1 March 2022

Leave your ego at home, Musician Spotlight with guitarist Dylan Kay

By Lark Music

Dabbling in lessons with a local teacher and learning from records and CDs before moving on to more formal study at the Guitar Institute in London and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Dylan Kay now runs Auckland’s biggest guitar school. He’s passionate about teaching guitar and obsessed with the huge palette of tones and timbres available on the instrument. Read on to find out more about our first musician in the spotlight.

What do you love about the guitar?

The guitar is a constant challenge. Having spent years in standard tuning, I’ve been exploring Open C tuning seriously for the last three years and discovered a whole new world! I’m a huge fan of the expressive qualities of slide guitar, and I’m obsessed with the huge palette of tones and timbres available on the instrument – from a whisper to a scream.

What song did you first learn to play?

Stairway to Heaven – but my teacher just showed me simple chords for it, and I could hear there was much more going on. It started me on the path of working things out for myself by ear. Way too hard for me to play at the time but I am eternally grateful for the door it opened to me.

Do you play professionally?

I have earnt my living from music for the last 26 years. This has included performing everywhere from tiny bars to jazz clubs and the O2 Arena, writing and recording music (for others and myself) and teaching at the highest level. I currently run Auckland’s biggest guitar school, which I set up in 2012.

Jo Kelsey and Dylan Kay Duo, three live songs performed at The Lounge, Howick

Do you have any advice for someone looking to learn guitar?

Get proper lessons – don’t fall for the YouTube trap. Find a great teacher and focus your energies on what they ask you to do – don’t get distracted by everything else you could be learning. Play with others as soon as you can – form a band even if you can’t play yet. Always be curious and explore what interests you about music and the guitar – no-one can do it all. Find your niche and dig deep into it.

What is the first music concert you went to, and do you have a memory that stands out?

Jeff Buckley at Edwards No. 8 in Birmingham (August 1994) – hardly knew who he was, but a friend told me I HAD to go. Rough clientele which he brought to silence with his acapella version of the Corpus Christi carol, and then the band came on and blew the roof off.

What is the best tip you would give to someone aspiring to be a musician?

Leave your ego at home. Be humble, don’t be afraid to ask those that you admire for advice. Be the kind of person that other musicians want to work with.

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Visit Dylan Kay’s website here.

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