My methods for learning and teaching are based on breaking music into technical, theoretical, creative and physical preparation and daily practice. So all my lessons address these 4 key areas. I ask all students to have 3-5 songs they want to play front to back as a goal and I tailor the exercises and theory to those songs. My teaching approach is all about backwards design. A results-driven method that makes you think about what you’re trying to achieve and from there, stepping backwards as to what content and practice you need to get to those goals. I also expect my students to do some singing, clapping and stomping. Rhythm and keeping time are central to being a good musician so I try to embed this in my lessons. Read on for more depth on my process...
Playing guitar is a physical exercise; stretching and posture are key to avoid RSI. RSI is every instrumentalist's enemy on any instrument. You might think you're only using your fingers, but they're connected to your wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and back. So you need to take care of your body physically as you would before and after doing any exercise. I won't lie, starting can be painful for your fingertips, you will develop calluses over time, this kind of discomfort is able to be minimised, but isn't unavoidable, unless you already have calluses from working with your hands. So we don't want to add RSI on top of this!
Playing is technical. Correct technique for holding the instrument and moving about the fretboard and co-ordination of the hands are all important to avoid RSI, but also to maximise reward for your effort. Making sure you can work towards maximising velocity, accuracy, and dynamics on the instrument.
Most great players on any instrument have some level of theoretical understanding of what they’re doing. There are exceptions, Joe Pass is an incredible guitarist, but knows nothing about modes or complex scalar theory! He also played several hours a day from a young age and worked with some of the greatest musicians of all time, some things just sink in when you have these opportunities...But at its base, music is about communicating ideas, so theory helps you understand what you’re communicating to your audience, and why what your playing sounds the way it does to you and to others, and will help you make your favourite songs your own, not just a pale imitation of the original.
Playing is a creative exercise! Your brain is on fire trying to make sense of what’s going on. And the way to nurture and drive creativity is to set short and long term goals.
From the start YOU have to be clear with ME about YOUR goals for the instrument. Without creative goals you’ll lose your drive after a few days or a week. Because learning guitar is actually physically painful! Your fingertips will hurt as you build up calluses, it's unavoidable. You need to write your goals down and remind yourself daily why you’re picking up the instrument. I’ve done it for 15 years! My goals now are far more complex than when I started. When I first picked up a guitar I wanted to learn Living End’s first album back to front, now I’m constantly striving to further understand altered, diminished and superimposition approaches in improvisation. If you don’t have goals, what’s the point?
- Bachelor Contemporary Music Performance (Southern Cross University)
- Masters of Education in Digital Learning (Monash University)
- 15 years teaching and performing experience in NSW, QLD and VIC at TAFE, High School and Private Businesses
- Currently hold a Grad Dip. of Education (Secondary), Grad Cert TESOL
The first lesson is free because we need to set your goals, assess your current level of ability - technical, physical, creative, theoretical - set a routine in place and a roadmap to your goals. And finally, we need to discuss how you’ve learned other skills to understand your approach to learning or otherwise my teaching will get both of us nowhere very quickly!
- Currently an Educational Designer in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University.
- Bachelor of Contemporary Music from Southern Cross University. Studied under Jim Kelly (Crossfire).
- 2 years as a Trainer at NMIT/Melbourne Polytechnic teaching music performance, theory, aural, history and audio engineering in Cert III, IV and Diploma level courses.
- 2 years as a guitar teacher with Josh Cohen School of Music.
- 4 years as a guitar teacher under Andrew Farnham at Independent Music Academy in Brisbane.
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