Private Guitar Lessons
Fresno and Clovis

Private or Small Group Lessons :: Beginner to Beginning Intermediate, All Ages
Learn Note Reading, Technique, Melodies, Tab and Chords

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Frequently Asked Questions about Guitar Lessons


Can music lessons make you smarter? Read about the "Mozart Effect."
How long are the lessons and with how much frequency?
Can the lessons be in my home?
Are the lessons private, group or classroom-style?
How long will it take to learn the guitar / my first song?
What's a good age to start? OR Is it too late to start or continue?
What equipment does one need to start?
How and where can I acquire an instrument and supplies?
Are there performance opportunities?
What about Suzuki / Is reading music important?

What do you mean by a 'system' or 'school' of guitar playing?


Can Music Make You Smarter?

" The Mozart Effect "

A growing body of research is showing that early exposure to music enhances a child's brain development, improving everything form math to language skills. A study at the University of California at Irvine, for example, indicates that early childhood music study improves spatial reasoning. Children in the study who had taken music lessons dramatically improved their ability to draw geometric figures, copy patterns of colored blocks and work mazes. Furthermore, they showed a 46 percent increase in their spatial IQ, which is important to higher brain functions such as mathematics. There is conclusive evidence that youngsters who have studied music for four or more years through high school fare significantly better on the SAT than their peers. Students with a musical background score 51 points higher on the verbal part of the SAT and 39 points higher on the math portion than students with no musical training. Merely listening to music may have a beneficial effect. A study at the University of California at Irvine suggested that listening to music might somehow enhance the brain's ability to perform abstract operations immediately afterward. The study found that college students who listened to Mozart's Piano Sonata K448 for 10 minutes scored eight points higher on a special IQ test than those who did not listen to it. The phenomenon has come to be known as the "Mozart Effect," although the researchers suspect that listening to any complex musical piece would produce similar results.

"South Florida Parenting" - January 1997
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"Math and Logic"
At UC Irvine, Gordon Shaw suspected that all higher-order thinking is characterized by similar patterns of neuron firing. After eight months (of music lessons), the researchers found, the children 'dramatically improved in spatial reasoning,' compared with children given no music lessons, as shown in their ability to work mazes, draw geometric figures and copy patterns of two-color blocks. Shaw suspects that when children exercise cortical neurons by listening to classical music, they are also strengthening circuits used for mathematics. Music, says the UC team, 'excites the inherent brain patterns and enhances in complex reasoning tasks.'

The Musical Brain

Skill: Music
  • What we know: String Players have a large area of their sensory cortex dedicated to the fingering digits on their left hand. (or right hand, if left handed)
  • What we can do about it: Sing songs with children. Play structured, melodic music. If a child shows any musical aptitude or interest, get an instrument into her hand early.
"Newsweek" - February 19, 1996
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Lessons are 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour long.  There is  a little involved in just the preparation of the instrument prior to playing: Tuning the guitar, warming up, etc. All these activities make a difference in the final product of excellent playing. I give my students complete details and assistance in this preparation. Then, of course, is the actual study and mastery of technique and interpretation; all facets of guitar playing must be refined.  Guitar playing is a fine art; it requires a proper amount of lesson time.

Most students require one lesson per week.  I have discovered, however, that beginners profit greatly from two lessons per week, half an hour each lesson. It's akin to learning to ride a bicycle;  the more chances at success that are provided, the sooner one will succeed.

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Yes. I can drive to the following areas: Fresno, Clovis, Woodward Park.

There is an added fee for lessons at the locations more than 3 miles from our home to cover time and travel.

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I teach private, and small group lessons.  In small group lessons, there is less time to correct bad habits of all the students.  All students are different.  However, in semi-private groups, there is the opportunity to work on duets, and become proficient at playing with others.

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Most students can learn a simple song by rote in about thirty minutes. They can generally learn to play a song from reading music by the second month. However, to reach one's potential as a guitarist takes a few years, depending on the talent and practice habits of the individual.

Guitar playing is a big world. There is much information to learn and much to master physically as there are many things going on beneath the surface.  We hear beautiful music but the guitarist is actually executing many actions and thought processes at once. For example, when reading and playing a piece of music, the guitarist is carrying out the following mental and physical processes:

  1. Playing the correct notes including correct string and finger
  2. Playing the notes in tune. This includes position (how high up on the instrument to place the left hand) and interval (whether fingers are placed touching or apart).
  3. Playing the notes for the correct duration (rhythm)
  4. Playing the correct style; each composer is interpreted differently depending on what period of music history he lived. (I teach all styles/interpretation of music.)
  5. Correct volume of the music (Dynamics)
  6. Correct direction of the picking and strums
  7. Correct pressure of the fingers 
  8. Playing the note in context of the melody (the level of importance of that note in the musical phrase)
  9. Interacting with other musicians
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Children

I recommend that students begin at age 5. I do have students younger than 5 and am always willing to try a few lessons to see if a child progresses.  If a child is talented and/or mature, it is often possible to begin early.  I use a different teaching style for the very young that incorporates a variety of activities.

