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Over the past few months Gables Guitar Studio has seen an increase in the number of young students interested in playing rock music. I don’t know what it is about this current group of middle-schoolers. They really have this incredible curiosity about rock music, heavy stuff in particular.
I’ve been trying to do my part to help introduce the broad spectrum of rock recordings to some of my students. The days of mix-tapes or even mix-CDs are long gone. I really don’t think there is anything left that I can physically hand them and say, “Hey, check this out!” I’ve started using Spotify playlists to bring certain artists and songs to the students’ attention. It’s not ideal. Students have to sign up to use Spotify if they want to listen to the playlists on their own devices. Also, some key artists and songs aren’t on Spotify. But it works pretty well in the sense that students who have Spotify can access the music easily.
I put together this Spotify playlist that featuring 50 of the Greatest Female Rock Icons:
It was such a fun and exciting experience to go back through the decades of rock music and listen to all these amazing songs again. I tried to limit my selections to one song per artists which was really hard to do in almost every case. So please share this playlist with the young rocker in your life. As a musician who happens to be male, I can tell you ALL that these women have artistically impacted me as powerfully as any of their male counterparts. That is why I am so adamant about sharing their work with the next generation.
Special thanks to Paola for helping me compile this list, which is in no way definitive. In fact, I am 100% positive that I have omitted some truly legendary artists. Do me a favor and tell me all about it in the comments section. I’ll get things started: Joan Jett! The bulk of her best work, including the undeniable anthem “I Love Rock and Roll”, is not on available on Spotify at the present time.
Here’s a crazy thought that came to me on my way into the studio this morning: We could all benefit by listening (and I mean actively listening) to more BAD music. Gentlemen, you may now faint. Ladies, you may now begin fist fighting each other… Ok. Now that the initial shock is out of your system, you will allow me to explain.
The truth is there is no such thing is BAD music. What one person thinks is brilliant, or relevant, or artistic, another person thinks is wet garbage. Opinions about music (and possibly everything else) are just ways to reflect who we are. The “I” in the phrase “I don’t like THIS” is really what we are trying to call attention to and usually elevate above the “THIS”, which is sort of irrelevant.
The main reason our opinions so often have so little to do with the music the opinion is supposed to be ABOUT, is because we simply don’t listen to BAD music. Even when we think we have listened to something, we don’t take into account the world of prejudice that is in full effect before Grandma drops the needle – your Brother pops open the jewel case – your nephew clicks the triangle – your friend who lives in Brooklyn drops the needle – or your friend who lives in Portland begins turning some sort of crank.
We often know, or think we know, what we are about to hear before we hear it. If we think we aren’t going to like it we can completely shut down without even knowing it, and thus never really hear the thing which we then go on to tell anyone who will listen, “totally sucks”. Music is more than just what the artist has done. It is fitting that we already refer to these as PIECES of music. Music in the broader sense is the reaction for which pieces of music are the potential catalysts. All pieces of music can work in this way, can create a MUSICAL REACTION, if the listener knows how to use them.
This is why we have to go out and listen to BAD music. I can’t tell you how to appreciate the Shins – Yo Matty B Raps – Muddy Waters – Skrillex – Culture Club – Duke Ellington – Bach – Metallica – Arthur Russell – Melt Banana – XTC – etc – mainly because that would take forever and I don’t have time for that. **BTW All of those artists I just listed are ones that people have told me, “totally suck”… except Bach. I think everyone just kind of gets Bach. Shrug. But to appreciate anything else you have to do the work. You have to assimilate it in your own unique way. Or don’t. Be miserable. I’m just trying to help you.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to write this post was really to encourage musicians to listen to BAD music. Even if you are trying to listen as actively and objectively as you can and its just a matter of taste, seek out and listen to stuff you do not like. If you want to be creative you can’t afford to become mired in your own stylistic bubble. Think of it this way, you will develop a better appreciation for the music that you do like by studying music that has NONE of those elements. There are even totally new elements about the music that you like which you will only become aware of by identifying their absence in the music you don’t like.
