I had the opportunity to interview Cliff Hines about his album Wanderlust (see Part 1). In this portion, Cliff shares his perspective as a teacher, advice for those new to the music industry, more on New Orleans and the influences that have shaped his life and music. This is someone to keep an eye on, because for all he's accomplished, I sense he's just getting started.
Your first album was out before you had turned 21. What is your advice to young musicians just starting out?
Practice, practice, practice. When you start touring, you won't have the free time you had when you were younger. Focus on developing your sound and the rest will come. Also, try to write something new every day.
Thanks for your insight. It seems you’ve made the most of your collaborations, and you’ve also taught as a substitute teacher, and for three years as a guitar instructor at NOCCA [New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts]. You were quoted in “School’s Out for These UNO-Educated Jazz Musicians” by Aaron Lafont as saying “As a teacher now, I’d like to think that I’m a link in the chain. I try to reflect the education I was given and the values my teachers instilled in me, the ways they taught and the ways they helped me find myself. That’s what jazz is. That’s what New Orleans is.” Tell us more about your specific methods of teaching.
I try to keep it interesting for the student. My favorite teachers didn't try to shove anything down my throat, they presented me with information I wanted to learn. A student isn't going to learn anything unless they're interested so that's the true challenge of teaching. I also learned a lot from developing the ability to sing as I improvise, and I try to teach all of my students that technique.
What a cool technique! In "Barryfest's Live Picks: 10.20.2011 – 10.26.2011" by Taylor Gray, Mr. Gray wrote: "At this point it should be pretty obvious that the primary driving force behind the young classically-schooled guitar mega-talent known as Cliff Hines is a ceaseless desire to test not only the limits of his own musical faculties, but those of every musician around him." Is this a mindset you apply to your students?