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What Are Lessons Like?

Playing music is supposed to be fun!  If you're not enjoying what you're working on, it's harder to motivate yourself to practice and you'll eventually stop progressing.  That's why, instead of working through a book full of boring exercises and songs you've never heard of, I ask my students to think about which songs they would really like to be able to play and then work backwards from there.  Song by song, you'll learn all the skills you'll need because every song contains several "mini-lessons" in it.  For example, if you want to learn how to play "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, we'll go over the major scale, what an interval of a major 6th sounds like, how to read strumming patterns, and all the chords that work in the key of G major.

Even if you choose a song that's way beyond your current skill level, it will still give us some goals to shoot for.  For example, if you choose "Enter Sandman" by Metallica as your first song, it might overwhelm you to jump straight into it.  So first, I'll teach you a "stepping stone" song like "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple because it'll teach you how to play power chords and some basic soloing techniques.  Then later, when you try to play "Enter Sandman", you'll be more likely to succeed and have fun playing it.

No Experience Necessary

You don't need any musical experience to start lessons.  In fact, that's the best time to start because the right guidance at the beginning can teach you the fundamentals you need quickly, keep you from developing bad habits, and keep you accountable to your goals like a personal trainer.  I make sure that every beginning student leaves his/her first lesson knowing the names of the 12 notes, where those notes are on the guitar/bass (and the keyboard), the best way to hold the guitar, tips for playing good-sounding notes, and also how to play the 5 most common chords.  My goal for our first lesson is to de-mystify the guitar/bass/uke/studio and get you started with some exercises to start practicing right away. I will get you through the fundamentals as quickly as possible (without skipping anything important) because i know the sooner i get you playing songs, the more fun you'll have, and therefore the more likely you'll practice, progress, and stick with it.

Playing Techniques & Music Theory

Instead of just learning to mimic my hand movements in a "monkey see, monkey do" sort of way like you would on YouTube, I'll teach you the "whys" behind each song, chord structure, and melody so that you fully understand why it was written that way, and why it has the emotional impact it does.  And the lessons are cumulative - once you learn a concept or technique, you won't need to learn it again when you work on another song that uses it.  The more songs you learn, the easier the next one will be for you to understand and play.  You'll learn the secrets to applying music theory, how to transcribe new songs, how to play and improvise with other musicians, how to tune your guitar, change your strings, and read chord diagrams and guitar tablature.  Concepts like chords and scales will take on deeper meaning when you see them in the context of real songs.

I have tons of songs already transcribed & ready to print!

Every time I transcribe a song for a student, I scan the sheet music into my computer so that when other students want to learn that song, it's ready to print out.  I've been teaching since 2003, and I've been collecting music my whole life, so chances are I already have a lot of the songs you'd like to learn.  I currently have over 60,000 songs in my iTunes library and over 6000 pages of guitar, bass, and ukulele music transcribed in every style, and I add more every week!  If you have a song you want to learn, just let me know at your lesson and i'll transcribe it for you.

Playing At A Slow and Constant Tempo

Another important skill we'll work on is the ability to play at a constant tempo.  When we first start working on the fundamentals, I can provide recordings of me playing the same exercises you're working on (at several speeds from slow to fast) so that you can practice along at home.  Later, when we're working on a song that you've chosen, I can email you several "slowed-down" versions of it, or burn you a CD.  For example, track 1 on your CD would be the song at 50% of the original speed, track 2 would be at 65% speed, track 3 would be at 80% speed, and finally track 4 would be full speed.  This allows you to start slow while you're still learning the notes, and then gradually work your way up to full speed as you learn the song better.

Practicing along with a recording will make your playing more enjoyable to listen to and it'll also get you ready to play along with other people in a group setting.  The important thing is to choose a tempo at which you make as few mistakes as possible so that you're programming your "muscle memory" with good information.  Once your hands and head know how to play a song without mistakes, then you can start speeding it up without mistakes.  If I had to pick the most important piece of advice I could give another musician, it would be to practice at a tempo that is slow enough for you to play with as few mistakes as possible.  It will get you where you want to be in less time than trying to play it fast from the very beginning. 

Songwriting & Recording

In addition to teaching you the guitar, bass, or ukulele, I can also coach you on songwriting and recording techniques.  Whether we're starting from scratch or from a riff or chord progression you've written, I'll teach you how to take that "song seed" and turn it into a full-length song.  Then, we can use my recording equipment to record and mix a demo of your finished original song complete with drums, bass, keyboards, and any other instrument you want to add.  We can also focus in on beat making, composing for the orchestra, working with plugins, or getting started with analog synthesis.

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