About DGA

The mission of the Denver Guitar Academy is to provide quality long-term guitar instruction with mastery and complete fluency in the language of music as the ultimate goal.

My aim in creating the DGA was to nurture a community driven experience, modeled largely after the Suzuki Method but also incorporating my own experiences in other areas, especially improvisation, to provide a more interesting and comprehensive learning experience.

The “music is a language” analogy is an extremely useful one and is a guiding tenet of the DGA.  One must be immersed in language to become fluent and music is no different.  This fact is why I believe so deeply in learning to improvise as well as compose.  If one were to simply memorize a speech in a foreign language and could even say the words with perfect diction and the correct accent but could not find the words to ask where the nearest bathroom was located, we would scarcely call that person “fluent”.    Without having at least some improvisational skill we are not actually speaking the language of music, but simply reciting memorized passages.  For a more in depth look at this often used concept see my “Music as Language” page.

Due to many historical and cultural factors the state of guitar education, in my opinion, is sorely lacking when compared to many other instruments.  The concept of the “self-taught” guitarist is prevalent and widely admired, but this certainly comes with pros and cons.  The reality is that we are ALL self-taught.  No teacher has ever been able to do the work for the student, or be with the student twenty-four hours a day.  We all, from young to old, must do the work ourselves.  The best recipe for the fun and successful development of skills is to find a teacher that can assess, diagnose, and provide a plan to help guide the student from A to B in an efficient manner.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that many of the musicians in this day and age must teach in order to make a living.  Many of them find no joy in teaching, are not passionate about it, and would not be teaching if they didn’t feel financially forced to do so.  I am not one of these people.  I feel not only a strong compulsion to teach but an obligation to share with others what has been so generously shared with me.   As the famous jazz bassist John Clayton once said about the old cliche, “it is not ‘those who can’t do, teach’,  it’s those who can teach must!”

For those willing to be devoted, passionate,  and consistent in their efforts the DGA is here to guide you in your life-long journey.

I once heard someone say, and I believe it’s true:  “Nobody ever in the history of the world, ever said, ‘I wish I would’ve quit playing the guitar sooner!'”

Mike Hyland

July 2012