simple answers to commonly asked questions. For detailed explanations, please click on the "read More" links.
1. Is the first 30-minute lesson really free?
Yes. Read More
2. ON WHICH DAYS DO YOU TEACH?
- Berkeley studio on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday
- Pleasanton studio on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Read More
3. How long are the lessons?
Generally, a half-hour for children and teens and an hour for most adults. Read More
At-home lessons must be an hour long on a weekly basis. Read More
4. HOW DO I SCHEDULE A LESSON?
Let me know which days and times are possible, and I will do my very best to accommodate a convenient time for you. Read More
5. How often do you recommend lessons be taken?
Once a week (for about 98% of students). Read More
6. Are scheduled times secure?
Students on a weekly schedule have a secured lesson time for each month; this also applies to students who have a regular lesson time every other week.
Students who take lessons every 3 or more weeks are scheduled on a lesson-to-lesson basis. Their time is not guaranteed to be the same time for each lesson and may be given to weekly students.
7. WHY DO YOU LIMIT the NUMBER OF LESSONS PER DAY?
To ensure the highest quality of teaching for each student; this is more important than having a large student roster. (Taking on too many students compromises quality.)
I am also a professional guitarist and author; these two activities also place demands on my time each day. Read More
8. WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM ABSENT FROM A SCHEDULED LESSON?
Tuition reserves the student's regular lesson time. Students pay for that time regardless of attendance. No make-ups are guaranteed; missed lessons are not credited. Read More
9. I KNow a TEACHER who DOesN'T CHARGE FOR MISSED LESSONS. WHY DO YOU?
If I could teach for free I really would, but I am not independently wealthy and have a family to support. The majority of my living comes from teaching. I also have two rents to pay for studios. My expenses do not go down when a student misses.
Teachers who teach as a hobby, pay exceptionally low or free rent, and/or do not have to make a living for their family may be able to afford to charge only for lessons attended. Otherwise, a professional will have to maintain a huge roster of students in order to survive based on a pay-by-lesson approach. For sake of maintaining the highest quality of teaching and avoiding burn out, I stopped teaching 60+ students long ago. Read the story behind this policy.
10. I AM FINE WITH PAYING FOR THE WEEKLY RESERVED LESSON TIME, ABSENT OR PRESENT. BUT WHAT IF I HAVE TO GO AWAY FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME? DO I HAVE TO STILL PAY IF I AM AWAY FOR A MONTH OR MORE? WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE TO STOP LESSONS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MONTH?
Unless the student, asks to be removed from the monthly schedule, a student who wants to secure his or her regular lesson time is responsible for paying the monthly tuition for the time they are away.
A student removed from the regular monthly schedule will not be responsible for continuing to pay tuition; however, the student's lesson time will be open and available for another student. Students who stop lessons without completing the current month will be reimbursed for the remaining lessons.
11. WHAT IF YOU HAVE TO CANCEL THE LESSON?
Students will not be charged. Read More
12. WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE TO CHANGE THE TIME?
I will do everything I can to accommodate a new time. If a new lesson time cannot be found, the student may either join a waiting list or be taken off of the regular teaching schedule. A student who is removed from the teaching schedule will be refunded if any lessons remain for that month.
13. ARE THERE ANY DAYS IN YOUR TEACHING SCHEDULE THAT ARE OFF DAYS? WHAT ABOUT HOLIDAYS?
Three weeks are automatically off schedule: the week of Thanksgiving and the last two weeks of December. New Year's Day is also off schedule. Apart from these three weeks and one day, regular students are responsible for paying tuition for all other lessons of the month.
14. Why do you limit the number of students who want lessons every other week?
Every other week creates an off-week that can only be filled by another student who takes a lesson every other week at the same time. Read More
15. What forms of payment do you accept?
Much like a gym, martial arts studio, or private class, tuition is paid monthly. Each student is sent the monthly invoice via email. (If no email address is available, an invoice may be handed to the student at his or her lesson.) Payment is due by the end of the second week of each month. Forms of payment accepted:
- Cash application by Square
16. DO YOU CHARGE LATE FEES?
No. (In the past 25 years of teaching, 98% of students pay within the first two weeks.)
17. I do not own a guitar. Which kind should I buy?
The type of guitar (e.g. acoustic, electric) is largely personal preference. You want to buy a guitar that sounds most pleasing to you. If you are not excited by the sound of the guitar, you will be less inclined to play it.
More expensive does not always mean better sounding. (Sometimes a $600 guitar that sounds as good or even better than one two or three times the cost.)
In light of this, I have offered to help many first-time guitarists with selecting an appropriate guitar. Most often, this involves setting a time that allows the student and me to meet at a music store; from there, I help the student determine which guitar will be the best possible fit.
The process usually takes about an hour or so. I do not charge anything for this service, though some have insisted on compensating me for my time.
18. What materials do I need other than a guitar?
For electric guitar players, a small amplifier is useful to have because such guitars do not tend to project well acoustically. Many companies make small practice amplifiers for between $200-300. One of the best I have found so far is the Yamaha THR series.
- Music Stand — I recommend the Peak series. These are the best stands I have come across in 30 years. They are high quality, fairly light, and very reasonably priced.
- Guitar Tuner — Nowadays, many use tuning apps on "smart phones". Many of these apps work well and range from being free to costing a couple of dollars. Alternatively, most guitar tuners can be purchased between $7-20. Snark tuners tend to be good. Tuners made by Korg and Boss are excellent but generally more expensive.
- Manuscript Book — To keep music assignments together in one place. The well-known company Archives produces an excellent book.
Potentially necessary (depending on the interests of the student):
- Guitar Picks — Come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. All of these are a matter of personal preference. To help determine which thickness sounds and feels best to the student, assortment packs are offered by several companies, such as Aether.
- Note-Reading Method Book — Methods are divided between two fundamental playing approaches: fingerstyle and pick. Which one to get depends on the technical approach of the student. Most beginners who play fingerstyle use Aaron Shearer's method. Those who play with a pick use Mel Bay's method.
- Guitar Strap or Foot Stool — Used to elevate the guitar to the proper height for the student. Which one to use has to be determined by the student.
- Capo — Depending on the style of music, some students may need one.