Photo by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash
When Beloit, WI, teacher Lisa Reshkus’ school got tablets for every teacher and student, the music instructor had no idea that her life was about to change.
“The tablets came with music software for the kids, and I wanted to know how to use it so that I could teach them how to use it,” Reshkus recalls. She took an online course in digital production. Then she took another. Soon, she was making her own beats and tracks, thanks to guidance from online music coaching platform Soundfly and its mentors.
Reshkus had a strong foundation in music. Classically trained, she remembers, “I’ve always been interested in music. I begged my mom for a piano. She finally broke down and bought me one, along with years of piano lessons. I got a degree from a local college, and I’ve been teaching ever since.”
She leads several choirs and teaches music to fourth through eighth graders, a career she’s enjoyed for two decades. Yet something unexpected clicked as she mastered the music generating capabilities of her tablet. “I’d played with GarageBand, but there was some
thing about the sounds this software had, the chord progressions and other possibilities.” Reshkus was hooked. She had craved more creative work in her life.
Through a teacher at one of her first online courses, she found Soundfly, and began learning everything she could. The price and ease of the distance-learning model appealed to her, as did the quality of instruction and work her instructors were making. “I feel so inspired by their work. I enjoy what they do. It’s outside the box,” Reshkus says. “I don’t like listening to too much pop, because frankly I find it a bit dull. The mentors at Soundfly go beyond basic commercial stuff.”
So does Reshkus. Her work reflects her lifelong love of classical music, even as she crafts electronic tracks. She had experimented in the past with how classical and, say, punk or indie rock could mesh, thanks to jam sessions with friends’ bands, when she sometimes whipped out a mean solo based on pieces like Pachelbel’s Canon in D. This impulse remains. “You can hear the classical influence in the way I create, especially the piano piece,” reflects Reshkus. “I like to have piano whenever I’m doing something, to add in elements like harmonic arpeggios.”
The challenge of structured classes and one-on-one sessions with mentors (a rare offering in online education that Soundfly’s Headliners Club provides) suited Reshkus, who liked the direction and creative impulse that flowed from limitations and rules. “I like boundaries. The choices are fewer, which makes it easier,” she muses. “I usually have an idea of something I want to express when I create, but I start everything with a limitation so I don’t feel overwhelmed by the possibilities.”
For Reshkus, creating for herself using skills painstakingly but joyfully acquired for strong teachers has been its own reward. She reports greater contentment and better mental health, thanks to the healing, energizing practice of making music in a new, challenging way. “I don’t have any grand ambitions. I don’t want to tour, say,” Reshkus states. “I just need to be creative. I don’t care if anyone likes it or if they listen. If they do and they get something from it, that’s wonderful. But I do this for my own wellbeing, and it’s a real gift.”