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Community Business Showcase – Blanch Music

Phoenix FM was invited to visit Blanch Music to discuss the recent renovations made to their premises. During our visit, we had the chance to sit down and talk to John Lynch about Blanch Music and the wide range of services they offer. Located in Coolmine , Blanch Music has been providing music lessons and musical instruments for more than 15 years. This Dublin-based music school caters to adults and children, offering in-person and online lessons for various instruments. They create personalised courses tailored to different skill levels, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience. Their team of skilled and dedicated teachers collaborates closely with students, ensuring individual needs are met. With a focus on quality education, Blanch Music provides a safe, enjoyable, and specialised learning environment.

John Lynch the owner of Blanch Music sat down and talked to us about his family business and how it has grown and developed over time.


Interview

James – So this is James at the Phoenix FM, we are here joined by John Lnych at Blanch Music. We are going to be talking about the store, himself, and his career. So John we intended to this about a month ago I think it was we contacted you but you were having the store renovated.

John – Yea

James – So what changes have been made since?

John – So we started the project and have been waiting two years to get it done and its been really difficult to get any building work done so we had a guy Mark Fox is the name of the builder from KCF constructions, so they came in and we renovated the shop area into an additional two lesson rooms so when we started in 2008 we had six lesson room and since then we have divided some of the larger rooms into smaller rooms and now we have taken an element of the shop and we still have space for starter instruments and string accessories but we added two more lesson rooms which means we are up to 12 lessons rooms which means we can have 12 teachers every day and that’s kind of total of at full compatibility of just under a thousand students every week so we’re not quite there yet but we’re getting there!

James – So I saw the theme of the rooms as we were going by and there was orange and green etcetera and this one is called Anita’s room, is there a specific reason for that name?

John – Yes so this room is Anita’s room which is named after my mom and one of the new rooms will be named after my dad. So in 2008 when the opportunity came up to take over blanch music my mom and dad helped me out, they lent me money and became involved in the business. So my mom died in 2013 and my dad died about four years after and they were instrumental in making blanch music the place it is, giving it that kind of family feel, they loved coming down and seeing the kids come in and getting to know the teachers, so this room is named after my mom and my dad will get one room after him now, and it always caused a little confusion because all the names are colour coded but its just a little honour to them that helped us get it going.

James – And what got you into music, what got you into the situation where you wanted to take this place over and to teach music?

John – So I had done my diploma in music management in ballyfermot and I kind of left college and went and got a regular kind of nine to five job and was performing with an originals band actually; two of the guys were from Blanchardstown and before we would rehearse actually in this unit before it was blanch music. Then an opportunity came to take this school over from the previous owner and the original plan was myself and one of the bandmates were going to take it over but then he had to bow out, hes got a 15 year old boy which came along in an inopportune time for starting a business so my parents lent me the money and we did it together and that’s kind of how it happened so I was always interested as I was performing since I was 9. I started on the bugle, moved onto the trumpet, then I moved onto the cornet before I moved onto the drums. So my bread and butter is the drums and percussion so xylophone, Glockenspiel, Tambourine and that and it just seemed like a really cool business to be involved in. The fact that you get to see people succeed in music and get to enjoy it. And it was a job, it was something that I could do that I enjoyed and it wasn’t working in an office, although a lot of my role was admin and kind of just doing the office stuff. But it was outside that, you know, and it was different hours. So that’s kind of what drew me to it. And it was just a good opportunity. And Blanchardstown is a huge population and there’s so many kind of really good musicians that are local and even the bands that come in and stuff like that. So yeah, it was it was a nice opportunity to take up.

James – So there have been any names through these doors that we now know is like household names or near household names.

