MEET LAUREN BALTHROP: BLUE BALLOON TEACHER EXTRAORDINAIRE!
What instruments do you teach?
I teach guitar, ukelele, piano and voice. I love to see the children progress on their instrument. It really makes my job so rewarding.
What is your band’s name or musical project(s) you’re involved in? Any concerts in NYC or events you’re involved in that you’d like to promote coming up?
My solo songwriting project is called Dear Georgiana. I'm currently raising funds to record a new album via PledgeMusic - a crowdfunding platform that is based on the direct connection between fan and artist. Pledgers receive exclusive access to updates from the studio and the album will be pre-released to them before anyone else.
How long have you been teaching music lessons?
I have been teaching lessons with Blue Balloon since the Fall of 2012. Quite a long time!
Where are you from?
I'm from Mobile, Alabama and moved to Florida to study theatre at Florida State University. From there, I moved to New York and formed a band with my brother called Balthrop, Alabama and we toured the United States extensively. I have now called New York home for 10 years!
What are your biggest strengths as a teacher and why?
I love to engage the children's creativity and I love to ask questions that spur their imagination. I help the kids to feel connected to the music they're learning and we use the techniques and skills they learn to apply to their own songs.
Tell us one of your favorite stories of working with a Blue Balloon student
I have a student named Zoe that I just love writing songs with. We've written over 8 songs together that are all really good songs. She started on ukulele and just got a guitar for her birthday and so we've started on that. We love to brainstorm on an idea for a while before we start writing lyrics and we just finished song about the hard transition from summer to fall and about growing up and about seeing friends move away. It's called "Eye of the Storm".
How do you, personally, write a song?
Lately, I've been traveling all over the city so I find myself inspired when I'm in transit on the subway or walking through the park or down the street. I've taken to recording voice memos as I'm traveling to get down my melodic ideas and then I'll work on the lyrics in my notes app. I'm not even really a tech type person, but my iPhone has become my journal and on-the-go music station!
Why do you think learning how to write your own songs is important when learning how to play an instrument, especially for kids?
I feel like it's so important to engage a child's creativity when learning anything. When kids are just learning the technique and theory side of music, they can lose sight of what's fun about the music and can get bored. In our lessons, kids learn the technique and the theory and then we take it one step further, and they learn how to apply those skills in their own songs. I feel like this helps this really engage with all the ideas and takes the learning full circle.
What is an interesting thing about you that your students don’t usually know?
Hmmm.....perhaps they don't know that I can tap dance or that I speak French and once lived in France! OR that I make music videos and have directed and edited my own music videos!
Favorite band/musician? That's tough! Dolly Parton or Neil Young or Harry Nillson or The Beatles. So many!
Coolest place you’ve ever been? Tokyo or Mexico City and on tour!