As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your students succeed and conquer the world. The inspiration behind this post is my former guitar student, Josh Vasquez, who makes me incredibly proud and reminds me that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing than spreading the love for music.
Vasquez began taking lessons with me at the tender age of 12 while I was teaching at a music studio in San Diego, Calif. After three months of coming to class, the kid demonstrated amazing ability and could play face-melting solos like nobody’s business. I was flabbergasted and knew I had a star in the making right in front of me.
While under my tutealage, Vasquez learned how to play pop, rock and classical music. He was also exposed to stylistically diverse music, such as Bach, Dream Theater and Joe Bonamassa.
And BAM! That’s where it all happened…As soon as Vasquez heard the blues, he immediately became captivated and found his musical calling. He turned increasingly curious and explored a little deeper until he found the highly complex world of jazz. May I remind you he was only 16 at the time?
After four years of teaching Vasquez, I exhausted all my knowledge and taught him every bit of guitar I knew. He became proficient in classical guitar and advanced music theory, but he was ready for a bigger challenge.
The time had come for Vasquez to move on, so I introduced him to San Diego-based jazz guitar teacher, Nick Tocco.
I remained present in Vasquez’s life as an unofficial coach, and made every effort to guide him in the right career path. I told him to sign up at a performing arts high school, told him to sign up for Guitar Center’s King of the Blues competition, and more recently, told him and his band, Jazz Avenue, to sign up for NAMM’s Third Annual SchoolJam USA Battle of the Teen Bands Competition.
Vasquez made it into the high school and is now getting ready to graduate. He also made it all the way to the finals for Guitar Center’s King of the Blues competition, and he and his band won the SchoolJam USA Battle of the Teen Bands competition put together by NAMM.
As written in the competition’s official NAMM news release:
“ANAHEIM, Calif., Jan. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — A crowd of nearly 500 gathered at Downtown Disney District on Saturday, Jan. 21, for NAMM’s third annual SchoolJam USA, a national teen battle of the bands that rewards aspiring musicians and their respective school music education programs with more than $50,000 in cash and prizes. The event, produced by National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), took place during the world-famous NAMM Show held at the nearby AnaheimConvention Center.
Competing against seven other finalist bands from across the U.S., San Diego ensemble, Jazz Avenue, took first place for the coveted title of “Best Teen Band in the USA,” $5,000 for their school music education program, $1,000 toward the purchase of new band gear, a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, and a grand-prize trip of a lifetime to perform at the 2012 SchoolJam Germany finals in Frankfurt this March.”
I don’t take any credit for Vasquez’s success. The boy has an innate talent and a feeling for music imbued in every cell of his body that can’t be taught my anybody. If anything, I have learned tons from him, and now the roles have reversed in a beautiful way.
So, thank you, Josh, for the tremendous joy you transmit to me and the rest of the world with your astounding talent. Here’s to massive triumph and much-deserved success!
You can learn about Jazz Avenue by visiting their website here, or by staying tuned to my website; I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated, especially during/after the band’s trip to Germany.
Also, watch the video below to check out their private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Tour bus, and click here for an all-inclusive article on the band in the San Diego Union Tribune.