Hello Nicole, could you please tell us something about you?
I am a classical guitarist and teacher based in Melbourne, Australia. My passion is purely and simply for all things classical guitar. I started studying the guitar in the UK at the relatively ripe old age of 13 or 14 (after having first studied piano and clarinet), with the great British guitar pedagogue and composer Peter Nuttall.
Moving to Australia in my mid twenties, and after a bit of a hiatus from the guitar, I continued guitar performance and pedagogy studies with the well-respected (and one time teacher of Slava Grigoryan) Ron Payne. I then continued on my higher level studies with the inspirational Ben Dix of the Melbourne Guitar Quartet for my AMusA Diploma and beyond. In recent years I have also studied in masterclasses with the likes of Slava Grigoryan and Phillip Houghton.
I play two Australian-built guitars:
- 2008 Allan Bull spruce top
- 2012 John Price cedar top
I've been writing my classical guitar blog www.classicalguitarnstuff.com for the last three or so years, with the aim of helping if and where I can, by sharing my own knowledge, my own lessons learnt and experiences, to shape and follow your own path of learning on the guitar
I also want to help breakdown the idea that classical music is some rarified and "special thing". Yes, it is special in that all music is special, but not special in that it should be accessed by only a privileged few. Classical music and classical guitar is for all; it's for you. Have fun with it. Enjoy it. Learning to play the classical guitar is a wonderful journey of self-discovery and self-development.
In line with this philosophy of mine, I've also undertaken studies in human behaviour and coaching. This is so I can help my students even further in setting goals, understanding their preferred methods of learning, facing challenges and developing resourcefulness to face those challenges, becoming more proactive in handling problem areas in learning, playing and practice and ultimately achieving those desired goals in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Nowadays the web is full of resources and useful guitar-related stuff. In your opinion, is it possible to become a good self-taught guitar player? Or it's mandatory, at least at the beginning, to learn from a real teacher?
Well, in music I say that nothing is mandatory, there are no real hard and fast rules that you absolutely have do something one way or another. It's all about what it is (a) you want to achieve with what you're doing and (b) making music and having fun!
That said there are recommended approaches to doing certain things, and well-worn paths that may be easier to follow than trying to beat your own path through the confusing jungle of learning a skill and craft such as classical guitar (or any other style of guitar I would imagine).
Speaking purely from the perspective of classical guitar (I'm not really so qualified to talk about other styles), undoubtedly you will reap huge benefits from a good quality teacher, at all stages in your development. Never, ever fall into the trap of thinking you know it all. This is very dangerous and when you stop developing as a musician and guitarist.
I will always advocate the benefits of a teacher to anyone wanting learn something new, particularly with classical guitar.
What do you think about skype lessons and the like? Do they work? Do you usually give remote lessons?
Skype lessons are a great resource, especially in this wide brown land Down Under! For those living in remote and rural locations, they provide a similar (although not quite the same as face to face) type of lesson and access to the same high quality teachers as those living in larger metropolitan areas. I've been teaching students in all sorts of remote, rural parts of Australia, and we've been having some great successes. I've also used it to keep in touch with my students when I'm in the UK or even when they're overseas for work or holidays.
I think Skype lessons may not work so well with absolute beginners, due to setting up posture correctly and safely (you can do damage to yourself physically by starting to learn guitar with a poor posture), but I've not had experience as yet carrying out lessons via Skype with anyone lower than about 3rd Grade.
Free youtube videos or well-established pay websites such as Guitartricks or Jamplay?
Neither really if I'm honest - hah hah! Well, that's unfair because I've never heard of the two pay websites you mention. Certainly for classical guitar I suspect they may not provide the greatest value for money, although I'm always happy to be proven wrong! YouTube videos can provide some good sources of inspiration between lessons and some interesting pointers too.
Do you have some favorites software or apps that you use in your daily teaching/practice? Could you name a few?
For me, Skype and FaceTime are great as we've already mentioned. I also use Mobile Metronome for Android. And of course Wordpress for my blog www.classicalguitarnstuff.com
Please give a hint to the guitar learners of 2014.
Make music and have fun. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you have to do something in a certain way. You're the musician, make music in your way.
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