richard to talk about his online lessons and tutoring that you can also get involved with!
Hello there Richard tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hey, I’m a London based session guitarist/performer and also passionate teacher of music! I’ve been professionally composing/recording/performing and teaching for just over a decade now…and absolutely love it. I’m fortunate to have been part of some great shows at some amazing venues, including the Royal Albert Hall, O2 Academies and also have played live slots on Channel 4 and BBC Radio 2,4,6. After getting a little tired of the gig life, I’ve decided to focus more on teaching in the last few years and have really found it to be such an amazing and rewarding vocation.
Tell us how and why you started learning musical instruments?
My parents sort of forced me into learning. My two sisters both chose piano and absolutely hated it so I decided to opt for guitar. in the beginning, I also didn’t enjoy it at all and remember running away from my guitar teacher at school so I could play football instead! However, not giving up with it has turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.
Which Instrument do you prefer playing out of the guitar and ukulele and why?
Ukulele is a really fun and social instrument, but guitar has so many more options and tonal qualities so I’d have to pick that.
Tell us all about the project that you are bringing to the online world at the moment?
Like many self employed musicians, we have been forced to think differently about the way we perform, record and teach in this current climate. Zoom/Skype lessons were one of the first things I decided to start running. I was skeptical at first, but I’ve actually found them to just as beneficial as a face to face lesson. It’s a scary time for the world currently, but it is still possible to take some positives for those of us who are lucky to be in a position to do so. I’ve found that lots of my new students have taken to the guitar/ukulele incredibly well, as there is more time to focus…and less excuses to not practice!
What was the first songs that you played on the instruments?
I end up with quite a boring answer for this question, I started on classical guitar, so it was probably a finger exercise of some sort. On electric guitar however….DRUM ROLL PLEASE……Smoke on the water (sigh…)
Why is it good to learn musical instruments?
Aside from the obvious joy from being able to replicate or create music there are SO many other reasons to pick up an instrument. I’ve taught and worked with people who say it helps with stress/anxiety management, refining structure and routine, as well as a few amazing stories from people who are 70+ who have delayed memory loss or other conditions by picking up this new skill. If you just search what happens to your brain when you’re learning and playing music, it’s truly incredible.
If someone has no experience of playing an instrument can they still apply and get involved?
Absolutely, online lessons surprisingly still work great for complete beginners.
What times does it run throughout the day?
Lessons usually run throughout the day. Most people opt for after work slots, which means there tends to be more space in the daytimes or at weekends. But there are still a few weekday evening slots left!
How much does it cost , what platform etc?
Currently all lessons run on Zoom. I offer group classes as well as 1-1.
For a 1-1 class I charge £30 for 40 minutes or £40 for a full hour.
How has it been going so far?
Really fantastic. I always think we live in such annoying time in humanity where we can see the potential of technology and it sort of it works, but also sort of fails at the same time. But, it’s surprising how few technical slip ups I’ve had with the platform. As I mentioned previously the improvement of my students over this period has been amazing, probably due to the extra practice time they’ve had!
What’s the most important advice you have been given about learning a new instrument?
‘Little and often’ for practice, this is a proven method and also helps when your fingers start hurting! And ‘Slow and steady wins the race’, you have to be fairly strict with yourself at the start, being quite careful not to pick up any bad habits…they really do come back to bite you!
With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?
I truly believe that music spreads positivity and also gives some much needed escapism. I think now more than ever, both of these things are required to stay sane!
If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?
For professional/teaching enquiries, you can contact me via email at RichardBurrellMusic@gmail.com
If you just want to follow my music and hear my cheesy passion project of playing heart warming acoustic instrumentals, then any of the links below will work:
Finally why should people get involved?
If you feel like you have extra space for something in your life, then music should be the first pick! It’s truly an incredible lifetime pursuit…the amazing thing is that it’s very hard to go backwards, you constantly keep developing and improving. You’ll start appreciating and listening to music in new and exciting ways, as well as having an amazing hobby to enjoy and fall back on. Music is like an old reliable friend, always there whenever you need it