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I started out as a musician by learning harmonica after my family had gone to bed, so nobody would hear my awkward attempts at playing. I had watched my sister practicing piano with a lot of curiosity, but had never tried to play music myself. A couple of years later, after I had gained some skill and confidence, I played with other people for the first time. It was just a simple blues jam, but I was immediately hooked. The feeling of playing in a group, improvising and communicating musically opened up a new world to me. The following summer I borrowed a guitar from my neighbor and spent every spare moment practicing. I still remember how difficult even the simplest riffs seemed at the time, but all of the effort paid off and guitar became a lifelong passion. I scoured the internet for music theory, eager for any and all music knowledge. Soon a piece of music I wrote for a theory class was performed at a school orchestra concert, a nerve-wracking but proud moment. Learning how to be a good performer was a big and exciting new step as I played with several groups during high school, college and beyond, working with bands, theater groups, singers, dancers, and even a magician. I was always looking to learn more, and took classes for jazz guitar, piano, banjo and violin over the years. I’ve also studied recording technology, taking online classes to understand another side of the music world. I still look for new musical projects and challenges to broaden my knowledge and develop my creativity. One of the most satisfying things about being a musician for me is interacting with other players, because everybody has a unique outlook and contribution to make. Each of the people I’ve played with over the years, whether they are beginning students or seasoned musicians, has helped me to grow as a musician, giving me a new outlook on my own playing and opening new musical avenues to explore.
Playing guitar for more than 15 years now, I've gone from studying blues and rock electric guitar to folk and country fingerstyle acoustic, with detours into many other styles along the way. I played with several bands of different genres over the years, performing at weddings, restaurants, bars, festivals, art galleries, and even a car show. I’ve also been a musician in theater groups and other performance environments outside of the normal rock band format. I’ve always tried to challenge myself, putting myself in new situations and striving to keep learning all the time. While guitar is my main focus, I’ve learned several other instruments too, including violin, banjo, mandolin, and accordion, which has made my guitar playing stronger and more flexible by helping me to see music in a broader way and understand the different roles played by each instrument. This has also helped me as a teacher by keeping me in touch with the feeling of being a student in the early stages of learning an instrument. I've always had a strong interest in music theory too, taking classes and studying independently, and my own experience has helped me understand how and when theory can be effectively introduced to students. I find that the better I get as a player, the more my boundaries broaden and my understanding deepens, pushing me to work even harder as I find new goals and challenges. I keep my ears open to every style of music, because there is something to be learned, and one of the joys of music is being a lifelong student, always growing and improving.
In my experience teaching both music and language, I have found that patience is the most important quality in a teacher. I’ve experienced the way learning an instrument can feel like a series of mountains, valleys, and plateaus, and I understand how frustration is an inevitable part of the process. I believe that it is important to find a healthy self awareness of your playing abilities, balancing the continual drive to improve with an appreciation of the progress you’ve already made. Often beginning students become frustrated with the difficulties of the instrument without noticing how far they have already come, and advanced students sometimes stagnate for lack of new challenges, finding a comfortable niche that limits their progress. I think of myself as a lifelong student of music, and I know that however skilled I get, there is always more to learn, so I like to encourage my students to think this way. For beginners it helps with the impatience and frustration that often come with the early stages of learning, and for advanced students it can help them find new avenues of development by encouraging them to look beyond their comfort zone and find new challenges. I also try to integrate theory knowledge organically, applying it in a useful way to music that interests the student, which helps them remember the information and make better use of it. Maybe most importantly of all, I want to make music fun, creative, and fulfilling for my students. I’ve known too many people who suffered through music lessons for years as a child, only to give up later and forget what hey had learned because they never played material that was interesting to them. I want to learn about my students’ individual musical goals, helping them to find motivation to practice and achieve those goals, while also gaining a strong understanding of guitar technique and the knowledge needed to work and communicate successfully with other musicians.