The current digital age of music and music education, is a vastly different place of opportunity and learning then when I first started out as a musician. So much great information is readily available at the push of a button. When I started playing, learning was putting a record on a turntable and playing sections over and over to try and copy some idea or part, to learn how it was done through repetition. There were almost no visual references, and the instruction books were few and limited in scope. Now the variety, complexity and detail of available instructional information is almost unlimited in scope and easy access.
Ted Greene – my main teacher, and his legacy
I have been playing and studying music for almost 45 years now, and as a professional guitar player and teacher for almost 35 years.I was really fortunate to get to study with people like John Scofield and Mick Goodrick and John Abercrombie at an early age. My most important music/guitar teacher was Ted Greene, who I was fortunate to have studied with for more than 25 years.
Ted was an incredible teacher and musician. He was a virtuoso guitarist, and also a ground breaking educator and true mentor. He developed ideas and techniques for the instrument that re-defined what was possible. He expanded the harmonic vocabulary of possibility for the instrument. Ted’s encyclopedic knowledge of music, his detailed and amazing exploration of the harmonic possibilities on a guitar, and his stunning solo guitar arrangements, all set him apart as a gifted musician and a one-of-a-kind teacher and extraordinary human being. He was also one of the kindest and most generous human beings I have ever known. The core teaching I took away from my studies was, that each human expresses themselves uniquely through music and their chosen instrument. That it is an endless exploration and that, for me as a teacher, it is important that I help students find that unique and individualized path. Ted certainly did that for me.
Find your own unique voice
What I see now for students, is an amazing wealth of information and materials available to anyone and everyone wanting to study and play guitar. There are Virtuosos literally everywhere. Thousands of online and video instructional Modules about scales and modes and techniques and speed, etc…all around developing the mechanical aspects of mastering the language of Music, and the physical and mental requirements to do so. Generally through rote practice and repetition.
What I miss is a sense of exploration and joy in the process. A desire to help people cultivate their own unique voice on the instrument in a direct and simple way. I personally am not interested in sounding exactly like someone else. (Although I do see the value in learning the way someone else does what they do through transcription and imitation, as a beginning, as a starting place.) Transcription and imitation enhances ear training and performance skills, by experiencing what and how things have already been done by masters of the instrument preceding me. The thing is, all of the people we admire and listen to, at some point chose to find and express their own unique voice, and that is why we like them! George Benson and Bireli Lagrene and Stevie Ray and Jeff Beck and Allen Holdsworth are all instantly recognizable because they hear and express themselves through their instruments in a unique way!
Music is a language
Music is essentially a language. There are other aspects that have evolved over time, but music is essentially a language that connects us in important and profound ways. The process of making music, and the economic agendas and strategies of the corporate universe and the digital sea of available media have evolved these last 100 years to a point of over-saturation, and it has become very difficult for up and coming musicians to connect and be heard. That said it is also obvious that there is a deep and important need to do exactly that, as can be seen by the thousands of musicians that continue to devote themselves to this Life pursuit and calling.
A fresh exploration of the guitar
So, I am going to start to present a series of lessons that explores Harmonic vocabulary, creative thinking, and in general a fresh examination of the guitar by emphasizing exploration and curiosity and new ways of seeing how to approach the instrument and the practice of music on Guitar.
I hope you will join me on this journey! If you have any questions or suggestions please sign up and post comments here!