Musician, educator, and CEO of MusicProfessor, Corey Fleeman is put in the spotlight to talk about his background in music, plus what it’s been like to own a start-up and create a highly acclaimed video series of over 4,000 online music lessons.
Corey gives his editing feedback while in the studio filming hundreds of MusicProfessor lessons with handpicked university music professors.
1. Can you describe your background in music performance?
For some reason, when I walked into the instrument pairing ceremony in 6th grade, the bassoon was calling my name. Good thing, too. If you want to go to college for free, play the bassoon. I graduated from Baylor University in 2006 with a degree in Bassoon Performance. I had, for a long time, thought I wanted to be a band director, but the allure of playing in an orchestra or chamber group full time took hold of me so I took the ‘performance’ route.
I played professionally for a number of years after graduating, for a few months in both Europe and Asia, but especially in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area. I’ve had a number of fortunate opportunities to play with world-class musicians and been featured on a number of studio recordings, for everything from country to classical to rock. Rock bassoon, who knew?
2. What experiences have you had with education, specifically teaching? Do you look back on a certain experience as being particularly memorable?
I’ve had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of students both privately and in a classroom setting. While teaching bassoon privately, I coached some really special students, of greatly varying ability, and many of whom I still maintain contact with today.
Back in 2008, I remember meeting a new student for the first time and immediately realizing that he had 100% accurate perfect pitch. No one else in his life had ever recognized his ability. It was a blast teaching him. As he learned new notes on the instrument I would play new, more complicated melodies and he would play them back to me verbatim. He would get lazy with his practicing because he was so far above his peers, and in those times I would find a way to challenge him with TV jingles, movie themes, or complicated rhythms. I’ve since lost contact with him, but I really hope he was able to take advantage of his uncanny skills.
I love teaching! So, despite the fact that I run multiple companies, I still continue teaching nearly every day. Though now, my students learn things like web design, Final Cut Pro, videography, and guitar.
Corey jams with another attendee of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention in 2012. Corey is not only a skilled bassoonist, but he also plays the piano, guitar, and, as shown above, percussion.
3. How were you able to find and manage your own personal teaching style?
I taught Middle and High School English in Bangkok for an entire year. Having come from working with individuals and small groups, managing classrooms of 30+ students in non-air conditioned, 90 degree heat with an obvious language barrier was a rewarding challenge. Learning how to effectively present a lesson, promote teamwork, and enforce classroom standards took the entire year.
Just like any in any classroom, I had students of varying ability, social awareness, and maturity. Through the year, I slowly learned how to convey a message to the majority of any given class while following up with students on either side of the curve, those who struggled and those who excelled.
I have plenty of great stories, both successes and failures, from that year abroad, and I know that that group of experiences molded me into a better teacher, manager, and mentor.
4. What inspired you to create MusicProfessor’s online classes for music students?
The main inspiration came from my time spent teaching bassoon in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I was driving nearly 50,000 miles a year to reach my students. I found that there was no shortage of band programs that were eager to have private teachers, but I had to turn down a number of students simply because they were 10 miles further outside of the city.
After working at Apple for a few years, notably in customer training and business sales, I put two and two together and realized that there was a huge opportunity to provide a private lesson experience for students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them via an online platform.
MusicProfessor staff attended the Texas Bandmasters Association (TBA) convention in 2013 and talked to hundreds of band directors and music educators about the private lessons that MusicProfessor can offer for schools with a small music budget.
5. Technology isn’t something that people usually associate with music education. How are you working to change this method of thinking and why?
You’re right in that people don’t usually associate music ed with technology. Most schools and administrators seem to focus on adopting tech in core: STEM classes first, everyone else second. But just like a classroom full of students, there’s a wide range of tech integration amongst music teachers: the early adopters, who always want the latest and greatest, the slow adopters, who are still running Windows 95, and then the majority of in-betweeners who use email daily and will occasionally branch out to try something new.
Our main goal this past year has been showing teachers, especially the in-betweener majority, just how easy it is to integrate tech into their classrooms, even with limited resources, while stressing the fact that 100% tech integration is coming and coming VERY soon.
One of the ways we do this is by presenting clinics on how to easily implement tech resources into the musical classroom. In our workshops, teachers learn how to size up their existing tech, learn about new, emerging tech, troubleshoot tech, and use tech to enhance their current curriculum. Here’s a shameless plug: if you’re a teacher or administrator reading this, feel free to reach out to me directly to hear more about our clinics.
6. Was there ever a moment where you thought that MusicProfessor wasn’t going to work out? How did you get through that period of time?
Are you kidding? Plenty of times. During our first year it was every other day. That’s the burden of an entrepreneur; especially one who serves the education market. And it doesn’t go away. I still worry about having to close up shop every now and then; you have good days and bad ones. But just like learning an instrument, you just go back into the practice room and plug away.
Check out more from Corey by visiting his YouTube channel, which contains sample MusicProfessor lessons.
Find out more about our critically-acclaimed online private music lessons at www.musicprofessor.com
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