Here's a transcript from a recent interview with one of our fantastic instructors.
Where are you from originally? Falls Church, Virginia.
When did you move to the Bay Area? April 1, 1979.
When did you start teaching at The Guitarist? I retired as a wholesale worker after 27 years of selling kitchen cabinets and, in 2008, I started working at The Guitarist. I was connected by Jeff Mayer who knew that Bill Cefalu worked at The Guitarist.
Do you play any other instruments? I am originally a guitar player, but feel extremely comfortable on bass with the foundation of how it's supposed to play.
When did you first play the guitar? I started on the guitar at 14 when my brother got a guitar for Christmas.
How did you learn to play? I was mainly self taught and toured in a band called The Shades of Autumn for eight years. When I came to California, I took lessons from Tuck Andress for four years and took two years of Music Comp. at De Anza. Tuck is the one that channeled me in the direction of understanding that the major scale is the source of everything.
Tell us a little bit more about The Shades of Autumn. We toured 6 nights a week. We had to take two weeks off at Christmas just to stop working. We played the Top 40 and there was a lot of great music coming out in the late '60s and early '70s. My life was all music in those days.
Who are some of your favorite players? My favorite musician of all time is a piano player, Bill Evans, because of the beauty of what he plays. Top guitar players: George Benson, Norman Brown, John Mayer. I have a deep love for hard rock: Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore. I mean, for me, I don't care how old I am, I'm always going to like that metal rock of Deep Purple.
Do you currently play in a band? Yes, Aja Vu (a Steely Dan tribute band) and Stealin' Chicago. More information on their websites: ajavu.com and stealinchicago.com.
Do you have any advice for students? If the student is young, I try to get them interested in understanding the concept that whatever we do in music (and understanding music) can be traced back to the major scale. So I often try to get them to enjoy making chords first so that we can play songs (instant gratification), but then I try to stress that it doesn't really matter much to memorize chords to a song unless you understand why they're there. It all comes out of the major scale, everything; the melody, the guitar solos, the voices. Everything is one of those 7 notes that comprises the chords that are being played in that song. From there, I try to go to ear training; try to train the ear to hear those 7 notes.
Do you have any advice for fellow instructors? Just think back when a student comes in with a left handed guitar and you've got to tune it. I don't care how long you've been playing, you pick up a left handed guitar to tune it and it really looks strange. So that gives you a feeling of what new students look like for anything on the guitar. Everything is strange. First thing is get them to learn how to play some chords and play some songs, memorize scale positions and work from there. Keep it simple.
What do you like about teaching at The Guitarist? I couldn't imagine a better place. You've got it set up perfect. It's not a music store where there's a bunch of products being sold all the time, it's you, you're in there to learn and I like that. And now that you've expanded to where you've pretty much got the top floor, it's a nice potpourri of things to offer. You've got pretty much everything.