Rob Balducci Interview - Guitar In 3D

US guitarist Rob Balducci first gained attention in the mid 1990’s with his well received independently produced debut album ‘Balance’. Many rock ‘guitar virtuoso’ who first appeared on the scene in that ‘muso’ unfriendly decade gave it up due to the unfavourable musical climate, but Rob kept working away and – particularly since the turn of the century – has enjoyed a steady rise in his fortunes.

Rob has a first class technical command of his instrument, but is very much from the thoughtful and creative end of the virtuoso spectrum – not for Rob endless streams of 64th notes and gratuitous shredfests – rather a thoughtful and incisive approach to the bigger picture that emphasises melody and the song.

In 2002 Rob scored a highly coveted recording deal with Steve Vai’s famed Favored Nations label, and is also enjoying a close relationship with the UK’s Cornford Amplification. Both are contributing factors to the fact that Rob has enjoyed a considerably higher profile in the last couple of years, with much increased international exposure.

Rob Balducci

His third, and latest, album ‘The Color of Light’ looks set to build upon these firm foundations and take Rob to the next level.

In the Beginning

Talks with Rob in July 2006 on the eve of embarking on his most ambitious US Tour to date, with fellow Favored Nations recording artist – and member of Steve Vai’s Band – Dave Weiner. Rob takes up his story…

I grew up in Queens, New York and still live there today. I first picked up the guitar in the late 70’s aged around 11. My elder sister had one hanging around the house, and I remember one day going up to her and getting her to show me a couple of chords…and that was it, I was away!

Pretty much straight away I practised a lot, and it got me away from worrying about other things…I was diagnosed with diabetes. As a way of dealing with that, and sort of forgetting whatever other problems I had to face in real life, I got heavily into music and playing the guitar. I found it really therapeutic I guess, and I knew from very early on that this was something I would stick with.

A Young Rob B

Did you have any lessons?

I started out a local guitar school – I still have my first lesson book! – just doing typical beginner stuff, like single note melodies on the High E, and some basic music reading exercises. It was a pretty traditional guitar school, mainly jazz based, and I got a real good grounding on the instrument. I graduated to an electric guitar after about 18 months and got a Gibson “The Paul” model – one of those all wood ones – which I’ve keep ever since. I had lessons at this school from 11 to around 14/15 – at that point I started teaching there myself.

That must have been fairly unusual, and you were young to hold a position like that – how did this happen?

What happened was that a lot of kids around my age – and younger – were only really interested in rock guitar, and for the existing teachers…well it wasn’t exactly their bag! So, they asked me to handle that side of things.
I’d progressed quickly, and by the age of 15 was a pretty competent player.

At this time I’d also started playing with a band by the name of ‘Vision’, and the guys in the group were all a few years older than me, and were pretty experienced having played the club circuit. When I first joined I actually had to have my Father chaperone me! Anyway, we were doing a broad spread of songs – the Stones, The Cars, some Hendrix – varied stuff you know? They were all experienced ‘band players’ which helped me to progress a lot – you play with people better and more experienced than you, it’s simple – you‘re gonna get better real quick. That all definitely helped in my development as a player.

We were a two guitarist band, and the other guitar player was Tommy Bolan who ended up in Doro’s band Warlock! So we both did alright, I guess!

Rob Balducci

The late 1970’s was a particularly fertile time in the development of rock guitar. Arguably most important of which was the Heavy Rock explosion, but the 70’s also saw the rise of a number of sub genres such as Progressive Rock, AOR, Heavy Metal, Punk and to a lesser – but still significant – degree, Jazz Rock. Newcomers to the art of rock guitar in this period had a much wider palette of influences to absorb than the previous generation’s diet of hard electric blues. Hovering above all else, particularly Stateside, was the spectre of a certain Eddie Van Halen. What artists and bands did you draw inspiration from in the early years of your playing?

Most of my early influences came from my sister and her friends, so I would listen to bands like the Rolling Stones; the first record I bought was Kiss ‘Destroyer’, so it was all rock’n’roll! Then I was turned on to Jeff Beck, my sister had the ‘Wired’ record and that was my first introduction to that sort of ‘virtuoso guitar’ music. To this day that’s still one of my favourite record; the way that my career has gone – with all the instrumentals – I’m sure that listening to Beck at an early age and really digging him has subconsciously influenced me musical direction.

