If you are interested in taking grades on the guitar I teach two syllabuses, Rockschool for electric guitar and the RGT Acoustic guitar grades. I teach both from grade 1 through to grade 8 and have a 100% pass rate.

I teach students of all ages grades and it can be a great way to measure progress and have something to aim for. Both Rockschool and Acoustic grades are similar in that the grades cover a mixture of the following;

  • Pieces to play (3 for rock school and 1 for RGT)
  • Scales
  • Chords
  • Aural tests
  • Playing unseen material e.g sight reading
  • Rhythm tests
  • Knowledge of the instrument and basic music theory

It therefore does help students become a well rounded musician. I tend to teach grades alongside ordinary songs to help relate learning to songs a learner knows. It also offers excellent practice and performing something in front of someone else.



Fingerstyle guitar: pinch picking

Here is another example of the kind of materials I use with students in lessons.  I will often devise an etude/exercise to focus on a particular technique, as it not always possible to find songs that cover what’s needed.

This exercise is designed to improve a student’s pinch picking. This when to notes are played at the same time with the right hand in fingerstyle guitar. It is often the thumb and either the middle or index finger. Below is the etude and pinch pick exercises.

Pinch pattern ex

Pinch Pick Etude 1

If you’re interested in learning the guitar and you are in the Stroud area (Gloucestershire), then get in touch to arrange your free introductory lesson

Teddy Thompson – In My Arms

This week one of the songs that I’ve taught was new to me and I thought I’d use it as an example of how I write out material for students. There are lots of ways to write out a song:

  • simple chord chart with bars
  • lyrics with chords above them
  • in proper notated music!

There are pros and cons for each option depending on the ability of the learner. The first two options are simple, but often give no indicated of the strumming pattern or how long to stay on each chord. This will therefore only work if you know the song well. Whilst making learning accessible is important, I also think many guitarists miss out key learning like how to read  basic rhythms and rests. I therefore opt to write out lesson materials in standard notation and tab. Early on I like to introduce the different rhythms and then gradually build on this with things like ties, rests and articulations. Also, if students want to read notation and ditch the tab, that is also something I teach and particularly useful if you want to play styles like jazz where lead sheets are very common.

Anyway, enough of this, here is a pdf of Teddy Thompson’s delightful tune ‘In My Arms’. It has a fairly basic set of chords, but watch out for the single note fills. It’s best to isolate these parts and develop the speed gradually.

In My Arms

Capo on the 2nd fret!