Mike Gordon took to Instagram on Monday to share a remembrance of his early bass teacher Jim Stinnett following news of his passing. Stinnett, a fixture of the Northeast music scene from the New England Conservatory of Music to Berklee College of Music, died of a heart attack on Sunday, his family posted on Facebook.
In the video, Gordon appears with an older bass he frequented during the 1980s because, “my first big bass mentor, my only bass mentor, passed away yesterday so it’s a sad day.”
Gordon met Stinnett back in high school through his school band conductor, who took the future Phish bassist to his office and told him, “Whoever your bass teacher is right now we’re calling Jim Stinnett and that’s your new bass teacher.” But Stinnett taught Gordon more than just how to play an instrument—as Mike explains, “When I went to his house, it was like life lessons, discipline, and being centered and grounded and to work hard.”
Together, the two worked on technique, concepts, playing full pieces, and listening. During their tenure together, Stinnett assigned Gordon a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach. After learning the piece and continuing to practice it with Stinnett for another year, Gordon finally asked his mentor, “When are we going to stop playing this song?”
“Never,” Stinnett responded. “You’ll play this your whole life.”
“Well, why,” Gordon asked. “It’s just one page of music?”
“Because you’ll get better at it each time,” Stinnett said.
Watch Mike Gordon’s video remembering his teacher Jim Stinnett below.
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