I. Background on Technology Usage
II. General Lesson Plan
IV. Lesson Duration, Times and Scheduling
I. Background on Technology Usage: Before I started touring again, I taught private in-person guitar lessons in my spare time from 2009 to 2012 and enjoyed it a lot. However, I had to stop giving in-person lessons due to being gone on tour all the time. To accommodate students who wanted to continue lessons, I began teaching lessons via Skype, a practice I have continued due to the flexibility it affords me and my students in scheduling our lesson times.
In addition to Skype, I also produce supplemental videos to reinforce concepts covered during our lessons. After watching a TED talk on using video to flip the classroom and reinvent education, I learned that supplemental videos allow students to review the examples covered in the lesson as many times as need until they get it right, whether the subject is music, mathematics, or physics. While I wasn't surprised by students improving after having a chance to study the lesson videos, I was surprised—and excited—to observe the rate at which students improved by simply reviewing the video that their own pace. With this simple development, I am expanding my teaching schedule and accepting more students for guitar lessons without sacrificing quality of instruction.
II. General Lesson Plan: 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, I emphasize sight-reading, melody, chords, and song forms. Depending on the student, lessons can be expanded to include instruction on songwriting and recording techniques using software such as Logic and GarageBand.
While I am flexible on modifying this general lesson plan, I am adamant about the student learning to sight-read music, mainly because it gives a student practical technique for quickly learning new songs, improving their timing, tone and pattern recognition, and summarizing a song’s melody, pace and overall arc at a glance. I also require my students to email me mp3s of them playing their homework assignments at tempos determined during their weekly lesson. (Students can easily make recordings using their computers or phones.) 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 listen to older recordings to evaluate their improvement over time.
III. Required Materials: The following materials should be purchased for the start of the first lesson. For guitar players, the first six items listed here can be found at most musical instrument stores:
- One guitar. Acoustic is preferred, but electric with an amplifier is also acceptable. ($100 and up)
- One electronic chromatic guitar tuner ($20)
- One pack of medium-gauge picks (less than $5)
- One metronome that is loud enough to be heard while guitar is being played ($20)
- One Kyser capo ($20)
- One music stand ($10-20)
- Berklee Method Book ($10). The student also needs to purchase one copy of Berklee Press’s “A Modern Method for Guitar – Volume 1,” available through Amazon.com here.
- Music Theory Workbook ($10). Available through Amazon.com here.
- Computer: 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.
- Recording Device: Given the requirement of students to submit their homework in the form of digital recordings, a student needs to have access to GarageBand or a simple recording device on their phone or iPad to make recordings that can be shared with me.
- Skype Account: The student must have a Skype account. If you do not already have an account, please visit Skype’s website to join.
IV. Lesson Duration, Times and Scheduling: 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.
V. Cancellations: 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.
VI. Tuition: Guitar lessons are $40.00 per half-hour lesson and $80.00 per full-hour lesson. 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 using PayPal.
Payment should be sent to the account linked to my primary email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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