When Zachary Barrett’s parents gave him a red Ibanez Stratocaster on his 12th birthday, they likely had no idea how it would impact his life. He began learning to play his new guitar at the local music school, and before long, he remembers, “I became a big fan of classic rock and guitar legends like Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and David Gilmour.”

He was bitten by the teaching bug early. “My first teaching opportunity came as a high school student when my biology teacher heard me playing for jazz band,” Zachary says. “She asked me to give her daughter guitar lessons. I immediately found joy in sharing my biggest passion with others.”

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From that moment, he was eager to teach others to play the music that’s meaningful to them. He has now been at Minnesota School of Music for five years, with a total of 15 years of teaching under his belt. He notes that at MnSOM, everyone is free to pursue their passions while at the same time maintaining rigorous standards.

“I think the No. 1 thing I enjoy is that there is a culture of self-growth, support for one another, and encouragement for teachers and students to be themselves and take their own musical journey,” Zachary says. “I think Eric has done an amazing job of being a mentor and a resource for the teachers while encouraging them to be themselves with their own unique teaching style.”

If he’s not teaching young people how to play music, Zachary  is usually making music of his own. “I love collaborating with other musicians to write new music,” he says. Zachary has a home recording studio and is working with his songwriting partner on their first album. He also enjoys hiking, playing board games and video games, and rooting for local sports teams. And whenever he gets the chance, he loves to travel to new places.

Even after all of these years, Zachary still gets a thrill out of seeing his students learn something new — and he notes that he especially loves seeing them meet the goals they set for themselves. “My greatest joy from teaching is witnessing a student go through the process of wanting to learn a song they love, putting in the hard work at home, and succeeding at playing it.”