Derek has a wealth of musical knowledge on any topic I could come up with. I tried to stump him one time with a really obscure classical music problem, and he started playing the piece from memory, illustrating what we were talking about. His understanding of music is on the level of particle physics and Albert Einstein.
Derek's teaching approach is an art form. He didn't tell me until later that he has something like 3 decades of experience doing this. But I knew from the first lesson that there was an advanced method at work.
Here is a story to show you how fast you could move with Derek's instruction. I've always had an ear for music, but I started playing fairly late in life. As a child I dropped out of the old style rote memory piano lessons. Later I picked up a few chords on the guitar, but I didn't have any music theory.
This is where I started lessons with Derek. I felt like I had a responsibility to make better use of my talents, and I came in with a strong work ethic for the notes and the practice material. Derek had a lot of respect for me in this regard, and we started moving faster and faster as I built up a fluency with the musical language.
We started out with basic chords and musical key relationships, and worked into simple solo exercises. About 2 months in, Derek walked me through the Autumn Leaves chord progression, and told me to go home and work on variations. I came back the next week with, in retrospect, some really advanced jazz chords grafted onto the song because they sounded right to my ear.
That was when Derek put me on the fast track. He told me later that he doesn't have any use for dragging talented players through dull rote memory exercises if it won't benefit them. I add that there are a lot of teachers out there that will string students along, learning individual songs with little or no theory, and essentially juicing them for cash. As the old saying goes, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for life. Derek teaches his students to fish.
To make a long story short, I came in for lessons to be a competent rhythm guitar player. Coming up on the 2 year mark, I can arrange a song in any key, play chords all over the neck, improvise solos over some really complex songs, put babies to sleep, strengthen the community, and continue in the spirit of the great musicians and composers that have had such a profound impact on our society.
Nathan P. (Current Student)