My Philosophy of Music
Music is part psychology, part math, part conversational, and all emotion. Grasping the concepts of each of these elements and understanding their interactions is key, in my opinion, to becoming a great musician. There are reasons, for example, people have coined the saying "music calms the savage beast." There is literal meaning in Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," and there's conversation and emotion exuding in songs like James Brown's "I Feel Good" and "Killing Me Softly" by Fox and Gimble. Of course, there are always technical aspects to every artistic endeavor that must be mastered, but beyond that; it's knowing what to play, how to play it, when to play, when not to play and most importantly how to listen that makes all the difference between good and great. In other words, if one truly correlates music to effective communication and substitutes the word "say" for the word "play" as used above, it is about listening and knowing what to say, how to say it, when to say it, when not to say it, and what tone of voice to use in order to effectively convey your thoughts and ideas.
I have dedicated my life to the exploration of all of the aforementioned elements and employ what I have learned over the years in every aspect of my musical being. Whether recording for records, teaching, composing, or performing, my goal is to give the listener, the student, or the client a memorable experience that will exceed their expectations and touch the core of their soul!
Thoughts on Music Instruction and Learning Theories
There are many great players in world and definitely in the Los Angeles area. Being a great teacher goes beyond one's own performance skills and becomes more about how effectively you are able to communicate with your students. Communication is a two way street. So, an instructor must be able to listen and understand one’s students goals and expectations and also be able effectively convey the concepts you are trying to teach. I've had many teachers is my life ranging from music to education to martial arts to religion. A prudent teacher not only draws from their own personal life experiences, but also from the methods used but one’s previous teachers, the study of learning itself, psychology, communications; and most importantly being open to learn from any possible source…especially one's own students. Teaching is both a science and an art unto itself.
In my personal teaching system, I incorporate experiences I've gained over the years as a professional studio musician, songwriter, record producer and performer as well as philosophies from martial arts and other learning and teaching systems to provide a unique fast, easy to learn approach to the guitar. Realizing that no two students are the same, I feel that it important to take the time to really understand how each individual learns and meet them where they are. I also like to utilize various forms of emerging media and technologies (audio, print, YouTube videos, software, smartphones, etc.) that are relevant to today's consumers as teaching tools. We are now in an age where all kinds of information are easily and freely accessible. It only makes sense to incorporate this information and these mediums into one’s own teaching curriculum to broaden the horizons of both oneself and your students. As a result of combining all of these strategies, I typically have gotten feedback from many of my students that they have been able learn concepts and techniques that they have struggled with for years with other teachers and have been amazed at the speed of how fast they improve and grow during my instruction. To quote actor Diego Boneta in a recent interview with film critic Emanuel levy 2012: "Eric Jackson…The Mr. Miyagi of guitar":)
I started teaching as a favor to Adam Anders and Peer Angston (music producers of Glee). They had several artists that were preparing for showcases and asked if I would help him get their artists ready for some upcoming performances. After the first showcase, Peer came up to me the next day and asked "what did you do?…I've never heard them play like that". After that experience they brought in more artists and I received the same reaction and responses. From there, other music producers had me work with their artists and then some of the producers themselves wanted to learn guitar so that they could write and now play their own recordings. My career as a teacher was, thus, spawned.
What was unique about my teaching methods versus than that of others? Put simply I:
- listened to the goals of the student and client
- streamlined what I was teaching to meet that specific goal
- used theories in psychology and learning concepts to increase retention
- used mediums like YouTube and iTunes and various websites as teaching tools
An example of one of the learning concepts that I used involved theories on attention span. Typically the average attention span of an adult is 20 minutes. Therefore, my cramming too much information into an hour can have diminishing returns. Instead I limit the amount of information to 1-3 specific techniques or concepts in shorter spurts of time and drill those extensively. The net result, again, has yielded greater retention, understanding, and execution of the techniques and concepts, thus, allowing me to move the students along faster towards their goals.
In conclusion, teachers must always remain a student themselves, not only evolving, expanding and discovering new ways of disseminating their teachings, but always striving to improve every aspect of their own playing and experiences... if for no other reason than for the benefit and responsibility we owe to our students.