Statement of Purpose – I have always loved making music, and sharing this essential form of expression through teaching is something I hold very near and dear. As a long-time friend of Gryphon Stringed Instruments and the Gryphon community, it’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to offer instruction on these mysteriously beautiful sounding instruments, and to introduce music lovers of all ages, abilities, and interests to the myriad of sounds and musical styles they encompass.
Biography – Growing up in rural Illinois, I learned piano and Classical violin in grade school, guitar in my teens, and then moved to the Bay Area to attend college at Stanford University. Although I consider myself a Bay Area resident, I’ve lived in many other places including Germany, South Korea, Washington, DC, and Chicago. Over the years, I’ve taught myself how to play a number of other stringed instruments, including fiddle, mandolin, 4- and 5-string banjo, acoustic and electric bass, tenor guitar, and lap, pedal steel and resophonic guitar. Musical interests? Jazz, Country, Blues, Western Swing, Bluegrass, Afro-pop, and yes, even Rock ‘n’ Roll.
These days, I am a full-time music instructor with over 50 students on various instruments. For the past 20 years, I have served as an arts administrator in the Classical music world, and currently serve on the Board of Directors of the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. I perform with two bluegrass bands (Cabin Fever and Bound to Ride) and play steel guitar and fiddle with a country/rockabilly band (The B Stars). Did I mention that I love making music?
Teaching Philosophy – Each of us learns differently. One size does not fit all, particularly in our approaches to learning music and musical instruments. A teacher’s most important resource is the ability to observe, listen, and then inspire. I strive to match each person’s unique approach to learning an instrument with the proper balance of the technical, mechanical, aural, cognitive, theoretical, and just plain practical (and other stuff, too). Common to all learning styles, though, is the need for what is engaging, satisfying and fun. Practice always helps, too.
Pedal Steel Guitar by Winnie Winston/Bill Keith
The granddaddy of pedal steel instruction books, explains many of the intricacies of the instrument with tabs for players at all levels. A great discography section of classic pedal steel recordings, and a bonus section of copedants/tunings of the greats. Highly recommended.
Basic C6 Nonpedal Lap Steel Method by DeWitt Scott
A basic explanation of the C6 lap steel tuning popularized by Jerry Byrd. The tablature is relatively simple and the tunes are basic through intermediate. A good framework to become familiar with this tuning in a 6-string format and eventually a 10-string format and beyond. Recommended.
The Art of Hawaiian Steel Guitar, Vol. 1 and 2 by Stacey Phillips
A thorough examination and explanation of several standard Hawaiian tunes and players done mostly in open A tuning, with some E7 and C6 and various tunings as well. A lifetime’s worth of arrangements, Mr. Phillips’s tabs are also varied in their approach and positioning of the same melodies, which is a plus. Highly recommended.
Don Helms – Steel Guitar Song Book by DeWitt Scott
One of the most recognized early steel guitar sounds that graced the recordings of Hank Williams and others, Don Helms playing is basic but essential material to anyone wanting to understand and play country steel guitar. Written in Don’s high E tuning. Recommended.
Lap Steel Guitar by Andy Volk
More of a history of the lap steel and its great players than an instructional aide, Andy Volk’s excellent book examines the styles, instruments and narratives of many of the formative players, and also goes into some of the most popular tunings. A must.