The Musicality of Sitting on a Rock, with Andrew Bishko

Today we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing one of our own team members at Musical U.

Andrew Bishko is our Content Editor and Product Manager at Musical U, which means he’s in charge of overseeing everything we publish and also the teaching material we continue to expand and improve inside Musical U itself.

But as you’re about to discover, despite his huge contributions at Musical U, this represents just one small part of a long and fascinating career as a musician, composer, author and music educator.

Andrew has performed and toured professionally in a number of bands, taught private instrument lessons, published a book and taught university courses in the US. He’s played a wide variety of instruments, from piano to accordion to flute and Native American flute to a recent new addition, the guitarrón. He’s played in styles as varied as classical, folk, reggae, jazz, Klezmer – and even a Pink Floyd tribute band.

In this conversation you’ll discover:

  • How he went from classical Chopin recitals on piano to touring the world playing flute in a reggae band.
  • The one genre of music that resonated most deeply with him emotionally and caused him to focus on it for 15 years.
  • Why the best way to learn to improvise might involve being taught how to go sit on a rock.

This one runs long! And that was with us being very self-controlled and not diving into any one of several topics along the way which we would have loved to pick Andrew’s brains on further. After 90 minutes we felt like we’d barely scratched the surface, and there are a ton of interesting and useful insights packed into this conversation for you. You’ll see why we consider it an honour and a privilege to have Andrew on the Musical U team.

Listen to the episode:

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Andrew: Hi, this is Andrew Bishko of Napasha Music, and you’re listening to the Musicality podcast.

Christopher: Welcome to the show, Andrew. Thank you for joining us today.

Andrew: It’s great to be here, Christopher.

Christopher: I am in awe of the musical journey you’ve had and I am really looking forward to digging into it with you. You play such a variety of instruments and genres. I’m sure you often hear from people, ‘Gosh, you must just play anything and everything. You were born gifted.’ Was that the case? Did you grow up finding that music came easy to you, and you could kind of play anything you wanted to?

Andrew: Absolutely not. Music was difficult for me. When I first wanted to play music, I wanted to play the guitar, of course, and be like The Beatles. My mother translated that as piano. I don’t know how that worked.

Christopher: Magical adult translation.

Andrew: Yes. I think I started my piano lessons, and it was the very traditional John Thompson books, and learning with the notes on the page. I always found it to be difficult, but I did work at it. At the same time, we had a beautiful piano in our home growing up, a baby grand piano. I would… We’d love to sit down and improvise on the piano; myself and my sisters.

One, to my parents… One thing that they did that was great is that when… They never told us to stop banging on the piano. I remember making lots and lots of noise, and never being disciplined or being told not to play the piano. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I don’t remember it. Maybe I didn’t hear them.

I had the opportunity to explore. We could climb around inside the piano, and play the strings in there, and open the pedals. We’d have one person on top, and we would make all kinds of things to explore that instrument. I think that was a freedom that they allowed us that was really beneficial.

Christopher: Terrific. Were you taking lessons as well as banging around and improvising?

Andrew: Yes, I was taking piano lessons, and just going through the whole method book thing. I didn’t know why it was so hard for me, but I kept working on it. I did become pretty good at the piano in the sense that I could play… I learned to play songs that were… I was playing some nice Chopin pieces. Chopin was my favorite. My parents had a nice music library with a lot of classical music. I learned to play some of those pieces by the time I was in high school. I did my recitals, but it was this kind of a thing were I’d spend all year learning my recital piece. Then, I’d play it for my recital, and then I’d forget it the day after, and start the next year.

It was basically kind of like learning tricks, rather than… Not that I didn’t get into it, because I really got into the music actually very deeply. Emotionally, I would get into it. As far as facility in terms of playing, and sight reading, and being able to do it easily, it was always a real uphill battle.

Christopher: Interesting. Was it very much all classical music in your household? What were you surrounded by musically?

Andrew: Well, we listened to all kinds of music. Mostly, I mean my parents had mostly classical, but they also had folk music and some music from different places. We had this box set of flamenco music that I remember very well, that we listened to a lot. My father would wake us up in the morning playing Sousa marches at full volume. We had musicals. Being in a Jewish family, there was ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ but we also had ‘Sound of Music,’ and other musicals on LPs.

Then, my father, when he was young, when he was in his teens, he had been a DJ for a short time, a party DJ. One day, we pulled all the 78s that he had from that era. This was the early 50s, out of the attic, so a lot of Andrew Sisters. That was our favorite, and Perry Como, and that kind of a thing. We had this great thing called a cassette recorder in our stereo. We thought, ‘Oh, now that we have cassettes, we could just record all these 78s onto the cassettes and then get rid of them,’ right? It was pretty tragic that those are gone, but we listened… we wound up listening to a lot of that music as well.

[crosstalk 00:05:56] Other things that we listened to that really pop out in my mind was Switched-On Bach, which was Bach played on a Moog synthesizer. It was a early synthesizer thing that really tickled my imagination. Then, when as me and my sisters grew older, we brought in our own records, like Beatles, and 5th Dimension. My sister was into Yes, and King Crimson, and prog rock, so she got into that stuff.

Then, I was playing the flute, and we can back up a little bit on that. I got Jethro Tull albums Now, I really couldn’t stand rock and roll when I was growing up, but I tolerated Jethro Tull because it played the flute. That was my intro to rock and roll, actually, was my sister’s prog rock stuff, and then my Jethro Tull.

Christopher: I see, so that sounds like a really rich musical environment, in fact.

Andrew: Yes.

Christopher: How did you branch out from classical piano to flute, you mentioned there?

Andrew: Well, in fourth grade, we started school orchestra. I wanted to play the bass. I want to stand up and go,… They didn’t have one, so I thought, ‘Well, cello’s the next biggest thing.’ I just think I wanted to play the biggest thing I could get my hands on. My piano teacher and my mother had decided that I was going to play the flute. That was not my idea, because flute was considered the girls’ instrument. There were no boys that played flute. I did not want to do that when I was in fourth grade.

Finally, my mom said, “I’m not driving you to school with a cello. You are going to play the flute.” I do think there was angelic guidance there as well, because I had a lot of respiratory problems growing up. Playing the flute really helped me quite a bit with that. It turned out to be such a wonderful instrument for me. It was difficult for me to work on the tone at first, but I was diligent with it. The whole concept of the flute just playing one note at a time, as opposed to piano where I had to figure out how all these notes fit together without any real understanding of harmony; but playing a melody instrument was wonderful for me. I really took to it.

