|Teacher Thomas with his student Rohan|
I was about 9 years old when I started playing the guitar seriously. But I have been experimenting with music since I could remember. I remember taking music boxes and trying to make them harmonize with one another.
2. Why did you choose guitar and not another instrument?
Well, originally I was a violinist for 7 years but when I heard the sound of the guitar I immediately fell in love with the sonority of the instrument. I was amazed by the instruments capabilities from J.S Bach to bop. The swiss pianist Alfred Cortot once said “An artist has three lives. The first is a love of the instrument, the second is when one understands the value of music and the third is artistry.” So at the end of the day, the guitar is just the instrument I choose to express myself with.
3. Can you tell us when you knew that you would become a professional musician?
You know, now that I'm thinking about it, it was not a really profound moment per say. I was with my aunt driving in Noe Valley when I was about 13 and “So What” by Miles Davis was playing. I remember that when he started that trumpet solo with only two notes I felt that I had been hit with a bag of bricks. I remember thinking that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
4. Tell us about your musical & educational background.
I first started studying music on the east coast in Baltimore when I went to an arts high school. I was really fortunate to have such great teachers and mentors at such an early age. I then decided to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where I studied under David Tanenbaum to complete my B.A. After this I made the decision to move to France where I studied with Judicael Perroy in Paris and then at the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin with my mentor Alexis Muzarakis. My years in France had an enormous impact not just as a performer and musician but also as an educator of music. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had such great examples of teachers and musicians.
5. What do you love most of about teaching?
After playing music for almost twenty years, I still am so amazed by the simple mechanics of music. Because of the vibration of a string, we can be moved to tears. As a teacher, when I find that spark in a student that ignites excitement and they become so overwhelmed with happiness to do that one thing, for me, this is the best part. I think that along with continuing progress from the student, these are the reasons why we teach.
6. How do you approach teaching music to your students?
Because music is at the same time very personal yet also a language spoken throughout the whole world, I try to find something in every student that sparks an interest in them. It could be Classical music or Pop music or really anything. While at the same time teaching the technique and base of music to enable a student to function in the world of music.
7. Tell us one practice tip that you want to share.
Slow practicing! It really enables students to focus more on the problem at hand. This can be really tedious for students and I often hear that it takes to much time, but on the contrary it is extremely time efficient and can eliminate many future problems.
8. What are some things you enjoy doing when you're not practicing, performing, or teaching?
Often the case now, I unfortunately don’t have a lot of down time because I am preparing for concerts or teaching. But, when I do find one of those rare moments, I very much enjoy gourmet coffee. I, like many other, LOVE great food. Also, language is another interest that I am always trying to further.
Teacher Thomas is accepting new students. Contact the New Mozart Office to schedule a complimentary trial lesson.
New Mozart School of Music
305 N. California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94301
Visit us on the web: www.NewMozartSchool.com