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This Article Is Not Just For Guitarists By Thomas Amoriello

Flemington Raritan School District

etc.” I am hoping our readers will find something mentioned in the previous sentence to share or investigate with fellow educators and students after perusing this interview with our featured artist. Ul- rich Roth (b. 1954, while in his early twen- ties, was once a member of a popular music group in Germany and later worldwide. He left the group in pursuit of a different artistic journey. His vision included composing original music not intended for the purposes of commercial success, in addition to recording and performing transcriptions, arrangements, and pastiches of works by major classical composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Cho- pin & more. He used the unlikely instrument of the electric guitar, in an approach more similar to a violin, as opposed to stereotypical guitar playing or even formal classical guitar playing techniques. His music was performed on a unique variant of his instrument that Uli Jon Roth conceptualized and designed along with Greek-born luthier Andreas Demetriou in England. The intention of his creation, known as a Sky Guitar, was to be able to emulate the high notes of a violin, it contained many extra frets and at times an additional string. Earlier this year I attended and participated in the Sky Academy workshop he conducted at the Sellersville

I Theater 1894 in

Sellersville, Pennsylvania. This was a unique presentation unlike others that I have frequented in the past that encouraged students to reconsider their approach to music or even their instrument at hand. Roth is a brilliant technician with astounding facility that transcends

his instrument, but

many may consider his musical philosophies as esoteric, sometimes being viewed as too “new age,” too metaphysical, or including elements of cosmology. Though I am ignorant to these practices, my interest

was piqued after his

workshop, as I became more open to this aspect of Roth’s thought

process even more so than his physical ability and approach to the instrument. Afterwards I felt perhaps that our readers would also want to contemplate his thoughts. I want to thank Roth for granting


n the Editorial Policy & Submission Guidelines for this music education magazine it states that: “Articles should be educational, new, controversial, inspiring, informative,

an interview exclusively to me for TEMPO magazine (NJMEA), with his words being unedited, and also for the inspiration for the title of this article, as Roth was neither “guitar centered” nor monomaniacal in his responses to the questions.

What are some of your earliest musical experiences and do

you come from a family of musicians? I did not come from a family of musicians, but my fa-

ther was very musical and my uncle studied the concert violin. Before I started playing, I was a huge Beatles fan. I knew all their songs by heart and I believe that gave me a very good grounding in melody and harmony in a primal kind of way.

Growing up in Germany, did you participate in any state or school music programs as a child? Were there re- strictions put on your “art” during this time period?

No music programs… I had trumpet lessons by an

orchestra musician before I picked up the bass and the guitar. That’s how I learned to read music. Later I gravi- tated towards piano and violin. There were no restric- tions. I was completely free to do what I wanted and my parents were very supportive. I also studied the classical guitar intensely for several years in my teens.

What inspired you to form your Sky Academy and share

your knowledge and musical philosophies with other musicians? It was something that was my calling. Something that was

an important part of my destiny. I love exploring that which is hidden under the surface layers of music, that which is not usually spoken about, but which is at the very heart of music. I have occupied myself intensely for some 45 years with these kinds of questions and I am still always finding new things! I am only teaching that which I know works from my own experiences and that which has helped me to get better. I love teaching those things that I am convinced about, which have the potential to make a contribution to the progress of others. I feel connected to my students. We are all fellow jour- neymen and we are all students. There are still so many things to be discovered…

Does Sky Academy have a mission statement?

Not really yet, but it should have… I guess, perhaps the cen- tral purpose of Sky Academy is to find a way to live life ac-


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