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Check Out Henry Sherman’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Henry Sherman.

Hi Henry, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
When I first began playing music in 1975, I played two years of Rock/Pop Guitar. Then at Cerritos College in Norwalk, there were the most amazing teachers, Don Erjavec (Jazz Theory, he transcribed lots (all?) of Dizzy Gillespie’s Jazz solos, and on other albums for fun, WHOA! I was the only one in his Music Theory I class to get an A, “All The Things You Are” was the “final” exam”, so I began playing Jazz Piano, now that I understood all the chords) and Phillip Westin (Classical 4-Part Composition, his music composing examples truly were like the best few measures of the best symphonies! Doc Severinsen played in his orchestra and he handed his Masterworks Symphony off to Peter Nero) Louis Bellson and Van Morrison played several noontime concerts at this community college. Mr. Erjavec (Theory teacher) introduced us to Joe Pass, and Peter Kraus (guitar teacher) introduced us to Andres Segovia. After being misguided by college counselors so many of my credits were not valid anymore, nor anywhere… I continued with ~12 years of music colleges, but no degrees. I was and am always interested in new musical ideas. Other notable teachers were Eugene Jones directing the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, and Elvo D’Amante (Jazz Sectional composing and interval singing) at Laney College. During my time with those two teachers, I also added Flute, Alto Saxophone and Trumpet to my instrument list.

Then, moving North to Trinidad CA 1990-1995, and frustrated with the incredible inefficiency of the town (population 435) choir, I ended my 12 years of singing with other peoples’ choirs and I began leading my own Jazz-A-Cappella group(s). While in Humboldt County, I also taught my three-hour Guitar classes at Humboldt State University, in three levels: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. If a student was enrolled in any section, I encouraged them to come to any or all of the three hours. Teaching these classes showed me so much about how people comprehend or don’t, which gave rise to me writing my two Music Books… Using Music Theory and THINK: About Playing The Guitar. My partner and I played music weekly for five years at both Ottavio’s and Crosswinds restaurants. I played Guitar, Flute and I sang harmony with my partner playing double-action Pedal Harp and singing. We played LOTS of weddings and at the Historic Carson House.

Moving back South to Marin County 1995-2005, I taught Guitar, Piano, Rhythm Workshop, and Clarinet classes at five different Recreation centers Sausalito (Jazz and Spirituals A-Cappella Choir, plus another group in Mill Valley where we worked out the harder parts to help out the Sausalito general public group), Corte Madera (Guitar), Strawberry/Mill Valley (Guitar & Piano), TAM Adult Ed (Guitar, Piano, and Clarinet), and Belvedere-Tiburon (private music lessons). I also directed the Choir for the Golden Gate Center For Spiritual Living for two years. In 2006, I moved to Colorado. I began teaching music classes at Boulder, Westminster, Thornton, Hyland Hills. I currently teach Guitar, Piano, and Ukulele classes at Westminster Recreation.

After 27 years of directing my Jazz-A-Cappella Singers, the Pandemic caused me to stop doing that. But I never stopped playing music. I began hosting outdoor, masked and distanced Jazz Jams at my home. I currently still host five or so three-hour Jazz Jams weekly in Thornton.

My business card says ‘ “AMAZING” Music Lessons’, and they truly are. I have found ways to save YEARS of study, and for students to advance way more quickly than through traditional methods. I say “AMAZING” not because I thought that up, but rather because my students kept saying “that’s amazing!”

I love bringing people up. Most players get a bit intimidated when they get 40-60 songs, in lead sheet form thrown in front of them to play with my current groups. But then, over time, I see them get more comfortable. Rather than “working out any particular” song, it’s more about “what can you create?” The only two things that I call “music” are Creating and Discovering. The rest is boring mechanical technical stuff. The only part that is music is the part you never did before!

12 years in other choirs, 27 years directing my Jazz-A-Cappella groups, 32 years teaching Music classes, Piano, Guitar, Flute, Clarinet, Saxophone, Harp, Ukulele, Violin, Voice, They’re just instruments, and each has something very special that the others cannot do. I now offer in-person and video private lessons and low-cost Community Recreation Classes. Anyone willing to try is encouraged to join my jazz groups, and I love accompanying any singers.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wave no degrees, yeah, twelve years of college and… well, I learned about what interested me. What I have, I built by myself. Two years living in a van were not wasted, nor hard times, I continued going to college classes and added Sax , Flute, and Trumpet to my instrument list during those two years. Jazz is not for everyone, or at least not for uneducated ears. Many famous musicians finally come around and start playing Jazz… Linda Rondstadt, Rod Stewart, and Willie Nelson to name a few. They began and became famous in their own genre, but years later started singing classic Jazz Standards. I wouldn’t classify what I play as a certain style, but with years of discovery, it ends up leading towards Jazz because the musical urge is to discover and create. There is the “art” and there’s “entertainment”. Music can be on either side, but typically the entertainment factor limits the actual depth of the art. “If it’s art, it’s not for everyone. And, if it’s for everyone, it’s not art.” I realize, now, that there are no “wrong notes”. I don’t mean play the wrong note again and that makes it “right” and call it jazz. There ARE wrong responses. Wrong notes can be transformed if your ears can change how you perceive it, and respond accordingly. Then amazingly, the audience perceives what happened invisibly inside YOUR head!

Other students would look into my practice room and shake their heads like WTF? I was trying every worst note combination to see if I never ever would want to play that, let me cross it off it if never works. Everyone else was playing tunes their teacher prescribed. I was the weirdo. But I found ways to justify and use ALL possible combinations. But the internal shift in perception is the main tool.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Most musicians want to learn to create more depth in their music. But, they likely are not looking to, nor can they afford to go to many years of music classes. By writing my two books, that reflect better ways of condensing my musical knowledge that I discovered through teaching Humboldt State University classes, I make huge steps forward possible for my students. I think “practice, practice, practice” is a joke and NOT how music learning worked for me. I found huge moments of discovery changed my perception in an instant. Like “why didn’t anyone ever tell me that?” From that moment on, I never played the same… huge discovery after huge discovery. I offer a FREE video lesson to anyone interested so they can experience a shift like that! My weekly Jazz groups are a rare place to work our skills with people that have zero attitudes about what they can or can’t do.

I attribute much of my musical insights to Phillip Westin and Eugene Jones. Taking total control of conducting a group to find the magic!

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
It doesn’t matter “how it’s done” by anyone else. Find your own path, and follow that. Music Theory is just a way to remember what you discovered is awesome. USING music theory is essential to personal artistic growth.

Pricing:

  • $60 per hour Private Lessons
  • $15/hour classes X the number of meeting in that session
  • $100 per hour for performances
  • $20 each for either of my two books via PDF
  • $50 for my amazing Guitar Playability set-up

Contact Info:

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