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Course Work: Berea College
I'm a very high-energy, passionate instructor who is devoted to spreading musical knowledge as far and wide as I can. I played bass with Berea College's Black Music Ensemble for about a year. I also helped to found their folk ensemble, playing guitar and singing with them for another year. For the past five years, I have been developing my own musical character known as Andy The Dishwasher, focusing mainly on hip hop stylistically, but branching out into multiple other genres in various side projects. These include an album I guested on called Biological Fathers by Anything But Sue, a Kentucky-based Folk/Americana band and individual tracks with multiple country musicians who required freelance guitar work. As of now, I am in the process of building a Jamgrass/hip hop fusion combo called the Springfield Resistance, and I am for hire as a freelance guitarist or bassist.
My teaching experience began shortly after I left college. I had one really excellent student who eventually graduated high school and went off to another college, and after that I left Kentucky. Since then, my teaching has mostly been limited to interested family and friends because I wanted to make sure I had a solid method together to facilitate musical growth. I resisted taking money for lessons until I felt qualified, since I had noticed with my first student that he was often confused by the lack of structure in my lessons. Now that my method has taken form more solidly, however, I feel ready and very enthusiastic to re-enter teaching professionally.
For all students, beginning or advanced, my first lesson is always a survey of their musical tastes and experience. This is important because it helps to retain motivation and passion, as well as direction on my end, for the techniques that they will learn. I also ask them to play the most difficult piece or riff that they have learned on their own so far. This will give me a good idea of the habits they have developed in their fingers as well as their current stage of growth.
From there, I prefer to gather materials on an individual basis that I believe will be helpful to that particular student. If they want to learn blues, I will start with old delta blues recordings, breaking down the simple chord structures and gradually introducing each technique that is used to elaborate them. If they want funk, I will start with Funkadelic, explaining the role of rhythm first and foremost with some basic time-keeping exercises and gradually apply them to pentatonic scales. On the other end of things, if they want to learn folk or country, I will usually start with a few basic chords and focus on strum patterns using old Woody Guthrie songs for examples, gradually working up to the more technical aspects of mountain music or blues-based country, again depending on interest.
In short, I try to make lessons very self-directed because, in my experience, the more musical decisions a student is able to make in their training, the more invested they tend to feel in the process. It is the job of the teacher, in my opinion, to gather the knowledge that a student needs for their intended goal and present it in an intelligible and digestible manner.
I've found in my own life, as well as that of some of my past students, that musical training can aid the development of memory, manual dexterity, proprioception, and a whole range of other cognitive faculties. Therefore, my motivation to teach is primarily self-development, both for myself in the process of explaining things I do intuitively, and for the student in the process of developing their own intuitive approach to their instrument. Despite my emphasis on intuition, however, I am thoroughly educated in music theory and will always provide proper musical terminology and notational descriptions for whatever techniques are intuitively arrived at or taught.
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