guitarist, composer, teacher (505)-400-6217

guitarist, composer, teacher (505)-400-6217

Dadagio Music Returns To Haynes Park

On August 9th my students and I had the pleasure of returning to Haynes Park for a final summer gig. It was a bit surreal this time out as a local church group was having a baptism ceremony just a few yards away from our stage and they were… well…loud. So the first half hour was definitely a sonic curiosity. Regardless, a great time was had by all. We played classic rock, modern country, R&B, and a heavy metal version of Dusty Springfield’s ” I Only Wanna Be With You”

…in other words, a typical Dadagio Music performance…

This video features Zach Shotwell, a fine guitarist and a frequent performer in many of my student shows. He’s played “Purple Haze” countless times but this was one stood out. Zach has never been this loose with this song – he actually improvised most of the ending.

It made my day!

Guitar Lesson of the Day

I’m always thrilled when a guitar student realizes the freedom that comes from all the hours of practice and performances – often of the same songs. At this point Zach owns this tune; he can use it as a vehicle to take his playing wherever he chooses – he can improvise with it and make it a new experience every time.

private guitar lessons by a qualified teacher in Albuquerque, NM, Corrales, NM, Rio Rancho, NM. adult group guitar lessons

Thanks to my good friend and right-hand man  Justin Clock for his fine drumming, Aris Zaffer for anchoring us on bass,

Jade Stokes for her guest vocals, and last but not least, Mike Pope for providing PA and sound crew.

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Dadagio Music Live at Haynes Park, Rio Rancho NM

Here’s a clip from our Haynes Park gig in Rio Rancho, 8/3. The whole point in taking guitar lessons is to be able to play the music you enjoy, then sharing it with other people. It takes courage to perform live. Of course having a solid practice ethic and passion for the music helps quite a bit! Few people are as passionate about their music and driven to improve as Noelle Davi who did a great job playing guitar on one of her favorite tunes. Accompanying Noelle is Danielle Shuck, vocals, Aris Zaffer, bass, and Justin Clock, drums. Special thanks to my good friend Stuart Erenberg for the excellent video!

Please leave a comment aa they are always appreciated!

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Johnny B. Goode… On wheels!

IMG_1611We had a fantastic time playing for the 4th of July parade here in Corrales. My students did an excellent rendition of Johnny B. Goode. Drummer Justin Clock gave us some rockin’ drums, guitarist Aris Zaffer did me a favor with some groovin’ solid bass playing, guitarist Zach Shotwell performed a note-for-note version of the solo that would make Chuck Berry proud, and vocalist Danielle Shuck’s stellar vocals were epic, as usual.

Special thanks to my dear Rosemary for decorating the float and EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to my good friend Dr. Paul Avrit for the use of his truck, trailer and parade driving skills.
Thanks to Gabby for the great footage you can see here:

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Tedeschi Trucks Band at Sandia Casino 6/14/2013

private-guitar-lessons-by-a-qualified-teacher-in-albuquerque-nm-corrales-nm-rio-rancho-nm Rosemary and I had the pleasure of attending the Tedeschi Trucks Band Friday night, and, man oh man, what a show! Featuring tunes from their upcoming “Made Up Mind” album, the 11 piece band played their set with equal parts soul, groove, and virtuosity. Susan Tedeschi was in fine form, singing and playing guitar with an aggressive yet controlled style. As far as Derek Trucks goes, it’s been said countless times but I’m compelled to say it again: Derek Trucks is one of the very best guitar players on the planet and you owe it to yourself to see him live. Other members of TTB include: Oteil Burbridge – Bass Guitar, Kofi Burbridge – Keyboards & Flute,  Tyler Greenwell – Drums & Percussion,  J.J. Johnson – Drums & Percussion, Mike Mattison – Harmony Vocals, Mark Rivers – Harmony Vocals,Kebbi Williams – Saxophone,  Maurice Brown – Trumpet,  Saunders Sermons – Trombone. All had a spotlight moment at one time during the show and justifiably so; they are all fine musicians in their own right. This is one band so good they allow the listener to transcend all that makes up going to a concert and just become entranced with great music!

I “made up my mind” about the Tedeschi Trucks Band  years ago and if you have the opportunity to see them live, you will do so as well.


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The Practice Cycle: A beginning guitar player’s guide to world class results

private guitar lessons by a qualified teacher in Albuquerque, NM, Corrales, NM, Rio Rancho, NM. adult group guitar lessonsHere is a practice cycle certain to give you results with your guitar lessons and your guitar playing in general.

Like many things in music, it’s mega-simple.

The more you play the guitar, the easier it is for you to play.

↑                                                                                                   ↓

↑        The easier it is to play the guitar, the more fun it is to play.       

↑                                                                                                   ↓

↑                  The more fun it is to play the guitar, the more you will want to play.

↑                                                                                                   ↓

↑                                     The more you want to play the guitar, the more you will play.

↑                                      At this point your improvement will be obvious and here begins the

↑ cycle back to the beginning…

  First we make the commitment to learn and practice and basically take action. Once we enter the cycle, fun and inspiration then enters the picture. I realize this is somewhat oversimplified but PLAYING THE GUITAR  DOES NOT REQUIRE COMPLICATED THINKING! Did you decide to play guitar because you needed more complexity in your life??

