If you already play a little (or a lot!),
but it seems like "Getting Good" is a huge uphill thing,
maybe I can help demystify some of that. Music really isn't a big secret. It doesn't require
genius or Arnold-like strength. I'll help you figure out the mumbo jumbo.
I hold a BS in guitar education and an MA in voice.
I earned both degrees AFTER sucessfully retiring from the life of
monsterously busy young studio musician/coach/arranger in Hollywood
in the 60's and 70's.
I've played, sung, arranged, thousands of recordings
and commercials. If you're old enough to have listened
to radio or watched TV in the mid 60's or 70's,
you've surely seen and/or heard me but didn't know it.
Your first lesson is free.
You and I decide if we are right for each other.
I won't take you on as a student if I don't think I can
help you. I don't want you to take me on as a teacher
if you don't think I can help you.
Q: Where are you located?
A: My studio is in my home in north Phoenix. Near the
intersection of Cactus and 56th Street.
Q: What do guitar lessons cost?
A: My rates are $250 per four lessons.
That's one lesson every week for four weeks.
Each lesson is an hour or two long.
Q: What will I learn in these sessions?
A: Nearly always, it seems super logical to start with a SONG that YOU know/like.
Could be something you've tried to learn, have learned really well,
or really suck at, doesn't matter much.
If we can dismantle this song, just a little bit, we'll likely see some pretty
simple, repeatable thing-a-ma-bobs happening over and over.
Hmmm, maybe there's not thirty chords in this song,
maybe there's only three, they just repeat. And maybe the exact same thing happens in
this other song. Maybe this happens with EVERY song. In the same pattern.
The goal here is to get comfortable with the idea that you can play ANYthing.
The chords and notes are all the same. You learn to play a Bm7 in THIS song,
it's the same Bm7 in ANY song.
I suggest that a good goal for any guitarist is simply to be able to play
anything anyone asks for. That's what musicians do. They play what people ask for.
No different than carpenters build stuff people ask for, plumbers install stuff people ask for.
We're musicians. We might not be great at cabinets and sinks, but we can play songs.
Wadda you wanna hear?
As for what you DO with your new found
"Key to the Secret Music Thing"
that's up to YOU.
Some of my students are performers. Some gig several nights a week.
Other students don't perform but view our sessions as sort of a "Master Class".
I try and explain and clarify music, the music industry, how your teenager can
be a better sax player in his HS stage band, how to play an F#m7b5 chord, whatever.
That surely makes you a better guitar player, but perhaps it's more like learning
just for the sake of learning. You might be perfectly happy learning what that
first chord to "Hard Day's Night" was, even if you don't plan on forming a
Beatles tribute band.
Simply put, being a "Performer" is not a requirement
Q: Do I have to have some kind of experience?
If you're really at ground zero with learning any kind of music,
I'm likely not the ideal coach for that. There's likely more cost effective
ways to get started.
I ask that you have SOME previous musical experience
in guitar or some other musical instrument.
and that you are over the age of 18.
Q: Will you teach my son to play shredder metal guitar?
A: Probably not. But only because he (most teenage boys) isn't very
interested in nor have the patience for serious music lessons.
It wouldn't be any different if your teen wanted to learn classical
or any other style rather than pop/rock. It's a lot of just plain
hard work and study to become a musician.
Neither of those are typically in the working vocabulary of
most teenage boys.
I very much welcome the opportunity for YOUR teenager to disprove my observations.
We need kids to take up music as a profession. But music, the profession,
is a lot more than hanging out in the garage with your buddies.
It's like any other vocation or avocation.
It requires work and study and most time stealing of all requirements,
MUSIC REQUIRES PRACTICE. The "practice" concept is unlike any other
profession. Brain surgeons or accountants or construction workers don't
practice off the job. Musicians are the only professionals that do.
And that practice happens every day, all your life. It's not just
"Practice Till I Get It". That's not what practicing is. Practicing
is learning how to translate musical thoughts in your brain into
physical movements on your instrument (fingering, vocal interpretations etc).
Q: Will you prep me or my teenager for audition to Berklee College of Music?
A: Yes I certainly will.
I'm very familiar with the entry and audition requirements for
Berklee (and other schools). We can practice the actual pieces required/suggested by the
Berklee staff that you will/could use in the audition.
Two points are important with the "Music College" question -
1) Most teenage rock/metal guitar playing boys are nowhere near the
experience/skill level to enter music college - ANY music college.
If this is your kid's description, I can certainly advise you how to cram
a decade's worth of missed music education into your teen's mind. It's up to
him to decide if that's what he wants to pursue. But he'll be competing, literally,
with hundreds and thousands of other kids who have intently studied their instrument
for many many years. Be prepared for me to tell you I don't think Berklee is right for you/him.
2) Vocalists ALWAYS have a difficult time in music college. Unless you've
been studying classical/choral/baroque music, are fluent in reading
standard notation, AND understand diatonic harmony,
you and me (singers) face the huge disadvantage
of simply NOT being exposed to much
academic or instructive approach to singing.
We simply don't speak the language of music as well as the pianists and violinists.
On the other hand - If you truly ARE dedicated to the concept of music as a
university level pursuit, I can certainly speak with experience from BOTH sides
of the "degree vs non-degree" professional musician. I've certainly been successful
as both. If you're ready to work I'll show you what it's like to get there.
