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Life & Work with Brian Lee Bauer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Lee Bauer.

Hi Brian Lee, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My grandfather taught me the ukulele around the age of three. I began piano when I was ten and I gave my first guitar lesson when I was 13. I was fortunate enough to receive a music scholarship on the tenor saxophone from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1996. I wanted to be a performance major but was terrified that I would wind up just teaching music for a living. After a series of distractions, missteps, failures, and 30+ jobs I finally managed to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. It took me 17 years. Needless to say, I was involved in several bands.

Around this time (2013), a few of my friends approached me about music lessons for their children. Through teaching these three children, I discovered this relentless need to learn more about music and how it can be used to help, inspire, and educate others. I started to consider Maryville University’s music therapy program. I was determined to “get college right” this time, so naturally I auditioned using a 5-string banjo.

Meanwhile, my business has matured and so have the children. It’s possible that I have matured as well. Some of my students have now been taking lessons for eight years and are currently entering high school. The original three students are STILL here. They are now inspiring all the newer and younger students.

After completing my board certification in January 2020, my wife and I made the difficult decision to close our home studio in Affton due to the fact that she and I are both currently working from home.

I am currently teaching online and plan to gradually re-open this fall.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Early on, the difficulties were self-imposed. As a young adult, I simply resisted becoming a full-time musician. I didn’t have a road map or a mentor. I made bad decisions and tried and failed at many jobs.

Covid was a challenge as it really tested the resilience of my students and my relationship to them and their parents. Their commitment to music lessons is absolutely stunning. Everyday, someone surprises me.

I’ve always worked for others and never knew how much work it took to start and maintain a business. Everything changes so quickly and you need to be able to adapt and anticipate in order to achieve your goals and run a successful company. Oddly enough, adaptation and anticipation are two life skills that you can teach using music. I do it everyday.

My grandfather passed away a few years ago. I was actually fortunate enough to play for him on his deathbed. He was unable to speak but was actually strumming along. Not many people get to experience something like this. I felt like I was able to repay him for teaching me the ukulele. It lessened my grief. Just want to point out that one of these photos features my grandfather who taught me uke when I was three. This photo was taken just months before he passed away.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m really comfortable teaching all ages and abilities.

These days, I’m even open to many time zones.

I’m also a board-certified music therapist which has led to me advocating adaptive lessons. Trauma, anxiety, depression, ADHD and dementia don’t disqualify folks from music lessons. Regardless of who you are or what spectrum you fall into, there is a therapeutic element to music lessons, and students and parents are more willing than ever to openly discussing this.

I also specialize in banjo and ukulele lessons. These instruments feature non-linear (or reentrant) tuning.

Finally, we host a number of unique physical and virtual performance opportunities with our students. I say “we” because my wife, Chrissy is an excellent MC.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
My time matters most to me. I’m really lucky that I have a wife, a family, friends, and clients that are just excellent at respecting my time.

When you are self-employed, it seems that time management is key. If I’m not managing my time properly, I feel like my ability to reach and teach others is compromised.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jeff Scally, Big Stu, Brian Lee Bauer, Jeff Hammer. Just want to point out that one of these photos features my grandfather who taught me uke when I was three. This photo was taken just months before he passed away.

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