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Meet Ryan Bloom, Drum Instructor in Southeast

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Bloom.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started playing music in 5th-grade band in about 1995 and by 2007 I had my bachelor’s in percussion from CU Boulder. Right out of college I auditioned for the local band Havok and got in. Within a few months, we had already gone on tour a couple of times and attracted the attention of record labels. We ultimately signed with the UK’s Candlelight Records and put out a debut album. I left the band in 2009 but they’re still around and are probably one of the top 3 metal bands to come out of Denver, currently signed to Century Media. I left Denver altogether for three years while my wife went to graduate school in Washington, during which time I self-published my first book and started a drum teaching business. In 2013 I used my experience as a pro drummer and pro-teacher, and my music degree, to bring the business to the large market of Denver. I successfully built a solid reputation as a drum teacher and metal drummer pretty quickly. I joined the band Bloodstrike and we released a demo that almost immediately resulted in us getting signed to Redefining Darkness Records out of Cleveland for which we released two records in 2015 and 2017. In that same span, my book The Complete Double Bass Drumming Explained was picked up by Hudson Music, adding to my credentials. I used that as a jumping off point to market myself, and added to the success with another book, Live Drum & Bass, in 2018. This year I moved into a new studio, started working with a high school percussion ensemble, toured with another local band Immortal Sÿnn, and published a 3rd book with Hudson, Encyclopedia Rudimentia. The books really legitimize my ability to teach, the records and tours show off my ability to play, and my students get the benefits of both worlds.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Getting students to sign up without a store-front is tough these days. In the past private teachers mostly worked from home or they traveled to the students. Recently there has been a proliferation of private music schools that make independent teachers look somehow less legitimate. There’s nothing wrong with places like School of Rock, Guitar Center, or Swallow Hill, in fact, I worked at School of Rock Aurora for a while, but those types of businesses don’t necessarily offer the same product as private lessons from an indy teacher. They are often focused on performance groups and a specific curriculum, and they have stricter policies and rules, whereas indy teachers can be more flexible and serve students with other interests. Unfortunately, we don’t have giant signs, off-street parking lots, and professional receptionists and parents or prospective students see that as a negative or a strike against the business. The reality is that, since most of us teachers work in those larger businesses too, the quality is exactly the same! In fact, the overhead is lower so our prices are typically lower, and we keep all of it, so our take-home pay is higher. It’s a win-win to support a smaller teacher if you don’t actually want or need the services of a large school or music store. If you do need something only a larger business can offer, by all means, take advantage. Similarly, on the book publishing side, convincing a publisher that I have a worthwhile product is hard because I don’t have national name recognition. Same issue. They don’t see the product, they just see that I’m smaller. I did overcome that barrier, but it took several years to get a publisher to acknowledge me.

Ryan Bloom – Drum Instructor – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m known for teaching technique, especially double bass or double pedal technique. That makes me a great resource for aspiring hard rock and metal drummers. I teach Skype lessons sometimes to drummers in Europe or on the East or West Coasts of the USA and they specifically seek me out for my ability to explain metal drumming, speed, and double kick. There is also a trend right now for teachers to abandon fundamentals and go straight to the “fun stuff” and I kind of stay away from that mentality, meaning students who want a really well-rounded education with music reading, rudiments, and basic skills emphasized are likely to find my teaching very useful. Kids in school band or anyone wanting to go on to play at the college or pro level are really in need of those classical or rudimental skills that other teachers sometimes avoid. I’m great for that old school style where the student gets lifelong skills and not just entertainment.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is being able to pay for my daughter’s preschool and buy groceries. It would be unrealistic to think a musician, music teacher, or an instructional book author in 2019 will make a great deal of money. So as long as I’m getting a baseline level to live, I’m doing well. Ultimate success probably looks like a few hundred book sales per year (nobody buys books anymore), a full schedule of teaching each week (15-20 serious students), and the opportunity to do clinics, tours, or session work.

Pricing:

  • Pricing for quality music lessons start around $40 per hour in Denver and goes up from there

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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