As a teacher, and also as a performer who was always encouraged by my parents at a very young age, I am always quick to encourage and display those young players that I believe really “have it.” This has been true forever, and I really believe that it’s the manner in which I was encouraged that really helps me “pass it on” to others. It’s a joy that I have been able to give my daughter Lexie, (and of course, her late older sister, Gillian) and even though it is always bittersweet and full of pain over the loss of my precious daughter at the age of 14, I still manage to somehow keep going, and am finally able to care enough to see it in others beyond my family.
You must understand that after the accident that killed both my wife and daughter, I couldn’t even pick up a guitar for several months, even though some tried to make me, and even tried to trick me into playing for their own selfish reasons. No matter what, it was totally up to me to know when was the right time for me to feel like I could “move on” with certain aspects of my life, and to try to heal, even if just a little bit.
Well, one of the truest signs of this partial “healing process” is that I love to teach kids again, and that there is a genuine connection between me and them. They immediately pick up on the fact that I am a natural “Daddy”, who loves to encourage them, and who wants to see the best in them, but at the same time, I have learned not to be the kind who “pushes” them to the point of making them literally hate and dread the instrument!
I teach a wonderful little girl, Alexx Hoffmann, and her brother Jake Hoffmann, and Alexx has shown a real natural ability to come up with terrific songs and lyrics, often made up “on the fly” in front of people, with a poise that belies her age (just turned 7!), and of course, she just plays so wonderfully that it makes her happy, as she loves to be creative with everything I’ve shown her! It’s the perfect example of how one can take just a little musical information, and really “run with it”….writing songs, having new ideas, and really using her ear and all her creative abilities to make the most of what she knows.
The potential is mind-boggling, and she performed on Memorial Day with me and my daughter Lexie at our concert, and she was so poised, confident and relaxed! I was so proud of her, and I must admit, I was especially proud of this little one, as she made me think of my daughter Gillie, and all of her talent, poise and brilliance, not to mention all the feelings that I know her parents, her brother and my daughter Lexie must have been experiencing while watching her! Hey, I even backed her up, and was her “sideman” as well as her teacher! Nothing like encouraging and working with young and promising artists, who have the entire world ahead of them!