Meet the teachers

Simone Manunza

© Phil Portus 2020

What do you teach?
Guitar, Ukulele, bass, guitar ensemble.

What’s the best thing about your instrument/s?
I feel that the guitar is still a ‘young’ instrument, especially compared to the violin, the trumpet and the piano for example. For this reason it is an instrument in full development. Many musicians have been incredibly creative in approaching the instrument, with so many techniques that I don’t think there is comparison with any other instrument in that regard. The combinations you can pursue on the guitar are pretty much infinite! And so playing the guitar, often feels like being in ‘Uncharted territory’. This makes it very tricky to teach as well. Because you have to try to lead the student in the path more congenial to their personality, without excluding all the other alternatives and keeping an open mind.

Tell us about an inspirational teacher you had when you were a child?
I am lucky to have had a few!

My first inspirational teacher was the music teacher in Y7: he inspired many of us, simply by playing music for us. He would bring into each lesson a different guitar: classical, acoustic as well as a ukulele and play appropriate music for each instrument. I remember the feeling of excitement, just trying to play a simple rock riff on one string, (guess which one?! Smoke On The Water of course!!!).

Later on when I started to be more serious and determined in my guitar study and I studied with a teacher who taught me harmony and improvisation. He was a great guitarist and during his career he played with Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Django Reinhardt, Gerry Mulligan and Astor Piazzolla to quote just the most famous! To hear him talking about his experiences it was just like dreaming!

What’s your top practise tip?
You should ask my students! Different tips work for different ages and levels of playing. In general, as I think that listening is key, I tell them to listen carefully to good guitarists they admire and to listen carefully to their own playing too.   I also tell them that I learn a lot by watching good guitarists, and I encourage them to watch me when I play.

What’s your top well-being tip?
Take the time to cook a good meal and eat it with family and friends.

Know any good musician jokes?
There’s a guitar joke: A Guitarist passes half of his time tuning the guitar and the other half play out of tune!

Funniest musician moment?
Going to play a gig to discover that somebody else is already playing your gig!

Top five desert island discs/pieces/playlist?
A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, Charlie Parker on Savoy, These Rooms by Jim Hall, The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, L’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy.

What music or musician websites or YouTubers do you recommend for our young people to look out for?
YouTube is a fantastic music resource.

Livestreaming is becoming the new way to listen to ‘live’ music, (which I hope will never replace in person music playing and teaching) and there are some great organisations and clubs that are offering plenty of music also for free. Have a look at Trafford Music’s Facebook page, my band ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ is featured, which includes other members of TMS’ staff, there’s a great live-streamed concert for all to enjoy.

What do you do to relax?
I love reading.

Quick-fire questions…

Coffee or tea?
Italian Coffee please!

Beethoven or Beyoncé?

Last piece/song you downloaded or listened to?
I just listened to These out of infinite by Canadian guitarist and composer David Occhipinti. Some beautiful works on poetry for solos and ensembles.

Texting or talking?
Talking with my best friends and family, texting with the rest of the world.

Cats or dogs?

Cake or cheese?

Favourite meal?
Spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil.

A musician/composer (dead or alive) you would love to meet?
Wayne Shorter. I’d love to hear him in concert again!!!

Another instrument I’d love to learn to play is…
The piano and the fluegelhorn.