Here's a transcript from a recent interview with one of our fantastic instructors.
Where are you from originally? I was born in Redwood City, but I grew up in Cupertino.
When did you first play the guitar? I started lessons when I was 11, right down the street from where my parents lived. I walked to my lessons.
How did you learn to play? I didn’t study [music] in high school. I just learned by ear, records, and cassette tapes at that time and just tried to copy the books on my own. It wasn’t until I went to De Anza College, where I studied classical guitar and then Flamenco guitar, that I just fell in love with Flamenco music in general and the guitar. I studied under Anita Sheer, the only student of Carlos Montoya’s, and she was amazing. Then I took classes to accompany dancers, Flamenco dancers, in what they call "Juergas," which are these informal jam sessions if you go to Spain.
Have you played in any bands? I started my first band with friends from that Flamenco guitar class at De Anza. We would just go to Memorial Park across the street and we would jam. Somebody knew the owner of the cafe across the street, and the rest is history. We played there every Sunday night for like 3 years and then we moved on to a Mexican restaurant every Friday night for a couple years. Then we would do weddings, private parties, Art and Wine festivals, you name it, and eventually that turned into a band called “Silk Road.” We did a CD, in 2000, where I wrote half the music and another guy, Mike, wrote the other half. It took two years to record it at one of our members' houses on a 12 track digital recorder. That group dissolved and then Mike, myself, and another musician started a band called “Thornapple.” We recorded two CDs. One in 2004 and the other in 2006. We stopped that group and I haven’t been in a band since. Now I’m just recording my own music on GarageBand; writing and recording.
What is your passion in music? It’s always been singing, playing, and writing; and those kind of go hand in hand. I’ve always loved to sing. I grew up with music in my life from my parents. We had a record store down the street called “Rainbow Records.” I was always down there. It was like Heaven to me.
Do you have any advice for students? I want my students to be into music until the day they die; whether it's playing or not. Just to share some kind of music. Hopefully they do continue on for the rest of their lives because I do say to them, “You’re building up a skill you can pass on to others: friends, family, you name it.” It's something to treasure.
Do you have any advice for fellow instructors? Be patient, be supportive and encouraging, and be passionate. I think those elements right there, and then the results will show. I believe that if you're passionate about what you do it's going to show in your teaching and your students are going to feed off your passion; not only your passion for music but also for teaching. I'm a natural encourager and I'm always encouraging my students with “keep it up” and “you're doing great.” I think you have to have that balance of being a guide and a coach. I’m just guiding them along on their own path and everybody has a different path when it comes to being a musician. You have to be their number one fan. You have to be a supporter and encourager all the time because they're going to have doubts that creep up; and you might even have doubts too, “Oh they're not getting it or whatever,” but you just have to stay the course.
What do you like about teaching at The Guitarist? How much time do you have? I feel like I have a dream job. Even though it is work and it is a job, I never feel like I’m going to work because I love it so much. I love that we have the freedom to teach our own way and to be ourselves, and I think that’s why it flourishes. You've got so many great teachers in there!