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BM, Duquesne University, Jazz Guitar Performance MM, Rutgers Mason Gross, Jazz Performance Studies, (graduating 2015)
I have a love for teaching students of all levels and ages. My specialty as a guitarist is in jazz, but I bring that love for improvised music to a number of other styles: blues, rock, funk, acoustic/fingerstyle, country, folk, ska, reggae, R&B etc. I graduated from Duquesne University in 2013 with a degree in jazz performance. Pittsburgh is a great jazz town with a fantastic local scene, which was a very fun and nurturing environment for me as a student. Now I am in my second and last year at Rutgers, Mason Gross School of the Arts, working towards my masters in jazz studies. Rutgers has made me a part of a network of excellent, young jazz players, which has been a huge help to my performance career.
I began teaching the summer before my last year of my undergrad (summer of 2012) I worked at a few studios outside Pittsburgh (Batavia Studios in Mars, PA and Manella Guitars in Monroeville.) Since moving to NJ I got a couple more gigs as a teacher through recommendations (Westerhoff School of Music and Art in Metuchen and Music Tech in South Brunswick.) I also have a few private students. Last summer I worked at the Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute, a one week summer camp for high school kids. I TA'ed for some of the faculty members and helped out with their ensembles and also worked privately with some of the campers on the ensemble music.
For beginner students I use the Hal Leonard method to teach reading and positioning. Chords I teach at the pace the student is learning to play them cleanly (and this varies tremendously), starting with the easier open chords and moving on to progressively more difficult voicings. There are certainly some good beginner pieces in the hal leonard books and sometimes I pull recital material out of the William Leavit book. It's also important, with all students, to make sure we can work in some music that they want to learn, whether it be Beatles, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Chili Peppers, Charlie Parker, etc. I think that's the best way to motivate a student, give them something they REALLY want to get under their fingers. I want to add that one of my strongest assets as a teacher is my very comprehensive knowledge of jazz language/theory and the role of the guitar player in jazz music. It is something that the VAST majority of guitar teachers do not possess (but often claim to.) I would be a HUGE benefit to any high school student preparing for college auditions because I have been there myself and know exactly what to expect. I have worked very hard to become a great improvisor and am eager to pass on the knowledge to younger players.
I teach reading to all of my younger and beginner students but I like to balance that with material that is a little more enjoyable for them. I like to work with the student to settle on something from their own music collection that is at an appropriate level for them to learn. I can learn guitar parts by ear very quickly so it's easy to jump right in to whatever a student may suggest, but I also have a collection of tunes at different levels that I have had success with in the past. With older students, I try to cater the lessons to their personal needs and interests. For example, It may not seem fitting or appropriate to teach single-note reading to an older student that has no experience reading music, and who may specifically want to learn to sing and accompany their voice on an acoustic guitar. You can learn to play chords on the guitar without ever looking at a staff. That is a luxury we have with the guitar, which is something that makes it different from almost every other instrument, and in my mind, just being a "chord player" is an acceptable goal for a certain type of student. Just to clarify, I would never say that reading is not important. It is very important to people like me, as a jazz player, and I take it very seriously, as do many of my students.
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