The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Lessonface Co-Founder, Claire Cunningham
There are nearly endless online resources for learning an instrument these days. YouTube is saturated with lessons. There are websites devoted to it. Music magazines post online tutorial videos. And the list goes on.
While using the internet to learn an instrument can work for many, others find that the traditional approach of sitting down with an experienced instructor works wonders.
Lessonface.com bridges both of these methods, creating a revolutionary way to learn a huge variety of instruments, from acoustic guitar to bagpipes. And with live, face-to-face music lessons taught over live video, incredible teachers all over the world are now more accessible than ever before.
Today we’re thrilled to chat with one of the co-founders of the site, Claire Cunningham.
Her diverse background includes founder/leadership roles at CleanEdison, a national green education company, plus BiblioBazaar, a publishing company that puts back into print books gone out of print. As a violin, piano and flute player, Cunningham is a musician too. She’s even learning to play ukulele – through Lessonface of course!
Find out more at Lessonface.com.
WiMN: What influenced you to work in the music industry?
CC: Serendipity, mostly. I’ve always loved working with experts and artists, and music education is a superb intersection of those. I feel super lucky.
WiMN: Tell us about Lessonface. Why did you launch it? What is the mission of the site?
CC: Lessonface is live one-on-one and group lessons with great music teachers. We’re intent on making great music educators more accessible. As far as why… my background in ed tech and industry trends were in alignment, I was ready to start a new company, and voila, here we are, two years later, thousands of lessons in!
WiMN: How is Lessonface.com different than other online lesson options?
CC: Our focus on live interaction is what makes us different from most online lesson options. Really learning an instrument takes a lot of work, and often calls for personalized guidance, so having a one-on-one mentor/coach – or being able to ask questions in a live group setting – really allows people to find break throughs, and have fun in their community doing it.
YouTube has a ton of great material – we’ve got a pretty popular channel ourselves, in fact, where you can learn from free tutorials and get to know some of our teachers, but it’s not the same as having a personal coach.
WiMN: Do you play an instrument? What was the most challenging to learn?
CC: I play violin, ukulele, and have been trying to learn to sing. I’d say violin is the hardest, at least for me.
WiMN: Who are some of your female heroes in the industry – artists or otherwise?
CC: Recently I’ve felt really inspired by some of the teachers I’ve been able to work with. I was in studio last night with the jazz vocalists Jay Clayton and Katie Bull, shooting some promo for their upcoming jazz vocal class, and was so taken with their magnetism, energy, and sound. Jay was one of Katie’s mentors growing up, and she’s now become a powerful voice in her own right, so it was very cool to see them riffing together on a new mentorship experience.
I’m in awe of people who are such deep experts in their field, and who choose to share that knowledge with others. Two other phenomenal women master teachers I’ve been inspired by recently have been flutists, specifically low flutists – Ali Ryerson and Chris Potter. Their charisma and energy is really motivational, for me and for others.
WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?
CC: It’s been great. Perhaps it’s especially musicians who gravitate towards teaching who are this way, but I’ve found it to be truly collaborative, and almost always positive, which is unusual in my experience from working in a variety of industries. Teaching is historically a very woman-friendly profession, so maybe that helps. We’ve seen at Lessonface that students definitely value the mentorship of women (as they do men).
WiMN: What is some advice you’d offer to a young woman pursuing a career in the industry?
CC: Know your value. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to give help. Try not to take things personally.
WiMN: What’s next for Lessonface.com?
CC: We’ve got some phenomenal classes starting in the spring, and we celebrate our 2nd anniversary later this month!