I first met Rick around 1995. Having been a guitar player myself for over 30 years I had heard of his playing but up until that time I had never heard him play. From the very first song that Rick played, he totally blew my mind. Rick is the very rare combination of a guitar player and vocalist with unbelievable technical skills and a musical soul.

As I was a teenager in the late 60′s, I have seen just about every major act ever that came through Toronto and Rick Washbrook ranks as one of the finest guitar players I have ever seen. He transcends the normal musical genres with his unique blend of Jazz, Flamenco, Rock and Blues.  Every time I listen to Rick’s play he humbles me as a musician. It has been one of the great treasures of my life to not only rank among Rick’s fans but to also be able to call him my friend!

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I took guitar lessons from Rick Washbrook.  Many years later I still incorporate a lot of the techniques he showed me.  He taught me to listen to the essence of each chord I learned.

For example; listening for little melody lines that can connect one chord to the next.  This has become very valuable in my composing, and playing. My Blues licks improved to, I improvise better now.

He helped me find the special notes within chords that make that particular chord sound so unique, and the movement of a note or just staying on the note when changing chords, has really opened my eyes to good voice leading.

Rick Washbrook helped me discover the same chord but in other positions up and down the neck of the guitar which changes the bass note.  For example: playing the 3rd note as the bass note rather than the root note.

He emphasized the importance of exploring new possibilities, of not getting caught in the same small box of playing.  He has so many ways of looking out of the box, the norm.

For example; when learning a new song or piece of music you not only learn the piece, but to change it up a little and make it your own by improvising and utilizing your own imagination to take the song somewhere else, and still keeping to the integrity of the song.

Playing finger style guitar teaches us to play 2 or 3 parts simultaneously. He is a genius at this. He shed a lot of light on this topic Rick taught me to listen, and how to bring out the part of me I knew was there, but didn’t know how to reach.

Philosophically, we talked about the spiritual journey that each of us are on. I always felt we were on the same quest together to learn guitar.

Rick Washbrook is one of the best guitarists in North America.  He is humble and has never has never shown an ego about his talent or acted like he is the “amazing guitarist.” I admire that about him.  Musicians around Rick love jamming with him, laughing and being around him.  When I listen to some of the music that Rick Washbrook brings through, I am truly inspired for I recognize through Washbrook that we can, break on through to the other side.  Rick Washbrook transcends when he performs.

We reach a point when it is not so much playing the guitar, but we are .the music.  Music of itself, from a higher level, expresses itself through us.  It opened my mind up to so many guitar concepts.  I believe that subconsciously, we all strive for this. To me, Rick Washbrook is one of those musicians who has already achieved it, and through his
example, he inspires the rest of us to keep going.

In my moments of practice and striving that somehow I feel the closest to being myself, my true self.

So…. I say to you Rick…thanks for being you, and inspiring me to keep playing guitar and to have a playful attitude about living life.

Before I met Rick Washbrook and took his lessons my guitar playing was in a rut I was uninspired and lacking in originality. I could come up with pop rock licks that sounded a little too much like the power chord blockhead styling of Blink 182 and lacked the spirit of music.

Rick Washbrook’s lessons taught me so many new ways to look at the guitar that listening to modern music today simply cannot direct you to Washbrook’s incites. I was playing music with Rick Washbrook not the guitar it felt.

Any real fan of music understands the spirit is weak today in music radio programming, but Rick still carries a traditional and experiences spirit through his teachings on to me, and gave me his positive that then came back to me and it was essential to bringing the art back to my music.

I highly recommend his methods as they are totally unique and unlike anything you can find out there today. We worked playing the blues, and blues rock with feel. We learned blues guitar licks, and the guitar scales but he showed them to me in musical ways that I could apply to my playing right away. I feel a lot more confident with playing my Pentatonic scales and now in all five positions. Rick Washbrook taught me with his own method how to join the different pentatonic positions.

Rick Washbrook put me through a string bending boot camp very intense month or so to learn how to get perfect pitch bends and also bends with singing vibrato.

I also really enjoyed studying the Phrygian Scale and I use it in my rock, and heavy dark rock playing. I really love the gypsy and exotic sound of the Phrygian scale. Rick explained how to get the scale under my finger tips very fast from playing the Phrygian scale right off the major chord. He showed me clusters of extensions of the Phrygian scale fragments right from the shapes of the inversions of the major chords.

I compliment Rick Washbrook as a teacher and totally suggest that if you’re ready to broaden your horizons musically he is defiantly a teacher to contact. He has 38 years of playing knowledge to offer you.

October 7, 2011

A testimonial for Rick Washbrook – my flamboyant, flamenco friend!

I first met Rick in 1979 when he came to our small town of Markham with a band called the Congas. From the first improvised jazz solo on his fender telecaster a whole new genre opened up for me. In the years that followed, we became friends and he invited me to share the stage with him and even gave me the opportunity to play on one of his records with Moe Koffman… what a thrill!

Rick’s ability on the guitar is amazing. When he plays it is emotional and evocative…you become totally engaged in his presence and it was inspiring to see other people’s musical vocabulary expand when working with him. At the end of the 70s we were hearing a lot of heavy metal. He blew into town like a breath of fresh air, and enlivened our musical community with his unique styling’s which conveyed his original perspective on our world. He was kind and willing to share his musical ideas in his never ending quest to create something fun. He always managed to garner the best players as sidemen and all of us were learning from him…and his calm, patient and encouraging manner made sharing a musical experience with him a pleasure.