John – Um, I suppose one of the biggest artists is Otherkin, which were kind of a pop rock band or prog rock band from Blanchardstown and they did really well. Now they’ve since disbanded, but they were really good. And there’s a load of musicians that have come through that have kind of become successful in their own right and not necessarily famous, and we get to see some incredible talent that comes through. Possibly not household names yet, but they’re on the up and coming because it takes quite a long time for classical musicians to make a name for themselves. But yeah, some of our teachers are in great bands. There are like a lot of the drum teachers are in wedding bands, and the guitar teachers are in wedding bands and pop and rock bands. So it’s. Yeah, nobody quite household.

James – So it’s not a case of those who can’t do teach. You’re still out there.

John – Yeah. I think one of the quotes is to teach is to learn twice. So they should be really good at the basic stuff and then like, amazing at the kind of harder stuff. Well the the good thing for us is that blanchardstown is really diverse. So we get an opportunity to see kids from loads of different backgrounds and where we’re based in Coolmine, it’s kind of the centre point when you kind of go out as far as Tyrrellstown, maybe you go to Castleknock and you’re going out to Clonsilla and you’re going into, say, the Navan Road. Like we kind of meet nicely in the middle. Just to let people know that we’re here and we offer a kind of a good quality service. The way that we run our classes is we kind of do term to term, but we have a couple of systems in place to make it more efficient for parents, and we’re always trying to improve the quality and get feedback from the students, get feedback from the parents, get feedback from the teachers. Basically to people to know that we’re here, we’re here to service the local community. We always try and sponsor the musical society. The primary schools were coming to us, you know, the special needs schools coming to us and stuff like that as well. So that you know by coming to us that it’s still a family business. So now I’m very fortunate that my wife works with us. And so I have two kids that are coming up behind us that are still quite young, that may or may not be into music too.

James – Be a noisy house at home, is it?

John – Not yet, not yet. My my five year old is making some noises about singing lessons and we have a 11 month old and he seems to want to bang everything, so I would suspect he might follow in his dad’s footsteps but to my horror! I think because it’s the most awkward instrument to play is drums, because it’s heavy and it’s awkward to bring around so. And and I suppose to kind of be grateful to the customers that have been coming to us for years. We’re very fortunate to have really good students, and we get that kind of feedback from the teachers when they start. So we’ve twenty-five teachers at the moment, three admin staff, which is myself, my wife and the office manager, and we always get great feedback from teachers. They’re like, oh, your students are really nice. You know, they might take over from another teacher. It’s finished and it’s great. There’s some great characters in blanchardstown it’s nice.

James – So I know you do guitar, you do bass, you do drums, you do singing, Is there any lessons you do that people are surprised to know I could learn that in this area?

John – Not really, bodhrán is probably the one. We haven’t done any brass and woodwind. It’s kind of a specialist role and we haven’t kind of filled it with any teachers so bodhrán is a big one. Our drum teacher has a heart of gold. One of the drum teachers, a guy called Ian Mctighe, and he’s been performing for 30 years, but he was on tour with Riverdance for ten years until he played Kit and barrel with them. And the big one, the big surprise, I think, is exams in ukulele has become really popular, so you can take a rock school exam and an LCM as another examination board, but you can do exams now in ukulele.

James – They exploded didn’t they over the last decade?

John – Yeah, it’s been crazy. There was this kind of burst of cajón, which was the box that you sit on and you played and ukulele just wiped it out just completely. The ukulele just there’s the ukulele orchestra, the ukulele hooley. It’s fantastic because it’s a great instrument to get started on. If you’re thinking about learning guitar.

James – Yeah, it’s a great thing to hand to a kid. It’s tiny.

John – Exactly. It’s like, people come in and like, oh, look at those tiny guitars. And you’re like, yeah, yeah, that’s that’s pretty much it, you know! So they’ve become really popular and you can examine all the way up to grade eight, like you would piano or singing or violin and we do exams in drums. That’s another one that surprises people. So we’re an exam centre for a company called Rock School in the UK and as the name suggests, they do exams through rock, pop, blues, jazz and metal. So you can play like a, you know, a full on metal track for your grade seven exam piece. And the examiner has to sit there and watch you thrash it out, which is great, but they always have their ear protection in. But the the exam thing is really good that you can take music lessons and do it through fun pieces like Coldplay or, Billie Eilish is on the syllabus. Jimi Hendrix is on the syllabus, you know, Kings of Leon, there’s loads of great tracks like that. And and you don’t have to just do it for exams, so we do it for fun or for exams.

