My Days at GIT (Part 1)

There are lots of things that fondly I remember about MI. I was there in ’87-88. The daily drive to Hollywood was NOT one of them. Some might say think that it was the environment, the classes, the facility, etc. The highlight for me was the instructors.

There were a number of people that made a huge difference in my playing, that I am only starting to be able to realize. To that end, I am going to acknowledge a few here publicly. Those that I don’t is not meant as a slight or anything like that, it’s likely just that my memory stinks and it’s been over twenty years. How about a break, please? 😛

The program was divided into the core stuff that you needed to do to progress through the program, everything else was elective. As with anything, if it’s dull and boring, it can make it hard to “get up for it”. All of the instructors I’ll mention here did their level best to make learning interesting, fun and effective. I don’t think you can ask for more. Here’s the list:

  • Core
    • Bruce Buckingham – Bruce was responsible for teaching me Harmony & Theory and a few other core classes. He was a fountain of knowledge and was always engaged in something. He’s got a great book published through MI press called Chord-Melody Guitar: A Guide to Combining Chords and Melody to Create Solo Arrangements in Jazz and Pop Styles (Musicians Institute: Private Lessons). He had a real knack for explaining things simply and effectively and I think his book demonstrates that.
    • Steve Trovato – Steve was my main instructor for Single String / Improv (in all its incarnations through the four phases). He was also the elective instructor for Country, which I spent a lot of time with him on. A very funny guy and excellent player. If you ever get the chance to hear him, make sure you request that he play “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” — it will blow your mind!! Yes, it’s that good. My favorite memory of Steve is the last gig that he played with “Pedro and The Chinamen”.
    • Charlie Fechter – Charlie was my sight reading instructor and a real good guy. He was a great reader and took something that most of us dreaded and made it tolerable… dare I even say fun!?!? Additionally, he also taught a class called Guitarmanship that really helped me. Understanding how to warm up and economize finger movements. Great stuff. Of all of the folks I’ve searched for on the internet, he’s been the hardest to track down. Charlie, are you out there???
  • Elective
    • Tommy Tedesco – What a resource and down to earth guy. Talk about “been there, done that” — in spades! The thing I appreciated most about Tommy was his ability to be practical about what it was like to be a working session musician.
    • Carl Schroeder – Carl is still teaching at MI and I took classes from him on composition and arranging. I learned a lot from his courses and his twisted sense of humor (which I really relate to and appreciate). Who would provide a sample lead sheet with the lyrics “why is your wife always cheating on us…”?? Who would have thought of using The Beatles as a way of investigating composition?? Carl, that’s who.
    • Ron Eschete – Ron is a great guitarist and a wonderful person. He is both generous, genuine and was always trying to be helpful. I think he’s perhaps one of the most harmonically interesting performers you’d ever have the chance to hear. He’s got a great melodic and temporal sense as well. He taught the elective on Chord Melody and I didn’t do nearly enough study with him. If I had one regret about my time at MI, not spending more time with Ron would be a tie for first place. Much of the stuff that Ron showed me, I am only now starting to really appreciate. His last album with his trio (“In The Middle”) is so tasty that I just wear it out! He regularly plays at Steamers Jazz Club in Fullerton, CA. I try to attend as much as I can.  If you ever get the opportunity to hear him live, you should jump on it. I don’t think I can say enough good things about Ron.  One thing I can say hands down is that Ron hasn’t had the level of recognition that he truly deserves.
  • Both
    • “Stormin'” Norman Brown – I can say without hesitation that Norman was a wonderful human being (not that he isn’t one anymore, mind you). You always had the sense of being more than who you considered yourself to be when you were around him. Yes, he’s a monster musician (if you don’t have his stuff, please check him out), but he’s real. I’ve not seen him in a long time, but I’m sure that despite his success, he’s maintained that special something. I mean, seriously, how many times can you sit through players absolutely BUTCHERING “Blue Bossa”, “Cantaloupe Island”,  “On Broadway”, etc. day after day while maintaining your generosity and have a smile on your face??? LOL Enough said. If anyone I met there deserved to be wickedly successful, Norman is the one!

I think it’s important to appreciate those that have helped shape your views on things. These guys certainly did that. For that I am grateful to each of them.

August 4, 2009 · kengon · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Music

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