When I was in college, I heard all about this jazz teacher named Charlie Banacos. He was legendary. He taught everyone. And then I found out that most of the big names from the Boston area (and more) had studied with him. He was hard-core and had a wait list of several years. You could be guaranteed of two things: 1) you’d have to work your ass off and 2) if you did, you’d be a monster musician.
I waited a long time to put my name on his list. Partially because I was too busy working and trying to pay my rent, but mostly because I knew I wasn’t ready yet. In May of 2004, I put my name on his list. This past Sunday, May 21 2006, I got the call. I was terrified and totally excited.
I went to see him on Wednesday morning. He’s a real character. He’s got a really distinctive voice and way of talking – that begs for replication and imitation. He’s also a genuinely happy person and it’s very, very clear that he loves teaching. The minute we started working, I realized that everything I ever learned was about to be tossed out the window. He had me sing, he had me play, he had me do ear training stuff, and he gave me LOTS of difficult work that involves me practicing several hours a day. All in 30 mins.
He was able to sum up exactly where I was and exactly what I needed to be doing from the second I walked in the door. And the amazing part is that I didn’t feel bad about it, I didn’t feel like a dope for not being where I should be. I felt completely motivated to kick my own ass and get the work done.
I haven’t practiced this much since college. And I love it. And I feel overwhelmed. And I love it.
My friend Jim Z (who also took lessons with him) said: “Taunia, this is going to be the best thing you ever did for yourself.” And you know what? After one 30 minute lesson, I know he’s right.