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100 Credits, BA, Music Studies, William Paterson University
I have been taught guitar by ten different teachers and understand a wide variety of styles as a result. I am two semesters away from graduating William Paterson University with a Music Studies degree, primarily focused in music theory. Though I have spent many hours working very hard at my instrument, I consider myself primarily a songwriter and producer and spend much of my time writing songs for my band or engineering and producing albums for other artists. I personally believe that looking at music of any genre from this perspective allows me to be a more effective teacher.
I've been teaching guitar lessons for 5 years, starting when college began, and I have 15 years playing experience. I've found that the biggest part of teaching music is understanding what exactly your students want to get out of their lessons and tailoring their lesson plan to their goals and needs. I remember my biggest issue when I was learning: my teachers would just teach me whatever they wanted without actually understanding my goals. For me, that created a lot of boredom and disinterest at times, so I just can't really think of any good reason to avoid that way of doing things. The teacher is the one giving the service, and I personally believe that this specific type of service should be defined by the student and not curated by the teacher! I believe in short, consistent, daily practice times, but I think practice can be useless if it isn't done correctly. One of the most important things in learning an instrument is not only practicing, but knowing HOW to practice.
My approach depends completely upon the genre and goals of my students and their skill level. For beginners, I must always take a lesson to explain exactly what each part of the instrument is and how it works. For rock and pop students, the very first thing I will teach them are open chords and the pentatonic scale, and maybe even a simple song depending upon the student. For classical, I like to start out with simple sight reading exercises and move on to material that applies the principles I teach. At the end of the day, I always like to make sure that the student can not only play what I am teaching them, but also understand what I am teaching them. I like the material I teach my students to inspire them!
My style is largely theory and hard technique based. I know that every student is very different and will have a different optimal technique. Whether that means I need to teach a rock student fingerstyle or hybrid picking to master a song with fast arpeggiations, or maybe figure out that someone with small hands must move their left thumb down a little bit to hit a cross-neck chord in a classical song, for instance, I personally believe that everyone is going to play a little differently to achieve the same results. Having had so many teachers myself, I have a very broad understanding of what makes technique work and not work. I think developing my students ears and teaching them not only how to play music, but why music is the way it is by far the most important and invaluable part of my lessons depending upon my student's goals. If a student can understand why the songs I teach them are written the way they are, and are able to identify certain structures in a song, they then have the ability to teach themselves something I haven't yet, maybe develop their own opinions on individual songs, and even write their own! This is a crucial tool I believe is left out of far too many teacher's lesson plans. If a student just wishes to learn to play their favorite songs and that is their goal, I will comply with the request, and I completely respect all of my students aspirations with their instrument! Open-mindedness is the biggest element I try to instill in my teaching career.
Dave is calm, patient & encouraging. My daughter looks forward to her lessons each week. He leaves her with clear instructions of what to practice. He is a great teacher for my daughter and communicates well with me.
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