Bruce Bartlett has been an associate professor and clinician in Berklee College of Music's Guitar Department for 15 years. He has taught groove ensembles in Italy, Argentina, Los Angeles, and on campus. His band, the Bruce Bartlett Trio, has played nationally and internationally and released three CDs: Nasty Habits, Free for a Price (featuring Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums), and Instant Gratification.
Bartlett began his career as a recording session guitarist at the age of 19, working for producer Arthur Baker in New York City. He played rhythm guitar for several underground recordings for R&B artists in the early '80s. More recently, he recorded a live performance DVD with John Blackwell (drummer for pop legend Prince) for Hudson Music. He also composed most of the material for the Modern Drummer Festival 2000 at Montclair University in New Jersey, where he was also a featured soloist. Bartlett's sideman and leader work includes performances at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Quebec Jazz Festival, and Indonesia Jazz Festival. He has opened for Weather Report and Hirman Bullock, and performed with Chick Corea on Chick Corea Day in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 2001. Currently, he is performing with Sam Kininger, the featured saxophonist on Soulive recordings.
"I first got a guitar and started playing when I was 6. I had an ear for melody and could just naturally play; I was picking out melodies from the beginning. Since I was in my teens, I've been teaching even while I was playing in studios and traveling. Each time I went to a different city, someone might ask me for a lesson. I would also try to find the best guitarist in that area and take a lesson with him. So all my teaching is from my own experiences."
"I do a variety of things in my private lessons, from a lot of technically oriented stuff to jazz improvisation. I also help students change bad habits that can lead to hand problems. My ultimate direction is pretty simple: make my students musically strong so that they have more choices on the back end. Whether they want to get into the blues or work on jazz improvisation on the way to more contemporary improvisation, I can help them because I've studied and worked on all of that stuff."
"Somebody once told me that one of the main things about learning how to teach is when you look at the student next to you. Try not to look at yourself, try to focus on where that person is because their strength might be your weakness. I am not going to assume that my students want to work on whatever it is that I'm working on. You don't have to go through 20 or 30 years of busting your chops before you actually learn something cool."
"The best thing about teaching or learning how to play music is the balance between technical information and whatever your heart and soul feel. Hopefully the technical information is only the vehicle for what you're really trying to do. I want my students to stay focused through the ups and downs, and to trust in what they believe in. I try to reinforce that they should learn as much as they can and be as versatile as possible because the competition is very high. I also tell them to respect and learn from the past as they're trying to go forward."