Thomas Patterson

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. It’s about igniting the fire within he student, breeding confidence and curiosity, inspiring. As I discovered, Thomas Pattersondirector of the Bolton Guitar Studies program at Fred Fox Music School at the University of Arizona, is such a gifted professor. 

This interview came as a surprise for three reasons. First, I never planned it! Meaning it was just an idea I followed when finding out that his student, Ana Maria Iordache, won the first prize at Festival Internacional de Guitarra de MadridShe’s one of the most talented Romanian classic guitar players  of her generation. And I am not saying this just because I’ve known her since birth! Secondly, I did not anticipated that he would so kindly say “yes” to the interview for Thirdly, because Ana Maria had no idea I would consider an interview with her guitar professor and mentor. 

Once discovered, talent must be helped, guided, protected, kept safe from corruption (namely, cheap success pursuits, from the practice of clichés, hooks, platitudes), sheltered from death and from faux guides who force it to play as they should not.
Camil Petrescu (1894-1957)
Romanian novelist, philosopher and poet

That is one quote represents well my personal belief of what it takes to grow a natural talent of any kind whether is classic music guitar, robotics, writing, acting and so on. Yes, some would argue that a proper educational system is also needed. I totally agree, but that’s not the main topic of this interview. That being said, I now invite you to discover Thomas Patterson own thoughts.   

Music - life's destiny

Ana Maria Bogdan: Mr. Patterson, one might say you are an extremely lucky man! 🙂 You discovered your passion for the classic guitar at an early age and yet after so many years, it does not seem to have faded? Is there something in particular that you do to keep alive the fire of passion?

Thomas Patterson

Thomas Patterson: I was fortunate to come from a musical family. My grandmother taught piano and my mom was a choir director and organist for the church. Music was just part of life, so at the point the guitar revealed to me my destiny, I never looked back. 

Of course, there are points where we lose a bit of energy, but I have been on a mission to create something special here in Arizona since I arrived in 1980 and I am very goal-oriented by nature. 

The fact that I have wonderfully talented students like Ana Maria Iordache to work with and a very supportive local audience makes my work a pleasure and keeps me striving for excellence.

Bolton Guitar Studies - world's best

You have been leading Bolton Guitar Studies Program at The University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music for almost 40 years. Today is considered among the world’s best guitar programs. It offers students from all over the world a home and opens them the doors to a future of music. It’s an amazing accomplishment, congratulations! So, tell me, what makes this program great?

Boston Guitar Studies
Students and professors at Boston Guitar Program

We have a community that loves classical guitar — their support fuels the students’ work. We have generous patrons who help our students with everything from the basics of food and rent to the cost of tuition. There is also a diverse and talented group here from very different cultural backgrounds– presently the class is from Romania, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, China and the USA.

The cultural exchange plays a huge part in their experience and will lead to exchanges professionally in the future — I must state that the comradery this group exhibits makes my job a pleasure. The Tucson Guitar Society has a wonderful series and we work together as a team sponsoring concerts and masterclasses that only major cities would normally have. David Russell and the Sergio and Odair Assad are key to our success with their annual residencies. Finally, we have 5 in-house competitions to keep our students focused throughout the year.

Best of the most talented students

Your students have won countless prizes at prestigious international competitions including the GFA, Tarrega, Segovia, Montreal, and Stotsenberg Competitions. As far as I know, and please correct if I am wrong, each year you have a very small class of students you prepare, around 10-11. Yet, the number of candidates is far larger and they are all extremely gifted. So, my question to you is what are those treats you are looking for in a guitar student besides the talent? ​

Thomas Patterson and his students

I absolutely love what I do! I think it is paramount to place the student’s success as your own, to create trust that you would find in a family so that the very intimate process of constructive criticism can occur. There are generally between 15 and 18 students in my studio and 20-25 in the program overall. I look for a level of talent that shows me there is flexibility for change and improvement. Often, I will receive tips about a talented student from a former student or from colleagues in the other parts of the world who are well aware of my values.

