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Perry Thomas - Guitar

Where and how did you get your start in music?

When I was 10 years old, I worked all summer to make enough money to mail order a gasoline powered, miniature hot-rod. Instead, the company sent me a guitar by mistake. My father asked me to just give it a try, because I might like to learn to play, so I did. I have been playing guitar ever since. Eventually, I gravitated to other musicians and played in various bands.

What is your favorite style of music to play/ What is your primary instrument?

I played in classic rock bands for many years, but I became very interested in other styles about 15 years ago, including finger-style guitar, where bass lines, simple rhythms, and melodies are all played at one time. Guitar is my primary instrument.

Who is your favorite composer/ musician?

This is a hard question for me to answer, because I love so many different composers and musicians, especially guitarist. Early on, I was enthused by all the typical rock bands of the late 60’s through the 80’s Later in life, I was influenced by acoustic soloist, such as Stephen Bennett, Muriel Anderson, and many others. It is hard for me to determine who my favorite all-time guitarist would be.

What inspired you to teach/ What do you enjoy about teaching?

I have always enjoyed teaching other people, even back when I tutored in college. I always remembered how my one and only guitar teacher helped me learn to play. He had a great reputation in our town, and rightfully so, for helping his students learn how to play the guitar. Most of his students are still playing today. I enjoy helping people learn how to play the guitar and if they succeed, it is very rewarding to me.

How do you motivate students to practice?

I always tell students, from the very first lesson, that playing an instrument is no different from learning anything else. If you want to be a good tennis player, you must practice and play as much as possible, right? Learning how to play an instrument is no different. The teacher can’t learn for them, but only do their best to instruct them, while at the same time make it challenging and fun. Though I teach fundamental guitar, teaching the correct methods for playing, including at least basic music reading, counting different rhythms, time signatures, and playing scales, I also try and find out what type of music they like. This way, I can eventually model their lessons around the music and playing styles that they enjoy.

What are some unique things that you do to make a positive impact on students’ musical growth?

I think it’s important to make their lessons challenging but something realistic. When they practice hard and are ready to move on to a harder challenge, I feel they should be praised and rewarded for their efforts. Sometimes, when I am giving a student a “finger exercise,” I won’t just use a standard scale or exercise out of a book. I may ask them if there is a certain guitar “riff” that they like and if it’s possible, I will show them how to play that for their finger exercise. They get a good finger exercise, while playing something that they really like to hear. I also like to play duets with students.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Hmmm, that is a hard one, but if you were to ask my wife, she would probably say something “prickly.”
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