I had the good fortune of studying the classic guitar with Richard Pick. I took my first lesson with him when I was 19 years old, when I was already five years into my career as a professional musician. At the age of 17, two years prior to engaging him as my teacher, I became a member of the Musicians’ Staff of the American Broadcasting Company, in Chicago. There, I played Jazz and all types of Popular music on the plectrum guitar. Another of my duties at ABC was to arrange an occasional tune for myself and the band that was featured on the “Don Mc Niel Breakfast Club.” I played in that band for the final 11 years of the show’s 35 year run, and I studied with Richard Pick during that entire time.
My original reasons for wanting to play the classic guitar was to use it in arranging, and to increase my versatility as a guitar player. Under Richard Pick’s tutelage, however, I came to enjoy and appreciate the classic guitar for its so-called “classical” repertoire. Today, I lead an eclectic musical life. I am known and respected among musicians in two circles: classical music, and all types of Jazz and Popular music. I truly enjoy such musical variety in my life, and would have it no other way.
I know that, although I played the plectrum guitar before I studied with Richard Pick, and could have learned to play the classic guitar, either on my own or with the help of some other teacher, I benefited greatly by having studied with him. He put into better perspective many things that I already knew, and he introduced me to a whole world of musical concepts that I might otherwise have never known. The most important musical tools that I acquired from him were how to question, search, and practice in a disciplined and persistent manner. I am now the author of my own materials for guitar, and much that is in my materials reflects those concepts that were taught to me by Richard Pick, plus all of the things I discovered by applying myself according to the principles he taught. I also gratefully acknowledge that there are many aspects of my guitar playing and arranging that came to me from other teachers, such as George Allen, and Vincent Geraci. George Allen was the plectrum guitar teacher who prepared me for playing in theater pits, on recordings for radio and television commercials, and for shows of all types. Vincent Geraci taught me arranging, composition and orchestration. Vincent Geraci was a keyboard player; consequently, most of my lessons and assignments involved writing for piano, or for various sized ensembles. Regarding the solo classic guitar, however, it was Richard Pick who showed me how to crystallize everything that I knew, so that I could compose or arrange music that is playable on a single, humble guitar.
My lessons with Richard Pick lasted until he retired – even though I had long stopped paying for them. After about six years of paid-for lessons with him, he advised me to stop paying, but allowed me to continue our weekly appointments, which he called “rehearsals and collaborations.” What we rehearsed were those new arrangements and transcriptions that he had made for two guitars. We experimented with all sorts of “divisions of labor,” where the duties of chord-playing, melody-playing, contrapuntal fillers were divided in various ways among the two guitars. I am proud to say that I offered many suggestions, during those sight-reading sessions, that he took into consideration, tried out, and even adopted. In truth, however, I continued to learn so much from him that I prefer to call the sessions “lessons.” During our weekly “collaborations” I also proof-read the first drafts of all of his latest works. Actually, we began to learn together. The highest compliments I have ever received were from him, when he told me that he valued my ideas, my opinions, and my criticisms.