Feeling lucky

How does it feel to nurture such talented young guitar players from all over the world? Is there a secret for being a great teacher and mentor? ​

I must say that I feel lucky in life. I am an optimistic person by nature, but I am very fortunate to be in the position to work with so many talented students. I love different cultures so the fact that we have such diversity in our group is an enormous source of pride for me.

Celebrating success as a family

I believe recognition, whether it’s an international contest award or a great performance enjoyed by many, is one of those rewarding moments for any professor. Only yesterday, one of your students, Ana Maria Iordache, won the first prize at Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Madrid. How does it feel when you see such accomplishments?

Sholin Guitar Competition - in the middle, Thomas Patterson with Misael Barrazza-Diaz (Mexic, 1st place) and Ana Maria Iordache (Romania, 2nd place)

Summertime in Arizona is quite hot, so I wake up at 4 AM to walk my dogs. I received a wonderful news email from Ana at 3:45 AM and I immediately called her – we were both exuberant. This is fabulous for me because it validates to some degree the work we are doing here. It provides a huge amount of positive energy not only for Ana and her family and teachers but for my entire class, even those who have graduated and are leading their own programs. We celebrate as a family here. This is fabulous for me because it validates to some degree the work we are doing here. 

What makes you unique

There is something Jimmy Page once said and stuck with me … every guitar player inherently has something unique about their playing. They just have to identify what makes them different and develop it.” Would you agree? And if yes, what makes Ana Maria’s guitar playing so special?

That is a great quote from Jimmy Page! Ana has extraordinary clarity in her playing – every note stands out like a shining jewel. Her Scarlatti and Bach performances are absolutely fabulous.

Romania's got talent

And one final question … you have travelled, worked and played with people from all corners of the world.You had the chance to get to know a little bit about their culture and the music of their native country. Romanias have a strong connection with music in general. There are Romanian names knows across the world – music composers and violinists such as George Enescu, Ciprian Porumbescu and Alexandru Tomescu, Sergiu Celibidache (conductor), Vladimir Cosma (music film composer) or performers such as Maria Tănase (folk music singer), Gheorghe Zamfir (pan flute) or Angela Gheorghiu (soprano). So, I would be extremely curious to know about your experience with the Romanian music?

We all know about George Enescu, the teacher to Yehudi Menuhin and Arthur Grumiaux. Pablo Casals described Enescu as “the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart”. I have been introduced to the Romanian guitar school through Ana Maria Iordache. And just a few days ago, I watched the Guitar Foundation of American Youth Competition, the most important for young guitarists. Tudor Torge a young Romanian boy was a prize winner and must say he has a very bright future as does the guitar in your country.

What about Prof. Thomas Patterson?

Ana Maria Iordache

What Professor Thomas Patterson did not know during the interview 😊 … my last question when talking to Ana Maria Iordache. And it had nothing to do with her prize at Festival Internacional de Guitarra de Madrid!

“Ana Maria, we have known each other our entire lives, and prior to this interview, we had talked leisurely. It was then, as well as today when mentioning Tom Patterson’s name I felt respect, a special dose of admiration, I would say even reverence. Am I mistaken?”

Ana Maria Iordache
Ana Maria Iordache, Romanian classic guitar player

Ana Maria Iordache:  No, you are not wrong at all! Prof. Tom Patterson is an extraordinary human being and an extremely dedicated and gifted teacher. He has a huge talent in modeling and guiding students. He notices the strengths in each one of us and knows how to insist on grinding them. Plus, he is very perceptive and always tries to propose to you the most efficient way to solve a problem. What I like about him is that he doesn’t monopolize his students. He even suggests that we go and ask other masters for opinions in order to have an overview of things, and only then to make our own decision. He is the kind of mentor who allows you to grow, to evolve, in our own way. He does not create a dependency type of relationship with us, even though it would come him easily. He encourages us to discover ourselves as artists. 

