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Robert Zahn

ROBERT ZAHN

INSTRUMENTS TAUGHT:

  • Electric bass (4/5/6 string)
  • Upright bass (pizzicato and arco, German bow)
  • Vocals (classical, rock, and musical theater)
  • Chapman Stick
  • Guitar
  • Piano

OTHER SPECIALTIES:

  • Composition
  • Ear training/Harmony
  • Audio production (Logic Pro, Cubase, Ableton Live, Sibelius)
  • Band/Ensemble Coaching

What makes your teaching style unique?

My approach to teaching stems from a philosophy that is linked intrinsically with my own atypical musical background: music is silly putty! It is my most fervent belief that a strong foundation is built upon technical command and intellectual and emotional understanding of as many styles of music as possible, regardless of a musician’s “preferred genre.” If we are bold enough, we can discover an absolute treasure trove of useful devices in the counterpoint of Bach, in the melody writing of Stevie Wonder, in the phrasing of Wes Montgomery, in the mysterious rhythms of Hindustani classical music. A child-like curiosity and hunger to broaden our individual perspectives is the path to real artistic innovation! This philosophy, above all, is what I hope to impart in my students.


Lesson plans will be developed in conjunction with the student, based on skill level and individual goals. Through guided listening, score study, technical exercises, theoretical analysis, ear training, and discussion of lyrical and thematic content, students will rapidly develop a more robust appreciation for a variety of music, while observing both the superficial elements that separate genres as well as the overarching conventions of great music across all time and cultures. In addition to simply teaching methods to increase technical proficiency on their chosen instrument, I will personally take charge of the student’s career by providing actionable, real-world advice on all sorts of music industry matters like how to book a live gig, how to navigate and write professional charts and lead sheets, how to talk to engineers to get the most out of a recording session, how to deal with and prevent injuries, and much more. I will work with the student to help structure an efficient and healthy practice schedule that will yield results FAST and beyond all this, I will also provide supplementary materials like custom-made backing tracks, listening assignment playlists, and video demonstrations of exercises so that you can play along with me at home.

Main influences and why:

Art, literature, movies, and current events are all massively influential on my musical states of mind because they feed the soul and give us things to talk about. Music is a language, albeit an abstract one, devoid of the semantics of a traditional spoken language, and a good song is kind of like an essay. There is no limit to what we can communicate through our music; we simply must decide what it is we are interested in communicating. I can’t overstate the importance of looking at the world around us when unsure of what to say! Keep this in mind: At the turn of the 20th century, the French impressionists were all hyper aware of each other’s work. All the painters, poets, and composers were steeped in the milieu of their time and their art reflected it. The brush strokes of Monet’s paintings (and Van Gogh too) were present in the orchestral statements of Ravel, and Debussy held his compositions together not unlike the canvas of a Cubist painter. My point here is that we have a responsibility as musicians to be in touch with and inspired by our surroundings.


Professional goals as a musician:

Music is a portal to the world of our dreams, a way of documenting all of our most intense, bizarre, joyful musings and sharing it with the world. At the highest level, musicians are healers. I just want to continue telling my story and helping my students to build the vocabulary necessary to telling theirs.

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