“Watching a student blossom into a full successful music career, performing, recording and even touring is incredibly gratifying, and makes me immensely proud.”
Whether it was listening to classical music on the radio, teenagers singing Doo-Woop, or watching musicals on the Broadway, Bob‘s musical growth has accelerated since young as he grew up in a musical neighborhood. After he began playing the guitar, Bob was hooked - skipping school to practice the guitar all day and all night, till the sun’s up the next day. At just 16 years old, it came to a realization to Bob that he had to pursue a career in music no matter what.
With his passion for music, Bob is always on a never-ending quest to improve his skills. Though he has been playing in gigs all over New York City throughout his teenage years, Bob made the decision to relocate to Boston to attend the highly acclaimed Berklee College of Music while being involved in many gigs at the same time. Over the years, Bob has performed in over 21 countries with renowned artists like the late legendary guitarist, Larry Coryell and keyboard genius Chick Corea, and also on several hundreds of recordings as a session guitarist.
Today, Bob’s passion for music has never stopped and besides playing and jamming on new tunes, he is also bringing his knowledge to students in classes at Wolfman’s School of Music, a prep school for Berklee and other college music programs he founded in 1983. Read on to learn more about the journey of Master Guitarist & Music Instructor, Bob, in pursuing his passion for music!
Hi Bob, can you introduce yourself and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?
Hi, I’m Bob Wolfman, founder of Wolfman’s School of Music in Boston. We offer private and group instruction for Guitar, Bass, Piano, Voice and a variety of music theory curriculum courses for students of all ages, skill levels and styles.
Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to do what you love?
I’ve been playing and singing since I was about 4 years old, was selected for the orchestral music program in middle school. Played clarinet and oboe, but switched to guitar at the age of 11. I grew up in a very musical neighborhood, and many of my friends in my neighborhood became well-known celebrity music artists. I was already in a very rich musical environment, which solidified my already intense passion for music.
What does your passion mean to you?
My passion for music is literally my life. It’s been my obsession since I was 11. The Beatles, American Rock and Folk music, then Blues, Hendrix, Clapton, my lifelong hero Jeff Beck……then Jazz and Jazz/Fusion. This music and my pursuit of becoming the very best I could took over my life. I used to cut school to go to all day or all night jam sessions. I started doing studio work in the studios in Manhattan while in High School. I practiced day and night. Music performing, recording, composing and teaching music is how I have supported myself since I was in my teens, and it’s how I supported my kids. After my kids, music is most important to me.
What made you want to pursue your passion and become a host?
I heard Jimi hendrix, Jeff Beck and a few others that compelled me to want to pursue music professionally. I just simply had to go for it. I also love to teach music, and help others realize their own dreams and develop their talents. I’ve launched many very successful careers for both musicians, singer/songwriters, and recording engineers, and I’ve been teaching since 1980 and I feel that Verlocal is an ideal venue to reach people who are also passionate about learning to make music.
How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?
Music programs have been cut back, or even completely eliminated in many public and even private schools in the area. Music that is offered in schools is generally orchestral or concert band in nature, meaning the program is very limited to the kind of music and instrumentation appropriate for that kind of music. Students cannot study Guitar, Bass, Piano or Voice in the popular styles; Rock, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Soul, Country, Fingerstyle, Metal, Alternative, or even Classical. Thus, students have to find outside resources for private or group instruction such as what is offered through my school.
How long have you been living in Boston? What would you recommend to someone who just moved to this city?
I’ve been living in Boston since the Summer of 1976, when I moved here to attend the Berklee College of Music. I was born and raised in New York City, and yet when I arrived in Boston I was immediately impressed by the diversity, culture, music, art and intellect that surrounded me wherever I went, not just at school.
For someone that just moved here I would first recommend a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, dinner in the North End, a walk around Fanieul Hall, then up to the Beacon Hill area (State House), into the Boston Commons, the theatre district, Chinatown, and then a trip across the Charles River to Cambridge. M.I.T., Harvard, dozens and dozens of great shops and restaurants and music venues. Lots of music.
Tell us about your favorite moment/biggest achievement since you started teaching your classes.
Well, this is a very tough one to answer, because I’ve had so many moments/events and big achievements by my students over the years. I have so many students who play for fun, recreationally, but they love it, and when they can create and play the way they always dreamed of. Well, that’s why I teach!
Other favorite moments have been when my students have taken off on their own successful careers. Many students started with me when they only nine or ten years old, or in their early teens, or older, and they were complete beginners. Watching a student blossom into a full successful music career, performing, recording and even touring is incredibly gratifying, and makes me immensely proud.
If I had to choose one specific achievement though, it would be the grand opening of my school and the inauguration concert we had, where my recently deceased, lifelong mentor, the Jazz guitar icon and genius Larry Coryell came and performed with me. Larry will be missed so much, by so many, all over the world.
What is your favorite piece of music & the story behind it?
To be honest, I don’t think I can actually choose only one piece of music as my favorite. There’s just way too much great, amazing, incredible music that inspires me and moves me emotionally. I may have favorite albums and artists……..My brain starts to hurt when I try to choose just one favorite. Not to mention that I love so many styles and different eras of music. Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Beatles, Hendrix, George Benson, Larry Coryell, Bonnie Raitt, Robben Ford, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis……..it goes on and on, and on!
Share with us a favorite moment/story you’ve had between you and your students when you were hosting your classes.
I taught a young boy who was just so overjoyed and ecstatic with how quickly he learned to play, that he started writing his own music, then lyrics, and started recording his songs. By the time he turned 15, I produced his first CD/album, and he now has a very successful career touring and recording. He has won awards and contests, and he still writes me all the time, thanking me for my guidance and teaching.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn more about your passion?
I would suggest that they actually try lessons for three months. This gives them the opportunity to really get their mind and hands around the instrument, and enough info and experience to really sink their teeth into……..as opposed to just “getting their feet wet!” I’m not interested in teaching people who just wanna test the water to see if they like it or not. I mean that’s fine, but
I’m not interested in teaching people who just wanna test the water to see if they like it or not. I mean that’s fine, but obviously, consistency and some effort (practice) are required for one to improve and/or excel in any activity or pursuit in life. Music does require some commitment and
Music does require some commitment and time but pays back huge rewards for a lifetime. Just about every student I’ve ever taught has developed a love and passion for making music, especially once they had some basic skills - which doesn’t take long at all.
What are your goals for the future?
I want to write a lot of new curriculum for learning advanced improvisation concepts and techniques for Guitarists. I want to finish a book for Vocalists that I started, and I want to start up a new Ensemble program where my students can play in a supervised band situation. As a performer, I plan on touring the U.S. and Europe with the release of my next upcoming album/CD release.
What does Verlocal mean to you?
Verlocal serves as a portal or quality vehicle that can introduce and drive people interested in what I offer right to my door. We all know the power and speed of the internet, and Verlocal can reach so many more folks, and create happy new connections between myself and new students.
Do you have a quote that resonates with you the most? Share it with us and tell us what it means to you!
One of my first heavyweight celebrity guitar instructors, Steve Khan, (Steely Dan, Brecker Brothers, Weather Report), always used to say to me……..”Never stop, never quit, just never give up! Keep going, and you will get there!” I think this pretty well sums up my life and my life in music, and how I reached my level of mastery of the guitar and vocalizing, but also my level of mastery as a music educator.
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