Guitar Teacher in Hailsham, East Sussex
Hello and welcome to Sussex Guitar Lessons.com! I’m a guitar teacher specialising in Acoustic Fingerstyle, Classical guitar and Music Technology.
Private lessons are held at my home studio in Hailsham, East Sussex and are mainly aimed at adults and young people over the age of 12 years. If you’d like to know more, please have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page where, hopefully, many of your queries will be answered. Skype lessons will also be available later in 2016 for those who don’t have a guitar teacher nearby or don’t live within easy access of Hailsham.
Learning Fingerstyle or Classical Guitar can help to develop technical skills that will give you a great grounding to play almost any acoustic style. Many of these techniques can also be used on an electric guitar if you want to diversify further along the way.
Whether you’re just beginning with the guitar, or want to take your playing to a higher level, a guitar teacher can help. Please have a good look around the site, and contact me if you’d like more information, or to book your first lesson.
- Free Consultation Lesson
- Audio and Video Recording
- Teaching Materials Included
- The Benefits of Private Guitar Lessons
- Acoustic, Classical, or a bit of both!
- Contact Sussex Guitar Lessons
Free Consultation Lesson
If you are a new student, your first lesson is free. It will usually last around 45 minutes and is a two-way process where you can find out whether guitar lessons are right for you, and it can help me to start preparing a customised teaching programme for you.
It will also include a short “taster” lesson so you can see if you’ll benefit from one-to-one guitar tuition before committing to paid lessons. Don’t worry if you don’t have a guitar yet, that’s not a problem as there are spare guitars here (both acoustic and classical) that you can use during the lesson.
Once you’ve had a little time to think things over, and you’ve decided that one-to-one guitar lessons with a guitar teacher are the right way to go, we can book you in for your first lesson. However, if you decide that personal tuition is not for you then no worries – there’s no obligation to take it any further.
Audio and Video Recording
The studio is well equipped for optional audio and video recording which can be used, where appropriate, to help you hear and see your progress. Video can be a very useful tool to visualise your playing from a different perspective and audio recordings are great to monitor improvements as you develop your techniques. Not every guitar teacher uses video and it’s not essential but it can help you see how you can improve. “Before” and “after” videos and audio recordings are great motivators!
At the first paid lesson you’ll receive a complimentary “Sussex Guitar Lessons.com” 8GB USB flash drive which can be used over the course of future lessons to store all the additional materials you require, and for keeping any audio and video recordings we make during your lessons.
Teaching Materials Included
Lessons include teaching materials, backing tracks, (except for RGT Music Examination books which are required for exam entry).
Depending on your requirements, this will include sheet music with notation and TAB (see the Jargon Buster for more information) as well as audio files so that you can hear how the piece of music should sound. These audio files will be at several tempos so you can choose to hear the music at normal speed as well as a slowed-down version to help you while you learn. Being able to play by ear is a really useful skill and it can be developed at the same time you learn to read music.
If you would like to take your Classical Guitar Music grades then learning to read music notation is essential for the examinations. However, there is no requirement to read traditionally notated music for the Acoustic Guitar Exam Grades as the music is written in easy-to-read TAB with audio examples so you can ‘listen and learn’.
Not everyone wants to do exams though, so if you prefer to learn to play the guitar without getting into the nitty-gritty of music notation then we can focus on playing by ear helped with some guitar TAB.
Mondays to Fridays 9.00am to 5.00pm 45 minute lesson – £28.00 1 hour lesson – £32.00
Mondays to Thursdays 6pm- 8pm 45 minute lesson – £30.00 1 hour lesson – £36.00
Saturdays 10.00a.m – 2.00pm 45 minute lesson – £30.00 1 hour lesson – £36.00
Shared lessons with a friend or family member are also available – clicking here will take you to the FAQ page for more details.
A 10% discount will be given if five lessons are booked and paid for in advance. Contact me for more details.
The Benefits of Private Guitar Lessons
Let’s face it, the internet offers an enormous range of lessons for guitarists – much of it free – and private lessons are not cheap. Learning from a book or a video can show you various techniques and take you through the fingerings for specific songs.