You know, there’s a Romanian saying: “nothing grows in the shade of big trees.”  Tom Patterson totally contradicts this saying, and I am extremely happy about it!

One personal last thought ...

Talent is not everything

Talent determines what you can do, motivation and passion within determine how much you are willing to do. As well, your attitude determines how well you do it. Yet, as life proves it over and over again, having a good professor who nurtures our natural talent is not enough! The golden secret key is the way he does it! Reaching excellency requires a teacher or a mentor who knowns and altruistically awakens the joy and freedom in your creative expression.

Key Takeways

Thomas Patterson

Talent determines what you can do, motivation and passion within determine how much you are willing to do. As well, your attitude determines how well you do it. Yet, as life proves it over and over again, having a good professor who nurtures our natural talent is not enough! The golden secret key is the way he does it! Reaching excellency requires a teacher or a mentor who knowns and altruistically awakens the joy and freedom in your creative expression.

Takeaway #1

Mutual trust is built by the professor who treats student’s success as his own. 

Takeaway #2

Success is a family celebration – students, parents, professors, friends

Takeaway #2

Cultural diversity nurtures camradery and inspiration

Note: This interview was first published in Romanian language on, July 2, 2020. 

A Long Overdue Explanation

This is a long overdue explanation I need to write, but I promise to keep it as short as possible! For a long time, I have kept quiet, meaning I did not publish anything on my personal blog. That did not happen for I had nothing to say! :-))

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another."
Anatole France
Anatole France (1844-1924)
French novelist, poet and journalist

What happened

Lots of things happened, but to keep it brief, here’s a bullet point list. Some of these deserve more attention. Most probably I am going to talk about them in my future blog posts.

The sabbatical year – I needed it and as I hoped it paid off! It gave me plenty of opportunities to reevaluate at a more deeper lever my life with all its aspects … career, family life, friendship, things I enjoy doing etc. To do so, at least for me, does not mean “a tell it all approach”, meaning revealing it on social media. Evaluating and rediscovering yourself is internalized hard work. It takes time, confronting your hidden inner fears, but also learning to appreciate better all your gifts. And, it’s only fair to say that it also brought me a lot of (un)expected joys!

A new career challenge. Back in November 2017 I decided I to try something new … use better and differently my expertise. 

After all, I had over 15 years of experience – played many roles; diversified digital and marketing projects across all major industries; mentored many people and startups! Plus, I wanted to develop more projects with some of the business partners I already knew as being great. So, I started working as a digital & business transformation consultant. That’s how Business Booster was born. And, in the past months I even got the time to do what I preach, writing some business cases and sharing knowledge. You can check the latest article on 7 innovative indoor gardening solutions 

I was very much enjoying my work and personal freedom when I met Liviu Cristea, an extremely experienced media production consultant. 

We were telling each other “good morning” almost every day when zipping our coffees and remotely working from a nearby coquette terrace cafe. It took us one year to actually talk to each, but less than a month to decide to launch We had mutually shared beliefs about Romania’s potential, complementary professional knowledge, personal drive and willingness to try “something impossible”. The latter one meaning talk the good things happening in the country, and not the bad ones! Plus, we knew many like minded people!

This is definitely the closest to my heart personal project. 

It started back in 2015 while I was with R/GA Bucharest and went through challenges of all sorts. The reason for for overcoming all this is simple. Consciously or unconsciously, personal transformation is one thing life guarantees. To those aware of this fact and willing to openly embrace change, is a generous source of inspiration. 

Setting expectations

Having gone through so many professional and personal changes, it was only natural to draw some clear conclusions. Therefore, herețs what you should expect finding on this blog from now on: 

  • New topics – so far I kept privately or shared only with my closest friends certain thoughts related to human treats, politics, people, life experiences and so on. This is about to change! And here’s the first two stories about Cuba: Hemingway’s Floridita and Papa’s Daiquiri 
  • Posting frequency – yes I know, frequency matters, but with the things I do and my unwillingness to write just for the sake of numbers, I shall only publish when I feel like it. The topics tackled here are of personal interest and written by Ana Maria, and not by the digital and business transformation consultant.

