Merimbula music school sale marks change of rhythm for Ricky Bloomfield

From teaching chords in his daughter's bedroom to running a music school with more than 150 students, it's been a full-on five years for Ricky Bloomfield.

Ricky Bloomfield is selling his Merimbula School of Music, with fellow teacher Nick Keeling taking on the business for next year. Photo: Ben Smyth

Ricky Bloomfield is selling his Merimbula School of Music, with fellow teacher Nick Keeling taking on the business for next year. Photo: Ben Smyth

This weekend's end of term concerts mark the end of an era with Bloomfield selling his Merimbula School of Music. The business is set to continue under the eye of current teacher Nick Keeling while Bloomfield looks to focus on recording and releasing new music in 2020.

Keeling has been teaching at the School of Music for around six months after relocating from Melbourne.

"He's an amazing jazz pianist and banjo player, and is part of a great bluegrass band Mustered Courage," Bloomfield said, "and it feels like a natural progression of things.

"I was very considered with who I let take it on. There was a lot of interest but I felt it went to the right person.

"I expect Nick will increase the professionalism of this place even more."

Bloomfield said the school had humble beginnings of teaching guitar in his daughter's bedroom in Tura before shifting to Merimbula's CBD.

"David and Geoff Willis were teaching singing in some office space at the back of this building and I asked if I could use the space to teach my music students as well," Bloomfield said.

As it happened, the Willis twins were looking to finish up and Bloomfield "risked it" by taking up the lease.

The school grew "on the strength of word of mouth" with up to 70 students a week before Bloomfield realised he had to enlist some help.

"I had to add more teachers to keep up which is something I never expected I'd need to do."

The school moved into larger purpose-built studio and recording space at the front of the building above the Merimbula newsagency and now has eight teachers working there with more than 150 students.

Kirin Gill, Sinead McKay and Ricky Bloomfield make some music as part of Project 8.

Kirin Gill, Sinead McKay and Ricky Bloomfield make some music as part of Project 8.

Many of those students will be taking to the stage at the Merimbula RSL auditorium this weekend for their end-of-term concert - over two nights given the number of performances.

"It's the most eclectic concert you'll ever see," Bloomfield said.

"It might go from Nirvana to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to a flute recital to original songs.

"The thing about these concerts is I've always been giving students encouragement to perform, no matter the level they're at.

"It doesn't matter if they get up and only play two chords, it's as inclusive as possible," he added, saying he has worked with people with disability, and budding musicians of all ages.

"I remember one student who only played two chords at his first concert. Now he's really shredding!"

South East Arts Project 8 - Ricky Bloomfield worked as a mentor on this project

Bloomfield encouraged anyone who had ever had links with the Merimbula School of Music to join them this weekend to enjoy the last concert of which he is a part as well as say hello to new owner Nick Keeling.

The Merimbula School of Music concerts are open to the public for $5 entry and start at 6.30 each night, December 14-15.

After this weekend, Bloomfield plans to "take some time, do some mixes, and reflect on what an awesome and fulfilling journey this has been - both professionally and personally".

And in 2020 keep an ear out for some new material to come from him and his new collaboration with Chelsea Atkins and Corinne Gibbons, recording as One Generation.

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This story Merimbula music school sale marks change of rhythm for Ricky Bloomfield first appeared on Bega District News.

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