Tutor Focus: Andrew McKinney
What do you enjoy about teaching at BIMM?
It’s a really vibrant and exciting place and there’s loads of things going on all the time – events, Masterclasses, showcases and a lot of student performances. It’s also nice to be part of the students’ journey as they start their careers. Plus a lot of my favourite musicians work here as lecturers.
Can you please briefly discuss your experience as a musician and teacher?
I’ve been a professional freelance musician for 17 years. In 2007 I joined the James Taylor Quartet and we do around 50 gigs a year in the UK and Europe. Alongside that, I do various other gigs, including depping on West End shows.
I started teaching in 2001, giving theory classes to drummers at Drumtech, which was a really good grounding in many different ways. In 2004 I became the Head of Bass at Tech Music School, which later became BIMM London. I became Course Leader for the BMus course in 2009 and still do that job today, alongside my bass teaching.
How/when did you learn to play bass?
When I was 14, I got a bass and made a band with my friends. I already played the cello so I transferred some of that, and I got a book called ‘Rock Bass’ from the library. I had some lessons with a great musician from my area (West Sussex) called Bob Falloon Jr. When I was 18, I moved to London to study at Basstech.
What was the first bass guitar you owned?
A Yamaha RBX300, which is basically a pointy P-Bass. Later I upgraded to a Warwick because I was hugely into Stuart Zender. After college, I got a Fender and never looked back.
What can students expect from studying bass at BIMM?
There are a huge number of opportunities for students at BIMM: to learn from some great lecturers and the country’s finest musicians and to make contacts and gain experiences with like-minded people. The ones that fully grasp all of those opportunities tend to do very well and go on to successful careers, which makes me feel happy and more than a bit proud!
What’s the best gig you’ve performed at?
My next one, hopefully! I’m always optimistic and excited for what lies around the corner. From the past year or so, a gig I did in Pisa with the James Taylor Quartet really stands out – a beautiful venue, a great crowd and an excellent support band that really made us up our game.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Travelling by tube to BIMM is my time for really listening to stuff, although of late I’ll admit that my main focus has been on improving my poker game! The following albums have been my soundtrack when trying to ‘learn when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em’:
- Vulfpeck – Thrill of the Arts
- Funky Knuckles – As of Lately
- Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley
- Groove Holmes – Night Glider
- Tom Waits – Closing Time
- Chase & Status – London Bars
- Average White Band – Soul Searching
- SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
- Beethoven String Quartets
What’s your most memorable moment as a musician?
When I was in my early 20s and playing in the house band on a TV programme called ‘The Richard Blackwood Show’, we had LL Cool J as a guest. When we rehearsed with him, he said to me: “Yo, can you make your bass line iller?”
What have you got coming up?
With the James Taylor Quartet, we’re doing one of our regular four-night runs at Ronnie Scott’s at the end of this month, then we’ve got gigs and festivals lined up over the summer, including trips to Spain, Italy and Japan.