Also, I’ll always remember when Tommy – the other guitarist in ‘Vision’ – brought in the first Van Halen record and played it…I was totally blown away! Although I do remember saying “Wow that guitar playing is absolutely killer…but those damn vocals!” Now all these years later I love Dave Lee Roth and appreciate him for what he is – but as a 15 year old I just wanted to hear that ripping guitar, not Dave doing his crazy stuff!

Funny story, I was actually contacted by Dave regarding a song off of my Mantra CD; the song was “Pressure” and he wanted to use it on one of his solo CDs, and write some vocals to it etc… but we never ended up doing it. To bad… it would have been cool!

Rob Balducci

What were you doing educationally during this period? (1983-87)

After studying – and then teaching – at my local guitar school, I went to a music college in Long Island called ‘Five Towns College’. I enrolled in the Jazz Guitar Program. You know, I did the whole thing: I had my Real Book, so we’d do all the standards; lots of music reading; jazz chord melody playing, and lots of performance as well. It was really cool. I also had extra private lessons to work on stuff that I wasn’t so cool on in class. Back then my music reading was really pretty good – I definitely can’t do it like that now!

Nowadays I don’t actually need to read much for my own music career, so it’s dropped off, but back then it was a big part of the program – and if you are doing it daily then it becomes natural. If I had to get a piece down today I’d have to break it down real slow and do it a couple of bars at a time. I mean, I haven’t forgotten how to read – all the basic’s are still there. It’s simply a matter of using it regularly – use it or loose it!

This was the mid 80’s and the new breed of rock guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai had really raised the bar on the technique – what was your take on all of this?

Well, I was still listening to Van Halen a lot, and also Joe Satriani – he was a local musician and teacher so it was really inspiring when he started to make it big! I’d been aware of Joe for a long time, and I’d been listening to him right from his first recordings, so by the time Surfing With The Alien hit it big, he’d been one of my favourites for a number of years. I was also a big fan of Vai’s Flexable record and the song “Call It Sleep” to this day it is one of my favourite tunes.

Rob Balducci

In that 80’s rock guitar scene, to me, there was the Eddie Van Halen/Joe Satriani school of playing, and the Tony Macalpine/Yngwie Malmsteen neo-classical thing. Personally, I never really got into the neo classical stuff – but I started to really get my chops down during this period because I was teaching a lot. Kids would bring in these players records and I’d have to transcribe this stuff and show them how to do it. As a big fan of Joe and Eddie I already had a handle on what these guys were doing but I also had to get my sweeping and speed picking down – and also by having lessons at college with performing Violin pieces on the guitar…you really have to have your chops down to play with a violin music up to tempo!

Are you an advocate of using the metronome?

Yes, I used a metronome a lot…and still do. I think it’s a very important tool and I was encouraged to use one pretty much straight away. I find it unbeatable for really nailing certain phrases or licks – slow it right down, work out rhythmically what’s going on, and then gradually wind it up. Get it down slow and accurate, then it’s pretty easy to get it up to tempo – just go up a notch at a time. That way you know that what you are playing is totally right, with no bluffing – and you can bet the audience will be able to tell as well!

Building A Career

What happened when you graduated from Five Towns College?

Well, by the time I graduated, I’d already got myself a job at the distribution company that handled Relativity Records and the Shrapnel stuff – plus bands like Megadeth. Pretty much all the happening rock guitar stuff back then was distributed through us. It was a local place, just around the corner from my house. I got friendly with someone there; I walked in one day and ended up with a job! It was a great place to be! Not only did I get to hear loads of this stuff, but I also got to meet a lot of the actual players.

That was definitely part of my plan when I went to work there; not only to meet as many cool guitarists as possible, but to make good music business contacts – managers, good attorneys, record company people. I was in my late teens and it was a real exciting period! It’s also how I got to meet both Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, who I both now consider to be good friends of mine. With both of them locally based it was incredibly inspiring to see what they had done, and then get to know them well. They are both so down to earth and really nice people.

Rob Balducci

What was happening with your playing at this point – were you now known as one of the main players in the Queens area?

Oh, yeah, absolutely I was up there. I was playing at a proper level by now, and had started to demo lots of stuff. It was around that time that I really started to concentrate on that whole instrumental side of things as a possible career thing. I’d always be recording tape after tape, and giving them to anyone and everyone who I thought might even possibly be able to help! I remember when I first met Joe Satriani – straight away I gave him a tape! I was known as the in-house guitar nut at Relativity!!

