I teach every student differently according to his or her own level, interests, and age. This allows each student to emerge in their own right as a musician. There are certain basic concepts and skills that every guitarist should have, such as holding the guitar ergonomically, knowing the names of the strings in a standard tuning, basic theory concepts like chords and keys, reading music, and so on. However, even among these basic concepts and skills, I stress different elements according to each student’s individual needs. It has been my experience, both as a teacher and as a student, that information tends to be better retained as soon as it is necessary to actually make music. In this way, students can play the music they want to play as quickly as possible, while using each new piece of music as an etude for a new basic concept or technique which is vital to their own personal development. Eventually, each student will come to know all of the basics through exploring their own interests, and at their own pace. In this approach, abstract concepts are reinforced through playing, and playing is facilitated by greater knowledge. Most importantly, this approach retains the fun of learning, since each student’s goals move as close to them as possible. As no one has an unlimited amount of time to practice, I have found this approach to be the best for the student, as it makes the most out of any practice time. What is best for the student is best for me.
- Thomas has been teaching guitar and music continuously for over 25 years.
- He received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Classical Guitar Performance from SUNY Stony Brook in 2007.
- At CUNY Hunter, Thomas was an award-winning teacher where he taught as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for 8 years, and as a Teacher Associate for 13 years.
- He also taught for 14 years at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and was part of the Professional Studies Division.
- Thomas has been playing electric guitar even longer then he has been playing Classical Guitar.
- Thomas has lectured on various aspects of the electric guitar at: St. Bonaventure University, SUNY Fredonia, Buffalo State College, Five Towns College, and CUNY Hunter.
- His students have gained acceptance into college level music programs at SUNY Fredonia, Reed College, CUNY Hunter, and the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, into High School music programs at LaGuardia High School, Special Music School High School, and the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, and into youth music programs at Mannes, the Manhattan School of Music, and Juilliard.
- Thomas received his Bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance from SUNY Fredonia under Distinguished Professor James Piorkowski, and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from SUNY Stony Brook under Jerry Willard.
- Thomas has participated in master classes given by Manuel Barrueco, and the Evangelos Assimakopoulos and Liza Zoe duo. He has also had formative private lessons with David Starobin, Nikita Koshkin, Michael Cedric-Smith, and Patrick O’Brien.