It is always refreshing to witness the growth of a young musician and how exciting it is and rewarding as a teacher to see their personal students reach fruition. Of course openness to the student is imperative for the freedom of a given student’s expression. Like all the other arts, literature, painting, acting, dance and poetry, it is essential to have the proper tools to excel.

I am as a Juilliard graduate highly thankful to have been given these tools and I was inventive enough to formulate newer ideas which were only possible with this education. I am often highly distraught and disheartened to see, during my lifetime, the absolute disintegration of the opportunities for young people to learn and participate in musical projects. Of course the wonderful jam sessions in my cellar as a teenager were just as important. Education can begin by sharing with fellow young musicians and putting a band together and simply learning from each other.

However these beginnings can be taken to higher levels by having our chance to perhaps study the chorales of Johannes Sebastian Bach and analyze his chord progressions. We could thereafter try to write brand new melodies to his highly interesting chord progressions and write a tab that many guitarists and pianists could read.

If a musician doesn’t read music he can mastermind with a friend that does. We will discover that this German composer actually still has an influence on many pieces that have been written in the last 100 years. In the Afro-American tradition is Bach’s harmony the basis for many pieces and especially in the Gospel church music. The harmonies can be tastefully “bluesified” and take on a totally different character but the original resource remains the same.

With George Gershwin and Duke Ellington the mix of modal coloring of a tonal progression also came to be. Therefore in all facets of today’s music I would say it is worth our time to educate ourselves learning the structural harmony that began some 400 years ago.

In my future blogs I will be giving tips on educational processes that could spur on the world of music. I hope I can inspire not just the young but people of all ages to open up the wonderful possibilities that a furthered musical education can give us.