Last thing I will say about this is that I have observed in myself over the years that there is a certain kind of neuroses at play when I experience a strong negative reaction to a piece of music. This reaction happens because there is more to ourselves and our personalities than we are presently aware. BAD music resonates with us at some point beyond our self image, and that can be truly unsettling. We call it BAD music because, however much we like or dislike ourselves, we all have a certain aversion to change and upheaval which BAD music demands from us. BAD music speaks not to who we are now but to who we will become if we allow ourselves to listen to it. That is why we have to seek it out and try to understand it.
OK. Next time I will write about picks or strings or something. I promise.
Most of you already know that we recently relocated Gables Guitar Studio to a new home. This past weekend, as we were moving in the last of the studio gear and getting settled in, I started to get a sense of the lesson environment coming together in the new space.
I think anyone would agree that we carried over the same professional music studio vibe we’ve always had. I mean the place is very clean, quiet, uncluttered. And we still have Paola’s art collection and rock posters on the walls to keep it from feeling too serious or uptight. But the new lesson space is also different in a lot of ways. The dimensions of the lesson room are different. The acoustics are different. The lighting is different. The furniture is laid out differently.
It’s not bad, in fact overall I like the new place better than our original location for many reasons. But it got me thinking about all the different places I’ve taught guitar over the years and how all these different lesson environments seemed to contribute to outcomes with different students.
The earliest guitar lessons I remember were in the back rooms of music shops. It must have been about 1993. To call these places ‘rooms’ is pretty generous. They were basically closets with two folding chairs facing each other set about 3 feet apart. Most had a dusty boombox with a tape deck. I remember how messy these rooms were. Older kids would smoke cigarettes in there and write graffiti on the walls. The teachers would tack up 8×11″ posters torn out of Guitar World Magazine. The posters always featured the pantheon of major shredders: Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, or George Lynch. The corners were always full of crumpled up notes and bits of hand-copied sheet music, and of course picks of every shape, size, and color; left behind by so many students.
It’s hard to say what effect the music shop had on my actual lessons. It’s easy to romanticize those dusty, poorly ventilated spaces 20 years later, but the truth is it was pretty uncomfortable and chaotic. I was lucky in that my first teachers were all great. I learned a lot while I was there, but what I didn’t learn was how to really practice effectively.
Fast forward 10 years. Now it’s 2005: same town (Davie, FL), different music shop, and now I’m the teacher. The lesson rooms were still small and crammed in one next to the other. You could sill hear everything going on in the rooms on either side of you. At least, by this time, smoking in these little rooms was not allowed! Each of these lessons rooms featured a desktop computer. I and the other guitar instructors were told to base all of our lessons around this new software that was basically like a bunch of powerpoint slides on rock guitar techniques. All of my students at the time were young kids and they were bored to death by the software. I stopped using it after the first week and started making up lessons based on how I learned and what the kids wanted to learn. Computers and other tech can be a great tool to help the learning process. It was around this time that I started using GuitarPro software to properly type, edit and and print the lesson material I had design. But it can also be a huge distraction. I remember a lot of young kids just wanted to watch music videos on this new thing called YouTube.
Skip ahead about 5 years I moved to Coral Gables and started teaching on my own. For the first few years I traveled to students’ homes. I remember the very first student’s house I set foot in. He was an older guy who it turns out had no proper chairs in his entire house. All he had to sit on was this weird designer sofa that you would sort of sink into. I had tried to bring everything I thought I needed: music stand, blank sheet music, print-outs for material I thought we’d cover. But I hadn’t thought of chairs. That lesson and every lessons afterward we had to play standing up in his living room.
After that I traveled to many other students’ homes. Some environments were comfortable and quiet. Others were a total nightmare. And you can imagine that the students’ progress on the instrument was heavily correlated with how well their home environment worked as a music studio. The ones who really couldn’t get it together got less out of each lesson and practiced less in between lessons. They became frustrated often and suffered a higher drop-out rate.