That also helped me tremendously in branching out my musical exposure, because of this idea of the flute being the girls’ instrument. I had to settle in and play it. I’m going to back up and tell a little story about when I first was learning. I couldn’t make a sound on the instrument. I was just… I would try and fail, and try and fail.

My dad just said, “You’re going to your room, and you can’t come out until you make a sound.” I went up there, and I think I cried for a half an hour. Then, I picked it up, and boom, there it was. There was the sound. There was something… I guess in modern day, we refer to that as ‘high stakes.’

Christopher: Yeah.

Andrew: There were some high stakes going on there, and it really moved me into it. Anyway, because I didn’t want to play the girls’ instrument. I wanted to make the flute cool. I started to look into, ‘Okay, what are some other flute… First of all, who are the guy flute players?’ Remember, this is way before anything like an internet, so I had the public library; which I hung out at a lot. There was a record section and I discovered Jean-Pierre Rampal, and got out all his albums, and listened to him. He had… I really liked his tone, because he has this like sort of really deep, dark, but kind of husky sound. It was… I really enjoyed it.

Then I started to look at these different flutes from different places in the world. I found this record of African flute music, and some Eastern European flute music. At one point, I… watched the movie, ‘Barry Lyndon.’ I think this was early 70s. It takes place in Ireland, and they had the soundtrack was by The Chieftains, which is the Irish band. I fell in love with Irish music. Bought myself a tin whistle, taught myself a couple of songs. Here,… a piece on the flute. This was the first Irish song I learned. It was hard for me to figure out the fast ones, and I was figuring things out by ear, too. This was like getting into the idea of playing by ear; because I couldn’t find any music for any of this stuff.
I learned this Irish song, the ‘Women of Ireland,’ by Sean O Riada.

Christopher: Very nice.

Andrew: Thank you.

Christopher: So the flute was really your gateway to exploring all different styles of music, by the sounds of it.
Andrew: Yes, it was. It really broke me out of the… It broke me out in terms of getting out into the music of the world. It also created this sort of insatiable hunger, so whenever I heard something, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to focus on.’ I would just jump around quite a bit.

It was also my great way to… really playing by ear. I described earlier I really loved to improvise on the piano, but I had no clue what was going to happen when I started playing something. It was more like a… what we call at Musical U,… the play/listen approach, where you play something. It’s like, ‘Oh, that sounds kind of cool.’ But with the flute, I really started to figure things out by ear. Part of that was the stimulus there was that I wasn’t… able to sing. When I was young, I had nodes on my vocal chords. If I would open my mouth to sing, I would literally lose my voice and feel like I couldn’t talk anymore.

Christopher: Gosh.

Andrew: It was like not a choice, almost. I had, when I got into high school, when I was playing the flute, I had friends that had… Like in my temple youth group, there were these two guys, Dave and Dave, who were the song leaders. They played all these beautiful songs on their guitars, and sang. I wanted to sing along, but I couldn’t. I just picked up the flute and I’d start to play by ear, or improvise; because of that constraint of not being able to sing, it pushed me into really exploring more things that I could do on the flute with improvisation and playing by ear.

Christopher: That’s really fascinating, because we often talk about how your singing voice is your first instrument and it’s your natural instrument. That’s why you should make friends with it. But when that’s taken away from you, I can totally imagine how that would make you kind of bond with the flute, or whatever melody instrument you picked up, as a way to replicate what you heard and loved, and give you that way into exploring music.

Andrew: Yes, it is… When I look back to my life, I always look at things… It seems like I’m always coming through the backdoor into something. That’s another example of that, coming through the backdoor, and I’m sure we’ll find more as we go on. Later on, when I did… It definitely… was revealed to me that my ears weren’t as good as I thought they were, because I had gone at it from the instrument first, but it got me playing on my instrument.
When I started to get in touch with my singing later on, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I really wasn’t hearing… I was really having a difficult time hearing things when I did ear training.

Christopher: Gosh, well that’s definitely I would like to unpack when the moment comes.

Andrew: All right.

Christopher: I think a lot of people would assume that if you were playing by ear on flute, you must have had a really good ear. So let’s definitely pick that apart in a moment. First, though, I don’t want to skip ahead. You were playing piano through high school, and flute from the fourth grade. Did you go on to do music at university?

Andrew: No, I didn’t. I quit piano lessons sometime during high school. I did stay in flute. We had a great orchestra and band program at my school, and it was a lot of fun. I had a lot of friends in it. I wasn’t… I didn’t think of it as being a career. It seemed like I should do something more substantial with my life. I really didn’t know what to do. I mean, basically I was pretty good at school. My one sister was a violinist. My other sister was an artist.

I always would say, “Oh, my talent is going to school,” because I just would go to school and I’d get good grades. Think like what do people who are good at school do? I thought, ‘Well, I could,’… and then I had a friend. It was actually a girl I had a crush on. She was going to med school. I said, “Okay, so I’ll be a doctor. I’ll go to med, pre-med.” I went… Actually, she went to Northwestern. I said,… and she was there, and so that was the only school I applied to. I said, “I’m going there,” because she was there. Then I got there, I never saw her once I got there. Within a couple of weeks, I discovered humanities classes and just fell in love with them. Then I had a crush on my English teacher, so that kind of pushed me in that direction.

I did my undergraduate. I started out as doing English literature. I was in a poetry writing program for a while. Again, that was following a crush, because I had a crush on the teacher. I had never written a poem before. That actually turned out to be… I mean, it relates to music because that was the hardest class I ever took in my whole life. The only class I think in my whole life that I got a C in, and it’s the class I learned the most at. We picked out poems. It wasn’t like this airy fairy, ‘Oh, I’m going to write poetry’ class. It was like a, ‘You are going to write a couplet in the style of Byron, and it’s going to be just like he wrote that.’ ‘Now you’re going to write something in the style of Shakespeare, it’s going to be just like him, and you’re going to’…

We had this thing where we had to imitate all these different poets. It required a deep analysis of each one of them, and how they use language, and how they used rhythm, and how they used sounds. It got me really thinking analytically on a very detailed level about how each detail in a work of art contributes to the whole. It really affected my whole vision of life, of looking at life, and looking at things in a very detailed way, and then looking at those parts, and how each one of those parts related to the whole.

