Guitar and Bass Guitar
B.M Guitar Performance, The George Washington University
M.M. Guitar Performance, San Francisco Conservatory
Classical, Jazz, and Pop
I teach guitar and bass. I am a native of the Philadelphia area and grew up in a family of professional musicians who planted the seed for my musical explorations. I began playing electric guitar at the age of fourteen and shifted to classical guitar during my undergraduate studies. I revel in the performance of new works and the expansion of concert repertoire.
I played the U.S. premiere of Nikita Koshkin’s Megaron Concerto with string orchestra and have performed for a number of audiences, including the Reading Symphony Orchestra League, and the Settlement Music School – the home of the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society. In addition to classical performance, I have played jazz guitar on stage with the eminent composer Maria Schneider, and saxophonist Dave Liebman.
I completed my bachelor’s degree at The George Washington University in 2011 while studying with Berta Rojas. I presented a lecture-recital on Manuel Maria Ponce’s Sonatina Meridional as my graduation thesis, with the composer Douglas Boyce as my adviser. I previously studied classical guitar with Orlando Roman, and jazz guitar with John Albertson and Chris Covatta.
I completed a Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the studio of Marc Teicholz.
When did you begin playing Guitar, and why?
I started when I was 14 years old; there was an acoustic guitar around the house and one day I decided to play! A few months later I had an electric guitar and was well on my way to a lifelong love of the instrument. I would play for hours on end when I first started, it was something that really took me.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
My first instrument was the drum kit, which really helped with my rhythm. Nowadays I focus on all styles of guitar and bass guitar.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
For the audience and my students, I love sharing why music is important to us all and how it can profoundly affect you. There is something about experiencing music together that is truly indescribable.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I was in a jazz ensemble playing a song called “Hang Gliding” by Maria Schneider and we were lucky enough to be working with the composer herself on it. It’s a difficult piece and requires a lot of focus, but has a rather light texture. I will never forget during one section where the feeling was a little off, Ms. Schneider looked at our pianist and mimed an airplane with her arms and smiled at him. She was able to express the feeling of the piece and convey how to refocus our attention from making sure the notes were right and to let the zeal of the piece guide our thoughts. All with a simple gesture. The concept I took from that is sometimes explanation, talking, and repetition of a given section are not always the best solutions. Sometimes you must find a way to connect with the music in novel ways.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Most students will laugh, but playing slowly when you practice is actually the best general advice any teacher has given me. My grad school instructor, Marc Teicholz, often remarked how when you play every mistake is heightened to a degree that most audiences will not notice. It’s easy to be hyper critical of yourself, but learning to enjoy the sound of your playing and let yourself be in the musical moment is massively important.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
I had a wrist/arm injury in the past, and retraining my technique and being honest with myself about practice habits was quite challenging.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
Performing the U.S. premiere of Nikita Koshkin’s Megaron Concerto was quite an undertaking. Just coordinating a small orchestra was a feat unto itself. The concerto is forty minutes long, fairly difficult, and we had never run it fully through until the day of the performance! It was greatly rewarding to play what I feel is a fantastic piece of music.
Favorite thing about teaching?
Seeing students start to put the pieces together of why music is so vital. It’s great to see a student perform well, but it’s the love and understanding of why music matters that I cherish more.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
To young students: Slow down when you practice, and practice every day.
To adults: Have a goal and works towards it. Be honest with yourself about how much time you need to improve at an instrument.
Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc.
I’ve been working with my wife, who is a soprano opera singer, on a concert program that we just started performing. My main focus is classical guitar, which is mostly solo repertoire. I love playing the music of Sergio Assad and Nikita Koshkin, and am hoping to have some program material ready soon.