With guitarist Trey Anastasio of Phish being Ernie’s most publicized disciple, many people are under the impression that Ernie taught guitar lessons. While it is true that most of the budding composers who sought out Ernie’s advice played guitar as their primary instrument (with the exception of Jamie Masefield of JMP, who mostly performs on mandolin), Ernie was not a guitar player. First and foremost, Ernie considered himself a composer, and rightly so. He used the piano as his main tool for writing music, and stressed to us the importance of having basic keyboard skills. His view was that the piano was the most versatile instrument a composer could work with, allowing for large group arrangements to be worked out with two hands. The guitar, on the other hand, is limited in its nature as a composing and arranging tool, only allowing for several simultaneous notes and a narrow note range in any given position. That isn’t to say that Ernie didn’t enjoy the guitar as an instrument, especially in the right hands. He often played a Wes Montgomery recording for me as a good example of an altered blues (S.K.J. off of the album Bags Meets Wes) and spoke highly of Jim Hall. Guitarist Barry Galbraith and Ernie also had a special musical friendship while they were both living in Vermont. They worked out jazzy arrangements of Bach tunes together which, if I’m not mistaken, were sold through Jamey Aebersold Jazz at some point. There was even an old Polytone jazz guitar amp in Ernie’s living room, usually parked underneath the grand piano. I’m sure we all used it with him at some point while playing songs out of Ernie’s handwritten book of jazz standards. I wonder who left it there in the first place?