Finally, when I started Gables Guitar Studio in 2013, I got to see what a real professional studio environment could do for guitar students. Learning to play guitar in a proper music studio environment affords the student many important advantages. At Gables Guitar we have just one lesson room and it is truly a room – not a closet. I sit students down in front of a big wall mirror so that they can see what they look like playing in order to eliminate numerous bad habits associated with bad playing posture. We have proper guitar stool, foot stools, music stand, and many other accessories on hand for when we need them. We have access to my library of guitar books covering virtually every style of music. You never know where a lesson might lead so it’s good to have access to as many lesson resources as possible at all times. Most importantly, I can ensure that the place is clean, quiet and comfortable so that the students can maximize their concentration on the lesson material.
I appreciate the huge difference the studio environment makes in both children and adult students; especially beginners who need to learn what an effective practice environment looks like. I mean we’re not as strict as a conservatory. A lot of kids just want to play Green Day or the Black Keys. But even simple rock songs require very solid techniques. When they come into the studio they are automatically prepared to take their lessons more seriously.
The more distractions we can remove the more students can focus on the lesson and absorb the material. Then when they go home they know exactly the kind of environment they need to try an replicate during their practice time. It only takes a simple shift in intention to go from a disorganized struggle to a focused, methodical type of personal training. But I think most students need to see the inside of a real studio in order for all this to really sink in. I know i did!
I’m so glad that I am able to offer my students this kind of musical environment to work on building their guitar skills. I certainly helps maximize my ability as an instructor. I think in this new space we have even better control over the environment. It is really great to kind of start again in this new space knowing all the things that I have learned about building a guitar studio. This new place is a bit like Gables Guitar Studio 2.0. For those of you that have been with me for some time, I think that you’ll find the new space is a little bit better suited to the way we do things.
If you haven’t been a part of Gables Guitar Studio but are thinking about trying lessons, I look forward to showing you all that our new studio has to offer.
Just wanted to send out a quick update to let you know that I’m participating in a Coupon promotion over at Coral Gables Love. If you’re not already a reader of Coral Gables Love, it is a blog that promotes local businesses in the Coral Gables area.
Coral Gables Love has been adding some internet-only coupons to their site for some of the coolest local shops and restaurants in the Gables (including Gables Guitar Stuido). I’m offering a coupon for a FREE intro class through the end of June 2015. Current guitar students aren’t eligible, but I would really appreciate it if you’d help spread the word. Tell a friend or just keep it in mind in case somebody in your life it thinking about trying guitar lessons.
AND if you are in the Coral Gables area, go check out Coral Gables Love. There are already a bunch of coupons for places in town that you might enjoy. You may want to bookmark that CGL coupon page because it gets updated frequently and I happen to know that a lot more coupons are on the way!
ALSO Coral Gables Love is going to do a profile on Gables Guitar Studio’s new location soon. If you are interested, stay tuned and I’ll announce it here when it comes out.
First I should say that this blog post is NOT going to be a basic tutorial on guitar tuning. There are hundreds of websites out there that can show you how to tune your guitar strings to EADGBE. What I want to do today is address some of the finer points involved in tuning the guitar.
Nearly all of my students, somewhere between a year to year-and-half into their guitar lessons, start to report having a certain difficulty with tuning their guitar. It isn’t that their guitars are suddenly not staying in tune or that their electronic tuners need calibration. What is happening is that after about a year of playing, their ears begin to really notice (and are bothered by) slightly out of tune harmonies.
The complaint is always that the student is fingering something very simple, usually an open C or open E chord, and the chord just sounds sour or “off”. And when they play it for me, it certainly is. I used to try and get students to correct this problem much earlier in the learning process. But there is just so much to grasp in the first year of lessons, and let’s face it you are going to sound bad in the beginning for a variety of reasons. Fine tuning your guitar isn’t going to make a difference until your ears are capable of understanding what you are hearing; which is precisely when you will begin to notice this problem.
