About Lessons With Jack

These are some of my philosophies about the teaching of music, in some particular order:


First, teaching students to play guitar must include teaching students to teach themselves to play guitar. Eventually, further lessons will become a luxury that may be had but that is unnecessary. 


Second, I believe that students are as unique as snowflakes. Each student has strengths as well as weaknesses. I try to teach in a way that emphasizes each student's strengths. In some cases this means teaching using one style of music instead of another, generally a style of each student's preference. Other times it means that music theory must take a back seat to simply learning to play and perform with the instrument, sometimes skipping sight reading altogether in favor of simple chord diagrams or use of letters for each chord alone. This happens often in the case of students who have an "ear talent." They generally prefer to learn to play first and learn to read music later, if at all. Adjustments can be made to the pace and number of songs learned over time. Some students bore easily and need to be bombarded with sheet music, while others like to take all the time necessary to perfect a piece before moving on to the next. Some students learn better in a group lesson atmosphere while others demand one-on-one attention in order to succeed. These are just a few variables that come in to play.


Third, I believe that learning should be fun. Each student's goals must be considered. People want to learn to play songs they like and with which they are familiar. My lessons will incorporate the student's choice of material whenever practicable. Sometimes this cannot happen until some basics are learned, but this gives each student a goal to strive for. I try to have a repertoire of easy level songs from the various genera’s in order to select initial songs that students will like. Part of the fun is also having the chance to perform, so I try to hold semi-annual recitals to allow students this opportunity, and after a certain level students can be invited to play with me at "open-mic nights" at various establishments in Northern Virginia. Additionally, I like to match students of similar grades/ages who have achieved a certain level and help them form musical groups of their own. There is no better venue for learning music than to actually be a performer.


Fourth, and this could be first because it needs to happen first, I believe it is essential that each student have the right personal instrument. This is why I offer expert advice on what to rent or purchase based upon each students needs. These factors include things such as how serious the student is about learning; what kind of commitment they plan to make to the learning process based upon how badly they want to learn to play guitar or bass; each student's physical attributes including hand size and strength; budget (of course); style of music student desires to play (e.g. classical vs. folk vs. rock vs. heavy metal); and many other factors. I can assist you in finding the best guitar in your price range considering what you want to do with it. This sometimes comes down to going shopping with you or for you because out of ten "identical" guitars, one will usually be much better than the rest. (Guitars are like snowflakes too). It takes many years of experience with wood instruments to be able to pick up and "feel" the superior instrument.


Finally, each student should have the right music teacher for them. If things aren't working and progress is not being made, it may be because there is not a good match between the teacher and the student. I am very sensitive to this and will be the first to bring up the subject if I know another teacher who might be a better fit, and in such case will happily refer you.


I may add to this as time goes on and the mood hits me, but this is enough for now, hopefully, to give you an idea of my philosophy as a teacher. As a last note, I want to emphasize that I welcome people with ear talents or learning disabilities who may have tried lessons before without getting too far for difficulty with learning to read music. In my experience, most guitar players are self-taught and do not read music. You do not need to know how to read music to have playing guitar be a major part of who you are. I'll teach anyone either way, but I welcome those who are not interested in learning music theory as much as those who are. Two different kinds of students who are two different animals, and I will train them both.