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Meet David Gereghty of Recreational Music Center in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Gereghty.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Recreational Music Center was originally started as a Sole Proprietary music school by my wife, Leslie Gereghty and I in November of 2008. The school was a life-long dream of Leslie’s who credits music for being the reason why she survived her tumultuous childhood. When Leslie and I started the school we were both working in music publishing and our desire was for RMC to be a sort of philanthropic venture. We had good paying jobs and we wanted to give back to the community. RMC from the beginning was established as a place where quality music educators could make a living doing what they love – teach music as well as a home for students desiring a more relevant approach to learning to play music. We so often found (and experienced it ourselves when taking lessons) that music educators were often stuck in a traditional way of teaching that no longer connected with the average student. If the student didn’t already know they wanted to pursue music as a long-term investment then there wasn’t much available to them. Additionally, the teaching approach by most teachers didn’t offer much in the way of modern technology that must students use on a day-to-day basis. Private music lessons had somehow never caught up with the current day and age we live in making it feel out of touch. We wanted a school that both served the conservatory student as well as the recreational musician. RMC was (is) us doing our part to make sure that music was for everyone and it started with how it was presented to each individual student. Our original slogan was “RMC: Your Music, Your Way”.

During the first year of business, RMC taught private, one-on-one lessons as well as group classes for over 30 students in a single, 900 square foot studio space within Liberty Station’s Arts and Cultural District. RMC began with four qualified teachers for drums, piano, guitar, vocals, and early childhood classes.

In November of 2009, we elected to change RMC’s status by incorporating as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in order to better meet our goals of spreading quality music education to students throughout the city, county, and beyond regardless of financial resources. Once established as a nonprofit community music school RMC began to drastically expand its reach throughout the Point Loma community and beyond.

Now approaching our 9th year, RMC has expanded to having 5 studios (occupying over 6,000 square feet) within Liberty Station and now serve over a two thousand students each week through off-site school programs across San Diego County as well as on-site with programs such as private lessons, group classes, Early Childhood classes, Rock and Pop Bands, Vocal ensembles as well as Symphonic Band (Wind Ensemble). Now with over 20 professional instructors, including 5 program directors and 3 program/school administrators, RMC continues to provide innovative and FUN music lessons on all instruments and for students of all ages (children as young as 6 months old to adult and even senior citizens).

RMC’s outreach division, Music4Change®, has provided free music programs and events to full time care facilities, at risk youth programs, homeless youth services and have even provided a day-long drum program for an orphanage in Tijuana, MX. It is efforts such as these and more that are the fuel behind the success of RMC. Imparting the joy of music making to every person we have the pleasure to serve is what RMC is all about.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Over the past 8 plus years we have encountered plenty of hardship. As it turned out, five months after RMC opened its doors both Leslie and I lost our jobs on the same day and a week later found out we were pregnant with our first child. At first we scrambled to find work within our industry, but 2009 was not a great time in San Diego to be looking for work (or starting a music school for that matter). We both decided that this was our chance to go “all in” for the vision of what we saw possible for RMC. Little did we know when we started RMC that we would be facing the challenges of raising a baby girl (eventually 2 baby girls) right alongside developing and growing a music school. And although the challenges were great, the rewards have been even greater.

Near the end of our second year (2010) we nearly had to close due financial hardship. At that time it was our staff who fought to keep RMC going by unanimously deciding to take pay cuts in order to keep teaching at RMC. They all believed in the mission and purpose of RMC and to this day we credit them for keeping RMC in business. Additionally, substantial donations from James Fox (Founder and former Executive Director, Leslie Gereghty’s father) as well as other generous donors were instrumental in overcoming several major hurdles in the first 5 years of existence.

To this day, every year seems to present its own set of challenges, but we are incredibly blessed with a passionate teaching staff, a board of directors who believe in RMC’s mission and purpose to serve the greater San Diego community, as well as a leadership team who give above and beyond every single day to ensure RMC’s success.

Recreational Music Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Recreational Music Center is a nonprofit community music school. We offer private lessons for all instruments, all ages and all levels. We have Early Childhood classes for ages 6 months to 6 years, group instrument and vocal classes for ages 7 and up, band programs for students 9 and up along with teen and adult bands and group classes as well. All of our teachers are degreed musicians with a passion for music education to go along with their professional music careers. We are most known for being a safe place for students of all ages, musical levels and social and economical backgrounds to come together and experience the power of learning to play music. We are committed to breaking down the barriers that hold people back from learning to play music. Whether it be financial barriers, mental barriers (such as “I’m just not musical”) or even barriers of disabilities as we offer both music lessons and Music Therapy sessions for those struggling with specific physical or learning disabilities. Above all else we are one big musical family and those who come to RMC become a part of an amazing community of music makers.

We serve every type of musician from the professional wanting to brush up on a specific technique or skill to the student looking for a fun summer camp experience, we chose the name Recreational Music Center because we wanted to remove the intimidation that can come from traditional music instruction or the conservatory model. Most people don’t know what instrument they want to play or if they want to play for a couple of months or pursue it as a career. We welcome everyone to come as they are and provide them with everything they will need to have a fun and engaging musical experience and set them on their way for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

What makes me most proud about RMC is that we are a staff who individually and collectively invest in others for personal progress and professional growth. This applies to both the students we teach but also between each of our staff members. Our staff invests in each other to become the best teachers we can possibly be and therefore not only do we grow individually, but our students reap the benefits. We believe in a full collaborative model where we all understand that we are better together as opposed to individual teachers working independently solely for their own personal success. I am so proud of our studio design that is set up as open teaching areas so that parents and student alike can visibly see what is going on in each lesson. From drums, guitar, vocals, strings, piano lessons and more our studios are an open learning center so that all who come can be inspired. RMC’s collaborative teaching model and wide open teaching spaces along with our Music4Change® outreach program that brings music to the underserved and most needy populations within our city is what set RMC apart from traditional music schools. Every day that I come to work I am in awe at what dedicated and passionate musicians can accomplish.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
It is very hard to narrow down my professional career to one moment, but I can definitely say that working together alongside my wife to create and establish a nonprofit community music school that provides employment for amazing music educators and musicians; as well as serves the community with all that music has to offer is quite an incredible endeavor to have the pleasure to be a part of.

Pricing:

  • Private Lessons Range $140-$240 per month (30, 45, 60 minute lesons)
  • Beginning Group Classes $80 per month
  • Early Childhood Classes $40 per month
  • Birthday Party Packages start at $199
  • Summer Music Camps start at $299 per week

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Heather Vandermark

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