Hello and Welcome!
This is Manny Bernardo, your prospective future teacher. Allow me to explain myself . . .
I hail from a large Cuban-American family, and music has been with me from the beginning. Of my parents’ ten children I am number eight, and my older brothers were all in bands by the time I was born. At age ten, inspired by my older brother Charlie and his first high school band, I began picking at the guitar (I was already singing and playing drums). I immediately discovered a penchant for writing songs, and was soon enrolled along with my two brothers in guitar lessons. (Thanks dad!)
After many bands, gigs, and recordings, mainly in a pop/rock vein, I discovered jazz and acoustic finger style playing, and began to take my studies more seriously. I moved from Maryland to DC, began working at Blues Alley as a soundman, taking jazz lessons, practicing all the time, and listening to the greats (on record and live). During the next five years I released some indie rock records with a group called Pale Brother, and played drums, bass, and electric guitar as a sideman in many other DC bands, but jazz and fingerstyle were my true passion.
At twenty-five, a chance encounter with the music of Robert Schumann (a composer of the romantic era) turned me on to classical music for the first time. I found his short piano piece “Traumerei” revelatory, and was soon obsessed with this genre of which I knew so little. Within six months I had stopped jazz lessons and found a great classical teacher.
For the next three years, though moving from Houston to Miami and back again, I pursued my classical guitar studies with a tremendous intensity, practicing 6 to 8 hours daily. I was having a blast, and my technique was improving dramatically, but the more I learned, the more I realized that despite my love for guitar, and for performance in general, my heart was at bottom a composer’s heart, and the piano was the greatest tool of the composer’s art. At age twenty-seven I had my first piano lesson, and began an intense personal study of classical music— its history, theory and practice (from which I have yet to emerge.)
Today, at age thirty-six, I am a musical jack-of-all trades. I play in a jazz guitar duo, arrange strings, horns and winds for rock and pop records, run an incredibly rewarding Middleway Music studio, write and record my own indie rock music, produce or help produce my friends bands, and spend the rest of the time developing myself as a composer.
All told it has been a wonderfully unpredictable musical path, which in recent years has led to a certain clarity and consistency of purpose. I seem to have arrived at my own middleway: as a composer/arranger/producer I can work in many styles at once, combining my various professional skills without being bound to a single band or instrument or genre or procedure.
And as a teacher it is the same: I get to wear all of my stylistic hats, from classical to hip-hop, and do it all with an incredible bunch of students, old and young, serious and casual, from all walks of life.
That is my story in a nutshell. One day, if you become my student, I hope to hear yours...
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