Lesson Overview

Artwork: Marilyn Hightower

Contact Ted Sablay


I. Background on Skype Lessons and Technology

II. General Lesson Plan

III. Required Materials

IV. Lesson Duration, Times and Scheduling

V. Cancellations

VI. Tuition


After starting to teach in-person lessons for 4 years, I switched over to teaching online lessons via Skype, originally to maintain regular lessons with students while I was away on tour with the Killers. Soon after I realized that online lessons afforded me and my students greater flexibility in scheduling our meeting times; these days, 95% of my teaching is done online.

In addition to Skype, I also produce supplemental videos for students to reinforce concepts covered during our lessons. The value of these videos is simple but powerful: supplemental videos allow students to review the examples covered in the lessons as many times as need until they get it right. 


My main focus during lessons is to help my students acquire the skill set they need to play the music that interests them.

Whether the student is playing guitar, bass, or piano and/or studying music theory and songwriting, I emphasize an in-depth study of melodic contours and patterns, chord progressions, song forms and the marriage of lyrical themes to the accompanying music. 


While I am flexible on modifying this general lesson plan, I am adamant about the student learns how to sight-read music.

The benefits are vast and far-reaching, but in the short term, sight-reading gives a student practical technique for:

  • quickly learning songs
  • improving their timing, tone and pattern recognition
  • summarizing a song’s melody, pace and overall arc at a glance


Making a recordings on a regular basis allow students to hear exactly what they are doing well and what they need to improve. It also allows them to track their progress and grow accustom to presenting their musical work.

Consequently I require my students to send mp3s of them playing their homework assignments at tempos determined during their weekly lesson. (Students can easily make recordings using their phones or computers using free open source software such as Audacity for PC users or Garageband/Logic for Mac users.)


The following materials should be purchased before the start of our first lesson:

  1. Computer
    1. The student needs a computer with a solid high-speed internet connection, a camera and microphone. Most new computers (such as MacBook Pros) have a camera and microphone already built into the computer. To improve the audio quality of the lesson, I suggest that you use a set of headphones with a mic attached on the cord
  2. Recording Device
    1. Given the requirement of students to submit their homework in the form of digital recordings, a student needs to have access to recording software GarageBand or a simple recording device on their phone or iPad to make mp3s/files  that can be shared with me via email or Dropbox. 
  3. Skype Account
    1. The student must have a Skype account. If you do not already have an account, please visit Skype’s website to join. Once you do has a Skype account, please click here to establish a Skype connection with me.
  4. Class notes for the Music Application and Theory" class taught at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts ($70).
  1. One guitar. Acoustic is preferred, but electric with an amplifier is also acceptable. ($100 and up)
  2. One electronic chromatic guitar tuner ($20) 
  3. One pack of medium-gauge picks (less than $5)
  4. One metronome that is loud enough to be heard while guitar is being played ($20)
  5. One Kyser capo ($20)
  6. One music stand ($10-20)
  7. Berklee Method Book ($10). The student also needs to purchase one copy of Berklee Press’s “A Modern Method for Guitar – Volume 1,” available as a physical copy through Amazon.com here or as a digital copy through iBooks at the iTunes Store.
  1. Keyboard, piano, or midi controller that can plug into a computer to make basic keyboard sounds. 
  2. Berklee Method Book ($20). The keyboard student also needs to purchase one copy of Berklee Press's "Piano Essentials: Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, and Cadences for the Contemporary Pianist", which available as a physical copy through Amazon.com here or as a digital copy through the iBook store through iTunes.
  1. Music Theory Workbook ($10). Available as a physical copy through Amazon.com here
  2. Keyboard or guitar.
  1. Berklee Method Book ($15). The songwriting student should purchase one copy of Berklee Press's "Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs (Berklee Guide)", which is available as a physical copy through Amazon here or as a digital copy through the iBook store through iTunes.
  2. "The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles," which is available as a physical copy through Amazon here or as a digital copy through the iBook store through iTunes. NOT REQUIRED BUT STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.


I generally teach 30-minute or 60-minute lessons on a weekly basis. That said, I understand that students take vacations and/or business or school trips. To that end, I am flexible in working out a schedule with the student to accommodate change. Regarding lesson times, I try my best to keep the lesson at the same time every week, though sometimes the lesson may have to move depending on the tour schedule or student’s schedule.


Students have until 24 hours before the lesson to cancel and avoid being charged for the lesson they will be missing. That said, I understand students have emergencies and will do my best to accommodate.  


Guitar lessons are $40.00 per half-hour lesson and $80.00 per full-hour lesson. Lessons can paid for through the "Buy Now" button below or through the "Shop" section of my website. Tuition includes time preparing for the lesson and processing the video for private sharing with the student. Tuition does not cover sheet music for songs that the students would like to cover in lessons. Tuition for the entire month must be made before the first lesson of each month.

Number of 30-minute Lessons

Payment should be sent to the account linked to my primary email address, theodoresablay@yahoo.com. To sign up for a PayPal account or for more information on PayPal, please click here

If you have any additional questions regarding my lessons, please feel free to contact me through the "Contact" page on my website.

Thanks for reading.

- Ted Sablay