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Up And Coming Guitarist, Noah Myers



JGT contributor, Thomas Amoriello, Jr. interviews Noah Myers – a talented guitarist, composer working on a degree at the University of North Texas.

Wise beyond his years, the journey to the guitar for Myers was inspired from an unlikely source. The Jazz Guitar Hero is already racking up points by inspiring others with his online presence and recent competition appearance.  Thank you Mr. Myers for this exclusive interview with Jazz Guitar Today. 

JGT: You were a finalist in the Jarek Smietana Jazz International Competition as well as a top prize winner in a few other events.  What kind of work do you put in behind the scenes while prepping to play before a panel? 

NM: It can be nerve-wracking to play in front of a panel, especially when jury members include accomplished musicians, such as Wolfgang Muthspiel in the Smietana competition, that I’ve listened to extensively and taken stylistic  inspiration from. Even though these artists are going to consider a musician’s technical ability, harmonic creativity, etc. which can lead a competitor to pick tunes that they think may impress the jury, I find more success in simply choosing tunes that I enjoy listening to. In the case of the Jarek Smietana competition, I had been checking out songs such as “Trinkle Tinkle” by Thelonious Monk and a haunting Elmo Hope ballad, “Eyes so beautiful as yours”. Since it can be inconvenient to organize trio rehearsals (especially when the rhythm section is provided by the competition), the bulk of my preparation is spent actively listening to any available version of the tunes that I can find. I am a firm believer that mechanical practice results in an equally mechanical performance, so rather than focusing on running arpeggios and chord scales, I prefer listening to recordings by masterful musicians and singing along, as it is a step towards internalizing the finer elements of what comprise a mature sound (such as phrasing, tone, and touch).

JGT: Having attended a prominent jazz school of the University of North Texas, please talk about the bonds that are formed with other student musicians while in an academic setting?

NM: Being a school that primarily focuses on recruiting for big band, the amount of musicians at UNT and the generally limited role of guitar in lab bands can make it tough to forge lasting connections with other musicians; however, after my sophomore year, the recently appointed faculty breathed new life into the program and are responsible for placing more emphasis on small group playing. As I eventually worked my way up through the big bands, I was able to bond with other members of the rhythm section, some of which I now live with, which makes organizing sessions and finding people to shed with much easier. In my time left at UNT, I hope to continue making deeper connections with fellow students, as I’ll undoubtedly run into my talented peers down the line.

JGT: Who were a few of your early non-jazz influences and what made you choose the guitar? Or did it choose you?

NM: As funny as it sounds, the video game “Guitar Hero 3” was the main reason I gravitated towards the guitar. After hearing Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Eric Clapton, and bands such as Megadeth and Tool in the game, I began obsessively listening to everything from classic rock and metal, to blues. It wasn’t until years later when I was introduced to guitarists like Allan Holdsworth and Mike Stern that straddle blues and jazz/fusion that I became hooked on the artistry of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Bud Powell, and countless others. Looking back on how a video game inspired me to pursue a professional career in music, It seems pretty unusual, but oddly enough I’ve recently spoken with a handful of gifted musicians my age that all share the same story of being inspired by Guitar Hero.

JGT: You are actively gigs in the lively Dallas-Fort Worth music scene where you play in settings from John Wasson’s Strata Big Band to trio at local restaurants. Please tell us about that?

NM: Although the scene in Dallas and its surrounding cities isn’t exactly renowned for jazz, UNT and other colleges allow for a consistent supply of new musicians, which can be exciting. Since there is often higher demand for styles other than straight ahead jazz, I’ve been able to maintain my skills of playing in all types of genres. Besides playing in big bands and gigging at restaurants and parties, I’m a recent addition to a popular local alternative rock band called “Have Near” that solely performs original compositions, and I’ll often pick up other pop and rock gigs for private events around the U.S. 

Guitarist Noah Myers

JGT: What are some of your career aspirations upon completing your education?

NM: As someone who can attest to the incredible influence that college professors have to either greatly inspire or discourage a budding musician, I aspire to strike a balance between teaching at a collegiate level and establishing myself as both a leader and sideman. Although it can be gratifying to teach any level of musician, I look forward to cultivating talent in driven students who already have a solid foundation of time and technique so that lessons are focused on fine-tuning creative aspects of their musicianship (such as composition, phrasing, and finding their unique harmonic tendencies). While teaching, I hope to continue composing and pursuing my passion of traveling with the ultimate goal of recording an album of mostly original music. 

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