Do you have gift certificates available for birthdays/Christmas/etc.?
Yes, I've done this a lot over the years - guitar or bass lessons are a great gift! Just contact me and let me know how many lessons you'd like to buy, send your payment, and I'll send you a full-color .pdf gift certificate that you can print and give him/her. After you've given your gift, the recpient and I can work out a lesson time that will work for both of us and pick a start date.
Should i start on an acoustic or an electric?
I think the right answer is whichever type of guitar will inspire you to pick it up and play more. If I had to choose, I would recommend starting on the acoustic because it will strengthen your hands more and it also sounds better when playing open chords (which is what I work on first with most students). An acoustic is also typically less expensive than buying an electric guitar, an amp, and a cable. However, if you're a fan of music that always features the electric guitar, and the acoustic doesn't really inspire you, then I would recommend starting on an electric.
Who do i make my check out to?
Please make your check out to either me (Matt Morton) or my business (Studio 651 Ltd.). Send your checks to 3716 Dayspring Dr. Hilliard, OH 43026.
Why is your company called Studio 651 Ltd.?
"651" was both my street address and the name of my band in high school. It's a reminder for me to keep my music fun, spontaneous, and experimental just like i did when making music was brand new to me.
Can i pay by credit card, Paypal, or direct bank transfer?
No. I looked into creating an e-store and setting up all kinds of e-payment options, but I decided not to because they add on transaction fees that would make it necessary to raise my prices. However, there is still a very easy electronic payment option if you're enrolled in your bank's online billpay system. You can set me up as a "payee" and schedule your payments to arrive before the 10th of the month. Most banks will send a check through the mail for you for free, and they won't even charge for postage. Lots of my students set up monthly recurring payments so that they don't have to worry about late payment fees. Remember to allow a few extra days for your bank's processing & postage though.
Do you send payment reminders or invoices?
No. Please set up a reminder to get your payment to me by the 10th of each month in your calendar, computer, or phone.
I'm on the waiting list - do you have a spot for me yet?
As soon as I have a spot available in my schedule, I contact the person at the top of the waiting list. Sometimes my waiting list is long and students have to wait a few months before getting a call. But remember that it's in my best interest to fill my open time slots as soon as the become available - I won't forget about you!
Do you rent guitars?
No I don't because beginner guitars are relatively inexpensive (only around $80-120 for decent quality, $120-200 for better quality). Renting a $500-2000 band instrument (trumpet, violin, etc.) makes sense because buying one would be a big financial commitment to make toward something you may or may not stick with. But with guitars, it just makes more sense to buy an affordable one and see if you stick with it. My first one cost $5 at a garage sale, but I'd recommend getting a better one than that because it'll be easier to play and will inspire you to play more.
I have this old guitar from my dad/mom/uncle/etc. - will it work?
If you have an old or cheap guitar and you're not sure if it'll be good enough to start with, go ahead and bring it to your first lesson and I'll take a look at it. If it's not good enough to use, you can borrow one of mine during your lesson.
How often should I change my strings?
It depends. For most beginning to intermediate guitar players (who aren't performing in public yet), changing your strings every 3-6 months is often enough to keep your guitar sounding good and playing well. If you play an hour or more each day, you should probably change them every 4-8 weeks, but again, these are just estimates. If you are performing or recording regularly, you should change your strings much more frequently to both improve the tone of your instrument and to reduce the chance of breaking a string during your performance.
Symptoms of a guitar that needs new strings include: your guitar's tone has gotten much darker (like the treble control on your stereo has been turned down); your strings are constantly going out of tune; your skinny strings are turning black from oxidation; you hear a lot of buzz when holding down your strings; or your guitar has gotten noticeably harder to play. If one of your strings breaks and it's been over a month or two since you last changed them, you should go ahead and change them all to make sure your tone is consistent from string to string. Also, because fresh strings are more resistant to breaking, I highly recommend new strings before performances (and make sure to do 4-5 rounds of tuning/stretching/tuning/stretching or else your new strings will quickly go flat on you).
For bass players, it's common to go much longer between string changes, but it depends on the tone you're after. If you're going for a brighter tone, you'll probably want to change your strings more often. The longer your strings are on your instrument, the darker the tone gets. That's why bass players who like a rich, dark tone often keep the strings on their bass for a year or more. As a side note, another way to get a darker bass tone right off the bat is to use flatwound strings.
I'm getting a lot of finger pain while playing - are there adjustments I can make that will help?
Definitely the most important way to keep your fingers from hurting (assuming your instrument is set up properly) is playing everyday or close to it. It's like exercise - if you keep up with it every day, you can handle a lot of exercise, but if you don't work out for weeks and then go to the gym for several hours, you're going to be hurting! Playing every day will help you develop more hand strength and callouses that will protect your fingertips.
In addition to playing every day, there are also some adjustments that can be made to make your guitar more comfortable to play. Your guitar's bridge height, nut height, fret wear, and truss rod adjustment all have an effect on how easy it is to play. If you're wondering whether or not your guitar needs adjustment, just ask me during your lesson and I'll take a look at it. There are some adjustments that I can do, and some that are best left to a guitar repair shop or luthier.
Do you offer group lessons?
No. I've tried this a few times throughout the years, but now I only teach individual lessons for several reasons:
1. All students progress at different rates, and if two people are taking lessons together, one will inevitably be ready to move on before the other. The one who needs more work on a skill will feel self-conscious about being slower, which will put more pressure on them and slow them down even more. And the faster student will get bored and not progress as quickly as they could if they were in a private lesson.
2. Every person learns in a different way, so I try to teach each student in the way that they learn the most efficiently. Some people learn by doing, some by studying first and then trying, some by listening, some by watching, etc. Some students prefer to get a good rough draft of the whole song first and then go back and perfect it later, whereas others want to work through it meticulously measure by measure, only moving on when they feel really good about a section. Individual lessons lets every student learn the way they like to learn, which is more enjoyable and quicker.
3. All students have different musical tastes and goals. I customize how I teach each student and which songs we work on based on his/her individual goals. I want you to learn the songs you love and become the player you want to be as quickly as possible. Even best friends or identical twins seem to find it difficult to agree on the next song they want to play. Private lessons allow you to learn any song or technique you want to without having to vote as a group or learn a song someone else likes but you don't.
Can we meet sometime before paying for a lesson?
I'd be happy to meet with you for a few minutes sometime if it would make you feel more comfortable. I totally understand that teacher-student chemistry is both important and tough to predict. But I think a better way to see if i'm a good "fit" for you or your child is to just go ahead and schedule a lesson. That way, you can actually see what a lesson is like and we can play a little. You don't have anything to lose - if you decide halfway through the lesson that I'm not the right teacher for you, I'll gladly refund your money.
Which holidays do you take off?
New Years Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July (observed), Labor Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. These holidays, as well as a one-week summer break and a one-week winter break, are built into the monthly tuition.
It's snowing today, are you teaching?
I will teach every week except for only the most extreme weather conditions. I may be teaching even if the schools are closed since lessons don't start until the afternoon and often the roads are safe by then. If we need to cancel lessons due to weather conditions, I will text/email/call (in that order) every student with as much notice as possible. If you don't hear anything, please assume that we're still on.