Tomo Fujita

Associate Professor

"In my private lessons and blues/funk labs, I teach fundamental techniques for playing good music—getting a good tone from the guitar and keeping a good rhythm. But I try to teach something more valuable for the future, so I really emphasize feeling. Especially in blues playing, I emphasize expression, tone, and time. Sometimes these simple things are really difficult to achieve with quality and detail. So I teach a lot of grooves and rhythm."

"After I graduated from Berklee, I was interested in discovering more about the blues. I listened to all the records of B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, and I started playing with blues bands. I could play blues technically, but emotionally I couldn't connect myself to the music. I tried to connect my soul with the guitar, to get away from any theory or technique, to stop thinking too much. I started playing gospel music at a Baptist church every Sunday. There were no charts; for every song, all I got was the key. It taught me a lot about feeling, and I thought, 'That's really what music is all about.' You hear things, and you have to feel things."

"If you make someone read music, and they don't know about the sound of the music, that's like reciting words or sentences that don't mean anything to them. Everything that they play sounds technically right, but musically it's not there. So I try to teach my students as though they're blind. I say, 'Before you start to play your guitar, find an object close to the ceiling, or buy a picture and hang it above eye level. Look at that, and then play. Try to disconnect your mind from time and place while you're playing, so that after you finish the song you don't know where you are, because that much energy is going into the music.'"

Career Highlights

 

  • Diploma, B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Studied with Joe Pass
  • Recordings include Right Place, Right Time and Put On Your Funk Face
  • Performances with Phil Collins, Kenwood Dennard, Ronnie Earl, James Genus, Paul Jackson, Darryl Jones, Will Lee, Mighty Sam McClain, Roomful of Blues, Susan Tedeschi, and others
  • Guitarist in theater production of the award-winning musical Rent
  • Former students include Eric Krasno (Soulive) and John Mayer
  • Instructional video, Accelerate Your Guitar Playing, released by Rittor Music, Japan; released in the U.S. by Hal Leonard/Berklee Press
  • Contributor to Japanese magazines Jazz Life, Jazz Guitar, and Guitar
  • Tours and presents clinics annually in Japan