Tom took time off of his busy schedule to talk to us about
his experiences with teaching online, as well as developing a personalized
teaching approach with his students.
MW: How did you get your start as a guitar teacher?Â
TD: I guess informally it happened when some friends of my
brother wanted to learn a few things.Â
That was my first exposure.Â But
after that it was through my work at the National Guitar Workshop.Â I was a student there when I was in high
school and towards the end of high school I became an assistant teacher.Â
MW: Did any of your teachers have an influence on your
private teaching approach?
TD: ALL OF THEM!Â
Growing up, my first serious guitar teacher Phil Hayes was very thorough
in presenting theory and concepts on the guitar.Â He also had a way of laying things out on the
page that was clear and effective.Â My
guitar teacher in college, Ted Dunbar, deeply reinforced learning the totality
of the instrument.Â We spent a lot of
time together focusing on sound and note connection.Â In my graduate studies I worked with Rodney
Jones, who really encouraged me to bring out my own voice on the
instrument.Â I try to draw from all of
the various teachers I have been fortunate to study with.
MW: As someone who draws from many influences in their
playing how do you encourage students to explore different genres and styles of
TD: First of all, I strongly encourage students to listen to
the music resonating within their own being.Â
Thatâ€™s the connection to their inner voice.Â Be open to everything.Â The world of music is a rich and powerful experience.Â Take away the genre names and just listen to
the music.Â The more you expose yourself
to different kinds of music the better musician you will become.Â Know what you like and know what you donâ€™t
like.Â But be open to all kinds of music.
Your life will be forever transformed by participating in music as a listener
as well as musician.Â
MW: In your opinion how has technology, especially the
internet, changed the landscape of guitar education in recent years and where
do you see it headed in the future?
TD: Well the first thing that technology has done is allowed
for a TON of information to be available at a very reasonable cost if not for
free.Â When I was coming up I couldnâ€™t
afford to buy all the music that I wanted to hear, as it was hard to find.Â So I went to the library and checked out any
recordings I could find there.Â Now with
things like ITunes you can be exposed to so much more.Â And with other free video content like on you
tube you can be exposed to even more.Â
Then there are web sites like workshoplive.com, where you
can be exposed to lots of different teachers in different genres all in one
place.Â There is also great technology
for learning tunes where you can slow things down without changing the pitch,
just incredible. Â You can
loop things and slow them down, or speed them up, to learn things better.Â There is just so much you can do now to help
you get deeper into the music.
As far as the future
I think we are already starting to see some of it come together with real time
internet lessons, video content and the ability to exchange thoughts and ideas
almost instantly.Â Just this morning I
was chatting with a guitar player from Turkey, in real time, who knew of
my music and had questions about my style.Â
It is just amazing to be able to share information like that.MW: You are such an experienced and accomplished performer
as well as an educator.Â How has your
teaching experience influenced your performing and vice-versa?
TD: For me there is no separation.Â It all falls under the umbrella of being a
musician.Â It is important for the continuum
of the music to share knowledge with other players of different abilities.Â Teaching also helps to solidify my concepts
as a musician.Â By being able to
articulate concepts to others, you are able to deepen your own understanding of
what you do and what you play.
MW: What advice do you have for people who are just starting
to teach guitar?
TD: Never stop realizing that you are as much as student
when you teach as you are a teacher. If you do this you will grow in the
process as a teacher and a musician.Â Â Be
able to truly listen to the student to try and bring out the music within.Â And if you are getting into teaching to make
money and thatâ€™s it, than find something else.Â
I never schedule students back to back because every lesson doesnâ€™t take
exactly 30 or 60 minutes.Â In serving the
student you are serving the music.Â And
serving the music is the legacy that we can all leave as musicians.Â
MW: What advice do you have for students when they are
looking for a private teacher?
TD: Ultimately you will know if a teacher clicks for
you.Â If you can, go hear the prospective
teacher perform.Â If you like how they
play then try them out for a lesson.Â And
remember that ultimately you are your own teacher.Â You have to do the work.Â Also keep in mind that no one teacher holds
all the secrets.Â Get different
perspectives on the instrument whenever possible.Â Practice consistently and have fun.Â Playing music is such a groove.
MW: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.
TD: No problem!
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