Getting in-tune with new guitar instructor

Q&A: Andrew Pommert

By James Walls
Reporter (Fall 2012)

If you could define the word “Music,” how would you define it?
I would define music as something that comes from inside of a person and is expressed outside of the person physically.

How would you describe the influence music has had in your life?
Music has always been the medium for my expression in my life. Like a writer uses words, I would use music. So I would say it has influenced me in that way. It has been a way to just get out whatever is inside of me.

When you were a kid, what was the one thing you always wanted to be when you grew up?
I had a lot of different interests. I thought maybe the military would have been something interesting…something that involved some kind of adventure. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t ever like music. It wasn’t ever like, “You know, man, when I grow up, I want to be a musician. I want to teach it and play it and be it.”

What made you decide to be an instructor?
I love music, and going back to that whole medium of expression, I want to be able to give people that tool for expression. So, when it comes down to it, I love giving people that gift of music…If they can take that music and run with it and do their own self-expression with that, I think that I’ve found something worthy to do.

Despite this being your first semester giving guitar lessons at Crowder, how long have you been teaching people to play?
This fall would be six years of teaching for me that I’ve done privately. And where I’ve done that is in Joplin.

Often when growing up, parents try to steer us away from pursuing a career in music. Do you feel there is a difference in the practicality of a career in the music field as opposed to any other field, and why?
Yes and no. I would say that there are aspects in the music industry that are more practical, pay the bills, less risky.

What were your influences and/or inspirations for learning the guitar?
First of all, my father. He is also a private guitar instructor at Ozark Christian College…I would also say, for the longest time I played a single note instrument like the violin, trumpet or baritone, and since I’m a singer I wanted to have an instrument like the piano, that I could accompany myself with and sing. And I didn’t choose the piano, I chose the guitar. So I wanted something that I could go out and sing and play an instrument to back my own voice up, and the guitar was the choice for me to do that.

Were you ever in any bands?
Yes, I was in bands. I was in one band in high school called Charted Destiny. We were just a rock n’ roll band. I played the bass guitar, actually. But really, after high school I really wasn’t in any bands. I’ve played in some worship bands at church. I’ve directed some of those. It’s kind of like a rock n’ roll band where you have bass, guitar and drums…But currently I play with my dad, and we have this guitar duet, and we call ourselves Brisa Marina, which is Spanish for “breeze off the ocean.”

If I were to try, would I be able to find any recordings of your music?
You would be, right on our website:

Almost every genre of music has a different style and sound, so which would you consider was the hardest one for you to learn?
I would have to say classical guitar. And what I mean when I say that, I mean music by like Bach.

Is there a reason you found it more difficult than the others?
Yeah, there is more detail involved in that type of music. It’s more complex; it’s more complicated. The other thing that makes it difficult is you’re not just strumming chords. This is like you have chords in a couple strings, but then you’re drawing out a melody in your fingers. And so you kind of have both, and so it’s difficult because the music is woven very complex.

Is there any one style in particular you would consider your favorite to play?
Forties and fifties jazz.

Which style of music do you most often listen to?
If I’m listening to music, I’m usually doing two things. I’m either listening for new music for church, so I listen to a lot of worship music for church…which is kind of part of my job. But if I listen for relaxation, pleasure, fun, I listen to a lot of solo piano. My favorite person is George Winston.

Do you have any other artistic talents, be it musical or not?
I would call my teaching a talent, and here’s why. There’s a lot of good musicians out there that are not good teachers. They don’t want to teach, or teaching is not in their blood…But teaching is kind of a little extra thing on top of what you’re doing. So I would say teaching is a talent that I’ve honed, cause I went to MSSU and got a music education degree, so I was able to hone those talents there for teaching music.

What do you do most often in your free time?
I spend time with my new baby girl, Diana, and I go backpacking with my friend, Peter.

How long have you lived in this area?
All my life.

If you could sit down and meet with any one person from history, who would it be, and why?
Abraham Lincoln. I’m fascinated by his leadership ability to hold the nation together while under great stress.

What is your favorite quote?
“I may totally disagree with what you say, but I will defend until my death your right to say it,” by Voltaire.

What three words do you feel best describe you as a person?
Never stop exploring. That really is who I am as a person. I never want to be the type of person who stops learning or doing new things.

What one characteristic do you feel is the most important for a person to have or obtain?
Understanding your rightful place in the world. So many people think they’re better than somebody else, or they think that people owe them something. So I think that if we understood who we are better in the sense of not being arrogant, but understand that we are frail people, we can die in a second, or we can create a spaceship to go to the moon. I mean, we are highly intelligent people, but at the same time we are very frail. So I mean for people to understand their rightful place.

If you could give one piece of advice to the students here at Crowder, what would it be?
Don’t give up. Even when life gets hard, don’t give up.