Teaching and Lessons

Articles and posts related to guitar lessons and teaching, practising, hints, tips, and advice.

Video – Better Barre Chords

When we start playing barre chords, getting every note to ring clearly can be frustrating. Here are some tips to help solve those problems and an exercise I give my students that improves their barre chord playing, clarity, and stamina.

Read More…

Video – Strumming Perfect Upstrokes

Beginning guitar players will have some initial difficulty with strumming and rhythm. for many players, part of the difficulty is learning to strum upstrokes. In this video I explain the ‘secret’ to playing upstrokes, along with a simple practice technique that will make your strumming and rhythm playing smoother and more fluid.

Read More…

Video – Chords are Notes, not Fingers!

Beginning guitar players usually learn their first chords by following the little dot chord diagrams which show where to put their fingers. But this usually results in thinking of chords as shapes of fingers, rather than shapes of notes, ignoring the contribution of open strings to the chord. It’s a common mistake that slows down our learning and progress. I explain why.

Read More…

Beginners: Left- or Right-Handed?

Any left-handed player who has ever stepped into a guitar store will have discovered a distinct lack of left-handed instruments. The situation is even worse when we are looking for quality 3/4 or 1/2 size instruments for children. Consequently I’m often asked if it’s really necessary for left-handed beginners to learn to play left-handed guitar. I don’t think it is, and this is why…

Read More…

Guitar Lessons for Your Kids – Advice to Parents

Photo by Eva Hamori

A love of music and the ability to play is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child, one that will last the rest of their life. As a guitar teacher, my role concerns the lessons themselves. But time spent between lessons is just as important, perhaps more so. That means that you as parents play an important role in supporting your child’s interest and improvement. Here are some pointers that I hope you find useful.

Read More…

Beginner’s Notes – The Correct Thumb Position

By far the most common mistake I see with new students, be they novices or people who already play, is not about how they place their hand on the guitar neck. In fact it’s about about how they place their thumb. Getting their thumb in the right place is often the single biggest thing they can do to make playing and learning the guitar easier. Let me explain…

Read More…

How often should I take guitar lessons?

A frequent question asked by my guitar students concerns the lessons themselves – how often should their guitar lessons take place? In an international city like Paris, a lot of my guitar students are ex-pats or international students. With hectic work or school schedules and frequent international travel I understand that finding time for lessons and practice can be a difficult task. So when trying to decide on your lesson schedule, the question comes down to this…

Read More…

How often should I practice?

"The Best Part of the Day" by Brittney Marshall

“How often should I practice?” is the most common question asked by my guitar students. Every student I teach has their own unique needs and goals. And they have their own unique schedules and problems too – there is work, or school, and chores, homework, friends and families to see, other hobbies, interests, and activities and they all compete for time. It’s absolutely normal that finding the time to learn an instrument, to take lessons and to practice, can be a difficult task. But no matter who my students are, how old they are, and what other things they have going on in their life, there are a few things that I recommend for everybody.

Read More…

How Babies Can Help Us Practice Better

Baby and Guitar

Music and language are frequently compared. The similarities are quite obvious with a little thought but our first spoken language we mastered as young children without any formal tuition. We had to pick it up as we went along. Mastering an instrument is very difficult to achieve in the same manner but there is a lot we can take from babies learning to talk that can help us to learn faster and play music better.

Read More…

Tuning – the Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet #45

"American Lutherie" Journal Cover
"American Lutherie" Journal Cover

“American Lutherie”, the journal of the Guild of American Luthiers

The following is a reprint of data sheet #45 from the Guild of American Luthiers. They don’t know who wrote it and it never made it into publication. But it’s so incredibly useful that it’s one of their most requested articles (you can download a PDF version from them here). To anyone who ever gets frustrated when tuning their guitar, this article explains why and I strongly advise you to read it. I promise you that accepting the information presenting here will make your guitar and your music sound better and your life much easier.

Read More…