Teaching Philosophy

Music is fun and deeply fulfilling. My individually tailored lessons help students become fluid musicians who are able to play well with others and achieve their musical goals.  I am a friendly, humorous, empowering, and encouraging teacher.  I create a safe learning environment where a deep love of music sparks the learning.

As a beginning student of mine you might learn to play the melody or chords of your favorite songs. This will strengthen your fingers and give you a sense of rhythm. We’ll then work on your right hand (left if you are left-handed) with flat-picking or finger-picking. You’ll also be encouraged in structured improvisation in any style that you choose. This means that early lessons are fun and dynamic rather than mechanically tedious and boring. Love for music is increased and the belief that “I could be a musician” is discovered. As lessons progress, students can pursue more technically complex music and playing styles.

If a student is enjoying music, the student’s curiosity naturally leads to questions about how music is structured (I usually wait until a student asks a question about music structure before addressing theory). Old-school teaching typically begins with boring scales and theory worksheets often disconnected from the enjoyment of music.  But playing songs that you choose followed later by scale-based improvisation is the most fun way to learn and feeds the desire for further learning.

I tailor my lessons to meet the specific goals of my students and thoroughly prep for every lesson.  I will learn any song a student chooses, arrange that song to match the student’s ability, and teach it at the next lesson.  A love of music and a passion for all musical styles are what I model and what my students learn.  I always revisit structured improvisation to loosen students’ playing, train the ear, and show that there are multiple possibilities for the next best note.  On the other hand, students may request a perfect reproduction of a song of their choosing and I will prep it and teach it exactly as it was recorded.

Whether improvising or studying a set piece, all lessons can include a component of music theory relevant to that material if the student wants to learn the theory behind the song. In that case, a tailored curriculum of practical, natural music theory aimed at enabling students to communicate with other musicians and create original compositions is the goal.

Thanks, Rod Ewald