Keenan Recker | Instructor Bio

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  • What is your teaching philosophy?

    The best learning happens in a positive and supportive environment. I keep students engaged by making it fun. My goal as an instructor is to facilitate the student’s creativity and passion for music. Failure does not exist. The only thing that matters is effort. If you gave an effort, then you succeeded.

    How long have you been teaching music? At Youth Music Project?

    I started teaching music in 2005. Winter term 2018 is my first term teaching at Youth Music Project!

    What is your favorite thing about teaching music?

    I enjoy the process. There are inevitable challenges when learning something new or building new skills, but when you finally nail that part you’ve been working on, it makes all the effort worth it.


  • What do you expect of your students in classes/lessons?

    I expect students to show up with a willingness to learn. It takes persistence and practice to get better. I expect and encourage students to have a positive attitude and believe in themselves.

    What do you expect of student’s parents?

    A lot of my success as a musician I attribute to my parents’ support and encouragement. Encourage and incentivize your student to practice!

    When did you first start playing music?

    I started piano lessons when I was 8. After that, I took private snare drum lessons and drum lessons. I got my first guitar at age 12.

    What is your educational background?

    Did you study music in school and/or privately? I graduated from Clackamas Community College in 2010. I took private lessons as a kid but I’ve been self-taught ever since, learning new instruments and skills over time.

    Do you play in any bands / perform in the Portland area?

    Yes, look out for my project Friends from Home.

    What is the first song you learned how to play and how old were you?

    I remember when I was 12 years old hearing “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and wanting to learn guitar because of that song. My parents got me my first guitar shortly after and I dedicated hours to learning that song.

    How do you handle mistakes while practicing or during a performance?

    In practice, I focus on smoothing out the rough spots. I will play the most difficult parts of a song over and over until it’s comfortable. During a performance, you have to continue playing no matter what, so I just power through. Turns out, no one usually notices those mistakes. If they do notice, they didn’t notice it as a mistake. They think it was intentional!

    Describe a skill on your instrument that was a challenge that you’ve had to work very hard to achieve.

    I remember trying to learn the most basic chord progression on guitar when I first started out. I spent a long time practicing over and over and I just couldn’t get it right. I went to sleep and when I woke up, I picked up the guitar to play the progression and I was able to do it! Sometimes a little sleep is all it takes to build the muscle memory.

    Who are your musical influences?

    I enjoy a wide variety of music. I grew up listening to my parent’s music: Earth, Wind and Fire and the Portland-based band Pink Martini. These days, I’m listening to lots of new and old R&B.

    What do you feel when you play music?

    Playing music provides a respite from life’s struggles. It makes me feel happy!

    If you had the chance to study and/or perform with any musician, living or deceased, who would it be?

    Stevie Wonder.

    When did you know you wanted to be musician?

    When I was young! Probably age 11.

    If you weren’t a musician/teacher what might you be?

    I’d want a job with lots of excitement, maybe a firefighter.