In the first of a series that will appear exclusively for Ball-Buster Music, “The Count of Rock” goes behind the scenes in what promises to be a most revealing and compelling look at other elements within the Music Industry!
For many Musicians, performing in front of a live audience is the ultimate high which goes hand in hand with recording and touring. But what about passing your skills and musical knowledge onto others as a Teacher?
Recently I had the privilege to sit down with Carmen Lamont who not only is the Guitarist of The Bleeding Lights (one of the most promising Bands to emerge from Canada in quite some time) but also a respected and most sought out Instructor based at RockPro Music Centre in Mississauga, Ontario who is fiercely dedicated to her profession.
Mark St. John: Carmen, the first question I would like to ask is what made you decide to become a Guitar Teacher?
Carmen Lamont: I started teaching when I was 24 years old to supplement my income. As I had no prior experience as an Instructor, I began with having only 2 or 3 Students.
MSJ: Are you a self-taught Guitarist or did you have an Instructor?
CL: I started as being self-taught, but as time went on, I begged my Parents to have me study with an Instructor due to the fact I believed it would enhance my skills and help me progress further as a Guitarist by taking one on one lessons with a professional Teacher / Musician. I was one of those “Dream Students” (LOL!) that every Teacher wishes for because of my enthusiasm for the Guitar and I was determined to soak up every possible detail about it. Studying and practicing various musical styles over the years has proven to be beneficial because I’ve adapted their techniques to my own which has only strengthened my performance both on stage and in the studio.
MSJ: Please tell me about the rewards of teaching guitar and what challenges do you face regarding your Students?
CL: I love what I do and being happy rubs off on my Students. Whenever I show up at work, I always have a smile on my face. Soon as the kids see me and go “Hey Carmen!” I can genuinely feel their love and enthusiasm reflected towards me. Not only does it make me feel great about my profession as a Teacher / Musician, but on a personal level also. Occasionally I do face challenges — for example, a Student who is not taking lessons on their own accord and placed in that situation by their Parents for their reasons. Another problem has a Student who genuinely loves music and wants to learn how to play the guitar, but due to the amount of practice involved -on top of their regular school work, they feel overwhelmed and begin to lose interest. In both cases, I do my best to encourage them in every way possible. Talking and listening to my Students is very important because that’s how I can pinpoint the roadblocks which are preventing them from realizing and fulfilling their musical potential. Fortunately, I seem to have a knack in bringing the best out of my Students -regardless of their age group, once they’ve understood my philosophy that learning the guitar is fun and there is no extreme pressure applied from my end.
MSJ: Continuing the topic of the challenge, what is the most challenging aspect of balancing teaching with performing?
CL: Scheduling. That is without a doubt the harshest challenge I face daily. It’s complicated to balance teaching on top of performing my shows along with rehearsing and recording with my full-time band The Bleeding Lights. However, self-discipline and dedication to the art of music come through!
MSJ: Let’s talk about RockPro Music Centre where you teach. I don’t think there’s ever been a unique music school quite like this.
CL: You’re right about that! Cliff Callaway founded and built RockPro Music Centre on the philosophy that everyone should be free in learning a musical instrument regardless of age and on their terms. We offer a Rock Band program in which we assist Students who are ready to step up to the next level with developing their image and song-writing techniques before hitting the stage for the very first time. Another program that we are very proud of is Rock Awareness Against Bullying which reminds others that music is the common ground which unites people and brings happiness. Teaching wise, RockPro has a very casual environment which is a departure from the traditional Music Schools. My fellow Instructors and I don’t believe in enforcing harsh strictness upon our Students because we want them to enjoy learning and build enthusiasm for their chosen instrument. However, we’ll always remind them to focus and keep practicing.
MSJ: The legendary Les Paul once quoted the following; “A guitar is something you can hold and love, and it’s never going to bug you. But here’s the secret about the guitar -it’s defiant. It will never let you conquer it! The more you get involved with it, the more you realize how little you know.” Would you agree?
CL: Absolutely. I’ve owned numerous models and brands of guitars in my lifetime, and there have been moments when I struggled in getting the desired sound out of them. Overcoming the guitar’s resistance is only temporary because just when you thought you had the answer, it changes the question!
MSJ: So, what have The Bleeding Lights been up to since their last appearance in Ball-Buster Music this past October?
CL: We’ve received some great feedback from our lyric video for “Faith and Fail” and hope to build upon that momentum with our upcoming EP that is currently being recorded with Mike Borkoski handling the production duties. Once it’s finished and released to the public, we have every intention of going on tour in Spring 2019. Not only do we plan on booking gigs in Clubs, but we also wish to launch a promotional blitz with every College Radio Station that currently have one of our other songs entitled “Skin and Bones” in heavy rotation with a live, in-studio appearance.
MSJ: In closing what advice could you offer a Musician who is considering the possibility of becoming a Teacher?
CL: Keep an open mind and explore the music today’s youth are into. Talk to your Students and listen to what they have to say instead of dismissing their suggestions or concerns about learning whatever instrument you’re teaching them. But most of all, remain focused and happy!
Carmen Lamont: firstname.lastname@example.org
RockPro Music Centre: email@example.com