Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Meet NYLC Teacher, Stephen! -by Kenza

Do you really know who your teachers are? Who is behind the instructor? It’s quite an interesting question. We are used to seeing them five days a week without really knowing so much about them. The first time I met Stephen it was on the elevator, the first time he came to the school… After that, I was his student in the one-hour collocation class.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, he freshly arrived in the city that never sleeps in September to teach English. He surely has an interesting teaching background, but he also has a passion: music. He loves playing his guitar, finding new rhythms and writing new songs. At the beginning, he didn’t think he could have the opportunity to perform on stage in NYC. Because of his determination and hard work, he scheduled two concerts in the same week, and I am sure it’s just the start....
The students were warmly invited to see him playing either on Thursday in Bushwick or Sunday in The East Village for his new act named “The Good Ship S.S. Perry”. The second location meant a lot for him since some of his favorite musicians, such as Jeffrey Lewis, play there frequently. Don’t misunderstand me; he doesn’t dream about becoming famous, in the spotlight, signing autographs. He is very lucid about his art, and the music industry. He loves music, and hopes he will never have to stop playing. That’s his main goal: playing his songs in front of an intimate audience, and giving the public a good time. Guess what, he completely succeeded at that!

For the first time in my life, I laughed during a concert. I didn’t know music could be funny. Therefore, I was surprised to hear my laugh while Stephen was playing. However, I wasn’t the only one laughing; the audience was also in the same mood. Everybody was reacting to the funny lyrics Stephen was singing. He caught our attention from the beginning with his first song, a one-minute performance called “A song for me” which set the tone of his performance and musical influences. It was funny, entertaining and delightful, like the whole show. “The Good Ship S.S. Perry” is incredible. 

How can I describe his music? It’s a tough question. Like all the artists he doesn’t want to be labeled in one definitive box. He plays an original kind of music which has several influences from antifolk, to emo to  indie rock. This enumeration may not sound clear for you that’s why you definitely have to attend his next concert to figure out the genre. During his performance you will also recognize the teacher he is. It’s amazing to hear his perfect pronunciation of the words, which are completely understandable. This point is very important because the lyrics are significant in his songs which make it more personal. Each word he pronounced has a deep meaning for him, and can be linked to his own individual experience. His repertoire is quite ambivalent like his personality. He can perform the silliest songs, as “Pizza sunrise” followed by a more serious one, such as “I like watching you”. Depending on his audience, he chooses the songs. To satisfy the public, he has to be attentive to them and adapts his performance to their needs.  Being an artist is definitely a very complicated task…

Music has been a constant for him since high school, he was a member of a garage band, and then he toured from New Mexico to Pennsylvania, and finally he is here in NYC performing on different stages.
“Don’t make it bigger than it is” – a wise statement that underlines his maturity and more important his generosity. His only purpose is to entertain the people present, and make his friends appreciate his music art craft. 

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