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by Tony Roma
posted 12/12/2017

Con Open Academy

Roy Issac is a Guitarist and music educator.  He has been a tutor with the Open Academy since 2010.

 At what age did you start to be interested in the Guitar and what drew you to Jazz and Blues?

I began playing the guitar at the age of 10. Growing up through the late 80’s and 90’s, the guitar was featured in most music that was played on radio and television. The music I was listening and learning was mostly rock and pop, but it was through my first teacher at the age of 12, I discovered Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Hendrix etc. It wasn’t until many years later that I heard Robben Ford’s beautiful guitar playing (Bluesy, but with a little more sophistication) that inspired me to find out more about Jazz. I contacted Steve Brien for lessons and spent the first two years studying one of my hero’s, Charlie Parker.

How much practice does one need to put in just to become proficient on their instrument? 

It’s really hard to answer this question, but I believe it’s very important to work efficiently with many short-term goals, never thinking long term! Consecutive back to back practice days was the only way I could ever have a new task I was working on really sit under my fingers and become part of my playing. I would say at least 2-3 hours of structured practice with some live playing as well over a few years would go a long way.

 You’ve studied under some great Jazz musicians from Australia and the US. What wisdoms did they impart on you that have kept you focused? 

Through these amazing people, I have learnt to be humble, appreciative, hard-working and patient (in progress). This enables me to remain focused. One of the best bits of advice I was ever given was from the amazing Dale Barlow while I was a student in my second year at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He mentioned “the sooner you realise this is something you are going to work on for the rest of your life, the more you will enjoy it.” I have never forgotten this!

 What are the key skills you’ll cover in the jazz harmony course?

Jazz Harmony focuses on the study of chords and their relationship with each other. The course covers topics such as diatonic re-harmonization, looks closely at dominant chord types, modal interchange and the Blues form, through the study of a selected number of Jazz standards.

 Why is it important is the theoretical side of Jazz? 

Theory is important to allow you to make sense of things you hear and discover. This allows you to draw conclusions to build on. Simply relying on things to happen through trial and error is fine, but can cause one’s progress to slow or even come to a hault!

What do you enjoy about teaching at the Open Academy? 

The passion for music the students walk into the program with is amazing and its strong across all age groups and levels­, it’s really special and energizing. It reminds me of why I got into music in the first place. Hearing things like ‘you have really changed the way I think and will approach my music’ in my last Blues guitar class after presenting a few new ideas is incredibly satisfying. Such a great program!

Open Academy Summer Term Short Courses start the week of 5 February. Roy teaches:

Blues Guitar: https://openacademy.sydney.edu.au/course/SCBG1

Jazz Harmony: https://openacademy.sydney.edu.au/course/SCJHA

What: Con Open Academy

Where: Sydney Conservatorium of Music

When: 2018 Courses start in February

To Find Out More & To Book Online Click Here

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