Adults

It is never too late to begin, or continue what was started in the past. There is much cognitive information and discipline that is required to play the guitar and adults usually have the advantage in these areas.

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  • What equipment does one need to start?

    Required Equipment

    • Guitar: Must be of correct size (full-size, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4 etc. exist) for children under 10. Check with the seller/renter. Cost, $100 and up.
    • Case: used to protect the guitar and bow. Cost, $50 and up.

    Optional Equipment

    • Stand: For holding up music. Cost, $15 and up.
    • Electronic Tuner: For tuning the strings; vital time saver for beginners. Must be a chromatic tuner.  A chromatic tuner is able to tune all the notes, not just the instrument's four tuning notes.  Cost, about $40 - $240.
    • Electronic Metronome: A device that produces a 'beat' that the musician can follow. Excellent in the development of accurate rhythm. Cost, $40 and up.
    • Extra set of strings: In case one breaks, there will be an instant replacement. For students, I recommend Thomastik Dominant brand. If guitar is smaller than full-size, make sure strings are the correct size for the guitar.  Cost, $30 and up.
    • Humidifier: Used to tell if the guitar is safe to play, or is to dry and close to damage. $8
    • Cleaning Cloth: Any soft cloth will do; for cleaning rosin dust off of the instrument.
    • Music Bag:  A bag to hold your music, shoulder rest, and other things that can't fit in your guitar case.  $10
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There are two options;  renting or buying an instrument.

Renting
We rent guitars. If you want to know if guitar-playing is for you, this is a good way to go.  If you use a local renter, I highly recommend that you inform the renter that you must approve the instrument with your guitar teacher prior to renting.  This will insure that you get a guitar that is in good condition.

Buying
One can spend from $200 to $20,000 on an instrument. The advantage is that one can usually get a better instrument. For beginners, I recommend purchasing a "kit." A kit usually includes a guitar, case, and sometimes and extra set of strings and tuning pipes. They may begin at about $150 and go up to $500.  When purchasing, I highly recommend that you inform the seller that you must approve the instrument with the guitar teacher prior to your purchase. This will insure that you get a guitar in good condition.

Supplies
We carry all supplies one will need for guitar lessons. 
Also, local music stores will either have items in stock or can order them for you.  At the very least one can order a catalog and compare prices.

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  • What are my performance opportunities?

    • Youth Symphonies
      Call the local symphony or your child's school orchestra or band teacher and they should be able to put you in touch with a local youth symphony.
    • All-State Contest
      Contest is held once a year in a chosen city where all the Jr. High and High Schools get together and are rated. Solos are also rated.
    • County Fairs
      Youth fairs will  sometimes award trophies or medals for outstanding performances.

    • Community Orchestras
      Adults or advanced teens can participate in local community orchestras. Community orchestras are also a great source of connections for chamber music (small groups such as quartets and trios).

    • Charity
      One can volunteer for local hospitals and/or retirement homes.  Music has an almost magical healing effect on people.  I recommend the above activities only after the student has studied the positions on the guitar (1 to 3 years into private lessons).

    • Playing Guitar at Home
      A performance after dinner is nice. When a child performs a couple of short pieces and is greeted with great enthusiasm and encouragement, it can work wonders not only for their playing but for their self esteem.
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The Suzuki Method incorporates rote into the study of guitar. This rote method makes it difficult for guitar students to multitask (perform more than one activity at once) when they eventually are required to read music.

Imagine that you teach a child to recite a rhyme from memory while holding the text in front of them. If you then present that same child with a book that uses the same words as the rhyme, he/she will not be able to read the text. This is because they cannot read; it is an illusion. The same applies to music making.  Imagine if students in a school could not read.  The teacher would have to teach everything by memory and there would be very little material covered. The same is true for music making. It is well worth the time investment at the start of a child's musical development to teach musical notation.

Suzuki students may sometimes play a song sooner but in the long term tend to fall behind.  Students who are taught to read at the onset acquire the correct mental processes that allow them to progress quickly once they become good readers.

Parents often want quick results but should understand the importance of reading the music that is played.  Reading music frees the student to play any music that they desire. It creates a sense of independence that inspires confidence and success.

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A School of guitar playing is a combination of two elements; the method (technique) of how one plays the instrument and the overall philosophy of making music. The secret to a good school is consistency; using the same method (technique) every time. When a musical situation arises, one is then able to focus on the style/interpretation of the music and not be hindered by insecure or indecisive technique.

Guitar is an ancient art form and much can and must be learned from the past. 

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