That was my… Then, basically after that class, for the rest of my undergraduate, I went from there into a humanities program. Through all of that, I used those tools. I still use those tools today that I learned in that class. When I came back to music, I used them as well.

After undergraduate, I had studied Italian when I was in college and had this idea that I wanted to go to Italy. I was really fed up with the whole… I mean I had been on a track, if I would followed that sort of career track, I would have gone on to be an academic. I was… I didn’t like the whole world, the hypocrisy that was in the academic world, the supposed freedom that people had, but very rigidly controlled intellectual guidelines that people were under. I remember when I graduated, there was… of all the full professors there, there was one on the stage with their regalia. There was one black, and there was one woman; and they were the same person. It was just very… That world at that time was very restrictive.

Anyway, I had this idea of wanting to just go to Italy. I found a way to do that working at a camp, a YMCA camp. Then I kind of hung around. I really didn’t want to go home, because I loved it over there. I loved the culture. It really loosened me up. I was… like not so uptight. I was enjoying myself a lot. I was running out of money. I saw people playing music out on the streets. I still have my flute that I carried around, even though I didn’t play it very well anymore.

I saw people play out in the streets and said, “Well, you know, I could do that. I could stand on a corner, and play some music,” and then you play out there and you get a little dime or a nickel, or something like that as you’re playing. It’s like, ‘Okay, I’m going to practice until I get my next coin. I’m going to play until I get my next thing.’ It was really inspiring to practice. It was a big moment for me, because I realized… I mean of course, the more I was out there, the more I played, the more I got into it. I was doing everything by ear, and everything improvised.
It stimulated me to really get into that. The other big revelation there was that as long as I could play music, I could eat. I realized that I could support myself. Of course, there wasn’t much to support at that time. It was just one little person sleeping under a bush, but… It was a lot of fun, and I really got into… I met people playing, as I traveled around. I really improved my improvisation, and playing by ear by doing that. I did that for a couple years.

Christopher: What style of music were you playing when you were improvising playing by ear?

Andrew: At first, I was playing a lot of jazz. Just stuff that I had heard growing up, and that was in my ears. Blues. Then, I had… I met this one guy who was playing reggae and ska. He played the acoustic bass. We started jamming together. I had discovered reggae when I was much younger, but I never tried to play it before. We just had a great time playing that kind of music. I really felt that that’s what I wanted to get into more deeply.

Christopher: After a couple of years on the streets of Italy, what was the next step for you? Where did you take things from there?

Andrew: Well, I came home for my sister’s wedding. I… had this idea that I was going to continue that kind of work. I was staying with my mom. My parents were split up, and I stayed with my mom.

She was like, “No, you’re not. That’s not going to work out here.”

I went to stay with my dad, and I was a pretty much thoroughly obnoxious, I think. I really wanted to play music. I really wanted to do that, but that was in Cleveland, Ohio. This was back in the 80s. There was a big reggae scene there. I could go dancing two or three nights a week. I loved to dance. I loved reggae. I kept on talking to people, ‘I want to be in the band. I want to play in a band.’ There were some members from two of the top bands that were reforming a new band. There was this guy who was a flute player, that they wanted to be in the band, but he wasn’t able to do it. He had a full time job. He was Ghana. He was about 15 feet tall, his name was Jojo. Jojo said… He turned me on to these guys, and that’s how I got into the reggae band.

Christopher: I see. Reggae and flute aren’t a combination you often hear about, or would often notice in reggae recordings. How did that work?

Andrew: It was great. I mean I had… I brought my own thing to the band, and it gave us a sound that was unique. I had a really good feeling for Caribbean music at the same time, in the time period, I was sitting in with a lot of Latin bands, and playing [inaudible 00:25:39], and [arumba 00:25:40], and mambo, and stuff like that. It was… kind of a Caribbean thing that worked.

During my time with the band, to add more versatility, that’s when I picked up saxophone. Of course, that’s more reggae-ish. I also started playing some keyboard stuff in the band. From my limited piano recollections, and percussion. Just dancing around and having a good time.

Christopher: Nice. What were the other members of the band playing? Tell us a bit more about them.

Andrew: Well, the lead player, the lead singer and the leader of the band was the bass player. Playing reggae bass and singing at the same time is really quite a trick, because it’s very poly rhythmic. He was playing fretless on top of that. He was quite a talented guy, and beautiful voice, and just a really big guy with big dreads. He was very charismatic.

Then we had a drummer that was… skinny white guy, just with super energy, and just explosive kind of energetic person. We had a great guitar player, and some other people that came and went in the group, percussionists, and keyboard players. It was a really dynamic band. It was really mixed. There was… racially mixed, and socioeconomically mixed. I mean there were guys that were from the ghetto. There was guys from the suburbs. There was some men. There was women came through there. It was a very creative and dynamic mix of people. It was a lot of fun.

Christopher: Yeah, it sounds like the exact opposite of that university platform you mentioned.

Andrew: Yes, yes.

Christopher: [crosstalk 00:27:45]… diversity.

Andrew: Yes, very diverse, very creative. Everybody came to table with either an extreme amount of creativity in their playing, or in their writing, song writing. We had… It was really fun in that way, too.

Christopher: Great, and were you mostly performing around Cleveland?

Andrew: We actually toured all the time. I mean from the time I joined the band, after a few months of rehearsal, I never stayed in one place for more than two weeks. We covered every place in the United States from Colorado to Boston, and down to Florida, Florida Keys. Constantly on the move.

Then, we somehow hooked up with the Department of Defense of the United States, and started tours to military bases. That was a huge eye opener for me, culturally, and really taught me the value of the people, the service that people were doing overseas. I’d never understood it before. We went to Iceland, and Germany, and the Azores. Then we did a tour and went to Korea, went to Japan. They flew us out to Iwo Jima. I played reggae on Iwo Jima, which just blows my mind. That’s a site of a great World War II battle, just a tiny little island out in the Pacific, and Guam.

With the military, the places that you go that tourists don’t normally get to. I saw things in places. I was already a veteran traveler from my time in Italy, so whenever we hit the ground, I was off running. I’d be out there exploring everything, and always looking to what the music of that particular country was like. I was particularly drawn to Korea for some reason. I just absolutely felt like I was home when I was in Korea, which is really weird because I didn’t have… any resemblance to anybody there. I just loved being there, and loved the music, and the people, and the food.

Christopher: Any musical highlights for you during that period of travel and touring?