What you can’t get from these teach-yourself methods is feedback on your own technique, timely tips to help you learn faster, progression at the right pace, and encouragement to ensure you stay motivated. That’s when a guitar teacher can be invaluable to help you progress as quickly as possible.
If you think about the likes of Andy Murray, a top tennis player, or the Olympic Athletics team, they all have coaches who are there to give advice, modify technique where necessary, spot bad habits, work on areas of weakness and encourage training. Despite being at the top of their chosen sports they wouldn’t dream of relying solely on videos or books to improve their performance. The same principle applies to guitarists – you’ll learn more from having a private guitar teacher than by watching videos alone.
Acoustic, Classical, or a bit of both!
Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar
In its simplest form, fingerstyle guitar is a technique whereby the strings are plucked with the fingers rather than with a single flat pick. It can be used as an alternative to strumming when accompanying a singer or when playing with other musicians. It can also be used for a complete performance in its own right.
Acoustic Fingerstyle guitar (or at least my interpretation of what it means!) is a way of playing where the melody, bass lines, and in-fills are all played simultaneously on one guitar to create a complete song. Add in some percussive techniques and the world’s your oyster!
The guitar is such a versatile instrument it can cover almost any genre. So if you’d like to be able to play songs by artists such as The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Queen, Frank Sinatra or even your own original compositions you will enjoy learning fingerstyle guitar.
Classical guitar refers to both the instrument and the musical genre. There’s no reason why you have to play classical music on a classical guitar if you don’t fancy it!
Classical guitar (the genre), sometimes called Spanish guitar, is a more orthodox way of playing and does differ from the informality of acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Generally speaking, the right hand technique involves using the thumb on the lower three strings and the index, middle and ring fingers on the top three strings. Posture, left hand fingering, the way the guitar is held and so on all conform to standardised rules.
Classical guitar music is recognised as a specific genre, almost always written in standard music notation, and is meant to be played exactly as it is written.
For that reason, it is highly advisable to learn how to read standard notation music if you wish to play Classical guitar, and is absolutely essential if you take your Grades (recognised music examinations).
Having said that, (and purists look away now!) any classical piece can be converted to guitar TAB with an accompanying audio file so that you know how it should sound. Therefore if you’re playing purely for the joy of the music, don’t want to take exams, and don’t want to learn to read music notation you can still learn to play a classical piece without standard sheet music.
To get a little taste of what is covered in the lessons click on the relevant link below. There’s a lot of overlap with the techniques used for both styles so there’s no reason why lessons can’t incorporate a bit of fingerstyle and classical together if you want. If the terms used in the descriptions are unfamiliar to you check them out in the jargon-buster page.
Beginner Lessons in Fingerstyle guitar
When you first pick up a guitar and try to play some notes or a few chords it can feel very peculiar. The strings cut through your fingertips like cheesewire, your fingers won’t go where you want them to, you start to place them on the fretboard with your other hand to get the right shape and then cramp sets in! When the fingers are finally in the proper places and you strum the strings all you hear is a muffled, dissonant, dead-sounding plunk and the dog slinks out of the room with its tail between its legs.
No worries! That’s completely normal. Unless you don’t have a dog.
Getting started is the hardest part when learning any instrument. We’ll begin by playing a few simple melodies to get you used to the fretboard. After that, a bass note or two can be added. All this helps to develop muscle memory, and to get your fingers pressing the strings correctly to get clean-sounding notes.
Once that’s been achieved, chords can be introduced and then things get really interesting! With the fretting hand forming a chord shape you’ll move just one finger at a time to play a melody around the chord.
I’ll show you a few techniques to use to make chord changes easier and quicker and get you playing recognisable tunes that will boost your confidence.
TAB (short for tablature) is a simple way of writing guitar music and can be very helpful, especially if you don’t read conventional music. It consists of six horizontal lines which represent the strings on the guitar, and numbers which represent the position on the fretboard. Although I’ll encourage you to play by ear as much as possible, it is always useful to have TAB as a guide to show you which notes to play and where.
