I interviewed jazz guitar instructor Hank Mackie a few years ago. Hank’s reputation as both a player and instructor in the New Orleans area is impeccable, spawning a couple of generations of jazz guitar phenoms. I also interviewed a few of his most accomplished students who became professional musicians. Here’s a quote regarding the essence of Hank’s approach to instruction from a student that provides some insight into why he’s so beloved and admired:
“If I could sum it up with one sentence, he got in the trenches with the student,” student Ted Ludwig said, noting the propensity of some teachers to demonstrate a condescending attitude toward students. “He didn’t sit up there on a higher level, look down at you and say OK, this is the thing you need to learn to get up here. He came down to your level and he brought you up. A lot of teachers shoot things at you—If you get it, you get it, if you don’t, you don’t,” he added.
“Hank never was afraid to tell you things more than one time,” says Ludwig. “When Hank was teaching, he let go of the fact that he was a great player. Hank always encouraged his better students to come out and sit in wherever he was playing,” he added, offering further evidence of Mackie’s self-assuredness and humility.