Where I am, and how I got here
I have been teaching and performing music for over 25 years. I taught my first student (for five dollars an hour), when I had been playing for six months. All she wanted to learn was Bob Marley. So we'd listen to LP's and figure out chords... Hopefully most of them were right! I am resisting the urge to say she probably got what she was paying for, but it was fun and I taught her what I knew.
In the 1980's, living in Toronto, it seems I was always busy with various performing projects. I played with various theatre groups playing everything from goofy kid shows to serious adult plays; I played as a soloist in a chamber orchestra, played a solo concert once a year, and I had a few ensembles as well.
I played and toured with Czechoslovakian cello player, Vit Fiala. I made a lot of Cello-guitar arrangements, and we also played a lot of Gypsy music... that was FUN!
I also worked with Soprano, Angie Ottowill. We played several concerts and also wrote a two-person musical for Puss-n-Boots, (I was the cat/narrator and she was everyone else) which included several Renaissance songs, and we toured with that play as well.
In the early 1990's I attended The University of Victoria, School of Music. After the first year, my tuition was fully funded by Scholarships and awards, including the "President's Scholarship", the scholarship given to the student with the highest grade point average, not just in the music school, but in the whole university.
I studied composition with Brian Katz, David Clenman and Christopher Butterfield. Whether these teachers were teaching me to compose avant garde music or more traditional types of music, they were always warm hearted and supportive, encouraging me above all else to be true to myself and follow my own voice.
David Clenman also taught me about harmony. He gave me the tools to understand the why and the how about the way music works. But really, the gift of a lifetime that he gave me, was in how to use that understanding to develop as a player and a listener. Now, when I teach music theory, I do not look at it like a set of rules to rigidly follow. Rather it is a tool to help us understand how music WORKS. This, in turn, helps us as listeners and as players.
I have always loved to teach, and I have always loved to study. I have studied guitar with Lynne Gangbar, Eli Kassner, Norbert Kraft, Michael Strutt and Scott Tennant.
In the last two years I have had the good fortune of collaborating with Professor Frank Koonce, who I think is one of the world's most brilliant minds, when it comes to understanding how the hands work on the guitar and how to use technique in order to achieve the highest possible musical goals.
While I have gained so much from witnessing, from right up close, how he refines his own work, it is also gratifying to know that I am contributing to projects that will become valuable resources for guitarists.
.... and study
I am also extremely privileged to be able to count myself among one of Scott Tennant's private students. I have weekly lessons with him, as his touring and recording schedule permits. It is difficult for me to encapsulate the depth and breadth of wisdom and basic practical know-how that this mentor has been giving me. Never before have I had such challenging, supportive and stimulating lessons with a teacher.
It has often occurred to me that I could never adequately thank these people; but perhaps, if I can in turn pass some of the gifts from my beloved mentors onto my own students and audience members, then everything seems right in the natural order of things.
Heather DeRome, September 2012.
For more on my teaching philosophy see the articles page.