I was twelve years old when I started taking lessons with Larry. At that age, I was already fronting my own blues band as a guitarist and singer, and performing weekly at bars in Baltimore City. I thought that I knew it all but little did I know, that was only the beginning of a long musical journey which Larry would help to set the course. He introduced me to essential skills for good musicianship; such as rhythm training, sight singing and music theory. In addition, he taught me proper guitar technique and jazz improvisation. Instead of enforcing a strict regiment, he insisted that I tackle the materials at my own pace, focusing on my quality of work instead of quantity. He also introduced me to the music of John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and other great jazz and blues artists. Larry has a vast knowledge of many genres, both classical and popular. I believe that his approach can be adapted to suit students of various backgrounds and interests. During my college application process, Larry helped me prepare by going through each of the audition requirements and devising a plan for success. In turn, this really whipped me into shape as a jazz guitarist. After entering Towson University as a jazz guitar major, those essential skills aided me time and time again, allowing me to excel in my course work and my ensembles. I moved to New York City after college to become a full time musician; however, I felt there was something missing. So I decided to apply to graduate school to study classical composition and musicology. I didn’t realize it at that time, but I am now, in a way, following in his footsteps as a composer and a historian.
“You can’t shortcut the shortcut,” he used to tell me. I came to him as a frustrated, self-taught guitar player, tired of the jam scene I grew up in and wanting something deeper and more thoughtful in music. I was in a hurry. I couldn't have done better than to learn under Larry Hoffman. Larry evaluated my skill set, listened to where I was and asked questions about where I wanted to go. I felt confident he could get me there. I wanted to learn the instrument all over again – start from scratch. I wanted to do it the right way this time. It was my choice, and Larry was obliging. He led me through a rigorous and disciplined regiment of theory and instrument exercises, as much as I could handle. There was no pressure – it was totally my pace, all the time. Larry did an excellent job encouraging my strengths, while also not harping on where I was weak, but if he saw I wasn't into it he could call me out on it right then. He knows how to get you where you need to be. What developed over a few years, for me, was more than the growing esteem I held for my mentor, but a deepening friendship with someone whom, I came to realize, is truly great. As I met his other students, I could see they all felt the same way. Larry is an acclaimed historian of storied blues legends, a protégé of the late, great Dennis Sandole, a producer, a composer in his own right, making his own way with his own vision. Larry knows the ropes and the corners. He is the shortcut. I recommend him to anyone who is interested to learn guitar and acquire the skills to master it.
I have had the great privilege of studying under Larry Hoffman. Although I can vouch that Larry is a well-regarded expert guitar instructor, my focus as a student with him was in Music Theory and all of its components: Rhythm Training, Sight Singing, Harmony, Analysis, and Four- Part Writing. As an instructor, he is a walking textbook, a wealth of the subjects of music theory, music history, and his own personal history of interactions and involvement with famous composers, bluesmen, folk artist, and rock and rollers. I became a student of Larry's during the time he composed String Quartet No.1: The Blues, and upon its world premiere, I was both astonished and filled with pride to have witnessed the extraordinary caliber of Larry's talents. As a composer he shows us incredible intellectual facility, and more importantly he ushers a music that is delivered unpretentiously and soulful, from the depths of his remarkable life experiences and encounters. As Larry is one of the most influential instructors I have ever had, I am truly honored to have been a student of his. - Jeremy Horseman