I first encountered this problem years ago. I found it particularly baffling that I could tune my guitar’s open strings using an electronic tuner, play and open E chord that sounded perfect, but then my open C sounded way out. Specifically the problem with the C chord was beats in the perfect fourth interval between the 3rd string G and 2nd string C. I tried tuning the 3rd string upward to eliminate the beats (which make the C chord sound perfect) only to find that the problem of beats had now shifted to the open E chord: between the 3rd string G# and second string B (what should be a minor third harmony).
I found out much later on that this problem has to do with the difference between the something called “just intonation” and the system of “equal temperament” which western music has adopted in order to make fixed pitch instruments (including the fretted guitar) equally playable in all 12 keys.
The issues arising from equal tempered tuning and its effect on intervals and key centers is fascinating but a bit to DEEP for me to get into right now. If you really want to understand how equal tempered tuning effects the intervals of the guitar you should start reading up on the overtone series and the history of equal tempered tuning. Be patient as this subject is very hard to understand. It took me a few years even to begin to wrap my brain around it. If you have specific questions on this subject, send them to me in an email and I’ll do my best to explain. Or, if you’re already one of my students, just bring it up in your next guitar class.
Assuming that most of you are NOT interested in going deep into equal temperament, and would just like to fix the problem and have your chords sounding nice an pretty. You are in luck. There is a very practical solution to this problem. There are actually several, but I’ll just tell you the one that I use most often.
I just explain to you how I tune my guitar and then you can try it and see if it helps you.
1.) Tune all open strings by one of the normal methods. Tuning the open strings to EADGBE using an electronic tuner is the fastest. You can also tune the open strings by ear to their corresponding piano keys, or use a pitch fork or whatever.
2.) Strings 6, 5, and 4 (E-A-D) are fine so long as you really tune them right using the traditional methods. So these do not need any additional adjustment.
2.) We will make fine adjustments to strings 3, 2, and 1 (if needed) using by fretting an open D5 chord. The open D5 is made by playing the 4th string D (open), 3rd String A (2nd fret), 2nd string D (3rd fret) and 1st string A (5th fret). Low to high the notes of this chord are D-A-D-A. Check the first D against the first A (a 5th interval) then the first A against the second D (a fourth) then the A against the second A (an octave). Basically I check all the intervals against each other and balance out any beat frequencies or inconsistencies. Usually this only requires a slight adjustment of the 3rd string to get all 4 stings resonating with perfect clarity. Whatever you do don’t adjust the open 4th string. That should be the the reference for the other 3 fretted strings.
After you’ve do this fine tuning carefully, go back and try the open E and open C chords. You should find that both sound great. In truth their upper intervals are slightly degraded and if you listen real close you might here a very slow *wow* in the C chord, but it is certainly not enough to sour the harmony.
I also use this method to check my guitar in between songs during a performance if I think the 3rd or 2nd strings may have slipped out of tune due to bending, temperature change or some other fluke. In truth it is probably impossible to keep your guitar in tune 100% of the time. But if you master little tuning tricks like these you can identify tuning problems and resolve them immediately; and as a result you guitar will always sound great!
One really important part of becoming a good musician is listening to music. While this may seem very obvious, what many musicians don’t realize is that not all kinds of listening are equal. The better you develop your listening skills the more you will appreciate, understand and ultimately absorb musical ideas which can further your own playing ability as well as your musical creativity.
I think my listening skills were at their best when I was a teenager. I used to just sit in a room for hours, staring at the ceiling, listening to CDs or records or (gasp) FM radio. I wasn’t also browsing the internet (there was no such thing). I wasn’t looking at my phone (it was attached to the wall in my parent’s kitchen). I’m not trying to come off like some old grouch who thinks “those were the days”. But I am saying that I recognize how easy it is to become accustomed to browsing several different kinds of media simultaneously. It takes a little extra focus and commitment now to say, “OK. I’m just going to sit here and really listen to this album.”