Andrew: Well, musically, the big thing there that stimulated my growth, apart from just playing and learning all these songs, and doing everything by ear, was… I started writing songs. I was really into the Paul Simon ‘Graceland’ album. I listened to that over and over again, and wanted to bring a more Afro-pop sound to our band. I would write songs, and I would hear them in my head, but it was very difficult for me to communicate because I really didn’t understand chords. I really didn’t understand… my singing, I would try and sing the melodies to people. They were very patient with me, and we turned out with some really great collaborations, but it was very frustrating that I couldn’t just say, ‘Hey, play this note, play these chords.’

By the time the end of that whole chapter in my life came, I was very strongly motivated to really have a musical education.

Christopher: I see. Sometimes when I’m talking to people about what we do at Musical U, I’ll say something about how even professional musicians often feel like their ears aren’t up to scratch. People are often skeptical of that. They assume that you’re touring the world with a band. You must have an amazing ear, and of course you understand chords. It’s reassuring to hear that you are definitely one of those who found there was maybe something missing, even though you were having great success in one dimension of music.

Andrew: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s… The truth is, is that there’s always something missing. Excuse me. I don’t think I feel… any more… I mean I can see and appreciate a lot of the tools I’ve gathered, but I always… I never feel like I’ve really got it. I never have.

Christopher: Yes, it’s one of the wonderful things about music, I think is that learning music can be just as endless and varied as music itself. There’s no end to it.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Christopher: So you found yourself craving some maybe more formal or traditional, or theoretical music education. Before we talk about your time at the conservatory where you went on to, I think there was one other little moment that came along the way during your time with that reggae band, Satta. I believe the scene was in Logan, Utah. Could you tell us about that?

Andrew: Oh yes. Oh, that’s so true. Yes. I was in Logan, Utah. We were playing a gig. It was… We usually played pretty late. I think it was about three or four in the morning when we were done playing. This man comes up to me. He’s got furs on. He’s got a huge beard, long hair. He introduces himself to me.

He says, “My name is Crazy Coyote. I’m a mountain man.” We start talking. He says, “I have something to show you.” I was always up for adventure.

I said, “Well, let’s go.” We went through the streets of town. We came to this one house.

He said, “Be really quiet. We can’t turn the lights on.” We’re walking through this house, and there’s people sleeping all over the floor. We’re stepping over these people. We come to this little backroom, and there was this streetlight outside sort of shining in, but you couldn’t really see very much. He hands me this, what looked like a broken stick. He says, “Go ahead and blow in the pointy end.”

I started playing this thing, and it was a Native American flute. I mean this instrument just jumped in my hands. You could just feel the vibrations of it. It was almost like weightless. You could feel the vibrations through your fingers as you were playing. It was actually… It was broken at the end. He said that, that was the [foreign language 00:35:02], which in the Lakota philosophy is like when you make something, you never finish it or you break off a little piece to… kind of like a thing, like anything in the physical is not quite perfect.

Anyway, I happen to have a flute right here, Native American flute. I’ll play a little bit for you.

Christopher: Quite a [crosstalk 00:36:05] from reggae.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, it’s kind of that whole… vibe-y, kind of hippie thing, I guess. Yeah, it was… So I had from that time period, from that time, that experience, I always had it in my mind that some day, I was going to have one of these flutes. I started listening to people like Carlos Nakai, and other flute players, along with the other things I was listening to.

Christopher: Terrific. For the listeners who’ve just heard you play that and thought to themselves, ‘Yeah, that sounds like it would be a Native American flute.’ Apart from the timbre of the instrument, what would there be that characterizes what you just played for us that would make it sound that way?

Andrew: Well, what I played was improvised. I mean, there are… traditional Native American melodies, of course, that you can play on the flute. In my mind, the Native American flute… the tradition is that it was a courting instrument. It was a very personal instrument. It was something that when you were in love with somebody, you’d go out into the woods. You’d find a stick, measure it by the length of your arm. You would carve it out. You would put the holes where your fingers lay, so the scale would be biologically according to the shape of your body. You would be playing the most sincere music from the depths of your heart, as you expressed yourself to the person that you loved.

As opposed to many other cultural expressions in Native American culture, the Native American flute is one of intense personal expression. To me, improvisation is the foundation of that. I think that that’s one reason why… where it’s coming from when I play it. There are also natural things in terms of the scale, the way the instruments constructed. You can play a full chromatic scale on it, but the natural… construction of the instrument lends itself to the minor pentatonic scale.

Christopher: I see, fascinating. Well, for anyone who’s curious to know more, I should mention Andrew has, in fact, written a book on Native American flute going into great detail, and helping you learn to play it. Was that the end of your Native American flute journey? How did you come to write a book later on?

Andrew: Well,… so fast forward. When I left the reggae band, I had met a woman who was to become my first wife in Alaska, when we were touring. We toured. We were in Alaska for a time. I wound up moving there after leaving the band, and then in between going to the conservatory. One day, I was out. I was clearing brush in the back of my house, so we can have a better view of our mountains, and had a big bonfire going. This guy called me up. It was somebody that I knew, but I didn’t know that this was his thing. He said he had a gift for me.

I said, “Oh? You know, I always like presents, so come on over. I’ve got a bonfire going. We can hang out.” He came out and he handed me this bag with a… and I pulled it out, and there was the Native American flute. Then, we started playing out there by the fire. I mean, I really didn’t know how to play it, but I knew enough about flutes that I could make music with it. It was really bizarre. We were out there and… the birds came and sat on the branches, just like in a Disney movie. They were twittering away. It was just almost creepy, but in a good way. We played out by the fire, and I just fell in love with it. I decided I had a lot of formal training by then, and that I was going to take a different approach. Rather than learning how to play the flute, I was going to let the flute teach me.

Another constraint I put on myself was I said, “I’m just going to only play this instrument outside. I’m never going to play it indoors,” at that time.

For a time, I would just go on my back deck and I would listen to nature. I would try and imitate the sounds. I would… It just a completely improvisational approach and exploratory approach to the instrument is how I really got into playing it. I was going to show you some nature sounds. I’m looking for the right one. This is the first flute that I received as a gift. Okay, so… The few little bird calls, and nature sounds in there.

Christopher: Yeah, quite a difference with your classical piano upbringing and your world touring reggae band, to decide that you would let the instrument teach you, and get so far from those formal and well structured worlds is really interesting.

Andrew: Yes.

