Despite being born in California, Mark has called Colorado Springs home since moving here at age 10. He grew up in Rockrimmon and Briargate. Mark even went to high school at Air Academy and graduated from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with Bachelors degree in music. While at UCCS, Mark met Jon Gillin thanks to local guitar teacher and jazz legend Alan Joseph. Together they founded Silversound Guitar in central Colorado Springs in 2016.
Jon Gillin: What is your earliest memory in music?
Mark Young: I was way into Nirvana, I was about 12 or so. I remember the album that just resonated with me was the unplugged album. I begged my parents for a guitar, but, because they didn’t want to get me an electric because of the noise.
JG: Of course…
MY: yeah, and you know back then everyone was still saying, “you need start on acoustic first.” I just don’t believe that, whatever keeps the kids interested ya know?
JG: Totally. If it’s hard to play you’re probably aren’t going to keep playing it.
MY: And that’s exactly what happened. I got bored and tired of my fingers hurting all the time and quit.
JG: So, What was your inspiration to start again
MY: I ran into my guitar teacher and called me out.
JG: What do you mean?
MY: Well, I love listening to music and he, said, “if you love music so much why don’t you start playing again?” He just challenged me to get back into music.
JG: How to did you get back into it
MY: Like most high schoolers, I lied to all my friends that I could play guitar and we started a band. (laughter) Hahaha!
JG: Yeah, I think most of us have been there at some point.
MY: Right, so I started going back to lessons I traded a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp for 2 years of lessons, and that was that.
JG: What did you find useful about lessons
MY: It was a shortcut to understanding the guitar, and it was presented to me in a way that made sense. It gave me the cliff notes, ya know. I mean, I know how to use the internet but this just sped up the learning process. It gave me the one on one instruction that you just can’t get from things like YouTube and tabs.
JG: How do you bring your experience and passion into your lessons
MY: I think i approach it realistically. As somebody that has written and produced loads of music it just makes sense to bring that knowledge into the lesson. I look at how to use things like scales but how to be creative and compose music with them. Not just play them up and down the fretboard. Scales are like bricks they are useless unless you build something with them. People don’t pay you to learn a song they pay your to learn technique and get better.
Ben Jones originally hails from the Pacific northwest, and recently moved to Colorado Springs. His passion for guitar and music runs deep and you can see that in his teaching style. Ben joined Silversound guitar just a couple of months ago while he was completing preparations for his senior recital. Ben just received his Bachelor’s degree in music from UCCS this month. I sat down with him to learn a bit more about how he started on this journey.
Jon Gillin: What got you into music?
Ben Jones: When my aunt came to visit from Washington DC and she gave me a John Coltrane book and saxophone.
JG: What? How old were you?
BJ: I was in the second grade.
JG: Kinda young for Coltrane…
BJ: I know right? But it was cool and it opened my eyes at an early age to a wide variety of music. From there I learned bass and drums and eventually guitar. It was the last instrument that I tried. But, after that there was no going back.
JG: So then what was the next step for you?
BJ: When I was older, this was the only thing I really like to do. When I decided to go to college, I went back to get a business degree. It wasn’t long before I was like “that sucks.” So got into the music program at UCCS and started taking lessons on classical guitar and I had never done anything like that before. Classical guitar is both intense and amazingly intimate.
JG: And then you started lessons?
BJ: Yeah. Before that I had never taken any lessons. I started lessons with Mary Hojijo (sp) and got I meet legendary Hector Garcia in New Mexico and started to really get into it. I like what I’m doing and want to take it seriously.
JG: You have an interesting perspective as some self taught and then started taking lessons.
BJ: I think so, because after so many years lessons really changed the game for me. Before I was guessing at things. When you are self taught there are things you don’t know about music and you know you don’t know them. You watch people play crazy solos and you just have no idea what is actually happening on the fretboard.
JG: What you’re saying is that you found lessons not only contextualized music theory on fretboard but they augmented what you could hear.
BJ: Exactly! Its an explanation for what I’m hearing.
JG: What did lessons do for your technique:
BJ: I had all sorts of bad habits. I loved Hendrix and SRV it was all made up and a lot of guesswork. When you start learning real technique things just work better.
JG: Would you say having someone guide you down that path helped?
BJ: Totally! I hit a wall. I was stuck in patterns, I didn’t understand how to break out of that and lessons broke me of that and gave me the technique to get better. Up until that point I thought to myself “i’m a proficient guitar player.”
JG: HA! Oh man, I remember that feeling and then finding out that I wasn’t nearly as good or knowledgable as I thought.
BJ: It is a real eye opener you know? But for me lessons allowed me to build on that and find a path to be better.
JG:What do you enjoy about teaching?
BJ: I enjoy the benefits that I get from teaching.
JG: What do you mean?
BJ: It keeps me sharp all the time. If you don’t use it you lose it, you know. It keeps sharp on all the music theory, technique and ear training. I just keep using all of it. You know, I can give students cool solos or tunes that give me something to work on as well.
JG: What is your favorite thing to teach:
BJ: For me it’s jazz. It’s the most fun. I like the theory and the ability to improvise and play with the different chord progressions, there are so many possibilities and opportunities to make cool music.
It’s been great to see how each teacher thinks about lessons. It really shows their different growth patterns and approaches. Next week we will have two more instructors and more to talk about.