Rick Heizman


Rick is a master guitarist, excelling in jazz through classical, and everything in-between: Brazilian and ragtime, blues and baroque, Beatles and blues, open tunings and more. He is especially well-known for his amazing solo guitar renditions of jazz and pop tunes (great Beatles arrangements, the complete 21 minute Rhapsody in Blue), and brilliant guitar arrangements of non-guitar classical pieces (Chopin piano pieces, baroque string ensembles). Rick plays classical guitars, steel sting acoustics, electric guitars, and an assortment of ‘oddly strung guitars’. For over 30 years Rick has been teaching at Gryphon – making him one of the pillars of the teaching staff. He also is an ethnomusicologist who has studied music of many cultures, and can play a colorful assortment of instruments such as the African balafon, mbira and kora, and the Asian koto, zheng, dan trash, and kayagum, as well as the Middle Eastern ud, tar, and setar. Rick adapts some of the music of these other instruments and cultures to the guitar – making some very interesting guitar music.

Rick has recorded many CD’s of his own music – playing guitar of course, as well as other works instruments, and has written and recorded music for over a dozen films.

In a day of teaching, Rick may be teaching one student a baroque lute suite, and the next a George Gershwin gem, then some clever arrangements of Beatles tunes, and of course, with any of it, music theory, scale knowledge, advanced chord wisdom, and how to think in another tuning.

Students have different ways of learning, and Rick will teach students in the manner that is most effective for them. There are students with creative ideas that need to be developed and refined, and then there are students who may have some ability, but need to learn how to be creative and expressive.
There are students who will try to play a piece ‘exactly as written’ and those who will add or adjust as they see fit – and that, actually, is good and encouraged (unless it’s a smokescreen to cover lack of ability!)


CHORD THEORY – chord construction, chord enhancement, chord variations, substitute chords, chord progressions and why and how they work

CHORD CREATIVITY – playing ‘games’ with chords, inserting passing chords, substituting chords, simplifying a complex chord progression, enhancing a simple chord sequence

SCALE THEORY – what are scales really? the many major-type, minor-type, and dominant type scales; the modes with the funny names – Lydian, Dorian, Phrygian, Locrian, etc – and scales from other world cultures – Hungarian minor, Japanese minor pentatonic, Indian raga scales

USING SCALES – how to know which – of many – minor scales to use on a given minor chord; which altered dominant scales to use on a given 7#5 chord, or a 13b9 chord; how to know when to switch to another scale in a chord progression; how to ‘riff’, phrase, and improvise with sequences; what are color tones?

HARMONIC ANALYSIS – how to explain and rationalize a piece – whether it’s classical, jazz or pop, and what you can do with that knowledge

INTERPRETATION & STYLE – how to really play a style – with the nuances, riffs, phrasing, or other particulars that make up that style; how to play a piece in a different style

TECHNIQUE – how to improve picking technique, patterns to do so; how to improve finger-picking technique, patterns to do so; scale exercises; creative techniques

REPERTOIRE – expand your world of music, learn music that you never knew existed, build up a decent repertoire, maintain your repertoire

SONG WRITING & COMPOSITION – as a top graduate in music composition, I can offer great help and insight into developing and refining your own ideas; and if you have not written or come up with any origin ideas – but you want to – I can help get you started.

email: [email protected]
phone: (415) 806-7425