I’ve always dreaded the moment in job interviews when the interviewer smiles comfortingly and says, “tell
me a little about yourself.” Immediately my brain declares def con 2 and my internal warnings start flashing:
don’t say too much! But don’t look like you’re avoiding the question! Don’t be too self-deprecating! But
nobody likes a braggart! …On and on. I recall even practicing my response but that only added another
flashing banner, don’t forget what you practiced!
Someday maybe I’ll use this condensed version: “Well, I’m a 55-year-old male, Caucasian, thrice-married,
1979 graduate of the University of Tulsa, who with luck, a bit of talent, and a helluva lot of work has
managed to make a living as a guitarist and teacher for the last thirty-odd years. I’m husband to Jo, step-
father to Jason McClelland, brother to Dennis, son to Roy and Phyllis and teacher to more than I can
Succinct but lacking a bit on details.
Here’s the guitar story:
Denny got the guitar for Christmas – I was in grade school, it was sometime in the early ‘60s. Denny didn’t
take to it and I ended up with it. My family moved from El Dorado, KS, to Broken Arrow, OK, in 1966 and
having nothing better to do I started getting serious about the guitar. I taught myself for a few years and in
1970, as a junior at Broken Arrow High, I was asked by the band director, Paris York, to try out for the jazz
band. I got in the band but realized that there was a gap between all that rock stuff I’d taught myself and
what was required in this big band thing. I found help from one of the finest guitarists around, Pat Kelley,
currently an instructor of studio jazz guitar at USC. In the months I studied with Pat he gave me the basic
tools to understand not only how the guitar works, but how music works in general. While I was studying with
Pat, at age 16, I started teaching guitar at Hackathorn Music in BA. I’d like to issue an apology to all those
who took lessons with me in the early ‘70s. I hope I didn’t hurt you too badly.
Let’s see, somewhere around then I expressed an interest in classical guitar and Pat referred me to
another amazing talent from Tulsa, flamenco guitarist Ron Radford. I had an interesting student/teacher
relationship with Ron – I never studied consistently with him. It was more like an hour lesson every six to
eighteen months. But Ron was always there to make sure that my hands worked the way they were
supposed to. And for that I am forever grateful.
In 1972 Pat and I attended the week-long Johnny Smith seminar in Denver. Later that year Pat moved to
California and I inherited his students. I’ve been teaching and playing ever since, with a few interesting
Along the way I’ve managed to continue studying when the opportunity presents itself. On the jazz side of
things I’ve had private lessons from Larry Coryell, Bill Harris (who no one seems to know, but was a great
nylon-string jazz player from D.C.) and Gene Bertoncini, and attended a class by Howard Roberts. On the
classical side I’ve had private lessons from Doug Niedt and I attended a week-long class with Scott
And I have always learned more than I can say from working with my many fine students.
I teach now at Tulsa Community College and at Northeastern State University, in Tahlequah, OK.
1994- Tulsa Community College, Adjunct guitar instructor
2002- 2007 Northeastern State University, Adjunct guitar instructor
1995-1999 Northeastern State University, Adjunct guitar instructor
1985-1986 Rogers State College, Adjunct guitar instructor
1980-1983 University of Tulsa, Adjunct guitar instructor
PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
Nov. 2008 Solo recital for PAC Brown Bag It series (5th appearance)
Oct. 2006 Soloist with Signature Symphony, "Classical Gas"
June 2006 Showcase concert at OK Mozart in Bartlesville, OK
May/June 2006 Pit Orchestra for "The Lion King", Tulsa PAC
June 2005 Showcase concert at OK Mozart in Bartlesville, OK
April 2005 Adjudicator and performer, Northern Oklahoma College Jazz Festival
Nov. 2003 Soloist with Northern Oklahoma Symphony
Mar. 2003 Soloist with TCC orchestra
Mar. 2002 Guitar soloist for Tulsa Ballet's "Misa Criolle"
Sept. 2001 Solo recital for Tulsa Library Music Sandwiched In series
Mar. 2001 Adjudicator, University of Tulsa Jazz Festival
Feb. 2000 Adjudicator and Clinician, Union High School Jazzfest
June 1999 Recital, Summer Classics Series, NSU
Aug. 1998 Soloist with NSU orchestra for Vivaldi "Concerto in D"
Mar. 1998 Soloist with TCC Community Orchestra for Vivaldi "Concerto in D"
1992-2002 Solo guitar performances at the Williams/BOk Jazz on Greenwood Celebration
In mid-2007 it occurred to me that since the crazy health-care system in this country is not going to be reformed any time soon it might be a good idea to get someone else to pay for the health insurance. I pursued and was hired for a full time position at TCC - not in the music dept., my home of many years, but managing a computer lab. It's really just another form of teaching - instead of working with students on their guitar technique I help them navigate the software and hardware that is a necessary part of a 21st century education.
It helps that the job comes with enough down-time to work a bit on my own projects - so look for a couple of new books in the coming year: "The Whole Chord Thing" is finished and "The Whole Scale Thing" is about one third through its first draft.