"The wonderful thing about Bill Frisell and Michael Moore is that they listen so well," notes Bruning. "They just listen, and they always seem to provide what the music needs. They never seem to be playing in such a way that they're trying — if you can forgive me for using this expression — they never seem to play where they're trying to strut their stuff. They always seem to be playing what seems to be best, musically speaking, for the moment, and that only comes from listening."

While Bruning has taught for decades, he was a performer long before he even thought about teaching. He grew up in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, with a musical family: His mother played the piano and his father was a professional drummer. Bruning himself started piano lessons when he was about seven years old, and says that if being a professional musician means being paid for your services, then he's been one since he was a sophomore in high school.

After graduating, he went on the road with a quartet until the Korean War, when he went into the Navy as a musician for four years. After wrapping up his stint with the Navy, Bruning did a bit more traveling on the road before moving to Philadelphia to attend Temple University. Early on in his teaching career, he felt that the thing that could make him the most effective as a teacher was to continue to play, because that's what kept his fire going.

Dale Bruning turns that whole "Those who can't do, teach" notion on its head.
marc sabatella
Dale Bruning turns that whole "Those who can't do, teach" notion on its head.

Location Info


Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge

930 Lincoln St.
Denver, CO 80203

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Central Denver


Dale Bruning Trio, with special guests Bill Frisell and Michael Moore, 7 and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24, Dazzle, 930 Lincoln Street, 303-839-5100, $25.

"If a student would say to me, 'Dale, if you're on the bandstand playing and someone does this or that, what should you do as a guitar player?'" he remembers. "Well, if you've never been on the bandstand, how are you going to answer that question? So that's why I felt my continuing to perform was maybe one of the most important elements of how my approach to teaching would be, along with that model that Sandole had given me.

"I have a handful of students that I'm trying to do my best with," he concludes. "Deep down in my heart, I always think of myself as a performer. And it doesn't mean by saying that that the performing part comes first; it just means that that's what kind of keeps my fire going, because if I lose enthusiasm about the music, then I'm not going to be very effective with teaching at all."

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