Christopher: You mentioned that this was happening in parallel, or during your time at the conservatory. Is that right?

Andrew: This is afterwards. You asked me about the book, so to just follow through on that stream. I started teaching people to play Native American flute as well. I was involved in flute circles, which is a thing where people get together and they… Often times, Native American flute seems to be very transformative in people’s lives because it’s a very easy instrument to play. The sounds are beautiful right from the beginning. Of course, you can take it as far as you want.

We gathered together, and people would talk about these inspiring stories about the changes they had made in their lives as a result of their contact with the flute. They’d play their songs. We’d go around these circles, and then I started teaching lessons with my… teaching my own approach to the instrument, in terms of improvisation. I formulated this whole… way of looking at it.

It came to a point in time where I wanted to put it down on paper. It turned out to be… I mean, I thought I had it all pretty squared away in my head, but the journey of writing the book actually took… a couple of years. It was picked up by Mel Bay, who publishes it. It was a… I’m really proud of it. It’s a totally improvisatory approach, but one in which you’re developing your skills because a lot of times, when people improvise, they kind of get… When they first start wandering around, they get lost or bored. I mean, it’s just like, ‘Okay, is that all there is? I mean what can I do with it?’

In the Native American flute community, there’s this saying, if you really want to learn how to play the flute… I mean, you can get this book, or that book, or whatever. Go out and sit on a rock, which is what I did. What happens is a lot of people get frustrated or lost after the brief flowering of their first explorations. I wrote a book. The name of my book is, ‘How to Sit on a Rock.’ There are lots of things to do to bring the music from inside you, to practice your techniques, and scales in an improvisatory way, and to get in touch with nature, to really listen, listen deeply, and allow that listening to become a part of your music. There’s a lot of… things that weave together, and that went into that book.

Christopher: Fantastic. Well, that’s definitely a big part of why I’ve been so happy to have you heading up our improve modules at Musical U, because as you say, improvisation can be a bit of a wilderness if you approach it in a creative and free way. The other end of the spectrum is totally rigid, and rule-based, and frustrating. I think you [crosstalk 00:45:33]… particular ability to blend those two worlds in a really productive and creative, and satisfying way for students.

Andrew: Thank you. A lot of that… a lot of what’s in our improvisation modules now is… came through that book.

Christopher: We’ve mentioned a couple of times, and kind of teased the listener. You did go on to study at the New England conservatory. Could you tell us how that came to be, and what that experience was like for you?

Andrew: Yes, that’s another good example of coming in through the backdoor. I wanted to further my musical education. I wanted to be able to communicate with other people. That was the biggest thing. It was I wanted… I’d been so frustrated in the band, trying to communicate with people. I wanted to be able to say, “These are the chords. This is the music.”

We had toured quite a bit in Boston, and I knew people from Berkeley, and from the New England Conservatory. I went and I looked at both of those schools. I was really attracted to New England Conservatory, just… quirkier, older type of thing. They had this program there called ‘Third Stream Studies,’ which had been started by Gunther Schuller. It was this idea… Originally had been the idea of combining classical music and jazz, at sort of in between worlds; and then had branched out into this… idea of… combining different styles of musical influences, and emerging with your own personal style.

The methodology was all based on ear training. I was really attracted to this. It was a small department. Another thing that happened is when I was visiting there, I visited a class being taught by Hankus Netsky on Klezmer music, which is the Jewish folk music of Eastern Europe. I mentioned earlier, I had grown up Jewish, but in a very… reform, kind of liberal congregation. A lot of the old Eastern European trappings that had… of my grandparents’ culture, had been cleansed from that expression. It hadn’t been really satisfied to me, spiritually, when I was growing up so I’d moved on.

I went to this class, and Hankus was teaching this class. He was… The way he was moving around the room, and the way he was talking, and the music that was coming out. I felt this very intense emotion. It was not at all comfortable. I mean, I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run out of the room, but I couldn’t, because I was on the opposite end of the room. I would’ve knocked over all the instruments. It was not pleasant, actually. I realized if there’s some kind of music that has this kind of effect on me, I need to look into this. I have to know what’s going on here.

Anyway,… I was admitted to a masters program. I had to do some extra remedial work, because I hadn’t had an undergraduate musical education. I took some tests. I tested out of a lot of things. They said, ‘Okay, yeah. We’ll let you in the masters program.’… I came to this place, and… once I was there, I was like, ‘What am I doing here?’ Because the musicians there were just phenomenal. These phenomenal jazz musicians, and classical musicians. Just… the absolute top level of musicianship, and here I was, this sort of half baked… guy that had been wandering around… playing my flute.

As I had that experience, one of the things that was pivotal for me there, apart from the musical aspect, was that once I got into it and really started to learn, and to grow musically, I realized as I was talking to people that everybody felt the same way I did. Everybody felt overwhelmed by all the people around me, and at them, and thinking, ‘How would I ever play as good as that guy or that woman?’ It was… I realized just focus on my thing, on doing it, and stop wondering what I was doing there, and being grateful and appreciative that I was there among all those wonderful teachers and students.

I got into it. Because the curriculum was really based on ear training, and we had to sing. There was no way out of it. I mean I even tried to ask, ‘Do I have to sing?’ ‘Yes, you have to sing.’ Luckily, I didn’t lose my voice anymore. I started singing, and I actually started to enjoy it. I realized that one of the things that we did in the beginning, we were given a tape of all these different melodies, and they were from different… There was quite a few jazz things in there, but there was also some Latino music, some medieval Jewish music from Spain. There was some Hindu music in there. There was all these different melodies, and each one of them had these little twists where it’s like if you got off by a half step at a certain place, there might be a modulation here or something. Where you could really tell if you had it and you didn’t. Intensely listening, and trying to sing those melodies, I started to really hone in on my ear and realize why certain things were so difficult for me.

The other thing is I took on… I was doing a lot of jazz and improvisation when I was there. I also took on the… study of Klezmer music. I had these cassettes that a friend had given me, and they were… there was one particular piece. It was originally made on a wire recorder,… or a wax cylinder, like back in 1905, of Belf’s Rumanian Orchestra, and this one particular piece.

