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GUITAR LESSONS

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Donnie DuVall's Lessons Explained

"In my lessons, students aged 6 to 99 have the privilege of being able to study the music of their choice, whether that be baroque, be-bop, pop, prog rock or punk. I've enjoyed a fulfilling career of playing many styles on stage, and I've connected at some depth to them all. I will find a way to teach all of the necessary fundamentals of playing within the limits of a student's musical choice, but I also see it as my obligation to introduce students to the many other styles and methods which exist in the world.

Just to get it out of the way, I'll mention that my lessons correspond to the local school schedule. My year runs for 36 lesson weeks from August to July leaving out the holidays. For students ages 6 to 12, I will try to provide a lesson partner or two of the same age, skill level and musical taste if the student (and the parents) express this preference. Students above the age of 13 normally write in for 20 minutes of lessons per week and are often moved around in lesson groups. If three students work together on a project or follow the same lesson material for a time, they share each other's lesson times and stay in the lesson for an hour (3x20min). Students return to private lessons of 20 minutes periodically to polish up on personal technical and artistic endeavors. I try to be flexible to the needs of students, and I am prepared to make exceptions if they make sense. Standard lesson structures and prices are listed HERE."

IS READING MUSIC IMPORTANT IN THE LESSONS? "Yes and no. Reading and interpreting music is extremely important in a complete exploration of the musical experience; however, it's not necessary in getting started with the guitar. Sometimes it makes sense to learn to play simple melodies, campfire songs or rock riffs first. There are many directions a young guitarist can choose, many of which do not immediately require sight-reading. I tend to confront students with reading when they are ready and driven to complete the tasks. It works better than forcing them to learn it in the beginning. Every once in a while I come across a student who breathes the ways and the regimen of classical music like fresh air. For these folks I take great pleasure in applying the traditional road map. "

WILL I BE REQUIRED TO PERFORM A RECITAL? "No. I always have a handful of students who do not perform for different reasons. I do heavily encourage performance, because it is valuable for so many aspects of personal and musical growth. I always have various performance opportunities because of my involvement with talent development programs. My advanced students are often recruited by bands or ensembles and requested for solo concerts in the area. It's important that musicians at any level are proud of what they present on stage, and I want them to take all the time they need to develop that drive and confidence. "

HOW MANY HOURS A WEEK AM I EXPECTED TO PRACTICE? "That differs. The prospect of practicing loyally for 30 minutes each day is frighteningly unrealistic for many. With six to twelve year olds, I often forge an alliance with parents so the student practices for at least 10 minutes before he or she is allowed to engage in screen activities like TV or gaming. This kind of structure is comforting and effective for some, but smothering for others. Some of my students are binge practicers, immersing themselves in a 4 hour trance of attacking a challenge, then scarcely touching the instrument for the following 3 days. I delight in the sublime craft of detecting and adjusting to these differences between people. "

DO I TAKE AN EXAM AND/OR GET A REPORT CARD? "No. These are scholastic pillars which apply to objective subjects like history or mathematics, but which tend to sidetrack the search for a young person's creative singularity. I have chosen not to do it. I do think it is necessary to offer occasional reflection in dialogue with the student (and the parents when relevant). Does my daughter have talent? Am I using optimal habits to develop an excellent technique? How do I compare to most students? It's important for me to address these issues, even when the questions are not asked. "

WHAT ABOUT PERSONAL ISSUES? "With students under the age of 18, it is important for me to have a clear line of communication with parents, especially when external personal issues arise. If something is bothering a student, I often hear a different version than the parents or the friends. I cherish my role as supportive non-parental adult, and I take it very seriously. I am, however, eager to get back to work once an issue is adequately confronted."

HOW STRICT ARE YOU? "I can be very strict if I believe it will yield a good result. When someone starts lessons with me, I work hard to find a direction and a method which inspires them. Once we have found something, I develop a pattern of expectation. When I believe someone is not living up to their potential, I use a vast array of tools to nudge things into the right direction. A student has an unprecedented number of choices with me as their teacher, but some aspects of a student's roadmap inevitably come with pressure, especially if the student hopes to reach a high level. Sometimes a student discovers in the course of my lessons that guitar is "not their thing". I take pride in helping people find their way, and sometimes that means recommending to someone that they stop with my lessons and move on in search of other passions. I will never recommend this to someone who loves to play and practice, however, regardless of their apparent lack of talent en subsequent progress. I have been pleasantly surprised way too many times by ugly ducklings to ever think of doing that! Patience is an absolute necessity to the success of a music teacher. "

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF LESSON MATERIAL? "I offer a basic musical knowledge and technique packet which tends to transcend all musical styles. I teach a full understanding of music theory as it applies to all genres. Here's a list of terms advanced musicians might recognize. Wikipedia will help if you're curious. I've kept it short just to give an idea. These examples will inevitably be covered over time and with relevance to a student's ambitions:

Arranging
CAGED (major and minor guitar chords up the neck)
Chords: Sevenths, Ninths, Elevenths, Thirteens, Sixths, Diminished (half/fully), Augmented, Mu, Suspended,
Composition
Dominant alteration (mostly relevant to blues, jazz and contemporary composition)
Microtonality: theoretical and arabic
Odd meter rhythms : exotic / progressive / ornamental
Polyrhythms : African / South American
Scales and Improvisation Schemes: Pentatonic, Diatonic, Synthetic and Exotic
Sight-reading and interpretation
Songwriting
Substitutions : tritone, tonic
Voiceleading

Here is a list of some of the artists who provided valuable lesson material during my 2016-2017 season. It makes me smile to see some of these artists listed next to each other:

Avenged Sevenfold/ Bach, JS/ Beyonce/ Black Flag/ Bob Marley/ Bullet for my Valentine/ Charlie Parker/ Coldplay/ Creedence Clearwater Revival/ Daft Punk/ Dirk Scheele en de Liedjesband/ Dragonforce/ Ed Sheeran/ Edith Piaf/ Eels/ Elvis Presley/ Errol Garner/ Fernando Sor/ Francisco Tarrega/ Frans Bauer/ George Michael/ Green Day/ Guus Meeuwis/ Henry Purcell/ Ilse de Lange/ Iron Maiden/ Jessie J/ Jebroer/ John Coltrane/ John Jackson (blues)/ JP Cooper/ Justin Bieber/ K3/ Kinderen voor Kinderen/ Lenny Kravitz/ Lokua Kanza/ Lynyrd Skynyrd/ Marco Borsato/ Matteo Carcassi/ Metallica/ Michael Jackson/ Mozart, WA/ Napalm Death/ Neset Ertas/ Nirvana/ Ome Willem/ One Direction/ Pharrell Williams/ Ramones/ Rammstein/ Robert Johnson/ Shaun Mendez/ Sheryl Crow/ Slayer/ Stan Getz/ Stevie Wonder/ System of a Down/ Taylor Swift/ the Cure/ Toots Thielemans/ Van Halen/ Yngwie Malmsteen/ ZZ Top

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or requests. Hope to see you soon!

Regards,
Donnie DuVall