Hi. Here’s where I get to talk about what I do and why I do it.
I opened Hillside Music with the goal of helping others avoid the frustration I felt at my own first lessons.
From the time I was about 8 years old, what I wanted more than anything was to play the guitar. The only studio in the town where I lived then wouldn’t take students until they were 10, so for my 10th birthday my mom gave me a present of my first guitar and my first lessons.
What a disappointment! My teacher taught every student the same outdated songs out of the same outdated book, which included none of the classic rock that I was dying to learn. I went on to other teachers who could “show” me how to play a song I liked, but couldn’t teach me to learn independently.
Frustrated, I started trying to learn on my own by watching the lucky people who seemed to know the secrets. It was a slow process, but by high school I was playing for local dances and concerts.
I knew the long odds against becoming a rock star, so I became a newspaper editor instead. But I never put down that guitar. And I went on to learn the bass, mandolin, fiddle and piano. Again, I could never find anyone to teach me the music I wanted to play, so I had to learn the hard way – on my own. Like many people, I tried learning by video and tab, but they offered no help in actually understanding music. For that, I had to teach myself music theory.
I am now 15 years into a second career as a rather unusual music teacher, having had very few formal lessons and devoting myself to no particular style. I’ve played bluegrass in the hills of Kentucky, jazz in the street parades of New Orleans, jigs in the pubs of Ireland and punk rock right here at ‘Koots.
I wanted Hillside Music to be a place where students could immediately begin playing their own favorite music and not be subjected to years of the standardized “beginner” material that so many find boring. This approach has attracted a group of some of Alaska’s most experienced teachers, experts in a variety of styles that they are passionate about sharing.
Our belief is that what people want from music is a fun recreational experience, not a demanding perfectionist regimen. We don’t believe in nagging or criticizing – what we try to offer instead is encouragement and enthusiasm.
Most of our students are very satisfied with making music for their own enjoyment. But over the years I’ve seen more than a few go on to careers as performers, teachers and recording artists.
I invite you to call or e-mail to discuss your own goals…