Through many years of teaching in my studio on the Upper West Side I have developed an approach which has been successful in leading my students through the beginning stages of guitar playing to intermediate and advanced levels. As guitar lessons can form the basis for a student’s attitude to the guitar and music in general, I firmly believe in an approach that is engaging and enjoyable, while at the same time thorough. As a result, many of my students have stayed with me from early age through high school.
Following are descriptions of my approach for students at various levels.
I believe that forming good playing habits at the beginner level are important. The areas that are addressed at this level are:
- Good playing posture
Bad posture can make learning proper technique difficult and can lead to all sorts of problems later on. From the 1st lesson I stress good posture while playing.
- Solid and efficient fretting technique
With good fretting technique a student will be able to produce a clean note and strong chords with the least effort, building finger strength quickly.
- A strong, but relaxed strumming/picking hand
Being able to strum and pick with small motions and a relaxed wrist is important to developing a strong picking hand. This will lead to better sound and more flowing rhythm.
- Musical Materials
- Reading and playing single notes and chord diagrams
Learning to read music gives helps create good musical habits, along with developing strength and accuracy on the guitar.
- Learning and playing songs and simple guitar riffs
Material worked on here will be related to the student’s own musical interests. A good part of the lesson is spent playing music together.
At this point the student knows most 1st position chords and can play barre chords comfortably. In addition to continuing the technique work started in earlier study, focus now shifts to areas that encourage more musical independence: theory and ear training. The student will attempt to play more difficult riffs and will start to learn solos.
- Guitar Anatomy
Understanding the layout of the fingerboard, the relationship between strings and being able to find notes in the upper parts of the neck will enhance the students ability to learn scales and, eventually, to improvise.
A solid foundation in music theory is necessary in order to be fluent in chordal playing and finding the right notes when taking a solo. Here are some of the areas covered:
- Scales and arpeggios
- Understanding the components of chords
- Analyzing and understanding chord progressions
- Creating more complex chords and learning chord inversions
- Ear Training and Improvisation
Ear training will give the student the ability to play what he/she hears, both from a recording or in improvising. With this goal in mind we work on:
- Learning solos
- Call and response drills
- Identifying intervals and finding them on the guitar
- Improvising within a scale or a simple progression
At the advanced level the student has the technique to execute all types of chords, songs and guitar parts or riffs. He/she has learned the basics of improvisation and is familiar with blues form and, if a jazz player, some of the standard jazz repertoire. At this level, I focus on the students particular musical interests and address the skills necessary to become a better player. The areas that can be covered at the advanced level are:
- Chord Theory
- Chord inversions
- Building altered chords
- Combining chords and melody to create solo arrangements
- Chord solos
- Scales and arpeggios
- Basic modes
- Scales in all positions and inversions
- Irregular or hybrid scales
- Arpeggios and their inversions
- Studying the great players
- Guitar riffs and chordal parts