Hull School of Performance Art’s guitar specialist Tim Keech has decades of experience as a lecturer, tutor and professional musician. He ranks flexibility almost as highly as the art and craft of performance for musical artists.
And within our Faculty of Arts, fractional Music lecturer Tim specialises in theory and performance practice.
His teaching career includes teaching music and physics in schools; running his own music school in Spring Bank, Hull; teaching guitar at the University of Hull; and lecturing at Hull School of Performance Arts, where he has taught since 1997. Tim has a BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering from the University of Leeds, a PGCE and an MMus in Music Composition from the University of Hull.
But music performance has been a constant throughout Tim’s career.
“A gig has been part of my way of making a living for the past 20 years,” he says. “It’s a day at the office for me, you have to be able to judge each performance and adapt.”
Tim mainly performs with jazz fusion band Mad Dog and the Sophisticats. With this outfit, he plays up to 100 gigs per year, up to half of which are likely to be weddings. He also plays in the Wakefield Arms Jazz Band and produces CDs for the band ahead of its annual visits to a jazz festival in Herne, Germany.
Although his “first love” is jazz, Tim says:
“To make a living teaching guitar, you have to be pretty versatile.”
He also composes, writes, sings, plays, arranges and produces for other musicians. Tim does the arrangements for an Andrews Sisters cover act based in Leeds and runs an a capella close harmony jazz group, Bamba Dooda.
When studying for his MMus, Tim researched the development of jazz harmony, including mapping the fingerboard of a guitar, which he describes as “a lifetime’s work”.
“My research didn’t end with the completion of the MMus,” he says. “I investigate better ways of passing on playing techniques to my students. That is a constant. If I go into a practice session now I’m not trying to advance my own technique, but look at ways I can accelerate students’ progress, or anticipate and avoid potential difficulties. Continuity is the key.
“From a guitar-teaching point of view, I’m always interested in doing the job better and looking at ways I can circumvent or pre-empt students’ problems.”
Tim’s great passion is to pass on good performance habits. Many of his former students are now professional musicians.
“From a technical point of view, the biggest mistake most people make is picking up the guitar incorrectly,” he says. “My performance expertise comes into play when we’re looking at turning a musician into a professional act. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you pause on stage for as little as three seconds, you can empty a dancefloor.”