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Steve Yankee

Private Instructor, jazz guitar

Kraushaar 102


Steve Yankee studied at Wayne State University (Michigan) with Charles Postlewate and Joe Fava. He has performed in the masterclasses of Alirio Diaz, Johnny Smith, and Michael Lorimer.

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Mr. Yankee has worked with Richard "Groove" Holmes and other Jazz greats. His major influences are Kenny Burrell, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Laurendo Almeida. Mr. Yankee has been teaching at the University level for almost 30 years. He now freelances in Baltimore, D.C., and Philadelphia.


Recent Publications/Presentations/Performances

Compositions and Transcriptions

The Well-Tempered Guitar: 24 Preludes in all Major and Minor Keys


I am a native of Durand, Michigan and have played guitar and been a student of music since I was nine years old. The lower peninsula of Michigan was a fertile ground for jazz music in the 1970's when I was leaning music. My college education was with Charles Postlewate, and Joe Fava at Wayne State University. My background put me in the company of my influences: Kenny Burrell (also a graduate of Wayne State, class of 1955) and Johnny Smith (friend of both Joe Fava and Charles Postlewate). My other musical influences include Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Laurendo Almeida, pianists Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, and any good musician! I started playing rock n' roll when I was in Junior High, and seriously studied classical music before and during college. I eventually decided to focus mainly on playing jazz guitar with a pick (plectrum style) as I had been consistently playing in dance bands and clubs through my teens and twenties to make a living. For the last 35 years, I have taught individual instruction both privately and at the college and university level at the University of Michigan, Flint Institute of Music, the Baltimore School for the Arts, and currently at Goucher College and the Peabody Institute. For the past 27 years, I have lived in Baltimore and played in jazz clubs in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. I grew up doing farm work and have been an animal lover since I was a kid. When I'm not playing, practicing, or writing music, I hike with my dogs and wife, garden, and chop wood, and read.

Philosophy of Teaching: What I do.

My goal is to make a complete musician out of myself and my students. I encourage students to really know music, as well as their musical instrument; to express themselves in improvisation and lay a foundation when accompanying other musicians; to play solo guitar, as well as to know their role and function in an ensemble setting. Music is about harmonizing, both with yourself and others. I am a life-long learner of music as well as teacher. I am learning all the time from my students, and I teach my students how to learn as well. I have an exercise for every problem; I have lesson for every approach.

Approach to Teaching: What I'll do with you.

In your initial lessons, we will come to an understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are. As we proceed, I will organize a program of instruction that will address technique, musicianship, musical understanding, and the application of all of these to the guitar. I teach how to read music on your instrument in all positions; to transpose from one octave to another, as well as play in octaves; to fake (to look at a piece of music and play a chord solo on the spot). I cover all the theory as well. I teach the relationships between notes in melody, harmony, and chords. We will cover scales and arpeggios in all keys, horizontally and vertically; chord functions within a key, and chord substitutions and inversions. I encourage my students to play classical, jazz, and popular music that either I have transcribed, or written, especially for playing with a pick. You will naturally learn to arrange music as well. You need to know how to play music first before you can improvise. Though I mainly engage students on guitar, I will take students on electric bass as well.

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