But if you're faced with not being at all fluent in the language of music,
you're up against a tremendous bunch of hurdles. Perhaps compare it to
an English-only speaking person going to a university in Japan
and Majoring in Japanese Language. You'll be entering language or music school
but don't yet even speak the basics in the language.
Have I talked you OUT of it yet?..;-)
Professional musician is a
It is more physical and mental work to get and remain there,
than any other profession.
If you or your kid wants to get there,
I'll show you how I did it and offer you the
tools to help you figure out if YOU want to do it.
Q: Will I learn music theory?
Music theory is the language that musicians use to communicate.
Without the theory, you couldn't ask me to
"play a G chord" or "hold that note for 3 beats".
Every vocation and avocation has its own theory and language.
Music is no exception. Music is all about communication.
We have to be able to communicate with other musicians
what it is we want them to play.
Rather than everyone taking their own approach to naming things,
music theory, like any language, allows us to standardize things.
If everyone understands what "F7" means, we've just cut through a bunch
of communication problems. No matter what spoken language you speak,
no matter what instrument you play, the concept of "F7" is universal.
To be a musician without an understanding of music theory
would be like being a foreign language interpreter but only speaking one language.
I teach music theory as it applies to the music you are currently playing.
We don't memorize theory points just for the sake of knowledge,
but instead, we try and apply music theory to what we're playing right now.
Q: Will I have to learn stuff like "Mary Had a Little Lamb"?
A: Only if that's a song you like and want to learn.
I prefer to teach songs that you know and like for lessons.
That being said, "Mary" and "Camptown Races" or any other song
that we might have learned at a campfire or as kids,
will contain exactly the same components to songs by
Led Zep or Eagles or Sting or Jobim.
The simplest of songs can enjoy an elaborate arrangement
if that's what the musician desires.
Cue the "simple" two chord "Horse with No Name".
Q: Do I have to practice?
A: This is a funny kind of question with a funny kind of vague answer.
"Practice" is what a performing musician DOES. It's not what you do to reach some point
and then "You've got it". Practicing music is like practicing Yoga or
running. It's all about the DOING. Like you can't do Yoga without actually
DOing Yoga. You can't DO Music without actually DOing music.
Now having said that, let's modify that concept. If you're a PERFORMER, then
practice IS the thing. It's the ONLY thing that will make you a better PERFORMER.
But if you're not a performer, practice to some kind of virtuoso level is perhaps overkill.
Perhaps we could suggest some kind of balance.
In some settings
practicing 14 hours a day (or more!) might be appropriate
(Berklee prep., live with Indian Guru on mushrooms for a year,
psycho stage door parents driving you to win the contest, etc)
That kind of practice becomes really zen-like really quickly.
I know people who literally don't practice at all. They aren't performers,
and they aren't developing the ability to "Play Anything Asked of Them".
But they ARE learning how it all works. If at some point in the future
they decided to start practicing, they'd have a good head start when
it came to puttin' fingers on the frets
Q: Do I have to play scales and fingerboard exercises?
A: Probably, yes. The approach I like is that we play
songs that you want to perform. When we find a spot in
the song that you have trouble with, we design an
exercise that addresses that problem.
But scales, particularly the plain old Major diatonic scale,
are the fundamental basis for all western harmony and melody.
Learn the scale and you learn nearly everything there is to
know about the song you're playing.
Q: What kind of guitar do I need?
A: The "Which Guitar" question is rarely a factor. The average
mid-life crisis Taylor/Martin/Fender/Gibson is more than enough guitar for anyone.
Likewise the old brand Asian guitars, notably Yamaha, Alvarez and others
are some of the most bullet proof guitars I've ever seen.
You simply need a guitar, acoustic or electric, that YOU LIKE.
Like the way it looks. Like the way it feels.
Don't buy a guitar because someone advertises
or suggests it's "Easier to Play" than some other guitar.
Nearly 100 percent of the guitar parts I ever played in Hollywood
were played on a simple Ovation Balladeer. Cost a couple hundred bucks then.
Buy a guitar that costs 20 grand if you like.
Not a thing in the world wrong with that.
It won't play any easier nor sound any better
than the simpler guitar.
But you'll enjoy owning it.
That's reason enough.
Q: How soon can I see improvement?
A: Six days? Six weeks? Six months? It's really an impossible
question to answer. I can do exercises with you that will show
improvement in six seconds, if we just want to prove something.
If you're pretty new to the guitar or returning after a lengthy
layoff, your fingers will hurt. You will only be able to play for
a very short period. After a few weeks you will develop
calouses on your fingertips, your fingers will become more limber
and you will begin to feel comfortable with the odd posture of
holding your guitar. After that initial, uncomfortable period,
progress will be more rapid.
Q: Will you teach me to play contemporary praise, or worship music?
A: No. I don't do religious music.
Q: How can I find out if you're the right teacher for me?
A: Schedule an initial meeting with me.
There is no cost to you for that first meeting.
During that meeting, we'll discuss your goals and my teaching style.
If you and I both agree that we are right for each other,
we can then schedule a time for regular, weekly lessons. I will not
take you on as a student if I don't think I can help
you. And I don't want you to take me on as a teacher
if you don't think I can help you.
Email is the BEST way to contact me.
I can check appointment
days and times much easier in email exchanges than when I'm
on the telephone. Let's please not get into
voice mail hell. Just email. Thanks.