|Paul Stoddart, left, jams at a Rock School Blowout concert,|
As the guitarist for a Frank Sinatra cover band, Andy Stefano and the Summit Orchestra, Stoddart has played at charity events and casino nights. He’s also freelanced for theater productions, including American Stage’s Rocky Horror Show. He’s played at bars on weekend nights and at churches on Sundays. He plays at recording studios when vocalists need a musician, and he’s been teaching private lessons and Rock School bands for years.
An unassuming guy, Stoddart is usually in the background, letting the front man, vocalist, performer or student have the spotlight, and he’s good with that.
“I mean, really, does anyone remember who played in Frank Sinatra’s band?” said Stoddart.
As long as Stoddart can make a living doing what he loves - playing music - he’s perfectly happy.
“When most people think about touring with a band, it’s living on the road, sleeping in a van, eating really unhealthy. That never seemed like a fun time to me,” said Stoddart. “I’ve been blessed...I haven’t had to live in a van or anything.”
As part of the Tampa music scene for nearly 13 years, Stoddart deserves his own spotlight. He’s been a Patel Conservatory Rock School instructor since its early days in 2005, before the Patel Conservatory was even built. And he's helped grow the program and keep it going strong.
Rock School helps musicians put into practice what they learn in private lessons. Students sign up to be in a band, and bands are formed according to age and skill level. They rehearse weekly under the direction of Stoddart and other instructors, and perform in a final Rock School Blowout concert.
“Rock School teaches musicians how to interact with other members of a band, and how you need to listen to other people playing,” said Stoddart, who also plays keyboard, bass, banjo and even the ukelele.
He manages to help players of various skill levels on an array of instruments come together harmoniously to perform favorite rock music from the classics to contemporary.
This season’s Rock School program features 12 bands performing in two free Blowout concerts on April 6.
A native of Chicago, Stoddart holds a songwriting degree from the Berklee School of Music in Boston, but his teaching career began long before college.
At the age of 14, his guitar teacher decided to go on tour with his band. He asked Stoddart to take over his 17 students, and suddenly Stoddart was teaching budding guitarists from kids to seniors. He’s been teaching ever since.
“You learn a lot teaching, basic things you might forget otherwise,” said Stoddart.
As a Rock School instructor, he’s excited about the recent additions to the program, such as the inclusion of vocal coaching and songwriting.
“A lot of Rock School bands have stayed together for a couple of years. We’re encouraging them to start doing some writing. So they’ll be performing some original music in the concert,” said Stoddart.
As a solo artist, he writes and records his own music, and will soon have a new CD available on his website, currently under construction. The CD will reflect his style, which is a little bit of everything, from jazz to blues to rock. Passing along his songwriting skills is just one more reason why he enjoys teaching at the Conservatory.
“I just really like working with kids. They’re all like my own children,” he said.
Catch Stoddart and all the Conservatory’s Rock School bands in concert on April 6, 2013. The two free outdoor concerts will be at the Glazer Children’s Museum at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.