Where I was listening to it, and my teacher Hankus said, “That’s the one you’re going to do.” I started listening to this thing. It’s like you’re listening through all this static, and all this time. I realized how I could, with my imagination, I could fill in the blanks. I could fill in what the instruments really sounded like. The more I listened, I started hearing… going back in time and hearing that moment in time. It was… I think it was the exercise of my musical imagination to fill in the blanks that helped me become more active with my ear. This is an idea I’m just coming to right now, Christopher, so…

It was that… It wasn’t this great stereo system where all the sound and audio was perfect. It was so distant that I had to be really active with my mind, rather than passively just taking it in. I think that was a… that really developed my ear tremendously, that exercise.

Christopher: That’s so interesting. I think we’ve touched several times on the podcast previously, and obviously it’s a part of what we teach at Musical U, that ear training, and singing, and musical imagination, or audiation, are all really inseparable and intertwined. It’s one of my big regrets or guilts, I suppose, when I think back to one of the first things we made was our Relative Pitch app for ear training, for doing interval recognition.

Andrew: Yes.

Christopher: It’s a good app. It’s a popular app. It really helps people get the hang of recognizing intervals, but there is almost no audiation, and there is no singing in it. When I look at it, I just think, “That’s just not the right way to do it.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Christopher: That’s why at Musical U, we’ve really built it out and integrated it into something that is much more cohesive and holistic. It’s fascinating to hear that for you, there was that really pivotal experience of kind of going deep with your musical imagination, and connecting it with your ear, and finally tapping into that singing voice as a tool.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. Another big thing at the conservatory was the community of having fellow students to play ear training games with, is so much more fun than doing it by yourself. Now, we didn’t have any of the apps, and any of the recordings, and any of that kind of stuff back then. It was like I’m going to sit down at a piano. I’m going to play a note, and try to sing an interval, and I’m in a practice room with three other people playing around me. It’s like it was… It took a lot of focus. But now with… I could imagine with apps and things like that, it makes it so much easier. Back then,… But also, having the community, having the support of everybody.

I remember one time going to… They had fantastic concerts there all the time. Jordan Hall, the musical hall there, is this amazing super vibe-y place, acoustically amazing, and just old, and has so many… atomic memories there of all the music that’s been played there. We went to a… It was a jazz… I think it was Danilo Perez, who was also a teacher there. We went to the thing, it was after the… show. There was one line I remember, and I was just kind of singing it… Something like that, some little bee-bop jazz line. My friend turns to me.

He’s like, “Man, you can remember that? You’ve got a great ear.”

I was like, “Oh, gosh. I guess I do.”

Other experiences there… were… We also did a lot of core ear training, and a lot of harmonic ear training. That’s when I really learned about harmony. At the time, I was really focusing on playing the flute. While of course, harmony’s really important for playing. I played jazz and I did some jazz training there. I knew what things were. I finally understood the theory of chords, and the theory stuff. I did a lot of ear training with them. It didn’t really sink in until later on. I guess we’ll get into this later, but later on, I started really playing piano a lot more.

It just… using it, using what you’re doing in your… It is so important like to actually actively use it. So I’m still… I was still very, very focused on melody. I’m very grateful for that. The Klezmer music that I was playing is… the melody is absolutely what it’s all about. To have a deep understanding of the phrasing, and the melody, and the language to really make it come alive, I had to… Because the flute was not a contemporary instrument in Klezmer music, it had been a century before, but there was not many recordings of it. Most people were playing clarinets, and violins. I listened to a lot of clarinet and violin, and tried to imitate those sounds on my flute. I discovered new techniques. I had a much deeper connection with my instrument, because I had to create techniques. No one could tell me what they were, with my breathing and my articulation.

Like when you play a Klezmer piece,… This is that, what I was talking about, the first one that I learned. If I would write the music down, it would… and just play it from written music, it would sound like this. Okay, but if I play it with all the Klezmer language and ornaments, it’s going to sound more like this. There’s just so much… There was so much for me to learn and figure out in playing that.

Christopher: Wonderful. Did that come before, after, or during your time sat on a rock with your Native American flute, imitating the sounds of nature?

Andrew: Before. So all this… experience played into my Native American flute experience later on. Here I’m at the conservatory. I don’t have Native American flute yet. I’m playing… and starting my intense obsession with Klezmer music while at the still time, learning some jazz and… free improvisation, and things like that. While we’re at the conservatory, the other really important formative thing there was my studies with George Russell and the Lydian Chromatic Concept.

Again, I was a melody person, and harmony was still a puzzle to me. But he showed me how chords grew out of scales, how they grew out of the inner gravitational tonal fields of a scale, and how the dynamics of pitches working together, how they… His concept of tonal gravity was a real ground breaker for me, because I could see how one note relates to another, and has these subtle pulls, and gravitational things in a more… colored and nuanced way across the whole spectrum of the circle of fifths. That had a profound on my musicality from that moment on, and on my ears as well.

Christopher: Well, I think we’ll have to invite you back onto the podcast to go deep on that one of these days, because I think there’s a lot to unpack there and share with people.

Andrew: Very good.

Christopher: At this time, you were mostly playing flute, is that right? Or, were you moving back to the piano at this stage?

Andrew: I was, at this time, I was playing flute. What happened is after I… I had started teaching a few… I was going back and forth between Alaska and the conservatory. I’d do a semester or two, and I’d take a break, and then I’d go back. When I was in Alaska, I started teaching… one of our friend’s daughters some beginning piano lessons. Then, when I came back, and I graduated.

I said, “Okay, I want to do lessons in a more earnest way, and I want some flute… I want to teach flute lessons.” There just wasn’t that many students to have, but there were people looking for piano lessons. I said, “Well, I can teach beginning piano. You know, I still remember how to… how to do some of that stuff, and I can teach beginning piano, and then I’ll move them on to another teacher.”

But I came to that with some of my ideas from the conservatory. Some of them were good, some of them weren’t. I had this… I had some ear training ideas that didn’t really bowl over with five year olds.

Christopher: Hard to imagine.

Andrew: Yeah. A couple things that I did have, is I had this idea that I wanted my students to play the music that they wanted to play. I was blessed with a family of these two boys that were really intense and really gifted. This one boy, he was… He’s eight years.

