How a simple forum post about music turned into an exploration of how self-expression can be a reflection of history. And respect.

Photo by emrecan arık on Unsplash

If you have read any of my articles since I’ve been on Medium, you know that I am a middle-aged musician who plays guitar and teaches in various formats online and off. I was born in New York in 1970, and my family was part of the great economic migration to the West Coast in the late 1970’s so I grew up and have lived most of my life in Southern California behind the “Orange Curtain.”

Growing up and living in the north end of Orange County in the shadow of Disneyland meant that I have existed in a fairly…


Getting back on stage hasn’t been easy, either.

The author on stage in the “before” times.

My last live performance was on March 13th, 2020. I wrote a bit about the experience of seeing my whole gig schedule evaporate over the course of forty-eight hours in my article Social Media Helped Me Survive COVID as a Professional Musician. I went from having a fairly busy gig and work schedule for the foreseeable future to barely leaving the house and teaching all of my students and conservatory classes through a computer screen for over a year.

At the age of 51, I have been playing music in public with other people for 35 years. Some of those…


Thank you, Alex!

You describe a familiar situation for me as someone who has taught many adults who have played guitar for many years before deciding to take any kind of instruction. In some ways, a big part of what I do is teach people how to describe and organize what they already know in their heads in a way that allows them to make better use of that knowledge musically. …


Or why you need to be able to organize sounds for your “Mind’s Ear.”

A picture of the whiteboard from a theory and arranging class the author recently survived.

Science and History.

A few months ago, I ran across the statement that “science is just our way of describing how we currently understand the universe.” The more that we learn, the way that science describes that universe also changes. Humans went from thinking that we lived on a flat earth that was the center of the universe to an understanding that the world was a spinning ball moving at 67,000 miles per hour around a much hotter spinning ball that in turn was hurtling around the center of our galaxy at roughly 490,000 miles per hour. Essentially, science is our way of…


Helping adults succeed in their lessons requires a wider skill set than you would imagine.

The author as a middle-aged music student.

I have been teaching guitar for thirty-one years at this point. I feel kinda bad for the people I taught at the beginning of my career because experience is important when guiding a human being through any journey, great or small.

As I’ve continued to make a living teaching both kids and adults how to play the guitar (among other things), I have discovered that there is an element of life coaching involved in being a successful mentor of any kind to an adult student.

The very first thing that I need to express to my students is that this…


How the relationship between kids and music has changed over the last four decades.

The author at far left with his tribe circa 1987.

My Story

I’ve been teaching guitar for over thirty years at this point, which has given me a unique vantage point to watch the relationship between kids and music change over a fairly extended period of time. The evolution has through the rise of the internet and the introduction of new technologies that have changed how we discover and consume our culture in general.

My first memories of music have to do with listening to a small transistor radio in my room as I tried to get to sleep every night as a young child in the mid-1970s. I had older step-siblings…


The experience has forever altered how I will earn a living.

My garage studio and window into the world from March 2020 to the present. Photo Credit: Author

I’ve been playing music in one form or another since the fourth grade and I’ve been making a living in one way or another as a professional musician since the year after I graduated high school in 1988. Over the last 33 years, the ways that musicians have made a living have changed a massive amount just due to changes in technology and how culture has wrapped around that same technology. …

Mark Wein

Guitar player, teacher and hot wing aficionado.

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