I love Rick’s can-do attitude. Some great players can’t show others how they do what they do, but Rick’s generous spirit allows him to pass on to both experienced and beginning students alike, ways to open up new musical possibilities. He’s a creative genius who is able to spark inspiration in others to take them beyond just competent playing to a lofty level of performance. He enriched my life by helping me to understand that anyone is capable of achieving a high level of musical contribution with the right opportunity and dedicated effort, which he inspires. With Rick, I always had the chance to play beyond my perceived ability, and to experience what it’s like to soar above mediocrity, up there with the best of them!

When I think of Rick Washbrook and his ability to play guitar, I don’t know where to start.  There is so much to express.

Virtually every lesson with Rick Washbrook would open my eyes to new techniques, speed picking, and blues scales that became my foot hold for my spontaneous innovations on the guitar. He has a level of expertise in terms of knowledge and skill that cannot be put into words. Washbrook would start a lesson and as the time went by it felt like he was taking me to a sacred place.

From 2001 to 2003, I studied guitar with Rick Washbrook at the Sir William Mackenzie Inn located in Kirkfield, Ontario. At the time, he was living in the mansion originally built for Sir William Mackenzie, co-founder of the Canadian Northern Railway. Beside the Inn was the Gate House Restaurant where he performed a regular solo guitar show on Sunday nights.

To give you a hint of Rick Washbrook’s dedication to his art, I can recall a timeless moment. The Sir William Maxkenzie Inn in Kirkfield Rick lived for awhile and performed and taught guitar up at the Inn. The Inn was not fully heated in the winter, only certain rooms. One particularly cold day in February we were freezing! In order to keep ourselves and our instruments warm during my guitar lesson, we had to sit close to the stove in the kitchen. He was a one-man music school. That pleasant image will stay in my mind forever. I could really see the dedication of the man’s mind as he sat there in front of the stove, generously pouring out his knowledge and love of the instrument. The music and conversation flowed with ease. From that day on, I felt that same dedication in me.

In 2004 when Rick Washbrook returned to Toronto, I continued studying with him by correspondence cassette tape lessons. At times I found it to be even more of a great learning experience because scattered between his guitar lessons on the cassette, he would tell little stories about the music business and his life on the road. I would then record a cassette of my progress and mail it back to him. I continued religiously with the cassette lessons a month for three years! My technique improved and my appreciation for the instrument grew immensely. Today I play my Blues licks faster and with more feel. I’ve been playing guitar for about 18 years now.

Rick Washbrook is a very giving person who sees music as something to be shared and not squandered.  He treats the guitar like an orchestra, with six voices or strings that must be first trained before they are blended to produce beautiful harmonies.  His way of thinking about the guitar and teaching methods are unique; he doesn’t rely on conventional textbook methods. He has sifted through his different learning processes over the years in order to develop his own teaching approach.

Anyone wanting to improve their playing in any guitar style would be amazed at the talent they discover within themselves after a lesson with Rick Washbrook.”

I played with Rick Washbrook starting in 1997 to 2000. We played many club dates in Toronto, and many shows in the North York regions.

As soon as I joined up with Rick Washbrook he asked me to play with him in Costa Rica. We really had a great time working together playing a lot of Blues and Jazz, Washbrook’s guitar playing would really grab the Hotel audiences. I was very happy to back him up. We both were very fortunate to get away from Toronto’s winters.

I also had the good fortune playing bass on some of Washbrook’s tracks from the ‘Wedding in The Rain’ CD project. Rick likes to joke around a lot and we had a lot of good laughs together. Rick has a unique approach to the guitar as an instrument that pays tribute to his mentors and favorite guitarists without copying or mimicking.

He is always connecting, synthesizing, and extending what he knows, simultaneously learning and creating unique new approach to harmonize melodies and textures blending various musical genres in new and interesting ways, there are no rules.

He is never satisfied, he loves to work on new innovative ideas all the time; playing guitar is a life long journey, not a destination for him. If you have tried traditional lessons and books but felt they never offered the hands-on, interactive, performance-based learning you desire, then talk to Rick Washbrook and learn by doing.

I love listening to music and singing along. I was one of those who would say I wish I could play guitar.

And then one day I decided I would stop wishing and take lessons. I was particular who I chose for a guitar teacher. I had learned piano as a child and did not want to repeat that experience with boring scales and repetition. I was not interested in taking lessons from a typical music school.

I was extremely lucky to find Rick. He is able to intuitively understand what I need to learn to play. We choose songs that keep me interested and I am excited to learn. I learn the different chords and riffs by playing (and singing) the songs. Rick keeps me learning at a pace that is well suited to me. He gently gets me to slow down when I am rushing. He has an amazing ability to instinctively set the pace for my ability to learn.

In a few short months, I am playing a range of songs and singing my heart out. I am not quite ready to go on the road- though I would if I had Rick by my side- singing with me and doing back up! Did I mention he is a great singer!

I never thought I would feel so passionate about learning guitar. I have Rick to thank for it. If you are nervous about learning guitar but always wanted to play, don’t keep putting it off.

June 15, 2013