TEACHING


As a teacher I am open to working with anyone who is seriously interested in improving his or her skills as a musician – and in widening horizons or developing original ideas. Genre or style is not an issue. Recently, through my work on the "Nine Shapes of Harmony" concept, my teaching has focused somewhat on introducing guitarists to this new approach. Yet my students' interests have always been wide-ranging, and so are my methods. I teach in English and German with equal proficiency. Feel free to contact me directly.


With time I have come to appreciate the importance of ecological thinking in music. The close relationship between key words in each context – “conservation” of the environment, the “conservatory” in music education – reflects this parallel. In environmentalism, the tree has become the fundamental symbol of our effort to save the planet. As a music educator, I also see the tree, and particularly its trunk (here the German word “Stamm” is so much better!), as a guiding metaphor. In teaching, and in my own learning, I frequently think about how what I am doing relates to what has come before, how our musical language goes way back in time and is rooted in different places around the world. One of the things I have always loved about jazz is that it can go anywhere, very suddenly. An abrupt rhythmic shift from the drummer, an unexpected entry by one of the horns, and the whole band takes off in a different direction. Since we are constantly listening for the new, we often fail to notice how effortlessly the “old” is flowing. Not in the sense of playing in a retro or historical style, but in top musicians' deep-seated ability to work the language, to play inside the music without having to think about it. This is something the great masters all have, regardless of style or tradition. At the highest level it is a gift, but there is much that can be taught and learned.


Fortunately I have had opportunities to work with some wonderful musicians, both my teachers over longer periods of time (Dennis Turechek, Walter Haberl, Heimo Trixner) and in briefer encounters (Wolfgang Muthspiel, Alegre Corrêa, Arnoldo Moreno, Carlos Barbosa-Lima). Especially in situations when it was clear that I was not going to have many lessons with someone, I remember feeling frustrated at not being able to remember every note. But when I think back, I realize how much working with each of these musicians has influenced me, pushing me closer to the trunk of the tree, helping me grasp how my own music relates down its branches. When I am talking to a student, I often hear the voice of one of my teachers. Then I know – after all – I have remembered what was important.