Category: Student Success Stories Archives - Jim Bowley

October 28, 2016

Reflections on a Six String Life

Relections on a Six String LifeA young man named Brian Gatheru recently found me online and wanted to ask some questions about guitar for a school research project. The interview focused on my beginnings as a guitarist, the learning process, the timeline involved, and continuing education.

As I answered his questions, I had a nice little trip down memory lane to when I began and what my life – my “Six String Life“, as I like to call it – has been like since I decided to devote myself to this great instrument.

I’ve posted the questions and answers below for your reading pleasure. If you’ve got some playing experience, you may see yourself in some of my answers. If you’re relatively new to guitar studies, then maybe my answers will give you some perspective or even something to shoot for. (more…)

April 3, 2013

Student Success Story: Jeff Gover

It’s not every day that you get to brag about one of your students being accepted to Berklee College of Music. But today is that day for me.

One of my hardest-working pupils, Jeff Gover, was accepted to the prestigious music school in Boston, MA. He couldn’t be more excited and I couldn’t be prouder or more excited for him. He’s put in a tremendous amount of time and effort working toward this goal and it’s paid off big time!

Jeff’s musical journey has been an interesting one. I first met him when he auditioned for the vacant guitar spot in the teen band I directed, Cryin’ Out Loud. It was clear that Jeff’s fingers could move – he has natural lead guitar chops – but he didn’t really understand what he was doing! And his rhythm guitar playing needed a lot of work.

Long story short, he didn’t get the gig.

But Jeff exhibited a ton of raw potential in that audition. He was also a very friendly and humble kid, so I requested of his parents that they allow me to teach him. (That’s the opposite of what usually happens.) (more…)

August 31, 2012

Sticking To It, Sully-style (a mini-Student Success Story)

by jim — Categories: General Music, Student Success Stories5 Comments

Ryan Sullivan

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge

Ryan Sullivan – or “Sully” as his friends call him – is a beginner guitarist. He’s an adult student in his mid-30s, has a family, and owns his own business. Earlier this year he decided to take the plunge and fulfill his dream of learning to play guitar, so he called yours truly. (A brilliant decision, if I may say so. :)

Anyway, Sully and I have been powering through private sessions since the spring but it hasn’t always been an easy road. Although he loves music, he had never played an instrument before and had no real idea how lessons worked. Much to his surprise, Sully also didn’t seem to be particularly “natural” in the music learning process – as he would admit to you, everything was a struggle, from the fingering of chords to strumming in rhythm to understanding TAB notation on paper. He thought it would come to him much more easily, but every day was a battle.

What Sully does have in his favor, however, is serious determination and an inordinate amount of self-confidence (more…)

August 20, 2012

Student Success Stories: Alex Fang and Harry Foard

Harry Foard

Although I live a pretty awesome life – I really can’t complain about much – this summer has been a tough one for me in one particular way: I’ve had to say goodbye to some long-time students as they’ve graduated from high school and are preparing to go off to college and embark on the next chapter of their lives. It’s an exciting time for them, but I’m still sad to see them leave.

Although one of these students just started lessons in 2012, most of them have been with me for years – some for 5 years or more. You get to know someone pretty well when you meet with them every week for a few years. You learn about them as people and you grow to be friends. I’ve been blessed to make some terrific friends in recent years, who started as 7th- and 8th-grade goofballs and are now on the cusp of adulthood. They’re also pretty darn good guitarists.

In this installment of Student Success Stories, I want to feature two former students, Alex Fang and Harry Foard – who happen to be long-time friends, as well – that have taken the leap from guitar student to guitar major at the college level.

I reserve a little extra pride for the guitarists who have the requisite passion for music to pursue it in college. It’s certainly not for everyone, and quite a few of my guitarists are capable of playing music at the next level. But these two guys have actually taken the leap and I couldn’t be more excited for them! (more…)

December 8, 2011

Student Success Story: Cryin’ Out Loud

Cryin' Out Loud at Looney's

Close your eyes and listen to the band on stage. A spot-on rendition of “Hotel California” comes pouring out of the speakers, complete with note-perfect dual guitar solos that The Eagles would be proud of.

Next up is an inspired medley: Led Zep’s “Trampled Under Foot”, followed by Modest Mouse’s “Float On”, and finally “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand. The vocals ooze with emotion, the rhythm section is tight, and the transitions are seamless.

Obviously this is a group of seasoned professionals, right?


But when you open your eyes, you’ll probably feel the need to redefine the term, “seasoned professionals”.

The band you’ve been listening to is Cryin’ Out Loud, and they’re simply one of the best teen bands you’re likely to hear. Of course, I’m biased – they’re my students. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. (more…)

November 2, 2011

Student Success Story: Austin Haberkam

Austin Haberkam (photo by Raquel Bowley)

If you live in or around the Baltimore metro area, do yourself a favor and go see a great rock trio called the Karma Sharkz. If you’re a guitar player yourself, pay close attention to the guitarist on stage. He’s pretty darn good. As a matter of fact, he’s likely way better than you. And he’s barely out of high school.

At 18 years old, Austin Haberkam is already the real deal and he’s doing exactly what he loves to do: play guitar and sing in a rock band. (more…)

Jim Bowley is a professional guitarist, teacher and blogger. A native of Baltimore, he has over 30 years of playing experience and an advanced degree in Music Education from Towson University. Jim lives in Bel Air, MD where he maintains a thriving private lesson studio and performs with his band, Remains of Radio.

© 2012 Jim Bowley All rights reserved.
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