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Inspiring Conversations with Ryan Blakemore of Blakemore School of Music

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

Hi Ryan, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago as the fifth of seven kids. My mom made me start piano lessons at age 11 despite my interest in percussion (mostly beatboxing). I began playing hymns in church at age 13 and went to Clearwater Christian College to study music. During my time at CCC, I started to take my relationship with God seriously, and Christianity became my faith and not just my family’s faith. My professor recommended that I audition for graduate school, and I wound up at FSU to study piano pedagogy. My two years in Tallahassee were incredible, both musically and spiritually. Many loving and generous people mentored me, and I had a solid friend group of Christian musicians. I started a DMA in Piano Pedagogy at USC in Columbia, SC, but chose not to finish and moved to Orlando. One of my FSU friends also moved to Orlando that same year, and after we started attending the same church, I got up the courage to ask her out. Lydia and I were married in 2014, and in 2015 we founded the Blakemore School of Music. Since 2015 our student body has grown to 60+, and we are passionate about providing the highest quality musical education to our students. We are privileged to be part of so many families musical journeys. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Many musicians finish (or leave) graduate school without job offers, and for those with any debt, the music life can be challenging. By God’s grace, we are debt-free and have been able to make a living doing what we love. Covid was a little tricky, but our families showed their resilience, and we did online lessons for a few months. 

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My wife Lydia and I are the owners and teachers at the Blakemore School of Music in Winter Springs. We teach piano lessons and group music classes to 60+ students from preschool-adult. Many of our students complete performance and music theory assessments with the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. We offer our students the chance to perform in competitive events and community recitals and we have in-house events like an annual piano technique competition and master classes with a university professor. One cool thing we do is hire a violinist and cellist during the summers and have a special recital for our students to perform piano trios. Some of the students play classical music trios by Dvořák, Mendelssohn, etc., and some perform popular music arranged by The Piano Guys. Sometimes I write an arrangement if there is no sheet music for a particular piece. 

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
We love our students and are so proud of all their hard work. It’s great to show up to a venue like a library or shopping mall, or hospital and see them all in their BSM t-shirts with smiling faces and eagerness to perform. Over the years, we have seen our school spirit and camaraderie increase as the students become friends. 

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