‘Bearclaw’ to open New Milford music academy
Updated 11:40 pm, Wednesday, February 10, 2016
NEW MILFORD — Joseph “Bearclaw” Burcaw exudes a love for music, and he is now about to breathe his passion into the community.
After working as a professional musician for years, including nearly a decade as the bass player for the Irish rock band Black 47, Burcaw has returned to his hometown to embark on a new music journey.
He plans to open Bearclaw’s Academy of Music, which will offer private lessons in all orchestral instruments, percussion and vocals, as well as various programs and workshops. The business will officially open Tuesday.
“I’m passionate about getting the next generation of musicians out there to follow their passion,” Burcaw said.
The academy, at 39 Park Lane Road (Route 202) adjacent to Jo Jo’s Deli, boasts 1,200-square feet of space and features individual studios for one-on-one instruction and a communal area for workshops and recitals.
Burcaw, 43, will run the academy, instruct and coordinate lessons and workshops.
He will be joined by a staff of teachers, all of whom will “share the same passion and love of musical education that I do,” he said.
“Bearclaw is not only a fine musician, but a caring and empathetic person, two qualities essential in a good music teacher,” Larry Kirwan, co-founder of and lead vocalist and guitarist for Black 47, said of his former bandmate.
“Apart from technique and teaching skills, he’ll bring something special to his academy of music,” Kirwan said.
“He has been there — on the big stages, in the studios, working with top-of-the-line professionals and understanding the stress that goes into a career in modern music.”
“That’s invaluable experience that he can pass on to his students, young and old,” Kirwan said.
The academy will also offer music therapy for children on the autism spectrum.
During his residency in New York City, Burcaw periodically worked with autistic children.
“I was moved by the kids with severe challenges…they’re absolute angels,” he said, citing the positive impact music can have on a child who is on the spectrum.
That’s why the 1990 graduate of New Milford High School wants to “fuse mainstream music education with music therapy.”
Burcaw has taught music for 20 years, most recently at the School of Rock in Boston. He returned home last fall to be closer to family.
Owning a full-time music academy is different than being on the road with Black 47, which amicably disbanded in 2014.
Burcaw said he finds his role as a professional musician and a teacher equally gratifying, and looks forward to sharing his talent with the next generation.
“I see myself as a healer,” he said. “I see musicians as performers and healers. On stage, I’m trying to put a smile on people’s faces, let them forget about their problems,” he said.
“With teaching, I get the same gratification on a different level,” he said, noting the reward of seeing students finally learn how to play songs they didn’t know how to before.
He credits his two biggest fans, his parents, Jeff and the late Mary Burcaw, for planting the seed of establishing a teaching business.
“Mom would say, ‘You’re an amazing teacher,’” said Burcaw, in a moment of reflection.
Kirwan is confident the academy will succeed.
“The music business is tough and Bearclaw survived years of it without losing any of his innate humanity,” he said.
“New Milford is lucky to have him back and willing to share his experience, friendship and musical chop,” he said.
“I don’t have the least doubt that not only will Bearclaw’s Academy of Music be a resounding success, but it will add greatly to the social character of the Greater New Milford area,” Kirwan said.
Longtime resident Sharon Chamberlin shared her enthusiasm for the academy’s presence in town at a pre-grand opening celebration last week.
“This is going to be great in town,” Chamberlin said. “It’s going to fill a void.”
Burcaw is committed to the community.
“This is a long-term venture,” Burcaw said. “Music is a universal
language that binds us together as people.”
Bearclaw’s Academy of Music, located at 39 Park Lane Road (Route 202), Unit 4, in New Milford will be open Mondays through Fridays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 860-210-1717, email BAMnewmilford@gmail.com, visit www.bamnewmilford.com or visit “Bearclaw’s Academy of Music LLC” on Facebook.