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Guitar Instruction

My Teaching Philosophy and Methods

My approach to teaching the guitar varies depending on the individual student, the style of music they are interested in, and what their goals and intentions are. My overall philosophy of teaching is based upon the assumption that people want to learn guitar for a reason. That is, there is something about this wonderful and mysterious art form known as Music that has touched them in some way, and they feel drawn to want to express themselves through this art form. They want to have a direct and intimate experience with it; more intimate than they could get from just listening. I try to do everything in my power to help nurture this natural urge to experience music, and try never to do anything that would dampen it. I may not always succeed, but that is my aim. And, I think (at least I hope!) I'm getting better with experience.

I want my students to follow their own interests and enthusiasm. I avoid putting value judgments on any particular style or genre of music, or on any particular artists that a student may be interested in. I trust that as a student's experience with music deepens, he or she will naturally begin to gravitate towards the music that is right for him or her at any given time.

I don't use fear tactics or guilt trips to attempt to induce my students to practice. I want my students to look forward to coming to a lesson even if they haven't practiced. There are always fun things to do or learn about that don't require previous practice. This is not to say that I don't think practicing is important. On the contrary, if you practice regularly and consistently, you will make MUCH faster progress. Also, you will have a deeper experience of music because it will "take root" in you and become part of your everyday life. Hopefully, students will WANT to practice because they enjoy it and because they see the benefits of it. It is true, though, that many of us need friendly "reminders' about practicing. This is especially true for younger students, and this is where the parents can play an important role. My suggestion to parents who want to help their children have a positive experience with music is to talk with their children about what it means to be a musician; to talk with them, in a gentle and non-threatening manner about the importance of regular practice, and to assist them in allotting time during their day for practicing. However, music should definitely not be all about practice. In fact, it should be more about PLAY. Perhaps we should just eliminate that word "practice" from our vocabulary! Maybe, instead of saying "OK, I'm going to practice for a half-hour every day," we could say "I am going to allot at least a half-hour every day to PLAYING my guitar" (or one hour, or one hour three times per week, or whatever it is). Yes, I think I like this much better.

Let me return briefly to the parents' role, because there is something else I wanted to say about that. Although a parent can play an important and supportive role in the child's musical education, it is important, in my opinion, that children feel that they are learning music for themselves, and not just to please the parent(s). That is not to say that children should not be encouraged to share their music with others. In fact, a pair, or more, of appreciative ears can do wonders for anyone's enthusiasm toward playing music (not just kids!). But this should be a gift freely given.

Well, I may be revising or adding to this page occasionally as I think of other ideas to share with you, but I hope that for now this gives you a fairly clear understanding of my teaching philosophy. You may want to visit my FAQ page for more information.