What I used to do as a teenager (really getting deep into a song or album) is what I now have seen others refer to as ACTIVE LISTENING. Basically when you are actively listening, you devote your full attention to what you are hearing. Since you aren’t looking at any visual stimuli, you may naturally visualize what the lyrics are about, or maybe you visualize the artists playing their instruments. Particularly with instrumental music the music may evoke all sorts of day dreams straight from your own imagination.
The main thing is that when you are actively listening your mind remains actively engaged in the music 100%. You don’t start thinking about your bills, or that you need to reply to some email, or anything like that. I think this maybe the reason why I can never get back to height of my teenage listening skills. Adults simply face so many more mental distractions. I got worries now, man!
When I think about all the ways in which listening to music has changed over the last few decades, I wonder if today’s teenagers are having a more passive listening experience. For one thing there is more music. So much more music, and it is everywhere. When I was young good music was scarce. So much so that we referred to it as “underground” music. You had to dig it up. Then, even if you found it, you also had to buy it. So even when I was lucky enough to find a store that carried cool albums I could only afford maybe one new album every month. In those days it was you and 12 tracks for like 30 days. So even if they weren’t that good you’d actively listen to ALL of them many times over.
Contrast this with today’s listening environment. It is ceaseless avalanche of digitized musical masterpieces. In one way this is everything music lovers always wanted. But while the musical abundance is suddenly infinite, our time to listen and enjoy it is more scarce than ever. Naturally this results in a situation where we spend maybe 30 seconds skimming and browsing through an artists ENTIRE LIFE’s WORK, passively waiting for something to jump out and grab our attention. If nothing does, we declare this artist a dud. We then take 1 more second to form a lasting opinion about how we don’t like that artist and proceed to click on the next one. At this rate you can form such superficial opinions about the entire genres of music is a single afternoon. This is passive listening at its worst.
Even when it’s not quite that superficial, I have made it a point to try to spend time with albums or artists’ catalogues the way I used to when I was younger. There is no substitute for listening to a track dozens of times. It is very surprising what you might hear the 12th time that you didn’t hear the first 11 times.
Last thing I’ll say on this topic right now is that NONE of my all-time-favorite records jumped out and grabbed me when I first heard them. In fact the experience was quite the opposite. Almost all my favorite records were ones that I initially found to be confusing, disappointing, obnoxious, boring, or scary. Then as I got to know those records, I was forced to grow and understand them. It is very important to remember that some of there very best music out there is meant not to please you, but to change you. So either chose to go deep, or browse at your own risk.
Attention all Private Lesson Students at Gables Guitar Studio:
Hopefully I have told all of you individually by now, but I want to make sure that I mention our upcoming move officially here on the Gables Guitar blog. So here goes:
Effective June 1st, 2015, Gables Guitar Studio will move all business to our new address:
224 Palermo Avenue
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
This new location is very near our current location. It is less the a half mile down Ponce (see the map for more detail). I believe that you will all find this new space to be more convenient as we will be able to offer you FREE PARKING. Our new building has a small parking lot in the alley between Palermo and Catalonia Avenue.
We plan to finish moving all the books and equipment this weekend so that lessons can begin at the new space as soon as Tuesday, May 26th. So this week, classes will be held in the current space as usual and then next week we will see you at 224 Palermo.
The new address is not hard to find but you might want to allow yourself a few extra minutes of travel time next week if you aren’t familiar with the area. Of course if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me directly: (305)582-6881
Thanks so much and I look forward to showing you all our cool new space!
Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been trying to teach yourself for a while, chances are you’ve considered taking one-on-one guitar lessons. If you’ve never actually sat down with a professional guitar instructor, allow me to show you just a few of the advantages formal guitar lessons have to offer.
Advantage #1 : There is a tremendous history of over 200 years of accumulated knowledge about the guitar.
