Damian Brady is one of the lucky ones who loves his job. But it’s a job he created – owner of Leinster Music Academy in Gorey – and its success is down to hard work and determination.
Today, the composer, music producer, teacher and entrepreneur and colleagues in the Leinster Music Academy teach 65 children piano, guitar, drums and voice in the IDA Business Park. “I was in the construction business, gave it all up, went back to college, and built this up from nothing.”
He built it up over six years “and I invested every bit of money I had”. And it has paid off as he looks to expand the business to Tallaght in Dublin this year.
“I love playing music, I love sharing my knowledge with kids, I love composing – and the lessons are my way of giving back. I’m a big believer in hard work and I instil those values in the students. It’s so important that they know that the more they practice, the more fun they can have being creative because they will have more skills. Talent is only 20 percent of it – practice is what it comes down to.
“I struggled to learn in school and I had to break things down in order to learn them. That’s the approach I adopt with the students – technique is everything. You need good technique in order to do the more complex pieces – so I always tell them why they are learning a particular skill.
“I teach them about the instrument for about six months, so they get to know the instrument and what they can do with it. That way, they associate the instrument with music and not music theory or reading music. You don’t learn to talk and read at the same time – my approach is to develop their ear for music. If you can sing a melody back, you can translate it from your mind to the instrument. Then with practice and perfecting your skills comes the freedom to be creative.”
Damian has always loved music, composing songs and melodies since the age of seven. Since then, he has played gigs with a band around Ireland and has produced hit songs in the Irish charts. His intuitive style and experience has taught him the value of composure in musicians. “I teach the students to be aware of their own body – if you’re stressed or emotional your body tenses up so you need to relax in order to create your best music.”
His experience with professional musicians is also invaluable – “I know what it takes to be a professional musician, the commitment and practice, and I instil those values in the students.”
Today, in his recording studio and academy, which he built and designed himself, with everything from drum kits to ukuleles, guitars to keyboards, synthesisers to amplifiers, he’s always looking to make it a better learning experience for students. “I have pre-recorded video lessons for the students so that they can learn at their own pace between sessions here. It’s been proven that people can learn quite sophisticated things from visual and listening aids, and the video lessons are really popular with students.”
Damian also runs summer camps. At these creative camps for young musicians, the participants learn to write a song together, play it as a band, record it and produce a video. And this summer, he’s expanding the camps to Tallaght to reach a wider audience.
“I really believe that if you work hard and stay focused, you can get what you want. If I can do it, you can do it.”
Interview: Deirdre O’Flynn