Now Joe was a real down to earth, friendly guy – and I’ll always remember one day I get in from work and my then girlfriend said sort of casually “Oh, some guy called, said his name was Joe Satriani,” so I’m like “No way!” but then she carries on: “but I hung up the phone as it was one of your friends kidding around” – so now I really freaked!

Luckily enough, Joe called again at my work. We talked some, he told me what he thought of that tape, and he gave me advice on some aspects of the mixing, on song construction – the whole lot really. The most important thing he said was that I should really concentrate on the melodies. I’d heard that from a few other people at the time, including Steve Vai – “play more melodically” “more melodies” – so I took that in and cut down on a lot of the technical stuff and worked on real melodic stuff.

How did you go about releasing your first album come about?

Rob Balducci

Working at Relativity I got to meet loads of people from the business side of things. One of these was a guy by the name of Larry Germack, who had his own record label ‘Circumstantial Records’ – Relativity had distributed a couple of releases for him. I got speaking with him, he came into New York City to see us play one night and signed us up; although it definitely wasn’t a million dollar deal or anything, it was great to have my music out there! This was 1995 and the timing wasn’t so great as the general music climate was really bad for this sort of music. Lots of other acts had tried to go with a more grungy sound, but I’m not one for following trends – what I do is what I do – and I didn’t want to (and probably couldn’t) change. At that time I was just really pleased that someone wanted to put it out.

How did the album fare?

It did OK actually, it didn’t have loads of promotion or anything – just adverts in magazines like Guitar World and Guitar For The Practising Musician – but he got it out in Europe and Japan as well as the States. I started to get lot of fan mail and it probably sold 10,000 units back then, which for a small independent instrumental guitar album – particularly at that time! – was really good.

What was your daily existence like at this time?

I was still working at Relativity, and doing quite a bit of teaching in the evenings. As far as working in a function/covers band, the only real covers band I‘ve ever been in was my first band Vision, and even then I wasn’t the sort of guy who would work out everything perfectly from the record – I would get the main riffs and melodies down but then do my own take on the songs.

I wasn’t too keen to follow that route and, with the album out now, we gigged doing instrumentals around the New York area as much as we could. At that time we would play anything suitable in the guitar vein that would come through, and in time the clubs just used to call us without us having to chase for gigs. We were playing places like Tramps – which is closed now – CGBG’s, the Cat Club and La Mours. We got to open for some really cool acts – I remember we opened for The Steve Morse Band a couple of times and that was great – and we also opened for Peter Frampton and Queensryche!!

Who was in the line up?

Well, I had a drummer named Keith Caramello who I’d met in college – and he was just a great player – and we were jamming one day Keith mentioned that he’d played with a bassist called Dan Maranda who blew him away and we should try to get him down. So we called him up and he came down and it sounded totally awesome! He was known as the best bassist in town and now plays with Paul Rogers and Queen so he’s really doing it now! The great thing was we were never the sort of band who needed to rehearse a whole lot, once we had the stuff down all it would take was for me to call up and say “Listen, I got us this real cool gig”. We’d get together once, for maybe an hour or two, the night before the gig and then go and do a blinding show.

So what were your career plans at this point?

After my first album Balance came out I got a certain amount of notoriety, so after it had run it’s course it was time to start working on the second record ‘Mantra’. I was writing a lot, and Ben Fowler who had produced Balance came on board for ‘Mantra’ as well. He’s a really great producer and was based out of the Powerstation Studios in New York – now called Avatar. He was really unbelievable, and had worked with loads of really big artists who had passed through New York – people like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray. I got turned on to him by my attorney, and he sort of came on board as someone who really dug the music I was doing.

Around this time the record label that put out Balance stopped operating, so I needed to start thinking about a new label. But, we made a decision to not worry about that too much, and just concentrate on doing the best job on what would become the ‘Mantra’ record. I say ‘become’ because this whole process took years! By the time we finished all the recording, got it mixed and mastered it was probably 1999, 2000…and that was when the market for this sort of rock album was absolutely as bad as it can could get…the lowest of the low! And right at that time, there I was, trying to get this thing picked up – and I didn’t want just anyone putting it out; I really believed in this music and I wanted someone who felt the same way as I did. So, I shopped it around and it took a long time, which is why there is such a gap between ‘Balance’ and ‘Mantra’.

