Thoughts on Teaching

Dale Bruning teaching me at a Summit Jazz clinic back in the day. What a fantastic example of a human!

A few thoughts on guitar instruction.

Surprisingly, my relatively late start on the guitar (age 18), has become a real gift in terms of my teaching. Having experienced many of the difficulties that my students are having as an adult, I feel I’m uniquely able to understand and deal with many of the stumbling blocks they may face.
My family has a great love of music and I was fortunate to have parents that nourished my interest in music and allowed me to actively pursue a life of music. My grandfather was an accomplished jazz cornetist and my mother and father both play piano and guitar respectively.

“The guitar is the easiest instrument to learn the wrong way.”
Dale Bruning

The above quotation from my own teacher and mentor goes a long way towards explaining the gap that exists between guitar and the more traditional school band instruments.
Like myself, most who pick up the guitar are “self-taught” and learn the instrument and music theory in a haphazard manner which results in confusion that inevitably decreases the joy of playing. Teaching the guitar the “right” way allows students to improve as guitarists, but more importantly improve as musicians and “learners.”
My challenging job is to keep the learning fun while always conveying the importance of serious practice and study. I truly believe that passion combined with discipline leads to a lifetime of joy.

“Those who can teach, must.”
– John Clayton

Part of what I hope to relate to my students is my belief that life is short and we have only so much time to improve ourselves and enjoy what we love. With this in mind it seems clear that the more efficiently we can improve at the things we love, the more time we’ll have to enjoy them. In my own life I have realized the satisfaction of setting and attaining goals, and continue to do so. If I can help someone attain their own musical goals, that is a wonderful reward.

What will you learn?

The most efficient way to improve is to focus on and learn the music you are passionate about. Your job as student is to be disciplined and fiery in your approach to practicing and learning. My job as teacher is to make sure you are learning in an orderly way with an eye towards mastery. We will use the music you love to learn the foundations of music theory and the guitar itself. What you will learn:

Technique (classical or plectrum-style)
Fundamentals of Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm
History of the guitar


Education has been a part of my life for many years, as both a learner and a teacher. I tend to be naturally curious and am always thrilled to be learning new things. I began giving lessons in college to adults and quickly branched out to instructing children. My move to Seattle provided me with the opportunity to work at a wonderful independent elementary school where I’ve learned tremendous amounts about teaching.

While at UCDS I began teaching children as young as five, and while we never finish learning, I feel I have thus far developed a methodology and rapport with children that allows me to be an effective teacher. Exposure to so many wonderful young, and not so young personalities has required and inspired me to develop methods, styles, and presentation skills that are uniquely aimed at younger learners.

I have a Master’s degree in teaching (K-8 certified) and a Master’s in Jazz Performance, the wonderful combination of theory and practice in both my academic teaching and music instruction has provided many unique and edifying teaching experiences.

On the other end of the spectrum, my ability to teach adult learners is enriched by my experience of being a (somewhat) late learner myself. Having started guitar at 18 I can commiserate and empathize with those accepting the daunting task of trying to climb the proverbial mountain that is learning an instrument.

“There’s no substitute for experience”, as the saying goes, and I believe it. I’m continuously on the lookout for new methods and new approaches that will enhance my teaching abilities.

I’m available for teaching advanced Windmilling techniques, as well as guitar burning and smashing lessons. Available as corporate Air Guitar consultant.