Over the past decade, I have built a teaching method which ensures that each of my students will learn how to become proficient at playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar, or bass, in various genres and settings. Each of my students are trained to become independent musicians who are capable of learning how to play songs on their own, create music, improvise with others, and become experts in their preferred musical styles. Whether the goal is playing in a touring band, writing and performing locally, or just playing at home, I teach an individualized and evolving curriculum, based on the current interests and growth of each student.
I teach all styles of music. I regularly have students learning everything from Metallica and Led Zeppelin, to Adele and Taylor Swift. In addition to popular guitar standards, I love to get creative in selecting pieces for my students to learn, often from their favorite video games or YouTube channel in addition to more standard pieces. The particular genre of music or techniques we cover will be entirely based on what the student is looking for, although I may make suggestions along the way.
Tab vs. Standard Notation:
While I would prefer all of my students to read standard notation, it's not always completely practical. I begin all of my younger students with a blend of standard notation and tablature. High school age or older students who come to me with some guitar background get the option of whether they want to learn to read or not. Typically these students also end up learning to read standard notation after studying with me for a while, but only when they're ready. Of course there are a few who's goals don't involve learning to read standard notation, so with them I stick with tablature indefinitely.
Music theory is the key to being able to read, compose, improvise, transcribe and understand music. All of my students learn some basic music theory to accompany whatever they are studying. It might be something simple like talking about the chord progression or rhythm in a song, or something more advanced like how to create an interesting key change in a composition. With some of my intermediate and advanced students, I spend time working on the more traditional aspects of music theory, but only at their request. I will never waste time making a student memorize rules and conventions that they have no use for or can't relate to at the moment, but when they are ready, it's something I happily dive into.
Learning complete songs is an incredibly important part of becoming a well-rounded musician. This may seem like it would go without saying, but too often I've had new students come to me who, after years of studying on their own or with another teacher, cannot play through one song note for note. When a student and I study a song together, it will be with the intention of getting the piece to the point where it is ready to be performed.
Learning to improvise can be one of the most rewarding aspects of studying an instrument. Right from the beginning, learning a few notes or chords that go well together will be enough for any student to get started improvising on their own. Eventually it will build into being able to spontaneously play something that sounds as if it was rehearsed. “Who wrote that?” or “Wait, are you just making that up?” - those are the responses we're going for.
I begin teaching songwriting as a natural progression from understanding basic improvisation. As with everything else, I do my best to incorporate whatever musical genre the student is interested in, and focus on getting the basics of that sound down from the start. From there I focus on expanding and refining those basic ideas into something unique to that student, as well as introducing concepts and techniques from other styles of music.
Ensemble (band) Playing:
Performing in an ensemble is something every guitarist should become proficient in, and is typically the reason one begins playing in the first place. In most bands, the guitarist is tasked with the role of band leader (even if the singer thinks it's his job). I have plenty of experience in this field and teach my students how to run different types of rehearsals, allocate jobs to different band members, write songs, accurately reproduce cover material, and get the best possible sound for live performances and recording sessions.
Each year I have students participate in NYSSMA. Since most of my students mainly study pick-style guitar (which is what the majority of Rock, Pop, Metal, Jazz, etc... is based on), I typically have them participate in NYSSMA Jazz Guitar. NYSSMA Jazz differs from NYSSMA classical in the following ways:
- The student is expected to play with a pick.
- Rather than perform scales, the student improvises over a recording.
- Both the sight-reading and the solo
are much more relevant to what a typical student is studying outside NYSSMA
Of course there is so much more to
cover during lessons, but I hope this overview has given you a basic idea of what I tend to cover with my students. If you are interested in scheduling your first lesson, please contact me.