James – What does those exams entail too? I imagine you don’t get a diploma in drums at the end of it.

John – Yeah. So you can get a diploma in drums if you wanted. So you’ve got the pre grade one which is debut, and then the Royal Irish Academy do this elementary playing in prime which is these three like little baby steps up to grade one. Then you go all the way up to grade eight. And your exam consists of three musical pieces that you have selected out of maybe 5 or 6 or with rock school I think is up to 12 pieces that he can select, and then you perform all three pieces. The examiner sits down and marks you normally out of 20, and then you have to do your technical exercises, which is scales or arpeggios, or for drums you have to do rudiments and then you will do some sight reading. So they’ll put a piece of music in front of you and go, okay, you have to read that out for me, or they’ll do improvisation. So one of the things is if you’ve got a really good reader, they’re not great at improvisation, but if you’ve got a really good improviser, then not necessarily great at reading. So you’ve got to get them in between and they basically just mark you out of 100 and you get your certificate after kind of between 3 and 6 weeks, go all the way up to grade eight, and then you can do a diploma or an associate diploma or a teaching diploma. So some of our teachers would have done at one point; we had a teacher that had a degree in biochemical engineering, but he also had a diploma in guitar teaching so he was a guitar teacher. You know, he’s like, well, I don’t want to go into biochemical engineering. I think I prefer guitar more. So he had this kind of dual career prospects, and he went with guitar teaching. So, that that was one of the good things, because you can do it outside the school and some people don’t want to do it in school. Maybe they want to do geography or clashes with that. So that’s one of the good things about it. Yeah.

James – So if someone wanted to come here and do lessons, what are the times and dates and how do they get that arranged?

John – So some of the popular instruments like say guitar and piano are pretty much every day Monday through Saturday, Monday to Thursday we open at 1pm. So maybe our first lesson would be 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, and then we’ll get the kids in from school 2:30, 3:00, 3:30. Then 4:00 we get the teenagers in, and then in the evening time it tends to be kind of adults. So weekdays 1pm to 9pm and Fridays we do 11am until 6pm, and then Saturdays we’re open from 10am until 6pm. And so instruments, as I said, we do every day like violin. We do five days a week, drums, we do five days a week singing, we do six days a week, bodhrán we only do two days a week. So if you log on to our website, which is https://www.blanchmusic.com/lessons/ you’ll get all the list of lessons that we do. And then on those descriptions of the lessons we have the days of the week that they’re available, basically from 1pm day to 9pm at night.

James – So, John, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thanks for having us in.

John – No problem. Thank you very much.

Blanch Music’s ad brochure is packed full of information about their classes. To access their brochure Click Here


Lessons

Blanch Music designs its lessons according to the specific needs of every student. They provide individualised curricula for each instrument and conduct examinations through well-established and recognised examination boards like the Royal Irish Academy of Music (R.I.A.M), ABRSM, RSL (Rockschool), RGT, Trinity, and others.

How to Enrol

Getting started with lessons at Blanch Music involves three primary steps. During the enrollment process, they collect necessary details for your lessons. Every student gains access to a personalised student portal displaying upcoming lessons, teacher notes, account balance, and other important information.

Refer a friend and family discounts

Blanch Music provides its members with the opportunity to recommend their friends to the music school. If you have a friend or family member who has expressed interest in learning an instrument, both of you can gain from this referral program.

If you would like to reach out to Blanch Music, they can be found at their website: https://www.blanchmusic.com/


Interview by James Ruth
Photos by Paul Norton

This is an ‘In The Community’ article. No funds were exchanged in the making of this community post.
Speech to text transcription utilized artificial intelligence technology in the making of this article.