My first teaching experience, other than helping out friends along the way, was in 1976 at the Wilmington Music School in Wilmington, DE. I was fresh out of college and among my first students was a teenage girl who wanted to play electric bass in a rock band and a 76 year old jazz player (with an Ampeg Baby Bass) who claimed to have played with Charlie Parker and who wanted to learn to read music. It’s been that way ever since. I’ve been blessed with an incredible range of students from precocious 5 year olds to seniors citizens just starting out on their first instrument. Some come just to get help with a specific problem or to learn a new piece. Others come weekly for years. Many just want to play for fun alone at home or with their friends. Others have their sights set on being a professional performer. Some are professional performers who want a different perspective or want to improve their skills. All are welcome. All it takes is an interest in learning something new.
I enjoy teaching all styles of music: classical, jazz, folk, rock. My own initial training was as an orchestral bassist and I joined the Richmond Symphony and Richmond Chamber Orchestra right after high school. A few years later I continued my studies at Indiana University studying jazz and classical music while also performing with several folk and world music ensembles. In 1980 I moved to North Carolina and eventually got involved in the period instrument performance scene playing viola da gamba and violone. I also started performing on cello at that time.
I try to work with each student according his or her needs and interests while at the same time introducing new ways of thinking about and approaching music. The nice thing about playing bass is that it is an essential instrument in almost every kind of music so I encourage my bass students to expand their musical horizons as much as possible. The cello has also seen a resurgence in many kinds of music outside of the “classical” setting. Whenever it seems appropriate I try to incorporate music theory, composition, and improvisation into lessons. I use various method books for students who work well in that format as well as solo pieces and always help students with any ensemble music they are working on as that also can provide great learning experiences. I feel that most music practice is really “problem solving” and I encourage students to identify problems and address them in creative ways sometimes making up their own exercises to solve a particular problem. I strive to give students the skills to teach themselves.
I enjoy teaching students at all levels from total beginners and first time players to advanced and professional players. There is always something to learn. I am also happy to work with ensembles – whether it’s just a student wanting to play a duet with a friend or a small group working on preparing a piece for performance.