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MA in Music Composition, University of California, Santa Cruz
BA in Music, Unversity of California, Santa Cruz
Jesse began playing guitar at the age of 12 in his home town of Silver City, New Mexico after hearing Metallica for the first time and thinking "I wanna do that!" Deeply inspired by the do-it-yourself ethic of early 'Nineties bands such as Nirvana and others who were part of the increasingly popular grunge and rock scenes, Jesse picked up the electric guitar and began teaching himself to play. He started playing in his first bands and gigging around his home state at age 14.
Upon graduating high school, Jesse decided to further pursue his musical interests in an academic environment and began studying music theory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Here Jesse was introduced to the world of classical guitar, which became a consistent passion throughout his college career. Studying under renowned performer Mesut Ozgen, Jesse immersed himself in the classical guitar repertoire and discovered a fondness for somewhat avant-garde composers of the 20th century, particularly the colorful work of the Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer. While working towards his degree Jesse often performed as a soloist and as a member of the UC Santa Cruz Guitar Ensemble.
After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in music, Jesse decided to try his hand at composing and went on to recieve a Master's degree in composition, also from the University of California, Santa Cruz. During this time he composed music mostly for chamber ensembles, including several string quartet and guitar ensemble pieces. He also began to experiment with introducing rock elements into the classical music environment (with varying degrees of success!), composing several pieces for ensembles of strings and woodwinds which also featured electric guitar, electric bass, and drum set. Jesse has also spent time studying the music of eastern Europe and the far east, and he has traveled to Asia and performed with local folk musicians there. A piece he composed for guitar and gayageum (a Korean string instument) had it's premiere performance at a national folk festival in Seoul, South Korea.
Throughout his academic studies, Jesse has continued to express his love of non-classical genres and has performed with countless rock, punk, metal, reggae and bluegrass bands throughout New Mexico, California and Texas. He currently performs in Austin as a solo artist and also as a member of the experimental rock/metal trio Vanished Clan, and with Nefesh, an acoustic gypsy-folk ensemble.
Jesse has been teaching in the Austin area for four years now. In addition to his work with Musika he also teaches at several private music schools and is a guitar instructor with the Austin Independant School District.
For those interested in learning the fundamentals of music reading and music theory I will usually recommend the following books and methods:
The FJH Young Beginners Series
The Hal Leonard Guitar Method
For students interested in classical guitar, I use the following method books:
Pumping Nylon, Scott Tennant
Classical Guitar for Young People, Matt Hinsley
All method books by Aaron Shearer
I do my best to keep things fun and relaxed. Music should be a joy, not a chore. Guitar does require hard work though, and I expect my students to practice and show me their progress each week. I usually try to give all my students a basic understanding of music theory and to get them started reading music, even if they are mainly interested in rock or pop music.
I started playing guitar when I was about 12 years old for one reason: I loved music and wanted to be just like the musicians in the bands I was interested in. Over the years I've learned a lot about what it takes to be a real performing guitarist and I am interested in helping students realize their dreams of starting bands and discovering the joy of performing and playing with other like-minded musicians.
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