Instruments and Lessons

Here are a few notes that might interest you if you want to learn play one of the instruments I teach. I can also help with other instruments and I can provide tuition in music computer technology - so don't be afraid to contact me if you have a particular interest or goal.

The guitar is played by millions of people, and for good reasons. For one thing, it's pretty easy to get a result out of.  Just learn a few chords and off you go.  If you are a complete beginner I will be able to take you from your very first steps to an advanced level.  
Beginners might be interested in learning the basics of accompanying songs, strumming chords and using a plectrum or using a finger-picking style like your favourite singers.  These techniques can be applied to nearly any form of popular music including, country, folk, pop and rock.  They are used by just about every indie, singer-song-writer you can think of.  So, don't worry if you have only just started learning. 
At an intermediate level you might want to take your playing to a new level by incorporating more advanced picking styles and more advanced chords, or by learning to accompany traditional tune players.  You might want to play along with other people, for instance, in a band.  These are more demanding ways to play so you'll need a little more time.  
However, the guitar can be used as an even more advanced instrument.  many musicians regard it as only second to the piano in its versatility and complexity.  If you are a more advanced player you may want to learn to play tunes on the guitar using a flat-picking style or a more complex finger-picking style.  You may want to use unusual guitar tunings to add a different colour to the accompaniment of songs (DADGAD, DGDGBE or D, and droped D - DADGBE).  Or, you may want to learn how to play or improvise solos over jazz or blues chords. 
I can give lessons in jazz classics swing guitar rhythm and solo playing, essential electric guitar blues, rock and african styles and other interesting styles such as, for instance, Leo Kottke's 12 string style, jazz improvisation or south american bossa nova guitar.  If you want to play a particular style and maybe have a book you want to learn from, feel free to bring that along and we can use it as the basis for your lessons.

  Tenor Banjo

The tenor banjo is mainly used in the Irish music scene, although it has appeared in various Scottish bands over the years - and there is no reason why it shouldn't be used in Scottish music.  Learning this instrument involves a similar approach as to learning the mandolin.  However, as with the bouzouki, the stretch is longer - so big hands can help.  Plectrum technique is also rather different, involving a firmer grip of the plectrum.  Mind you we all have to be considerate to our neighbours when we practice, so when you practice here you will have to stuff the drum with a towel!  That's what I have to do!   

The mandolin is a great instrument and, like the guitar, is very versatile.  It is an instrument that can give you quick results, but it can also be played at a very advanced level.  It just depends on what you want out of it.  I can give lessons for beginners to advanced players.  
If you're a beginner you might want to start off playing chords or easy tunes, gradually stepping up to learning how to play basic jigs and reels, or blues and american styles. More advanced players may want to learn more complex melodies, unusual time signatures and keys, and may even want to learn how to improvise on rhythms and chord sequences.
If you learn Irish and Scottish mandolins styles with me you will have access to audio and (sometimes) video files along with the notation.  You can choose from different levels of structured courses I have prepared for these particular styles. 
If you are just beginning be assured that, with the right tuition,  it's not too difficult to successfully produce some really nice sounds in a very short time.  One day you might even find yourself joining one of the growing number of mandolin bands.


The bouzouki, originally a Greek instrument, has become very popular on the folk scene.  However, many learners become confused by the variety of forms and tunings that exist, from adapted mandolas and citterns, to the more usual GDAD tuning. It is possible to produce great results with a bouzouki I am able to help with development in right hand (plectrum) techniques such as creating cross-picking patterns. These bring a great deal more colour to the sound of the instrument.  It is also fine to use this kind of instrument for strumming chords as accompaniment to tune players or singers.  

However, it is worth pointing out that the bouzouki is also a great instrument for melody players. Mandolin and tenor banjo players can simply transfer their tune-playing skills and produce some great sounds. It is as good an instrument on which to learn our own tunes (Irish and Scottish) as the mandolin or the banjo.