This month's featured teacher is Tom Pietrycha, upright and electric bass teacher.

Tom Pietrycha has been teaching and performing for over twenty years. His teaching credits include The Artists Collective, The Hartt School of Music and the Hartford Conservatory. Tom joined the faculty of Elefante Music in the fall of 2011. He is currently teaching upright and electric bass in all styles including orchestral, jazz, rock and funk. Tomís performing credits are diverse. He has been a member of The Farmington Symphony Orchestra and The Connecticut String Orchestra and has performed with many jazz greats including Houston Person, Vincent Herring, Randy Johnston, Frank Wess, Eric Alexander, Jim Rotondi, Joel Frahm and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. Tom has also played on jingles for Tide and American Express and toured with the Broadway Show Ainít Misbehaviní. Tom continues to perform regularly in the New York area.

We asked Tom a few questions about music and teaching.

EM: What do you feel is your most important job as a teacher?

Tom: I think that my most important job is to inspire the student to continue to learn. Of course, itís important to provide the student with a strong foundation in technique, theory, and ear training, but facing and overcoming challenges is a big part of learning music. If I can help inspire the student to do this not only in music, but in other areas of life as well, I have done my job to the best of my abilities.

Who is your favorite performer in your field?

Thatís very difficult to answer. I donít think I have a favorite. I play many styles of music including Rock, Pop, Jazz, Latin, and Classical. There is a long lineage for most of that music. The performers who inspire me range from young players who are not only excellent, but also are bringing a new perspective, to performers who left us many years ago. Their music lives on through recordings.

Who was the teacher who inspired you the most (in any subject)?

The teacher who inspired me the most was Dave Santoro. He is currently teaching at Berklee College Of Music, and also touring. He is a wonderful player, and an absolute wealth of knowledge, and is also very organized. He has developed a system to breakdown even the most advanced ideas, so that a student can grasp the concept.

What is one thing you're working on outside of teaching right now.

Iím always working on improving as a player, and a writer. I listen to as much music as I can, and try to bring some of the things I like about that music into my own playing. I have several outlets in a variety of styles, so there is always so much to do!

What words of advice can you give to our students?

My advice to students is to do three things. First, listen to lots and lots of music. All kinds of music. Listen every day. Listen with focus, at least for an interval of time. Donít just have it going in the background. Second, develop a practice routine. Have a foundation of rudimentary exercises, but also add and take away different types of challenges as you go through the week or month. This will give you something to build on, and also will keep it fun and interesting. Lastly, never get discouraged. Music is one of the amazing things about living life. Always work hard at it, but always remember that it is really fun! It can be an individual experience, or shared with many, many, people.