A lot of similar artists approached Mike Varney, did you ever have any dealings with him?

I actually spoke to Mike back around the time that I released ‘Balance’ – one of the adverts for ‘Balance’ was a couple of pages in front of a Shrapnel advert in one of the guitar mags – and he was straight up with me and said that he couldn’t really do anything for me that I wasn’t already doing. Now of course I am glad it went that way as I retained ownership of the record, and I’m still making money from ‘Balance’ over a decade later.

A Favored Friend

Anyway, after a long time without finding anyone suitable, I was beginning to think the only way was to put it out myself. However, just as I was thinking that, I heard that Steve Vai was setting up his own record label – so I thought it must be worth a go. I hadn’t seen Steve for some time, but I got hold of his e-mail address, e-mailed him, he got back to me and asked me to send the record to him. I then had quite a wait for a response, but when he did get back to me he said he really liked the record and there was a definite possibility in releasing it – but he was in the real early stages of putting the label together, and they had loads of work still to do before they would be releasing stuff. He said hang tight, and to keep in contact. Now, for me, after such a long time shopping the record around this was a big boost!

And so I waited, rehearsed some new songs together, and eventually Steve got back in touch and said that they wanted to do a test release in Japan – which was great! It got put out and did well enough that they released it in Europe and that was the start of my relationship with Favored Nations.

In what way has Favored Nations helped?

Having that whole set up behind you, with proper distribution and marketing and everything really helps. At the end of the day Favored Nations is still an independent label, but all the people who work there really know about – and appreciate – this sort of music. With a lot of my musical idols being on the label as well, it’s a real pleasure to be associated with the whole organisation. I’ve been in the industry a while now and there is such a big difference between your Sony’s and Atlantics and Favored Nations – and I’ve said it many times before, but I view Steve much more like an old school record company boss, a music man, he does it for the music and that says a lot.

How do you go about writing for your albums – solo or with the band?

Looking back through my recording career I have taken the view that if this is what I am going to be doing long term – and under my name – then I should really take the responsibility of writing myself. So I demo stuff on my own, and bring these songs and ideas to rehearsals pretty much already done – then we bring them to life with the band. Occasionally if I have a certain riff or a progression we will jam on it, and mess around for a while to come up with the melodies, but on the whole it’s already all there.

For a producer working with me is pretty easy, as the whole thing is basically fully written and arranged so all the producer needs to do is record and engineer the thing the best they can. On ‘The Color of Light’ I actually didn’t have an outside producer like the first two, but worked with a good buddy of mine Ethan. He played some bass on the CD, as well as keyboards, and really understands what I need, so we worked and produced ‘The Colour Of Light’ together. Another big difference on this record was hooking up with Cornford Amplifiers and having those tones at my disposal really contributed to the finished record.

Rob, Ibanez and Mr Cornford

When did you get involved with Cornford?

Well I got involved with Cornford through ‘Jemfest’. I‘ve been an Ibanez user and endorsee for years, since about 1990. I got a call from Kevan Geier, the guy who came up with the concept of Jemfest around 1999. ‘Jemfest’ is a cool charity gig, and Kevin said that he was going to be doing one in New York, so come on down and hang out. Well, I said that I would play, after all it’s all for charity and with loads of guitar heads hanging out it was the perfect place for me to play! They had it out near the airport at a hotel in a big function room, lots of local guys playing and it was real good fun – it was all just sort of starting out, and I think that I’ve played every one of them since. A couple of years after my first ‘Jemfest’, they had one arranged over in London by my good friend Simon Wilkins. So I came over with my band to play, and Simon had seen my Boogie rig over in the States before and had been so impressed that he‘d got an identical one waiting over there!

I thought “That’s great!” Before we were due to be playing, I was hanging out and having a look around (at the London Jemfest they did it a bit differently and had some companies with stalls and stuff) and I ended up trying out a Cornford MK50 and I was like “…shit!!!” Paul was there and we introduced ourselves and I said to Paul “I know my friend’s gonna be pissed, but can I use the Cornford?!”

