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"Most of my courses are in composition: traditional tonal harmony, counterpoint techniques of Johann Sebastian Bach, and contemporary techniques for composers, including guitar composers. Many people think we're just theorists in the composition department, but I'm an active performer. So if I'm talking to students about Bach's style of writing music, I'll start playing Bach on the guitar. And their eyes open wide because some of them have never heard guitar that sounds like this."
"When I play a jazz piece for them, they ask me, 'How can you do this? I thought you played only classical.' I tell them that I play the classical guitar, but that doesn't mean I play only classical music. I try to teach them that if I can do it, they can do it."
"When I was a kid, the only thing on my mind was to create a rock band. That was my window to music, because after I started learning songs on the guitar that had only two or three chords, I said, 'I can do better than this.' Then I went to a conservatory and found the world of classical music. So a little rock group is what brought me to this."
"I see myself in my students. This is their time to be exposed to all ideas of music. I can influence them—help them be more technically oriented and more sophisticated in their writing. This is the first time I've taught students who are not so much oriented toward classical music. I can teach them how much classical music helps them develop their own art.
"I tell students, 'You cannot become an artist without discipline, like an athlete: wake up in the morning, do your scales, and do your theory exercises. It doesn't matter if you know it, you still have to do it every day so your body and mind can always be in shape.' I also tell them to have respect for what they do—that if they don't, no one will respect them back. And in terms of performance or composition, I say to my students, 'No matter how or what you do when you are out there, only be sure that they will never forget you.'"