ASTORIA – In the course of covering the news and events of concern to the Greek community, it is a special pleasure to meet and interview people who have found their passion in life, who want to share their talent with the world, and yet remain down-to-earth and eager to give back to those who can benefit from their experience. Guitar Guide Guru Mike David Papapavlou, originally from Cyprus, came to the U.S. for his studies, earning his MA in musicology at Queens College, and found his passion for teaching guitar. The testimonials alone on the Guitar Guide Guru website are a clear indication that Papapavlou along with a team of top instructors provide a valuable service for those eager to learn how to play the guitar. And yet, through his own experience as a student and a musician, Papapavlou wanted to help musicians learn about the business side of their profession and about marketing, so they could overcome the myth of the starving artist, finding balance, and earning a living without compromising their art.
Papapavlou spoke to The National Herald about his life and work, and especially about inspiring musicians to achieve their goals.
Offering private and group guitar lessons, school programs, and corporate classes in New York City, at the Guitar Guide Guru studio in Astoria, in homes, and also anywhere in the world via Skype, Papapavlou and his team offer world class quality guitar instruction, for all levels, from absolute beginners just picking up the guitar for the first time to advanced musicians looking to reach the next level.
When asked when he began teaching guitar, Papapavlou told TNH, “I began teaching since I went to college for music in 2010 in England, I got my bachelor’s there, so on and off I’ve been teaching to supplement my income and then I came to the States in 2013 to get my master’s degree at Queens College, and this year after trying to figure out what I wanted to do in my career, in October 2018 I decided to focus on teaching, to focus on this and make it something bigger. It’s been about six months and it’s been getting better and better, and there’s a lot of interest, a huge market for it, and at this point, six months later, I’m thinking of adding more people.”
He continued, “I started teaching private lessons and then I realized it’s a little limiting, to just do one on one and a lot of kids want to learn an instrument but they want to do it with their friends or they want to meet other kids their age, so I started group classes as well, it’s a little harder to manage because you have to have a space for it, whereas if it’s one on one it can be in my studio or at the parents’ homes, so a lot of my time is spent coordinating where we’re going to have the lessons.”
When asked about his favorite music, Papapavlou told TNH that he started out like many young Greeks and Cypriots, as a rock and metal fan, then after hearing Michael Jackson, his tastes veered toward pop, but “I came to New York for the jazz scene, I was really into jazz.”
He said, “I really don’t have a favorite, to be honest, I get a kick out of a lot of types of music. That’s sort of the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing now, I feel like every human being wants to have a purpose in life and so ever since I started playing the guitar when I was 10, I got good at it relatively quickly, I was not a good student in school, I didn’t see the purpose, but playing the guitar built my confidence, it kept me busy not doing anything bad, and I thought kids need a direction and a purpose and something they feel good about and if one thing can elevate them and make them feel better about themselves then they can become better, it can put them on the right path.”
Papapavlou noted that “for next year, we really want to promote the school programs, since the kids are already there.”
He pointed out that St. Demetrios School would be an ideal setting for a guitar program in the community and also praised the efforts of Pancyprian Choir and Actors of NY (Cultural Division of the Pancyprian Association) Artistic and Musical Director Phyto Stratis who is working hard and producing great work.
Papapavlou is also giving back to his fellow young musicians, pointing out that the idea that careers in the arts will leave you broke is not a truism and things are, in fact, not so bleak for artists. He said, “Aside from growing this business, a dream come true for me would be to help music majors in colleges and empower them just like I want to empower kids with guitar, but a little different. Entrepreneurship, the way I see it, is that you take the initiative in your career. I think a lot of music and art departments in universities could do a better job helping students navigate their careers, I really feel like there’s a gap there. I would like to help music majors, specifically, because I was a music major, understand that things are not bleak. Once you figure out what you are good at, is there a market for it? I want to help musicians, especially musicians in school, be more business savvy, more entrepreneurial, and feel good about what they’re doing. I’m giving a workshop at the Manhattan School of Music in a few weeks and would like to expand across the country, at different universities, giving talks, empowering musicians.”
More information about Papapavlou and Guitar Guide Guru is available online: https://www.guitarguideguru.com/.