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Dr. Shawn Purcell, who teaches jazz guitar and jazz arranging at George Mason University and performs for the U.S. Navy Commodores, provides us with many insights into his story, learning and teaching music at a collegiate level, touring with the Ringling Brothers Circus, and his career as a military musician.
Shawn, Joe, and Aaron discuss methodical and efficient practice routines, working with new students to develop these practice routines, and the need to adjust these practice routines to prepare for different sorts of gigs and musical opportunities.
Shawn’s story takes us from his youthful days of Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, and Van Halen to his college days in which he studied jazz guitar and the recording arts at Duquesne University. Upon graduation he landed a gig touring with the Ringling Brothers Circus, for which he spent two years traveling around the country on a circus train and played guitar for a living. His next stop was eight years as the guitarist for the Air Force’s premier jazz ensemble, the Airmen of Note.
in 2004, Shawn and his wife, Dr. Darden Purcell, moved to Nashville where he gigged and earned his Master of Arts in Music from Middle Tennessee State University. He gives us details of his experiences in the Nashville music scene.
If you thought Shawn had already received a lot of music education, he and his wife then moved to Illinois where he earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance. After a period of teaching at the National Guitar Workshop, he landed the job as the guitarist for the U.S. Naval Academy Band, and a couple years later he won the position as guitarist for the U.S. Navy Band “Commodores” jazz ensemble in Washington DC. Shawn tells us lots of information about becoming a military musician, the lifestyle, the necessary skills, etc. He stresses the importance of being able to sight read!
Finally we get into a deeper discussion about higher education: how to become a music professor, what that experience is like, how universities work, etc.
Shawn was one of Joe’s jazz guitar teachers at George Mason University, and Shawn’s methodical and organized style of teaching helped Joe achieve tremendous growth as a guitarist and as a teacher.