He said, “I want to play Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata.’” I had this crazy idea that like, ‘Okay we’re not going to do an arrangement. We’re going to do Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ the first movement. We’re just going to learn how Beethoven did it.’ I had never personally played it. We took it out, and we got into it. We figured it out. What was the coolest thing for me, experience not only that he figured it out and was able to play it. Even though his hands couldn’t reach some of the stuff, he would make do with it and whatever… is that then one day, after teaching it to him, I sat down and all of a sudden I could play it. I was like, ‘How could I play this thing? How could I?’
I realized… what I could accomplish by teaching, and quickly my piano studio grew quite a bit, where I mean I had some flute students, and some saxophone, and others. The piano thing really started to take off. I realized that I learned so much from teaching. The other thing I realized with piano teaching is that there’s so much… that I had learned about theory, but I had never applied it, learned how to apply it to the piano. The missing link for me and for my students was the kinesthetic awareness where you play a chord and you can feel the shape of that chord in your hand. Now, this is something they teach guitar players all the time, but not something that is… big with piano.
I started to teach with that link, linking the ear, the kinesthetic thing of something, and the theory with what the music that people are actually doing. It was huge for me. I really started to get… getting into teaching chords. When I started teaching it, and then playing it more myself on the piano, I started to understand it for myself in a much deeper way, and see where my students went with it.

Christopher: Interesting. Let’s get specific then. Can you give us a sense of what that meant when you were sat down with your student in a lesson? What did it mean to help them understand the chords, and have that relationship with the piano?

Andrew: Well, first of all, students… A lot of times, they come in and they say,… I’m going to backup a little to approach this. People come to a lesson. I ask them, ‘Okay, what do you want to learn with piano today?’ ‘Well, I want to learn the basics.’

The truth is nobody wants to learn the basics of piano. They want to play a song. You want to play something, okay? So what’s the song you want to play? I had this little thing that I’d do. I’d say,’ I wave my magic pencil and all of a sudden, you could do anything you want on the piano. What is the thing you’d mostly want to do?’ Okay, so… They don’t say, ‘I want to play the basics.’ They say, ‘Well, I want to play this song,’ or, ‘I want to play that song.’ A lot of times, it’s not a classical song, or it might be. They might say, ‘I want to play ‘Fur Elise.” Or, ‘I want to play this pop song.’ ‘I want to play Adele.’ Or, ‘I want to play this thing.’

What I found is that okay, what’s the fastest road, a lot of times, to learning a lot of pop songs is learning chords because they don’t want even… They might want to play the little piano riff, but they also, a lot of times, they want to sing. They want to sing and play. It’s, a lot of times, teaching people the chords. I have this thing that I do where I teach in the first lesson you can learn half of all the major and minor chords. That’s like starting from scratch, knowing no piano at all. Then, the second lesson, you can be playing a song with them. It gets people going.
I mean, I have this drive to get people playing the music they want to play right off. Because for me, growing up, it was always you had to jump through this hoop, and that hoop, and this hoop, and that hoop. Then maybe someday, way down the line, you got to play the music you wanted to play. I want my students to be playing from day one, playing something that they want to play. There’s ways to do that.

I figured out through… that was a big deal through the different ways, shortcuts to being able to see the chords. The biggest thing is because music is one big pattern. The theory I learned is so important, many people think about music theory like it’s some like really difficult thing. It’s all comes from one thing. It all comes from one vibration and branches out from there.

If you learn a pattern, rather than learning a chord… rather than like, ‘Okay, we’re going to learn a C major chord. We’re going to learn the D major chord. Okay. Now we’re going to learn this.’ Rather than learning that, we’re going to learn two patterns that you can use to play all the major chords that… to play the six major chords right now. Just two patterns, and you can play them all.’ That’s the kind of thing that I developed as I was teaching, and learned, and teaching myself at the same time.

At the same time, I’m getting more and more into playing piano. My abilities are improving. Because I was focusing on these directions, my sight reading improved magically, too. I was able to read music a lot better, because I understood it. I really understood what it felt like with my hands, what it sounded like with my ears, and how to teach it to somebody.

Christopher: Wow, and do you… think there were any particular mental models or frameworks that led to you being able to teach it in that way? Or, was it a culmination of everything you had learned up until that point.

Andrew: The basic principle was to keep things simple, make it as simple as possible. Following that principle, that evolved everything. When I looked at a student and I could see them struggling with something, what is holding them up? When you’re teaching, you learn that every student is different. They pack things differently. Someone can learn a skill that is… that takes a whole bunch of smaller skills, they can learn it all at once. Someone, you have to unpack that skill and unpack it getting down to a real basic level, and figure out what all the components are.
Here we’re going back to that class that I took, poetry writing class, were you’re looking at all the little details and how they add up to the whole. It’s really the whole, the picture, the single picture that guides it all. It guides all the little details and brings them all together.

Christopher: So we skimmed over something there, and I want to make sure we just briefly do it justice; because you mentioned an obsession with Klezmer music. I think by the way-

Andrew: Yes.

Christopher: … we just discuss things, people might think you dabbled and then we moved on; but that was a pretty intense focus for you, wasn’t it?

Andrew: It was. It was a huge focus for me in my life where at first, I was very attracted to it. I was very emotionally attracted to it. My first thing with it was… that I had this idea that I was bringing back… helping to bring back this lost culture, because Klezmer music, it sort of died off. It was being revived at that time. It was the culture of my grandparents, or my grandparents would have had when they were young. Bringing back things that had been lost, in a sense… but it became more personal to me, in terms of my own expressing, expressing my own… feelings and my own spirit.

In the process, I mean I was playing it a lot. I was teaching it a lot. I taught at Klez Camp, and I taught in a lot of different large groups,… and plus the band I put together in Alaska. Basically, I was the expert, so I was teaching the other people to play it and to have this stylistic stuff with it. I was performing it a lot, so I was doing gigs, and weddings, and things like that. It naturally drew me closer to the Jewish community in Alaska, and to rediscovering things, and discovering things that I didn’t know about the Jewish religion.

First, it was a cultural thing bringing back a Jewish culture. Then, I started to understand the spiritual ideas behind the music. I started to learn more about the spirituality that I hadn’t been taught when I was younger, the deeper spirituality of Judaism, not just all the trappings of all the customs of culture, but the spiritual aspects. I was writing quite a bit, too. There’s one piece where I wrote… There’s a note on the flute, a C sharp, which is really difficult to play in tune. We’re always fighting with it. I wrote this… and it reminded me of what it’s like to be human, where you’re like here between heaven and earth. You’ve got this real flexible thing where you can choose one thing or another, and we bumble around. We make all these mistakes. We have all this learning. I made that note the center of this… melody. It’s called “Between Heaven and Earth.”…

It goes on like that, but I keep on going… That C sharp. The music started to become more personal to me. I also started to really be attracted to understanding my own spirituality in a deeper way, in that, throughout that whole journey. Musically also, focusing so intentionally on this one style of music, all the different details, listening so deeply to these old recordings for a period of 15 years, and then writing and creating my own music, practicing for hours, and hours, and hours, to get things just right, recording… Did two recordings, or three albums of this kind of music. It was… What it developed in me as a musician, and on my instrument, and with my phrasing, it was a tremendous experience to focus so intensely on one particular genre for this period of time.