All being said, I can only hope you’ll enjoy the things I share with you. And feel free to comment!

P.S. The old blog posts on content strategy, information architecture, technology, innovation and other digital topics I wrote here were recently moved to Business Booster website. Redirects are done, so no worries about not being able to find it. It’s only here I’ll continue to write about “all digital stuff”, leadership, startups and business strategy.

About All Love Energy with Patrick Zeigler

I’ve attended my first All Love class meditation with Patrick Scott Zeigler more than three years ago… at the right moment for me, some would say, although I knew about him and his Seichim/ Sekhem teachings for many years. Useless to say that it was the first of many  amazing experiences and I wanted to share it with my closest friends, yet when I tried to tell them about it, finding the right words to describe it was almost impossible. Later I found out I was not the only one having troubles explaining what you can experience when attending an All Love class.

Few words about Patrick Zeigler & Sekhem / Siechim…

Patrick Zeigler
Patrick Zeigler, founder of All Love / Sekhem / Seichim system

Patrick Zeigler, the father of non-traditional Reiki and founder of Seichim/ Sechem/ Sekhem (SKM), has been working with holistic therapies for over 30 years experience and lives his live traveling the world and teaching All Love.

Zeigler took the first steps of his self-discovery path around the age of 10 when he read the first on extrasensory experiences. Readings and personal experiences with hypnosis, meditations, various techniques and therapies, personal work with different masters followed … little did he know then that all these experiences will prepare him for something much greater: the night in the Great Pyramid of Egypt he had a consciousness raising experience or initiation. The path took him took him to a wise Egyptian Sufi named Sheikh Mawlana Mohamed Osman Abdu al Burhani. He taught Patrick specific ways to deepen the experience. It was a combination of these two experiences that connected Patrick to an energy called Seichim, also spelt Sekhem. Later on Patrick developed what at some point was known as Sechim/ Sekhem system.

That being said, you can imagine how happy I am to share with you some key insights about what experiencing the All Love energy can mean to you as I got to understand it from Patrick Scott Zeigler himself. I do hope that what you’ll read next will give you a better understanding of how this rather spiritual therapy can help you heal the blockages you might experience in your life.

Healing yourself with All Love energy

All Love / SKHM energy
All Love / SKHM / Seichim energy

All Love works with what some of you may already know as Sekhem/ Seichim. This energy is not the same with Reiki energy. The way All Love energy works and it is felt is very different. This difference is noted by all Reiki practitioners who participate in an All Love workshop. The vibration felt in the beginning by most of the participants in the beginning is generally “fine”, but it can become very strong; simply, you may simply have to sit down, that’s how strong it may come. Some even prefer to lay down and let the body do whatever it feels like. Patrick uses the terms “shakers” for those who feel this energy so, so strong.

At the same time, yet not mandatory, some participants may experience strong emotions and see all sorts of images; their role is to assist in the healing process of the blockages, whether you are or not aware of their existence. Unlike other techniques, All Love/ Sekhem works in particular on the Heart Chakra (Anahata) and the connection with the Higher Self and then let’s the energy flow throughout the body, activating and opening other energetic centers.

Attending an All Love/ Sekhem class does not require you to have prior experience of working with other energy techniques or types of therapies. Unlike Reiki, symbols are not necessary to be able to connect and open your heart. The energy has its own kind of miraculous intelligence and knows exactly what it needs to do. If I were to use a metaphor, then I would say it is like when you are falling in love. Do you need a manual?! No! All Love energy works just the same. That’s it!

