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Beth Marlis

Beth Marlis

Anaheim, California -- 2004

You are looking at the Department Head of GIT, the famous Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood. As a woman in the male dominated world of guitar players, Beth Marlis' authoritative position at GIT is unprecedented. Yet, anyone who knows her well is not at all surprised that she has achieved such success and earned the respect of her peers.

Beth and I have been close friends for a long, long time. We've supported one another through many life changes over the years, and I've grown to greatly admire her tenacity and wisdom.

Once upon a time she was an Aikido Master trainer, but a shoulder injury forced her to change careers. That's when she put her attention on the guitar and never looked back. Beth steadily worked herself up through the educational ranks, first as a music student, then an instructor, assistant dean, and now director of GIT, dedicating more than 20 years so far to music education and performance. She's even written two books about guitar soloing.

In addition to our musical connection, our friendship enjoys added depth through our mutual Buddhist spiritual practice - that of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. One evening Beth and I attended a small Buddhist meeting in a member's home in LA and had the opportunity to chant side-by-side with none other than Herbie Hancock! I was thrilled just to be in the presence of such a legendary musician.

Herbie shared about how his Buddhist practice has impacted his music career by showing him that he is a "human being" first. Playing music is what he "does". This insight has enabled him to be an innovator because he is not boxed in by defining "who he is" as a jazz musician, but as a human being who expresses himself through music.

That gives you a sense of Beth's serious side, but I could also tell you about some wild and crazy fun we've had, outrageous gigs we've played together, and... well, I'll save those stories for another time!

For more about Beth Marlis, go to www.bethmarlis.com.