I did the set and the sound and feel was fantastic! I’ll never forget, at the end of the show Paul comes up to me and says “I think I’ve got a hard on!!!” He really liked my stuff, and ever since then Paul and Cornford have really got behind me, he got a MK 50, a Cornford 4×12 and 2 × 12 cabs out to me – and that is the sound all over the Color of Light record.

It seems as if your career has definitely gone up a gear since then – as if all the pieces are coming together now…

Oh yeah, a lot of good things have happened to me since then I’ve done some of the music shows in the UK, some master classes at ACM and GI, got a column in Guitarist magazine – Jan Cryka…what a player! – we did the Cornford Tour, quite a lot of shows with Richie Kotzen – lots of stuff. Richie and I did a few clubs in California, in places such as Melrose and Malibu – and we got some really packed audiences. I really like playing out there, I think the audiences are a bit more open and receptive to this stuff than the New York area – there still seem to be some real nice clubs to play in LA, whereas in New York that whole scene seems to have gone downhill.

How did you first get involved with Ibanez?

In the early 1990’s I entered a Guitarist competition “The Best Guitarist In New York” with D’Addario strings and Guitar For The Practising Musician” magazine. Now this wasn’t one of those competitions where you play over backing tracks – here you literally had to do it solo! So there you are on a big stage in front of most of the other guitarists in New York and it’s just you and your guitar plugged into some amp – and they had a stop watch and everything – and it was like “You’ve 2 minutes!” Real nightmare stuff – and I wasn’t plugged into a Cornford, I can tell you!

Now seemed like most of the other guys got up there and tried to cram in as much as possible in those two minutes, whereas I almost approached it as a solo form an imaginary song – you know, some nice melodic stuff, then some sort of fast run up to some sort of whammy bar melodic stuff – and probably because I took a different approach I guess I stood out, the judges liked me and I won! So that was a good thing to start to get me noticed, and soon after that I was backstage at a Zappa Universe gig at ‘The Beacon’ and I met Bill Cuminsky from Ibanez (Bill’s at Fender now). I told him all about what I was up to, gave him a tape (remember, at that time I carried tapes around with me everywhere!) and they were really great and I got an endorsement deal with them.

How did your endorsement deal actually work?

I think every endorsement deal is different – as I was just starting out and wasn’t really known, it wasn’t a mega deal or anything – just reduced costs on a lot of the Ibanez products. However when the record was coming out I asked if there was anything more that could be done, and they were great – I got my first proper endorsement guitar which is the guitar on the cover of Balance album.

Ibanez 7

The body was originally to have been John Petrucci’s but he didn’t want it for some reason; it’s from the Ibanez Custom Shop in LA and is an RG series bolt on neck and it was perfect for me. I’d like to mention my rep from Ibanez, Rob Nishida – he has been so helpful and supportive of my efforts. I really appreciate his support and everybody else at Ibanez and Hoshino Japan. I’m very loyal when it comes to the companies I endorse, and that feeling goes both ways.

Do you feel that there is a big difference between the custom shop and the standard Ibanez products?

I’ve been asked that question quite a few times before. I don’t think that there’s much difference in the performance and playability, but obviously you have a lot more say in finishing and specifications and everything.

Gear

I would like to also mention the other great companies that I am lucky to be involved with and endorse! George L’s cables are the only cables I use, live or recording – it’s all George L on the recording of ‘The Colour of Light’. They have been so cool and I’m actually featured in ads for them in some current guitar magazines, on the stands as we talk. Another great company is OnBoard Research – Intellitouch Tuners. They make these really cool tuners that attach to your headstock and tune off the vibrations – I never leave for a gig without mine, and again Intellitouch are featuring me in current magazines on the stands now as well – which is great!

I am also very proud to endorse Keeley Pedels, D’Addario, Dimarzio pick-ups, Morley pedals, Moho mods, Axess Electronics, Eventide and Line 6.

Pedals

Elsewhere in this issue ‘The Color of Light’ is reviewed and what is immediately picked up on are the great sonic aspects of the album, and the wonderfully organic guitar sounds. As a whole project, it again feels and sounds like a shift up in gear, so were the labels – and your personal – expectations much greater?

‘The Color of Light’ – being the third album – was to me a real important record as it’s like “if this works I’m probably going to be sticking around” – so it could have been an awful or great result. So more than ever I really worked on every aspect of this record – the songs had to be totally there first, but then I needed to make sure that I had the right tones for absolutely everything.

