Few musicians or music students have identical goals, musical interests or physical size or attributes. So, it is NECESSARY to customize the course of study to meet student requirements. There are common issues for any serious pursuit of learning involving the guitar: right and left hand technique, fingerboard knowledge, chord knowledge, reading and interpretation. However, to progress, it is also necessary for the student to practice daily.
I try to divide the work evenly between performance and technical issues. Fingerboard knowledge is central, preceding all else in importance, and will be complete. Scale and chord study links all of music theory, song analysis, song performance issues, left and right hand technique and improvisation. And some of these issues involve drills and speed studies.
I am an experienced professional with a background in music education, music composition, theory and arranging. My music education started with preteen studies with a local drum and bugle corps and in-home piano lessons. By high school I was singing in the school choir and playing baritone horn in the band and viola in the orchestra. Later, along with playing in an assortment of club and event bands, recording tracks for Al Greene, various artists at Chess Records and Muzak and an assortment of soundtracks for product commercials, I formally studied Music Composition at Roosevelt University, Music Education at Chicago State University and Jazz Studies (arranging, history and jazz performance) at Governor's State University. The experience at Governor's State University led to a successful competition at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival which, in turn, led to an invitation to play the Montrose Jazz Festival.
My first teaching experiences were informal as the marketing was all "word of mouth" until I signed on at the Park Forest Conservatory of Music, where my maximum load grew to 45 weekly students of all ages, shapes, sizes, and areas of interest. At that time I taught classical guitar. That was in the early 1970s. Today I focus on popular styles: jazz, rock, blues and country. And I now accept students from the age of 10 and up, since younger hands are not strong enough to learn the physical aspects of guitar without very special attention. I can teach all styles, up through the intermediate levels, but only accept advanced jazz students.
In addition to private lessons and music tutoring, I host the LearnGuitar group. I took over the LearnGuitar meetup when the former organizer abdicated in Feburary 2013. It was the only teaching group, and I could not bring myself to let it go under. I did transform it a bit. I insisted that only dedicated learners need apply. As it turns out, most of the group members are adults who found themselves putting off learning for years, and they seem to appreciate my non-academic approach to theory and technique that had caused many of them to quit earlier attempts to learn. I teach the technical issues by osmosis; leaving the terminology, in most cases, for last.
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