The modern guitar is the product of a rich history that stretches back over 200 years. The collected body of knowledge, technique, and repertoire for guitar is made up of thousands of truly brilliant musical insights. These insights came from an incredible diversity of musical geniuses from different times and places: from the late eighteenth century master and teacher Ferdinand Sor, to modern guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix. All this knowledge and innovation is great, and has made the guitar the most popular instrument on earth, but it can also be extremely overwhelming to beginning guitar players. Luckily, for as long as guitarists have been inventing new techniques and sounds on the guitar, generations of guitar teachers have agonized over how to breakdown and package all this information to keep beginner students on track.
Advantage #2 : Weekly guitar classes will help you avoid dozens of bad habits.
Anyone who’s ever played guitar knows that even the most basic aspects of guitar technique are not easy at first. Guitar playing requires amounts of strength, flexibility, and precision in the hands that nobody possess initially. What is worse is that in the early stages, technical development is not at all intuitive. Due to the beginner’s lack of muscle development and flexibility, many things that “feel” right can actually lead to bad habits that can severely curtail the proper development. Throughout my years of teaching guitar I’ve seen so many beginners gravitate toward the same common mistakes. In the first few classes a big part of what we do as guitar instructors involves reminding beginners of these bad habits and encouraging them to practice properly so that they can develop the strength and flexibility to truly play the guitar beautifully.
Advantage #3 : Weekly guitar classes help you create a practice routine.
These days there is no shortage of information out there on the internet about how to play the guitar. There are tons of DVDs, YouTube tutorials, interactive software, even video games to try and help you learn to play guitar. All this information is great. It’s very useful stuff and you should try to take advantage of all of it. But you should also know that despite whatever anyone tells you, there is only ONE way to become a guitar player: PRACTICE. How well you play depends entirely on how well you practice. The most valuable thing I can offer beginner guitarists is to teach them how to practice. Later, with more advanced students, we learn how to evolve the practice routine so that it changes as the guitarist’s abilities change and grow. One of the scariest things about learning guitar is that you can waste a lot of time if you are not using effective practice methods. Even if you think you are working hard, you can stagnate indefinitely without an efficient and comprehensive practice plan. Don’t do this. Find a good guitar teacher who can help you set goals and develop a practice routine so that you can meet your goals in a timely fashion.
Another side note to this point is that weekly lessons tend to force people to practice more frequently than they would on their own. When it’s just you on your own, maybe you’ll practice today. Maybe you’ll skip a day, or 2, or 3… Who’s going to care other than you? This is how people tend to drift when they don’t have that weekly appointment reminding them to work hard and get better. Those skipped days turn into skipped weeks or months and pretty soon all momentum is lost. Worst of all you may become further discouraged from starting up again because of these setbacks. By signing up for guitar classes you are making a clear commitment that will go a long way to keeping you from falling off track. You are also specifically enlisting another person (your guitar instructor) to care about and actively monitor your progress. A good guitar instructor should be as invested in your progress as you are.
Advantage #4 : Lessons help you build tools.
The practice routine mentioned above can be considered one essential tool to learning the guitar in a reasonable amount of time. But it isn’t the only one. There are many others. Musical literacy is also a great tool. Strong internal sense of rhythm is another. A good guitar teacher can integrate the development of these important tools right into your weekly guitar classes. Developing the right tools for yourself can really change the whole experience of learning guitar. Without tools you will have to do many times more work for a small fraction of the outcome. WITH the right tools you can achieve amazing things from surprisingly little effort.
Advantage #5 : Lessons show you things you don’t know you need to know.
If the guitar is your first musical instrument, then you are not just learning guitar, you are also learning what it means to be a musician. There are many important concepts that most beginners aren’t aware of. If you are relying only on yourself to direct your musical study, there are things you’ll never teach yourself because you don’t know that they exist. A good guitar instructor will bring these things to your attention right when you need them most. This way you focus on what you need as you need it.
