We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Wes Barlow. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Wes below.
Wes, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Let’s kick things off with a hypothetical question – if it were up to you, what would you change about the school or education system to better prepare students for a more fulfilling life and career?
I believe that the music education sector would benefit from a slightly more creative approach to teaching music. From personal experience, I believe that majority of the traditional orchestral programs often leave students in a box of only playing orchestra without trying to be inclusive or paying thought to other available genres or uses for the stringed instruments. If the students have not played their instruments in any other settings, upon graduation there are limited possibilities for them to continue playing unless they are seated in an orchestra. I try to find what kind of music my private lesson students are passionate about and find a way to incorporate it into the lessons while still accomplishing the goals of their specific orchestra programs. In approaching teaching this way, I have found it easier for the students to want to practice and they also work harder to accomplish their goals.
Wes, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I started playing violin in orchestra in the fourth grade when my family lived in Georgia. I played primarily by ear for the first two years until we moved to Texas and I was forced to learn to read music. Upon relocating to Texas, I started hearing more fiddle music and began working to learn on how to transition from the violin to the fiddle. I started getting on stage with bands in the 7th grade, competed in the Junior State and World fiddle competitions while playing viola in the Houston Youth Symphony. I joined my first band freshman year of college and have been on stage with many bands over the last 12 years. I currently tour playing fiddle for Kylie Frey.
Outside of touring life, I currently have 6 violin/viola students I teach every week, play weddings around the state of Texas and previously taught a fiddle club at a houston-area high school. My background in classical music combined with my touring experience playing fiddle plays a huge role in helping me to stand out among others in these industries. I can play any style of music that brides are looking for on their big day with my versatility as a musician on both violin and viola. There are many classically trained string players available for hire, but there is a very small number of players that can do fiddle music as well.
My teaching method for violin and viola is more of a creative, non-traditional approach that fuses both my classical background and my on-stage experience. My background in classical music allows me to clearly understand what the orchestra directors are wanting and needing out of their players, while my on-stage experience opens a few creative outlets to teaching. I work on ear training, or teaching students how to play by ear rather than relying just reading music. I also find their passions in music and find a way to incorporate that style of music, whatever it may be, into the lessons. By including something that they are already passionate about, the students work harder and are more willing to practice. This also shows them new possibilities and helps them to think outside of the box of their instrument and current uses of it. If a student has only played in orchestras for their entire educational career, they will struggle after graduation with continuing to play and often leads to them putting the instrument down. I want as many of my students as possible to continue playing for the rest of their lives, whether that involves sitting in an orchestra or not.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being creative in your experience?
The most rewarding aspect of being an artist to me, is all of the people that I have the blessing to meet and work with. I have met some of my best friends within this industry and continue to meet more people every week. Most everyone in the industry is very similar to me, driven, passionate about their art and desires to share it with every open ear possible.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
I had to unlearn comparing myself to others. During the pandemic I was able to finish my degree in leadership at Texas A&M University. Between the pandemic itself and my leadership classes, it really made me take a step back and look at how I defined success for myself. In this industry, there is no clear ladder to climb to success, it’s a lot of trying different things and seeing what works for you and your brand. My view of success at the time was relative rather than absolute. I was so caught up in comparing myself to everyone around me with where they are, how long they’ve been at it and so many other variables that it made me forget about what I’ve been able to accomplish in my career thus far. With the perspective shift of success being absolute, meaning that my success is compared to nobody other than myself, I have been able to accomplish so much more in the last two years than I imagined would be possible. I got accepted to and graduated from Texas A&M University, I have had the chance to play with many of my heroes that I have looked up to throughout my musical career and am also preparing myself to move to Colorado at the end of the summer to move in with my fiancé.
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/fiddlin_around
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/wesbarlowmusic
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpA59-u7chV5Pa1t5fcaDHg
- Other: https://www.weddingwire.com/biz/wes-barlow/7e945b8903ae1f29.html https://www.theknot.com/marketplace/wes-barlow-greeley-co-2053229
Braden Wallis Fernando Garcia Jordan Dean