Q. What made you start teaching guitar?
A. Strangely, it was other people and some friends who suggested it. I always enjoyed showing how
things could be done and it seemed I could get my point across easily. In my former "corporate life"
there were many training and communication type roles and experience gained from these has obviously aided me.
Q. It's been quite a change of occupation for you, vastly different from your corporate career. What's been the biggest challenge to you?
A. I think building the structure of the lessons and the uses of the musical pieces involved to develop their skills. As I only cover the basics of musical theory I don't follow any examination syllabus so the benchmark for achievement is less clearly defined but student satisfaction and them playing the pieces learnt and demonstrating a prowess on the instrument is a very tangible achievement. I always ask for feedback and am keen that I stay in touch with what they need and want. My website is regularly updated with comments from my students.
Q. Who did your website and why did you decide to have one?
A. It's all my own work. I took the cheapest hosting package from a computer magazine and built the site using their online wizards and tools provided. It wasn't hard but it took me some time initially deciding on the layout and content. I guess I always wanted to do a website but never really had the requirement until now.
Q. Was the effort with the website worthwhile?
A. Yes, in fact I've been surprised just how effective it has been. My original intention was to just use the website as an information source whenever I ran an advert in the local papers. I've been really surprised how many people now search the internet for a teacher and now I rarely advertise in the press as I have a steady trickle of enquiries via the website. Amazingly, if you search on Google for "Guitar" and "Somerset" my site comes back as the first result!
Q. What do you enjoy most about teaching?
A. I get so much pleasure from seeing a student bring their instrument "to life" and to see parents watching and admiring as their child starts to make sounds that they recognise!
Q. How is that your prices are so reasonable?
A. Quite simply, I don't need to make a living from this. It might sound corny but I don't do it for the money I do it 'cause I really enjoy it. I don't do any school or local education contracts and, despite demand, I keep it to a handful of students and just aim to cover my costs.
Q. That sounds very generous but aren't you undercutting music teachers who need to charge more to earn a living?
A. In some cases, quite probably, but I think that many teachers and their methods are outdated and my only motivation is to provide a great service to my students. I love the guitar and spending time with people keen to play is very rewarding to me.
Q. What factors distinguish you from other guitar teachers then?
A. The fact that I go to people's homes is a big plus and my website is also very popular. More and more people search the internet for a teacher nowadays but music teachers generally don't have websites - it allow access to information about me without having to ring me up to discuss things. The site usually answers any questions so that when they do call me it usually results in a booking. I always talk to a prospective student on the phone anyway but the website will have sorted out most queries or concerns beforehand. I think that students get excellent value for money from me as one-to-one tuition for an hour is very powerful and, quite often, I stay over the hour period if my travel schedules allow.
Q. What are the main qualities that makes a good guitar teacher?
A. I think having good "people skills" is the most important factor. Particularly for one-to-one tuition the ability to communicate, empathise and build a solid understanding and rapport with your students is absolutely key. As long as you can demonstrate to the student how things are done on the instrument I don't believe that you have to a brilliant player either. A bit like football really, the best players don't make the best managers.
Q. You use Tablature (TAB) and don't teach standard musical theory, aren't your pupils being disadvantaged?
A. Unless you have ambitions to play in an orchestra or to pass graded music exams then I don't believe so. Most people just want to play tunes for their own pleasure and all guitar music is now avaliable in standard music notation and Tablature. I was bored silly with musical theory when I was learning as a youngster and I've no intention of teaching it to my students. There are plenty of other teachers who will teach you musical theory so choose one of them if it's important to you. The "purists" will always advocate that students should master music as part of their musicianship skills - but interestingly, many of my enquiries are from people who have abandoned or been too daunted by that long and arduous route.
Q. Why don't you teach from home?
A. Two key reasons, first, I don't have the space or facilities and, secondly, I enjoy getting out and about throughout Somerset. It's a lovely place to live and really popular with students that I come to their place!