Bret Willmott

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  • Career Highlights
    • Guest appearances on CDs with Dan Gottlieb, Bob Moses, and Mike Stern
    • Author of Complete Book of Harmony, Theory, and Voicing and Complete Book of Harmonic Extensions for Guitar, Mel Bay Publications
    • Guest writer for Guitar Player and Jazz Player magazines
    • Clinician at several IAJE conferences
    • Many published guitar ensemble arrangements, some of which appear on Bret's Frets' European Rendezvous and Side-Steppin
    • Private lessons with Gary Burton, Mick Goodrick, and Pat Metheny
  • Education
    • Alumnus, Berklee College of Music
    • Alumnus, California State University

In Their Own Words

"I started with folk music. I was first influenced by Buddy Holly and shortly after by the Beatles. That was very guitar-istic music, and it's what led me to fall in love with the guitar. And, when I wanted to take it more seriously, I began to appreciate the difficulty of the instrument, and its inherent mixed blessings. The guitar is a very complicated instrument to master; it has a lot of duplicated notes and difficult fingerings that many other instruments don't. An instrument often dictates how you play and what you'll play. You'll listen to a great horn line or piano voicing, and you just won't be able to do that on the guitar. It can be frustrating at times, but there are still many things we can lift from other instruments and, of course, many things we can do with the guitar that other instruments can't."

"The joy of the guitar is that it has so many different sounds and stylistic approaches. It has a harmonic sound unique to itself, and it can closely simulate the sound of a horn or voice through various techniques like string bending, hammer-ons, and tapping. I think many other instruments have greater difficulty accomplishing the versatile sounds that a guitar can make. Piano is ultimately the best instrument harmonically, no question, but I still believe the guitar is a more versatile instrument in terms of varied sounds and styles."

"When you're performing, your reactions have to be immediate, and everything you've got in your background is going to be used. Practicing and playing at home is important preparation, but it can't simulate or create the same focus and attention that you need, and reactions you'll experience, while performing. You have to get out and play to advance. You'll learn exactly what you need to practice when you are performing regularly."