Frequently Asked Questions
Starting Lessons on the Right Foot.
You will need a guitar. If you already have one, make sure it has 6 strings on it. If you’d like to try out the lessons first before buying, I have an extra guitar at the school.
I have an extra guitar at the school for new folks to try out. At least for the first lesson you can find out for sure if you really like playing guitar without having to go on faith and just buy one. As far as rentals go, Rock and Roll Rentals on Oltorf and South Lamar has some pretty fantastic deals on renting guitars.
It's up to you. Amps are heavy. I have an amp that you can use. Of course, if you like the sound of your amp, then feel free to bring it. *Note* Bringing a Marshall Stack to your lesson is very cool, but unfortunately a Marshall Stack was made for the Frank Erwin center and not guitar lessons. If you want to turn up the volume, make sure to schedule your lesson for after 7:00pm.
How to Avoid Painful Schedule Mistakes
When you schedule your first lesson through this site, I will send you a confirmation email. Please check your spam filter because it extremely important that you receive it. In this email, there is a link that allows you to cancel if you need to. Cancel by clicking that link.
You won't be able to cancel your lesson if you have less than six hours before your lesson starts.
I ask every person who doesn't cancel electronically to pay for the missed lesson unless he or she had a big emergency.
If the slot is paid for already, then I will not give a credit or refund. Sorry! If your lesson is not paid for, you must pay for the missed slot before we start lessons again.
Emergencies are okay, but on your honor! I will forgive you, credit you for the next month, or give you a refund.
Not at all. I will either forgive, credit you for the next month, or give you a refund.
Based on observation, once a week is a great way to learn with structure. It’s steady. On the other hand, folks who do less than one lesson per week are usually people who don’t want structure, and will come back when they have gained new ground. Again, it has to do with your personality.
I don’t do more than one lesson per week, because it can be taxing on a new student. I have noticed that each person who started out with taking more than one lesson per week dropped out of lessons within a month.
Lesson durations are customizable for specific personalities. I would personally choose hour lessons because I tend to immerse myself in the subject. There are also people who like the idea of going home to master something they have learned in their lesson. Half hour lessons work out quite well for these folks.
Yes! Once you lock down a slot you don't have to re-book your lesson. I will handle the scheduling of each lesson for you. At the start of each new month we figure out which, if not all, weeks we'll be able to meet. After the slots are paid for, you will receive a BookFresh email for each date. These emails will give you full control over the ability to cancel any lesson as needed.
General Answers About Lessons
No. My apologies!
It could be potentially very bad if the person you bought the lessons for didn't like the lessons with me. Even though I do try my best to work with everyone, and 99% of the people I work with are happy with my work, sometimes it just doesn't work out.
One thing you can do is schedule and then pay for an introductory lesson for your friend. If your friend enjoys the lessons, then you can pay for a couple of lessons for them. There is less risk this way for everyone involved.
Currently, I teach one student who is 10 years old. He has been taking guitar lessons for two years. This student has an outstanding ability to concentrate, and is very musically curious. If you believe that your child responds well to more adult oriented education, then feel free to book an initial lesson.
Parents take note: I require that you be in the room at while I teach your child. (They behave better that way)
I am considering starting up a masterclass series dealing specifically with issues pertaining to beginning guitarists (basic chord technique, strumming, and chord progressions). If you are interested in these, please contact me here.
As far as group guitar lessons that are more customizable, I am afraid not. Although I've had some degree of success with teaching groups of two, I have found that one-on-one lessons are just so much more satisfying for both the student and myself.
Yes. I also expect them to improve, too! I don't allow lessons to continue if there isn't time for a quick five minute practice session, each day, outside of lessons.
I very strongly believe that five minutes of practice when starting guitar is just the right amount of practice if you are starting from scratch. If you would like to check out my reasons why, my blog has numerous entries on the philosophy of practice.
I also understand that there are people out there who do not want to practice at all. While I appreciate their honesty, it's going to be an uphill battle for them. If a client is unable find five minutes to pick up a guitar, then my suggestion will be not to take lessons from me. It will be a waste of time and money, and it will not yield the satisfaction both of us are eventually searching for.
I have exactly two expectations of the people I work with.
1. I want my clients to have fun and feel competent in their ability, and that can't happen without five minutes of practice each day.
2. I want the scheduling and cancelling of each lesson to be so simple and pain-free that it doesn't interfere with anyone's life outside of guitar lessons. Wouldn't you?
I most enjoy teaching people who have never picked up a guitar before. It is just the most fun I get to have as a teacher, although I can help pretty much anyone learn if they are looking for the right teacher.
To read more about learning guitar from scratch, click here.
If you have a good gut feeling, then chances are great that you will highly enjoy the lessons with me. I love to make people laugh in lessons, and I love to make them feel at ease. Not only that, but I fully recognize what it takes to help people and to be a human being.
When people ask interesting questions, it forces me to think of creative responses. I love it when people come into their lesson and tell me what they want to learn.
Nobody's hands should hurt when they play guitar. It is possible that the way you are playing guitar isn't best for your hand. Every person's hand is different, and each requires individualized attention. I have helped a large number of students with chronic hand problems to play guitar with ease.
