Month: July 2020

Teacher Feature: Sean Clarey on Guitar and Having Fun Playing

“I get my students to figure out early on what it is that inspires them. With music, it’s not just about getting an accurate sound but making it evocative. Even a change in volume can be an expression that gets the audience drawn out of their seat, magnetized. I want to show them that magnetism.”

Teaching Philosophy: It’s called playing music, so a sense of humour is vital. Creativity and humour are a very closely related phenomena.

Instrument: Guitar (his favourite is electric), but also piano, drum kit and beatmaking.

He’s recently released new electronic jazz at Sean Clarey Trio, has an electronic production called Angles Jackson and toured Europe playing guitar with ART the Band.

Start in music: 5 year old Sean begged his parents to let him learn guitar.

Music inspiration:
Bonobo’s groove-oriented music, Kyle Bobby Dunn who works with resonances off guitars and cellos and Christian Scott, a trumpet player from New Orleans.

Favourite thing about Beyond the Beat: The teachers play at such a high level, it’s unlike any other school he’s taught at before. There’s more freedom in creative ways of teaching.

Favourite moments of teaching: Witnessing his students being dropped in the world of live performances, and feeling the power of the band behind them.

What is your teaching process like?

“I like Beyond the Beat because it’s such a relaxed environment. If a student is uncomfortable sitting in a room with a teacher, how are you going to learn? I’ll ask if a student is stressed out, because if there’s tension in the body music doesn’t flow as well. I try to keep things light, so we’re relaxed and having fun. After all, we’re doing this for pleasure.

We teachers care a lot, and the lack of strict curriculum allows us to gage who the students are as people so we can enable their creativity and success.

I ask a lot of questions in my classes to get kids going down the path of exploration on their own. My goal is to create curious, inquisitive thinkers. I help kids look at music in all perspectives, as art and math. When you detune a string and listen to the wave of interference, that’s physics. We are dealing with forces and patterns.

For me there’s three components:

  1. Physical execution of an instrument
  2. Recognition of the sensation of sound (like identifying a B minor)
  3. Written language of what notes make a chord

    These things come together to create an understanding. It’s important for me to lay the foundation. There’s different kinds of learners, so I cater my choice of language for each type. For example, when I’m teaching basic chords like a C triad, I’ll ask what the notes are. It’s C, E, and G. Then I’ll get my students to think of a triangle, with each C, E, and G each being a point. How many times can you rotate a triangle?  That’s how many ways you can play a closed triad.”

What is it like for a student starting out at Beyond the Beat?

“There is a lot of freedom at Beyond the Beat because of our facility. We have the gear you need to do anything you want. If you want to record, you can record. If you want to learn production, we have a studio for you to make beats. We have ukulele, bass, drums, kids can ask to try different instruments any time. I just had a young piano student who wanted to try beatmaking after his first piano class.”

What advice would you give to a first-time guitar learner?

“Go slow. It’s hard for kids across the board, but go slowly and try to understand what you’re doing. Guitar is an easy instrument where you can know a shape but not what notes you’re playing. On piano, C will always look the same. With guitar, it can be different.”

“My favourite, most meaningful moments are seeing my student’s faces at recitals. The moment they overcome fear and realize the true goal all along is being in a musical situation with other people and feeling that energy.”

To book a lesson with Sean or one of our other teachers, email!