When he was around, Michael Caswell was an extraordinarily effective teacher, to the few who could handle his brutal honesty.
And brutal honesty is what we need sometimes.
I’m a much better guitar player and navigator of guitar tones and sound as a result of spending time with Mike. He was an extraordinary guitar player and I’m glad he at least did one solo album before leaving us far too early.
But today I wanted to share one of my most memorable moments in a lecture room with him in regards to something else.
He decided to call a break between a two hour lesson of guitar assessments. Thinking the fresh air would do everyone a load of good.
As per usual, you would walk outside of the buildings of my college and straight upon the exit would be a handful of students smoking. To everyone else, walking involuntarily through smoke and subsequently consuming it passively isn’t particularly pleasant.
As we came back upstairs, he marched through the room, and was quick to express his exasperation at the amount of students who were smoking.
‘Let me tell you something about smoking’ he said, ‘we are in a superficial industry in music, when you’re 30, you’re supposed to look like 20, and when you’re 40 you are meant to look like 30, do you know what smoking does to you? The OPPOSITE!’
What followed was a silence as students got ready to be called up for their performance assessments. Another 20 seconds later:
‘AND IT STINKS!!!’
This was the hilarious and candid way he used to address a class, but in a way it defined his ethos about the need to she light and truth on a habit and he always had best intentions for everyone and in some ways, conceded that not everyone will listen.
But if you did listen, it could benefit you in more ways than you realise.