All learning materials will be supplied for you so you won’t need to buy any books or music, and if you are computer-savvy some backing tracks will be supplied on a USB flash drive so that you have something to play along with at home.
Intermediate Lessons in Fingerstyle guitar
Ok, so you’re at the point where you can strum a lot of the more common chords (which account for 80% of all songs!) but want to play something a little more challenging. Or you’d like to make some of those chords sound more interesting and add a little variety. This is where we look at variations on major and minor chords, and try them at different points on the fretboard.
Melodic techniques, such as hammer-ons and pull-offs, string bends, slides, muting, harmonics, vibrato etc all come into play at this stage. The right hand technique will be developed further and music interpretation really takes off here. You’ll be encouraged to embellish the melodies and play your own versions of songs so that you can maximise your skills and produce arrangements that will sound good.
As you progress, more chord types such as “7th” chords, suspended and diminished chords and so on will be introduced. These new chords will really add character to your music.
Advanced Lessons in Fingerstyle guitar
Unlike Classical guitar, you don’t have to play a piece of music exactly the same way as it appears on a sheet of music or TAB – or how it’s played by another guitarist – you can make it all your own. You can devise an alternative bassline, or a different in-fill, or change the tempo. Think of “Mad World” by Tears for Fears which was radically altered by Gary Jules – cover versions don’t have to be clones of the originals.
Alternate tunings can also be great fun if you fancy going down this route.
This is when the strings are tuned differently from a standard guitar. Some lovely chords can result from a different tuning – Coldplay, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell – just a few examples of artists who use alternate tunings to great effect. A lot of Folk and Celtic music gets its characteristic sound this way.
Percussive techniques will be introduced for advanced lessons. The acoustic guitar is perfect for this as it can act a little like a cajon (they’re the wooden boxes that some percussionists sit on and play with their hands). Thumb-slapping strings, muting strings with the fretting hand, tapping and so on can be used to make any song pretty groovy!
Acoustic Fingerstyle guitar opens up a world of possibilities and as you improve and develop your own style the possibilities are endless.
Beginner Lessons in Classical Guitar
Classical is meant to be played as it was originally written. So learning to read music is very useful. Although not every classical guitar teacher would agree with me, I find TAB is useful in combination with standard music notation to speed up the learning process.
In the early beginner lessons we’ll look at both left and right hand techniques to help develop “muscle memory” and start playing some nice tunes. Fortunately, in this digital age, I have access to thousands of compositions so we’re not limited to following a standard starter collection of pieces. All the lesson materials are provided in TAB, standard notation, and MP3 so you can hear what the music should sound like as well as what it looks like.
Intermediate Lessons in Classical Guitar
Once you’ve mastered playing single note melodies and basic chords we’ll explore some more interesting techniques. These include hammers and pull-offs, slides, trills and arpeggios (broken chords). The whole of the fingerboard will be covered and barré chords become important at this stage. Some of the pieces used for music grade exams will also be covered although there’s no obligation to take the actual examinations. It does help to give you an idea of your progress. (Intermediate level covers Grades 3 to 5).
I usually try to introduce a little flamenco at this point – it’s great fun to play and brings new techniques into your repertoire.
Advanced Lessons in Classical Guitar
Once you’ve reached this stage you’ll be playing at an equivalent level to Grades 6-8. You’ll have mastered all of the basic skills so the focus of lessons is more to do with extending those skills and ensuring the music has great expression. By varying the tempo or dynamics, adding harmonics, trills and vibrato you will really start to bring the music to life.
It’s not essential to do your “grades” but when you get to this level it may be worth considering. Have a look at the section on Music Grades here. I’m a member of the Registry of Guitar Teachers (RGT) and can enter you in for the appropriate grades.
If you feel inspired to develop your playing, want to take it to the next level and feel a guitar teacher would be beneficial, fill in the form below. Alternatively you can go to the contact page and we’ll arrange your first free consultation lesson.
Contact Sussex Guitar Lessons.com
Please bear with me – a new contact form should be in place by Monday 11th April 2016.