If you are going to learn to play the guitar, you should learn to play the instrument really well. It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s quite hard and most of the people who try the guitar quit before they can even play anything. Don’t let this happen to you. The advantages of formal guitar lessons are what makes this seemingly impossible task possible.
Summer is almost here. Can you believe it? School is about to let out. I’m already starting to get calls from parents looking to plan Summer activities for their kids.
This Summer, like every Summer, lots of kids will take their first guitar lesson. It is my job as a music teacher to ensure as best I can that everyone enjoys the experience. Simple as that. Music education can and should play an important role in everyone’s life. Not just for those determined few who decide to take up the long hard road that leads to a life as professional musician.
In the first and most important case, amateur musicians are every bit as likely to become true artists as any professional. If you play even one song beautifully, that’s it. You’ve done it. You’re an artist. And you don’t need to devote all of your life to learning to do that. You can learn to play a handful of songs beautifully and have tons of time left to become a world class Doctor, Lawyer, Tattoo Artist, Pizza Chef, Mother, Father or whatever profession/vocation truly means something to you.
Secondly, music education helps deepen a person’s ability to listen to and appreciate music. So even if a student ultimately decides that they aren’t cut out to be a performer, they will still remember what they learned about how music is made. They will be able to listen beyond the bells and whistles of pop-production to hear things like harmonic structures and chord colors. They will be able to make sense of syncopated rhythms. We think that music appreciation is somehow hardwired in our DNA, but it’s not. The ability to feel what the music is trying to express is entirely cultural. The more sophisticated the musical statement, the more understanding is needed on the part of the listener in order to understand and appreciate it.
Particularly if they are exposed to this kind of learning at a young age, they will grow up with the ability to appreciate a wider variety of the music, both new and old, being made all over the world. So this to is a big part of our job as music teachers. We have to make learning music enjoyable, even for non-musicans.
What’s great about one-on-one lessons is that we can kind of go in any direction the student wants to go. You want to learn about the music of the Jonas Brothers? Ok. We can start there. 1-Direction? You got it. All that matters is that the student is engaged and interested in the music. I wasn’t interested in Bach or Sor or Paco de Lucia when I first started either.
So yes, if you are thinking about sending your son or daughter to take guitar lessons this Summer, you should expect to find just this kind of welcoming, student-centered approach at Gables Guitar. I truly believe that enjoyment and validation is the best (and possibly only) way for people to reach their full musical potential, whatever that ultimately is.
Recently I’ve been listening to a guitar oriented podcast called “Classical Guitar Insider” with Bret Williams. The format of the podcast is basically a one-on-one conversation between host (and guitarist in his own right) Bret Williams and guest from the world of classical guitar. Usually the guests are noted performers, composers or well respected guitar teachers.
Williams’ hosting style seems strongly influenced by the likes of Marc Maron and Bill Burr. Similar to Maron’s WTF, Williams’ approach is not to interview his guests, but just to get them talking; to reveal some candid glimpse of their personality. For the most part Williams succeeds in doing this. Over the past 2 years Williams has released over 50 episodes of Classical Guitar Insider.
I have only listed to about a dozen episodes so far but I have found each one fascinating. The guests, while they are all connected to the world of classical guitar, are all very different personalities. They all come from very different backgrounds and, even though they are all professional guitarists, they have had very different careers. And so far all the guests have been very generous with their insights into everything from performing, to teaching, to composing. They also discuss favorite (and not-so-favorite) pieces of guitar repertoire.
I think the part I like best is when these world-class musicians discuss how they came to be professional guitarists, going all the way back to their experiences as young guitar students taking lessons. I find this very interesting as a guitarist and a teacher to find out not just what they know, but how they came to learn what they know.
In short, “Classical Guitar Insider” lives up to it’s name. You get an inside look at the world of classical guitar through conversations with the professionals who are the fabric of that community. I definitely recommend this podcast to anyone who is interested in the world of concert guitar.
All 52 episodes (and counting) are available for free at
Bret William’s Website