Christopher: You had had already such a rich variety of musical experiences, instruments, genres, cultures, collaborations. Was this the moment where you felt like, “Ah, I found it. I’m a real musician now,” or did it come earlier, or… was there any point where you were like, “Aha, I’ve got it?”

Andrew: Well,… there’s different moments that I’ve had. Normally, I’m just so busy thinking about it, and… I don’t take time to reflect on that. In another interview I did a while back, I think the moment… one of the moments more recently where I felt like, ‘Oh, gosh. I really have this,’ is I was teaching a lesson. My student asked me to play something for her.

She goes, and she said, “How do you do that?” I was playing something on the piano, just some chords. She said, “How do you do that?”

It was like, “Do what?” I showed her what I was doing.

It’s like, “No, how do you make it so emotional?”

I was like, “Okay, that’s,”… I really felt like that was the moment where I had it, when I had… It’s like you know when you’re around musicians and you might know some person, and all of a sudden they started playing music and it’s like, ‘Wow, where’d that guy come from?’ It’s this magical quality where there’s so much depth and richness to that expression. I felt that someone had recognized that magic in me, that I had expressed with that kind of depth and richness to my expression. I think my experience with Klezmer music and putting that energy, and that time, and that effort, and definitely my 10, 20, 30,000 hours… really… brought that the… It brought it out in a way where now I’m able to access it in all the music that I do.

When I branched out spiritually, I also… from there, I also began to return to other forms of music, to jazz, and other types of music. Now it’s like whenever I sit down and play music, there’s something I know that I… have this kind of feeling and intention behind what I’m doing. It’s interesting, because it happens whether I’m playing an instrument that I’m very experienced at, and that know very deeply, or whether I’m first starting out on an instrument that I don’t know very well, or that I have more limitations on. I still know how to access the feeling of what I want to express, and bring it out from inside.

Christopher: Amazing. I think that may be one of my favorite statements of any podcast episode so far, because in a nutshell, I think you’ve just described having an instinct for music. It’s clear to anyone listening at this point that this was something that came from study, and learning, and practicing, and exploring music. You built that instinct, and you created it in yourself.

Andrew: Absolutely. One of the things, the pivotal things I would realize, I remember when I was living in Italy,… I was in a culture that was so old. Coming from America where everything’s new, and it’s really different being in a European culture where everything is old. Even though I could speak very fluently, within 30 seconds to 90 seconds of me speaking, people knew, ‘This guy isn’t from around here.’ Then, as soon as they knew that I was from someplace else, I could feel this click of separation. It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t… ill intended. It’s just that there was… I was not part of that 3,000 year old culture.

I had a real drive. I wanted to be really good at speaking Italian, so I could extend those 30 seconds to maybe five or six minutes before someone busted me. One of the things is I couldn’t roll my Rs. I remember sitting on a bus. I had this bus ride to this class I was taking, and trying to roll my Rs,… I taught myself to roll my Rs. I could do this. I was in my 20s. I was an adult. I could finally go,… I was like,… I realized at that moment that I could… That was like, with practice, I could do anything I want. If I could my body to do something that it couldn’t do before, then… with practice, I can do it. Now, there’s never an excuse anymore.

Christopher: Terrific. So I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to anyone listening to learn that you are still exploring new genres, and developing a wide range of musical projects. Tell us what you’re up to these days.

Andrew: Well, these days,… the biggest thing that we’re really into is mariachi music. It’s interesting, because I got on this website… I want to do more performing. I have been teaching for a really long time, and I’ve been wanting to do more performing. I had been on this website called GigSalad, and I noticed a lot of people were looking for mariachi bands.

I said, “Well, you know, I’m going to see if I can find a mariachi band, and see if I can help them out.” I looked all over. I tried to book gigs for other bands, didn’t work out. So finally I said, “Okay, I’m going to do this.” I had this colleague who said that she wanted to sing a song, but then I asked, I said… I asked my wife, “Will you sing this song?” She was amazing. I mean, she’s a great singer, but just took to this stuff like a fish to water.

We started to… We put together a mariachi band. Like anything in my life, I had no clue… how much work I was getting myself into, in terms of learning myself, and then gathering together a group of musicians to play. For the past… coming up on two years now, we’ve been… really just getting into mariachi, and exploring it, and playing it. I started learning the guitarron. Mostly, for mariachi music, I’m playing the accordion. So another new learning for me there is… it’s real difficult to get together a big band of people to play something, to get all these musicians who are very busy together.

I started figuring out how I could play the bass part and rhythm part with my left hand, and then play the violins and trumpets with my right hand. I’m learning all this about things that I can do with the accordion to make a full sound, so we can actually perform as a duo, or as a trio with guitar or violin. I don’t know, it’s just… it’s been a blast. It’s the wonderful thing is doing things together with my wife, and making music together. That’s the best part of all.

Christopher: Fantastic. We’ll definitely have a link to that band, Mariachi Flor de Missouri, and your hot winds project that I believe encompasses other performing groups, too. Is that right?

Andrew: Yes. With that, I’m doing other world music, so… for example, Rachel and I just went down to Arkansas, and we taught a school workshop on Cuban rhythms. I’ve got some… another world music library presentation coming up, so doing a lot of edu-tainment on world music, which is something I taught in the university for… and I don’t know, 11, 12 years I taught world music classes. Taking that knowledge and spreading it out, I’ve also done workshops on Irish music, and just different things that I’ve studied and been into over the years, and spreading it out, and playing with other people.

Christopher: Wonderful. Well Andrew, it’s been such a pleasure to get to talk to you. I already knew you, obviously, through our work together; but this chance to go deep into your story and share some of your insights and wisdom with our podcast listeners has just been a delight, so thank you so much for joining us on the show today.

Andrew: Well, thank you. It’s been a lot of fun. OH wow, look at that clock. We went on for a while, didn’t we?

Christopher: It doesn’t feel like it.

Andrew: No. All right. Well, thank you so much, Christopher. It’s been a real pleasure.

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