You picked up on it earlier when you described the records “organic nature”. I really tried to make sure that it wasn’t a processed sound at all – not many effects, a little reverb and delay, but mostly the sound of the Ibanez guitars and the Cornford amps.

Several people have said to me that it sounds like their listening in 3D, and I think I achieved what I set out to do with this record so I’m really happy about that. This is definitely my favourite record, I think the song writing has progressed a lot and I really feel that I have my own “Rob Balducci” sound now. I’m really happy with the whole tone of the record – I was going for lots of layers and depth.

What has the general response and sales been like to date?

The reviews have been excellent, and I‘ve had loads of compliments from the fans and everyone, so that makes you feel really good. It’s a little early to say about record sales, it was released in Japan first and we are still out there working the records.

The Instumental Scene in 2006

In your experience, is it true to say that Japan is still the main market for this sort of music?

It is my assumption that definitely Japan and Europe are the best markets – Germany is good and I know that people have told me that the UK was pretty rough market for this sort of music but it’s been great to me – the response from people at the clubs and shows has been fantastic! Spain seems pretty good for this as well, and I know Richie Kotzen has been out there a few times, so that’s something to look at.

Having spent a lot of time over in the UK do you think there is a difference in standard between “shred” type players in the US compared with the UK?

I think the standard is roughly the same everywhere now. I mean I am not listening to all the new guitar stuff like I used to, although I am very open to being blown away by somebody live. I mean I saw David Gilmour recently and …it was unbelievable!

Richie Kotzen is another player – I mean I’ve known of Richie for years and years – but actually seeing him live had a real effect on me. Guthrie Govan is amazing, I played with him at Tone merchants – I had to go on after him! He’s a killer guitarist…Matthias Eklundh – a lot of these guys I‘ve met over the last few years, and what I like is that we are all doing something different to each other – we are all operating in our own niche’s – and we’re all very different. There’s room for us all.

Are you still teaching at all?

I still teach quite a bit now, although I don’t advertise or anything. It’s all word of mouth now – and I tell you, a lot of kids are really back into proper rock guitar playing again – lots of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest fans, so something’s definitely changed!

Have you ever auditioned for any big bands/gigs?

I went for the Transiberian Orchestra, although the audition was for like a regional thing where they were after having different line ups in different areas of the US. I think they were being smart having a bunch of back up players in case something happened! So, that’s cool, and I am sort of on call for that one – but there haven’t really been any big name gigs that have come up when I’ve been around – not that I wouldn’t go for it but as yet it just hasn’t happened. Well… ya know, I take that back… I was actually supposed to audition for Ozzy at a New York Hotel a couple of years back… But he’d found someone before I had the chance to audition. I still have the letter from Sharon telling me she was so sorry and everything!

What tour plans have you in place? (Ed note: this interview took place at the beginning of July 2006)

I am really exited about this tour with Dave Weiner. I first met Dave at a Jemfest, I think in Las Vegas. Dave has his first record out, we are label mates and we have a really cool tour lined up. We are going into Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Kansas City, St Louis, Chicago – and despite the fact I’m from the US – I’ve never made it to a lot of these places before, so for me personally I am really looking forward to it. We are playing decent clubs, and from speaking to the booking agents this week it seems as if the response has been really good. It’s a first step, so we’ll see how it all goes – if it works out well we will go back again and step it up a level. I’m looking forward to gaining a fan base in some new places, trying out some new tracks live – it should be great!

Have you ever got into the clinic scene up at Berklee, or GIT?

Most of that sort of thing I have actually done in the UK. When I was coming up GIT was really big news, but at the time I didn’t really consider going myself. Every time I am over in LA playing, I‘ll send some posters down and some free tickets and they have asked me to play but I haven’t been able to schedule it.

But, to actually go there – well it would be great – you should go for every learning experience that you can. I still have lessons; there are a couple of heavy hitter jazz players who I’ll go see for a lessons now and then – or get some new tuition books – anything that will help you look at the instrument through someone else’s eyes.

And, you know, I find that I’m still learning today, often when I am teaching someone else. Every lesson is different, and sometimes I’ll learn something new by teaching or looking at something I’ve played hundreds of times before, but by approaching it in a different way I’ll find that I have got as much out of the lesson as the student has. And that’s a great thing!