An Interview With Ridley Academy Student Rick Olszewski

Who is Rick Olszewski?

Rick is a self-titled geek. He DJed in his younger years, even releasing albums in the 1990s, though he had trouble supporting himself as a musician.

Over the years he traded his musical keyboard for a computer one, becoming a software developer.

In 2020 he rekindled his long-lost passion for music, and has reinvented himself as a self-taught pianist and composer. He told me about his experience with the Ridley Academy, and how it helped his journey.

Before the Ridley Academy. What is your background, what were you up to, and how was life going?

I started producing music back in 1989, and I put out my first record in 1990, with a few more to follow. I was into Latin freestyle at the time. But being a musician wasn’t always paying the bills, so I also started coding very young. And I’ve been a software developer for my entire career.
My life had software development as the main focus, and music took the back burner/side hustle. I kept playing some for years, but never classically trained. It was always just self-taught.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I thought, “This is the time to get back into music with full force.” I came across Stephen’s webinar, and his ability to connect emotionally really resonated with me.
I thought I could use it as a stepping stone in my own music, and move onto a place where I would feel more comfortable and get into formal training. When I did the program I was always trying to take it up a notch.

You started your music journey in your late teens. How did this passion evolve?

I worked in radio and as a club DJ in my late teens and early 20s, which deepened my connection with music. Through radio, I met recording engineers, artists, and other industry professionals. That was how I originally connected with people in the music industry early on.

Great. And how was your experience with the Ridley Academy?

The course was concise, direct, and free of fluff, with Stephen’s personality adding a touch of fun. The content was broken down into bite-sized chunks, making the complex stuff understandable.

I took my time with it, and I didn’t move on until I had every single task down cold. I always took it up a notch, and pushed myself for the highest level I could achieve with each step. For example, in learning the scales I made sure to do them really fast – 240 beats power minute, each.

Wow, that’s really impressive. How did the course fit with your background and experience?

The course was exactly what I was looking for. It gave me a deeper understanding of the fundamentals I wasn’t as proficient in, creating a solid foundation for my next music projects.

What was your favorite part of it?

The direction, pace, Stephen’s engaging personality, and the way he simplified things into digestible pieces were all highlights.

How does Stephen's method compare to other forms of music education?

It is concise. I have done all sorts of education and musical education, and while I love having a deep understanding of things, going down rabbit holes of theory get mundane quickly.

There are some people who explain things in a quicker or better manner than the traditional methods. For Stephen, he’s delivering a vast amount of information in a short period of time with all of the pertinent information highlighted to understand in a moment.

Did starting the Academy affect your life or music?

I have spent the last few years getting back into writing and composing on a greater scale. It has helped me make it more on the front burner of my life instead of on the back one. I am in a much better emotional place for sure. That breath of air that was missing is back. That passion.

And, yes, the question switched from I’ll do it someday to: I don’t know how much time is left, I need to do this now. Music makes me happy, I enjoy it; it’s an escape mechanism in many ways. But not as an avoidance of life, but rather, quite the opposite. It is an embrace of life and I want to drain every drop out of it that I can while I can

How has your renewed relationship with music influenced your life?

It’s been inspiring. I’ve made new connections in the industry, continued to evolve my musical knowledge, and I’ve been happier. Music has improved my mind, memory, and maybe even cognitive ability. I’m off the hamster wheel of complacency.

What advice would you give someone interested in learning music?

I would definitely recommend the Academy, especially if their interest was in the piano. It’s a really well-structured course.

Thanks so much for your time and sharing your journey with us.

My pleasure. Thanks for giving me the chance to tell my story.

If you want to check out Rick, check out his Spotify channel.

You can also find him on:
Apple Music

The Ridley Academy has thousands of successful students from all over the world.

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