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Rick Pressler '81
Rick Pressler '81

Rick Pressler '81 Releases Long-in-the-Making Second Record

Rick Pressler ’81 first learned guitar at age 7 from his banjo-playing grandfather, and in the 47 years since then he has made all kinds of music with his six-string: rock, klezmer, jazz, even a “truly horrible” rock opera. But his latest album, jazz-guitar outing Soft & Electric, which debuted in the fall, is only his second solo release ever. And his first, Listening Room, came out more than 13 years ago.

Why the long wait between albums? Pressler says he is slow-going when it comes to producing music. And it doesn’t help that he has a busy professional and family life in addition. He has worked in education reform for the past 12 years, including starting and running his own charter school in New Brunswick, N.J., and he and his wife have welcomed three children to their family in the past six years.

“My musical life has always been a wonderful counterpoint to my education work,” says Pressler. “It’s informed my notions about rigor and about the different ways children experience the world and express themselves. I don’t expect students to be alike, and I don’t find most of the things that drive educators crazy particularly vexing. After dealing with musicians for years, the eccentric behavior of kindergarteners is almost reassuring.”

Though he only just released Soft & Electric, he has already backlogged quite a bit of new material for his next album, which he hopes to release in the next year or two. He plays live only locally, near his Roosevelt, N.J., home, but you can find his music on Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.

Pressler,who majored in music at Haverford, has long been inspired by one of his professors, the late John Davison. “He guided me with great patience and understanding, and supported my work unconditionally, even though I was not a talented or particularly productive composition student,” he says. “He wrote me a letter shortly after I graduated, at a time when I felt like quite a musical failure, and it kept me going long enough to regain my footing on the guitar and find a musical voice. I owe him a great debt of gratitude, which I try to pay forward whenever I can.”

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—Rebecca Raber


This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Haverford magazine.


The Strawbridge Observatory at Haverford College houses 12-inch and 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes which are actively used by students in Haverford astronomy classes.

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