What I Can Teach You, and Vice Versa
Learning guitar from scratch is my specialty as a teacher. I really enjoy it! The people who are brave enough to start from practically nothing are definitely my favorite folks to help out. To read more, click here.
Although I appreciate the needs of more advanced guitarists, I have found that my ability to help them to be a bit limited. Although I have experience in playing practically all genres up to the advanced levels, I must admit I am not a teacher of them all. To me, I would feel incredibly bad teaching someone something really advanced that I don't have years of experience teaching. It's also not ethical.
However, if someone was dead-set on studying music with me, and I'd be humbled if that were the case, then I'd make it happen. I'm flexible enough to help mentor someone become an even better guitarist than they are.
Many teachers take this route when they are teaching someone how to play guitar. Although there is a part of me that really wants students to be independent of me, I usually don't mind teaching songs to help someone learn. In the end, however, my approach is different:
- Teach a person how to play by ear.
- Work with them as they figure out the songs they want to play.
- Solidify the techniques for playing by ear, so that the person never has to depend upon a teacher to learn new songs.
My curriculum helps any person who wants to learn to play guitar from scratch, or progress from their current ability if they feel they are still a beginner. If someone is starting completely from scratch and they eventually want to compose, then yes!
If you happen to already have years of experience on the guitar and are looking for a different point of view, then I'd be happy to be a mentor on the path to a greater musicianship.
Yes! I've developed a fun way to teach students to play by ear.
Yes, but I only teach what the student asks for. I certainly don't impose music theory on students. If Stevie Ray Vaughn learned to play guitar and not know a lick of music theory, I won't tell you that you must learn it either. If you'd like to nerd out and get down and dirty with music theory, I'm ready to put more tape on my glasses and get out my pocket-pen protector.
I really really do appreciate these genres, but I must admit I'm not the best at teaching them. I don't have years of experience teaching them either, so it wouldn't be ethical for me to say "Yes, come on in!" My highest advice would be to find a teacher who truly specializes in these genres. You'll learn more, and faster too.
Songwriting is such an individual pursuit. Some people want to play guitar simply to create music on it. Others really enjoy just playing songs because that's enjoyable enough. My approach to teaching songwriting is similar to my approach to teaching music theory: If they ask, I'll help them out as best as I can.
Not so much, sorry! I wish I did, because they'd be fun to learn and play on my own! My advice would be to find a teacher who really can play these genres and has a great reputation in the community for teaching excellence. You won't regret the fruits of the search!
My very first job was as a dishwasher at a Chili's in Rochester, NY. Guess what they played non-stop and at full blast in the kitchen? Classic Rock. I got burned out on it pretty fast.
I most certainly cave if a student wants to learn some songs that are heard on classic rock radio however. All of the lesson notes in the classic rock section are the fruit of teaching complete beginners how to play. I must admit that there are tons of better teachers in the Austin area who teach classic rock. Finding a good one is worth the search.
Yes and no.
No, I can't teach someone starting from complete scratch how to play lead guitar, and no I don't really have a course to follow in order to teach it. However, yes, I can help mentor and coach someone to a higher level of musicianship in this regard. I have developed my own way of playing lead guitar over the years, and I'd be happy to share some tips and tricks if someone were looking for a mentor rather than a teacher.
Classical Guitar is the most elegant genre of guitar. It's also extremely difficult to learn! I don't offer courses in how to learn classical guitar from scratch. If in case you are looking how to learn classical guitar from scratch, you should check out The Austin Classical Guitar Society. There are tons of teachers who can help you learn.
However, if someone were to come in with more experience with classical guitar, or if a person has been studying with me for quite some time, we could talk about what those sorts of lessons could look like. I really like classical guitar, but I'd be a better mentor at it than a teacher.
No. Austin Community College has a fantastic program called Commercial Music Management that offers a wide variety of recording classes.
How to Buy a Guitar
The common wisdom is that if one can learn to play an acoustic guitar they can easily pick up electric. The gauge and the height (or action) of the strings as well as the width of the neck on an acoustic are all factors that make them slightly tougher to play. Yes, if you start on acoustic you'll have an easier time going to electric. But what about your personal preference?
I recommend buying a guitar that you gravitate to, be it an electric or an acoustic. Many students start off with one type of guitar, and then buy the other because they want to see what it's like.
I do have one recommendation that I give over and over again, and that is the Epiphone Hummingbird acoustic guitar:
This guitar is fantastic for those people who are sold on learning guitar, don't want something cheap, but don't want to spend a lot of dough. It will last.
Other than that, the type of guitar you gravitate to depends upon your preferences and the amount of time you have to spend looking:
1. Try some guitars out at a local music store. My favorite store is Austin Vintage Guitars. I am pretty critical of guitar shops in general, and Austin Vintage Guitars is pretty awesome.
2. Garage Sales. Hit em up. It is jokingly said that every musician in Austin plays in ten bands. A similar principle applies for guitars: Chances are that a lot of Austinites have a dusty unused guitar sitting in the corner of their living room.
Yes, however you will need a new set of strings. Go to any guitar shop and ask them for their opinions. Guitar strings are rarely over $10. I will show you how to change your strings as well so you don't have to rely upon anyone else to do it for you in the future.
Beyond any minor repairs, I can't fix it.