All-Love is the way of healing with the heart. As Patrick Zeigler says,

“Our Spiritual Heart is at the core of our being and where the soul connects to our Emotional and Physical bodies. All-Love is the experience of the One Heart that connects us to the ‘All’ of creation. It is through the Divine Quickening of All-Love that we come to Love all the aspects of who we are and come into a state of re-union, not just with ourselves, but also with all of creation.”

How All Love energy works …

From a theoretical point of view you, here are some of the things that can happen:

  • The alignment between the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies;
  • The alignment between the superior bodies with the physical body;
  • The anchoring of the energy of love and opening of the heart chakra;
  • The recognition and embracing of our shadow;
  • The redetermination of negative past events;
  • Spontaneous initiations;
  • The anchoring of the soul energy in our physical bodies;
  • The student’s empowerment and the awakening to self-mastery.

Attending an All Love class is a great opportunity to understand through a series of guided meditations that “life is a truly master teacher” and its inescapable teachings are just ways to help us on our self-discovery and evolution path.

Many times we feel our past repeats itself through recurrent emotions, thoughts and attitudes, even when we no longer wish to behave, think nor feel the way we sometimes do. Understanding how our past affects our daily life, influencing our thoughts, emotions and actions is the key of unlocking the better and much happier version of ourselves. It also allows us to clearly see how everything that happens around us simply reflects just like a mirror what is going on inside ourselves. When we do understand this mechanism, we are able to rebuild our reality from the only thing we actually are able change in this life: yourself.

An All Love workshop consists of o series of practical exercises and meditations that aim to bring you into alignment with your true nature while letting go of your expectations. It helps you realize that you need to start living in the present moment and allow your inherent wisdom to flow naturally. That makes you feel more confident in yourself and more capable of facing the unknown. It also awakes your intuition and a consciousness more aligned to your own truth. Once we understand this and you start working with yourself, you can see and sense a lots of new good things happening:

  • A higher understanding blossoms;
  • New interior paths open and this reflect as new opportunities in life;
  • An increasing sensibility and a subsequent spontaneous rising of answers to recurrent questions in our lives;
  • A more harmonious and peaceful way of living with more joy, lightness and confidence.

All these positive changes will be easily perceived by those around you and it will mysteriously touch their hearts causing both a positive impact on your environment and everyone around.

The Unexpected Lesson in Uluwatu Temple

They say children are the greatest teachers of all … To some of you it may sound a little bit strange. To me the lesson I learned in Uluwatu Temple from a young Balinese boy while watching the Kekac Dance made me think twice about its meaning.

Lesson learned …

Uluwatu Temple is one of the most magical places I had ever been. Bali’s oldest temple during the sunset holds something magical. The little boy was surrounded by all these far much older Balinese men who sang along. He sat next to his dad singing along “Cak! Cak! Cak! Cak!”. I was not that far away from where he sat and I watched him closely. He uttered no words into my ears, but his face sang a song of truthfulness. Belonging and believing. Love and respect for the Balinese past and ancestors altogether. I’m just a holiday photographer, yet I hope I captured something of this little boy’s truth in my pictures.

Uluwatu Temple

Definitely, this temple is a must see when in Bali! Pura Luhur Uluwatu as locals call it, Uluwatu Temple is known all over the world for being one of the six key temples of Bali. It also one of the top places on the island to go watch an unforgettable sunset.

The temple is perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 meters above sea level with views overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean and daily Kecak Dance performances.

The name “Luhur” means “something of divine origin”; “ulu” stands for the “land’s end” and “watu” the “rock” in the old language. It is one of the nine directional temples of Bali meant to protect it from evil spirits. Hindu mythology says the rock is part of Dewi Danu’s petrified barque. Dewi Danu is the goddess of water and one of two supreme deities in the Balinese tradition.

The temple is inhabited by macaque monkeys, who are notorious for snatching visitors’ belongings. Trust me when I say that these monkeys are extremely skilled and unpredictable! Just read The Monkey Playing Harmonica story!