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Mark Butt joined ACM in 2000 with aspirations of expanding his guitar and performance experience. After graduated with an ACM Guitar Diploma 2001, Mark took his experiences back over the border to Scotland where he has embarked on a series of live, studio and music education projects.
ACM caught up with Mark to talk about his experiences over the last decade and about his current projects.
What motivated you to come and study at ACM?
I was a huge fan of the technical side of guitar playing and it was the standard of tutors and masterclasses that were on that really drew me in. Guthrie Govan, Dave Kilminster, Jamie Humphries, Pete Callard just teaching and then Mike Stern, Vinnie Moore, Frank Gambale popping in for visits, who could resist that!
What was the best part about studying at ACM?
The ACM itself was a huge motivator, it never once felt like a chore to get out of bed and go to class. Meeting so many other players was a huge bonus also as I’m from quite a small town and there isn’t many players/opportunities for young kids to get jamming with up here. Also the fact that I moved down with two friends from up here who were also on the course, one of whom now teaches with ACM, Windsor McGilvray. I also loved the social aspect of the live performance classes. Was really well done, laid back, hilariously funny and a great way to round off the week, learning stagecraft, performance and getting top tips from industry professionals. Watching the tutors during class and these live classes were the most enjoyable parts for me.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to since leaving ACM?
Since leaving ACM, I won the Scottish Guitar Hero competition, got myself a lovely Musicman guitar which I still play. I have worked with many up and coming Scottish artists both in and out of the studio, but it’s a very small market this side of the border for session work and the work comes in very small doses. Live playing, with original bands, new bands, cover bands, function bands has been where most of my playing has taken place but its been the teaching for the last few years that most of my energy has been put into.
Who have you been working with?
I have been very quiet on the band scene for the last few years due to teaching and course writing. The guy I spend most time working with is a guitarist called Andy McLaughlan, he teaches with me and writes and jams and performs and shows me up and most of our jazz, fusion nights, very good player.
What’s been your proudest moment/career highlights so far?
We recently opened a guitar school in our small town of Wishaw in central Scotland. The school is called Wishaw Guitar Lessons (www.wishawguitarlessons.co.uk) and is doing very well so far with a lot of different students of varying abilities in attendance throughout the week. It’s the end result of a few years in the planning, talking, development and to finally see it get opened in August last year by the amazing Tom Quayle was pretty nice! We have been hosting masterclasses every few months since and have had Rick Graham and George Marios host these so far. Having players of this caliber on your doorstep is something I would’ve loved when I was learning and playing and the inspiration I got from the classes at the ACM, I hope, we can put some of that across in the way we operate at WGL.
So what’s on the horizon for 2013?
We have some another few masterclasses planned for over the next months by some more ridiculous players, you will need to check our facebook page over the next few weeks for confirmation of these though, don’t want to give too much away at this time. We hosted a two day event at Easter last year and had players from around Scotland attend and conduct seminars and lessons etc, and this year again we are planning one later in the year, but with worldwide, household names on the bill, this will be an international event and again, keep tuned to our facebook page for details, but guitarists EVERYWHERE will not want to miss this!
Do you have any advice or tips for our current ACM students?
The only thing really is to stay open minded, don’t disregard anyone’s tastes, song choices, techniques or why you need technique, the benefits of theory. I knew loads of folks at ACM not learn scales because they were ‘songwriters’ and push the shreddy guys aside because their playing had ‘no taste’. That kind of attitude was the wrong way to approach to ACM, there won’t be another time where you will get to spend so much time with time with so many musicians. Everyone’s tastes are as valid as everyone else’s as well as everyone’s opinions, they are no worse than yours…learn everything.
ACM would like to thanks Mark for getting back in touch with ACM and for taking the time to update us on his experiences in the music industry. We wish Mark well for his forthcoming projects.