Ryan Shello – Bass, Guitar, Ukulele Teacher

Bass, Guitar, and Ukulele

Ryan Shello


B.A. Rowan University

Rock, Folk

I am a guitarist, bass guitarist, and ukulele player living in Philadelphia. I have been playing guitar for over twenty years, and have performed in a variety of acts in the New Jersey and Philadelphia Area. In addition, I  also perform as a bassist and guitarist in several Philadelphia groups and perform with a variety of instruments in my solo work. I have studied with classical guitarist Brad Rau, fingerstyle acoustic guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall, and electric guitarist Aaron Ribnicky. I draw influence from a variety of sources including punk, indie rock, electronica, jazz, and American and Irish folk music.

When did you begin playing guitar, and why?

I began playing guitar at age 13. I wanted to be a drummer, but my parents convinced me to save their ears and buy a guitar. Of course, a few years later I bought the biggest amp I could afford, so their plan backfired! I’ve been playing ever since.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?

I also play bass guitar, ukulele, drums, and a bit of piano and trombone. I have a lot of experience with bass and ukulele, and am an intermediate piano player and trombonist.

What are your personal goals as a musician?

My goal above all else is self-expression and connection. At its best, music has an incredible power to connect you with others, whether that be your musical peers, an audience, or just the other musicians on stage with you. Some of the relationships I’ve forged through music are the strongest in my life, and that is the experience I aim for.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?

I remember a specific one in my bass guitar journey. I had seen people talk about bassists being “in charge of the harmony”, but didn’t really know what they meant. In late high school, I started dipping my toe into recording, and would try to record basslines to songs. At some point, I ended up writing a bassline that played an F underneath an A minor chord. If you know theory, you may know that this suddenly creates a new chord! This really opened my eyes to the power of the bass guitar to command the direction of a song, and is something I still love to explore. 

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?

My first guitar teacher, Aaron Ribnicky, taught me one very important lesson, in a very indirect way. I had a habit, in lessons, of trying to execute a new chord or lick that was 80% correct but had one thing changed. I would play it up a few frets, or one finger would be off by a string…close, but not quite. Aaron would always catch it, and had an incredible ability to go “well, you didn’t do x, but you did do this…” and play my accidental chord and re-contextualize it instantly into something musical. This lesson, learned slowly over time, has shaped the way I approach all music by showing me that literally anything can be musical, if you know how to handle it. There are no wrong notes! Just wrong contexts, but if you can provide the right context, you can make it work.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument

I did not learn to read standard notation at first, which was fine since I was primarily playing rock music. As I developed, I dipped into it, but found relatively little use for it on a day-to-day basis. After college, I got asked to play in the pit orchestra of my old High School’s musical, and said yes – as long as I could get the sheet music months in advance. I did, and spent the next month and a half rigorously studying the music. I couldn’t read it fluently, but I put the effort in to learn it, and, through much effort, pulled off a great performance of Evita, and got invited back to play the next year.

What is your biggest musical achievement?

In 2019, my band This Kills Me self-recorded our first album, “The End”, after years of writing, rehearsing, and rewriting. I am immensely proud of the work that myself and my bandmates put into it, and it stands as one of my proudest achievement!

Favorite thing about teaching?

I spend most of my time thinking about music. If my friends and family allowed me, I would spend most of my time talking about it too. It’s a huge part of my life, and every opportunity to share that love with others who are just as excited is the best!

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?

Find your support. Learning an instrument, like any creative endeavour, is so much easier, more exciting, and more rewarding when there are people in your corner who want you to succeed. If you have that, you can do anything!

Personal music projects:

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