1) What is your background/experience?
I have played piano since the age of 7, and guitar since the the age of 16. I graduated from Berklee College of Music with degrees in Performance and Music Business. I have been teaching privately since 2009. In addition to my teaching, I’m an active professional musician.

2) What styles of music do you teach?
I can teach any style of music up to an intermediate level.  Rather than focusing on specific kinds of music, I believe in teaching fundamental skills and concepts of theory which a student can apply to any music they choose. Advanced students can discuss their background and goals so we can create a personalized lesson plan.

3) How long/frequent are lessons?
Lessons are typically purchased in 30 minute, 45 minute, or 1 hour increments; and we meet at least once a week.

4) Is my child old enough to begin lessons?
5-6 years old is appropriate for most students; but every child is unique and matures differently. I’ve had a few students as young as 4 years. I originally started piano lessons at the age of 6, but I wasn’t ready and my teacher made me wait a year. We can assess your child’s potential during the trial lesson.

5) Do you teach special-needs children?
I’ll teach anyone who wants to learn. I do not have specialized training in special-needs education, but I’ve had ADHD and autistic students who have done very well. In fact, I’ve observed that the personalities of some special-needs learners are ideal for musical training.

6) I’m an adult student with no musical background. Is it too late for me to learn a musical instrument?
You’re never too old to learn something new. I’ve had students in their 80’s. Bring a positive attitude and let’s make it happen!

7) How much should I/my child practice?
How good do you want to be? Music is like any pursuit: you will get out of it what you put into it. The most important thing is consistency. Daily practicing, even for short periods of time, will yield the best results. You cannot cram for your music lessons like a test at school. Musical training is much like athletic training. You must maintain a regular schedule to stay in shape. Make your music part of your normal life and aim to practice every day. Start with 20-30 minutes. If your child can’t sit still that long it can be shorter, but make it a daily routine. When you do have to miss a day it’s not a great loss if you practiced yesterday and plan to resume tomorrow.

8) How can I enhance and encourage my child’s musical development?
Just be involved, and monitor their musical progress like regular schoolwork. Make sure they understand music practice should be approached like any other homework: daily, and ideally at a designated time. Since I am only seeing your child for 30-60 minutes a week, their greatest improvements will come from practice outside of the lesson. I always welcome parents to sit in on the lessons so they know what is being done. Finally, inspire your child by exposing them to great music. It’s unfortunate that, when I ask children about the music they like and want to learn, many struggle to answer. They’ve never heard music which relates to the instrument they are trying to learn.

9) My schedule is erratic. Do I have to commit to weekly lessons?  
Weekly lessons are crucial for your development, and especially for children.  If you’re an adult who just can’t make it that often we can discuss other options, but weekly is best.

10) What method books do you use?
There are numerous method books for guitar and piano available. Ultimately they all teach the same information, but I prefer:
-Faber or D’Auberge books for children and teenage piano students
-Bastien books for adult piano students
-Hal Leonard, Basix Tab Guitar, and/or Christopher Parkening Method for all guitar students

11) I/my child want to learn guitar, but I’ve heard it’s best to start on piano first. Is this true?
Certainly there is logic in this. The knowledge gained from piano study will enhance the learning of guitar or any other instrument. However, piano is not a prerequisite. It’s best to pursue the instrument you are most enthusiastic for.

12) What kind of guitar should I buy, electric or acoustic?  Steel string or nylon?
This decision comes down to your personal preference. What kind of music do you like? Each instrument presents unique challenges and advantages, but the fundamentals are the same for all.

13) I’m an adult student who just wants to learn my favorite songs as quickly as possible. Do I need to read music?
You don’t have to read music in order to play it, and I never force students to learn things they don’t like (for very long); but I will encourage you to learn some basic reading skills.

14) Do you have recitals?
As a free-lance teacher I do not have the resources or access to suitable locations to put on recitals, but that may change in the future. Perhaps you could help me set one up?

© 2014 James Woolwine | All Rights Reserved.