Interview and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – In a world where music is both an art form and a means of self-expression, one couple has transformed their passion for music into a vibrant hub for aspiring musicians. Ryan O’Neil, a bassist and seasoned musician, alongside his wife Amanda, a talented singer and vocal instructor, have created O’Neil Studios, a haven for music lovers seeking a comprehensive musical experience.
Ryan O’Neil’s musical journey began at 12 when he picked up the bass guitar. As the years went by, his love for music grew, and at 19, he began sharing his knowledge by giving lessons in the basement of Strung Out Guitars. This early teaching experience and his years of performing and songwriting laid the foundation for what would later become O’Neil Studios.
In 2018, Ryan and Amanda fulfilled their shared dream by opening O’Neil Studios. The studio was meticulously designed to provide a personalized learning experience through one-on-one lessons while serving as an overall musical resource for its students. Located in a bustling musical community, O’Neil Studios quickly gained recognition for its dedication to nurturing talent and fostering a vibrant musical community.
O’Neil Studios offers a wide range of services to cater to musicians of all levels. The core offering includes lessons tailored to individual needs, allowing students to learn and grow at their own pace. Whether it’s guitar, bass, piano, drums, vocals, or even songwriting, the team at O’Neil Studios is well-equipped to guide and mentor aspiring musicians. But O’Neil Studios goes beyond just lessons. Recognizing the importance of a holistic musical education, the studio hosts workshops and seminars led by experienced musicians.
Ryan O’Neil, with his vast experience and genuine love for music, has created an establishment that goes beyond the ordinary music school. O’Neil Studios is a place where musical dreams come to life, where students find inspiration, and where a community of passionate musicians gathers to celebrate the power of music. Ryan O’Neil also contributes to the community with the impressive Cornwall Chaos concert, a benefit for the local hospice.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – Could you tell us more about the Cornwall Chaos benefit for Hospice you organized? How did this event start, and how do you see it growing in future years?
“Cornwall Chaos is a free, all-day heavy music event encouraging and accepting donations to our local hospice. This year is the second run hoping to bring more bands (we had eight last year) and vendors to the park. The event was born of a lifelong desire to perform heavy metal at the Bandshell and a want to help support our amazing Hospice.”
2 – How do you engage with local youth centers and after-school programs to offer customized lessons? What kind of impact have you seen through these partnerships?
“I have been fortunate enough to build custom programs and workshops for various groups. From large groups over several classes with a specific goal to a smaller group single workshop interested more in exposure and interaction. In all cases once a goal is established, we work backwards at what techniques and understanding are needed to fulfill the goal. This builds confidence in individual students as well as growth as a group.”
3 – What advice would you give aspiring musicians and those considering music lessons?
“The best advice I can give is to be ready. Have the time for it, ask lots of questions, and don’t for a second look down on a playing style or genre. I have learned from every musician I have played with and taken some idea or technical aspect of every genre I’ve played and studied. Take what you do seriously, not as much yourself.
4 – Can you tell us about the range of lessons offered at O’Neil Studios Instructors Group? How did you select the instruments to focus on?
“We offer lessons for piano, guitar, bass, vocal, drums, ukulele, banjo, and harmonica. We focus on our specialties, and although some of our instructors teach the same instruments, we all have our specialties and often differ from one another with inquiries and projects.”
5 – Can you tell us about the other teachers at O’Neil Studios? How do you maintain a high standard of instruction across the team?
“There are five other instructors other than myself. My wife, Amanda O’Neil, teaches vocal and beginner ukulele. Paul Aubin teaches beginner piano. Jamie Heath teaches guitar, harmonica, and banjo. Katie Smith teaches piano, vocal, and songwriting. Keegan Larose teaches drums, guitar, and beginner piano. We are all active in the local music scene and regularly engage in live performances as well as recording and producing music. At O’Neil’s, those who teach also do.”
To learn more about O’Neil Studios, follow them on Facebook.