Music I Am # 50 – Kim Perlak, guitarist, composer, teacher

The moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician:

I was 15 years old and walking up the hill to the classroom building at the National Guitar Summer Workshop on my way to a rehearsal. It had been a few intensive days of learning, rehearsing, performing in a close community of musicians, and I thought, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” After that class I confided this to my teacher, Julian Gray (Peabody Conservatory), and he gave me the best task, I think. He said, “I know you’re excited now, and I want you to go home and think about this for 6 months. And if you decide you want to do something else professionally, that’s absolutely fine and I’ll see you next summer. And if you still want to do this, and you’re serious, call me and I’ll help you.” And that’s what I did. It was a great lesson in self-awareness and responsibility in that exciting moment.

An important skill for a career in music that does not have anything to do with an instrument or making music:

Developing a leadership mindset in every aspect of your work, regardless of your role, that allows you to be adaptable, collaborative, and open to learning.

Two ways you stay motivated:

By teaching, and by taking lessons and collaborating with a colleague who inspires me to expand.

Latest Project:

A solo guitar project of my own compositions — in the works now is the music preparation of the scores, ideas for visual art, recording plans, performances, and a surprise or two!






What inspired it:

For the past ten years now, I’ve been working in duo with my colleague, the great slide guitarist and improvisor David Tronzo. As we played, composed, recorded, and swapped lessons together, I developed my own solo guitar writing style — inspired by my favorite places in nature that I visited in our times of isolation in the pandemic. On a recent sabbatical, I had time with the great jazz guitarists Leni and Mike Stern, and I can hear Leni’s influence in one of the pieces too.

Who’s on it:

It’s a solo guitar project, with music preparation by my former student Alex Mak, and planned recording with Randy Roos at Squam Sound Studios

How do you discover new music?

My students and colleagues at Berklee are my best source!

One living and one dead musician that deserves more attention:

Your teacher and your teacher’s teacher. We should know our musical lineage.

Where can we find you online?

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