   If you break the cycle, remember you can always return. Your desire and effort creates the fun and inspiration, the fun/inspiration then creates more desire leading to more practice and – before you know it – your back in…

… enough said. your cycle awaits…





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Whad’ya mean Eddie Van Halen/Carlos Santana/Billie Joe Armstrong can’t read music?

private guitar lessons by a qualified teacher in Albuquerque, NM, Corrales, NM, Rio Rancho, NM. adult group guitar lessons It’s true. Many great musicians can’t read music- standard notation, tablature-nada.

It’s a fact that leads to many questions.These questions vary from “Do I need to read music?” to an alarming  “Why do I hear my son playing guitar but I don’t see him reading any music!” Some people come to me, already playing really well, and warn me in an almost disparaging tone “I don’t know any music theory and I can’t read music.” They  imply 2 things: only “real, legitimate musicians read music” and “I, not being of  the aforementioned “legit” set, could never accomplish such a feat.”

Here’s my take on this issue:

1. reading music is a skill. Talent has nothing to do with it’s accomplishment. Bluntly put, anyone without brain impairment can learn to read music! Reading music will definitely help a musician’s overall musicality as it helps sharpen your ear over time. Not reading music, however, will not impede a guitarists development. It is a useful skill I encourage but I only pursue it in my lessons if it works for the student.

This warrants some detail.

In my early years as a guitar teacher I resisted tablature in my lessons. I insisted my students read standard notation.  That did not work. While many people wanted to read, quite a few students did not. In fact, I don’t think they would have continued with guitar lessons if it meant reading music. Many of these students played quite well without reading music, many without even reading tablature! I realized that everyone has a personal learning style that works for them. I feel my job as a teacher is to connect  with my students and know their goals, strengths, and learning style. This leads to the ultimate goal: making music by playing the guitar to the best of one’s ability.

2. Many of the pop musicians we know and love can’t read music at all.

As I mentioned earlier, musicians the likes of B.B. King, Paul Macartney, Elton John – the list is long and great- do not read music.. If these brilliant musicians cannot read music and yet create so much great music, what does that tell us about playing an instrument and music in general?

the lesson in this is my final point:

(3) music is a  hearing art. Your primary task as a guitarist is to build your ear– your ability to create, recognize, and react to music solely by listening. For most guitarists, unless you find yourself  in music school, an ensemble, or studio session where sheet music is required for music to actually take place, reading music is ultimately an optional part of the goal. A very useful option, no doubt, but an option nonetheless.

The gist: if you want to be a musician at any level, you must  play as much as possible and develop your ear, period. Reading music can help and in many cases speed up the rate of improvement. But it’s not the deal-breaker in playing the guitar well or making music in general.

coming soon to a blog near you: ways to improve your ear 


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The Beatles+Hank Williams+Neil Young+Queen+Scrapper Blackwell = another Corrales Guitar Social

guitar-lessons-in-albuquerque-nm-rio-rancho-nm-corrales-nm-by-a-professional-qualified-teacher-2I just finished another Adult Beginner Guitar Class here in Corrales. Once again we had a blast. It’s always great to see people taking the time to enjoy themselves playing music together. Not a performance but just a stress free “guitar social” if you will.

Here is the set list we covered:

Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams Sr.

Every Breath You Take- The Police

Heart of Gold- Neil Young

All My Lovin’- The Beatles

Papa’s on The Housetop – Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell

Crazy Little thing Called Love- Queen

One – U2guitar-lessons-in-albuquerque-nm-rio-rancho-nm-corrales-nm-by-a-professional-qualified-teacher-2


I try to have a variety of tunes so that we end up with different challenges with rhythm, groove, strumming, etc. Of course the main goal is to play tunes that are fun but it doesn’t hurt to learn something along the way!

I believe true “music”  is an interaction between people. If you’re just playing by yourself all the time, you really haven’t made  “music” by my definition until you play for someone or you play with another musician.


It’s important to know the more you play with other people, the faster your guitar playing will improve. If you are taking guitar lessons and aren’t finding an outlet for playing with other people, you should make it a point to do so. Ask your teacher if he/she has any students who would like to jam with you. Play with anyone. Even of you don’t know other guitarists, play with any other musician. If your neighbor plays the tuba, find some music to play together! Have your teacher help you with this.

If you do end up playing with your tuba playing neighbor, send me a video. I’d love to hear that jam session…


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The Coolest Guitarist alive can’t move a muscle: Jason Becker’s movie

guitar-lessons-in-albuquerque-nm-rio-rancho-nm-corrales-nm-by-a-professional-qualified-teacher-2We think we have so many problems.

We really don’t..

I recently saw “Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet”, a documentary about the incredible story of guitarist Jason Becker. A musician with massive natural talent, Jason had a few informal guitar lessons with his uncle and later with a local teacher. He played constantly and his progress was rapid. Jason found himself on the cusp of rock stardom at 19 years old as the guitarist for the David Lee Roth band (of Van Halen fame) only to be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. This quickly left him unable to even breathe much less play the guitar. In 1991, Jason was given 5 years to live. Yet he’s still alive today.

He still writes and records music.

Let me repeat myself: Jason Becker continues to compose and record music yet he literally can’t move anything but his eyes! Using a computer program created by his father, Jason communicates the music he is hearing inside his head and his father inputs the data into a computer which results in his compositions. Using other musicians to perform the music, Jason has released entire Cd’s this way.

This story reminds me that music is a coduit for our imagination, a vehicle to manifest our joys, our sorrows, our hopes and disappointments. Art comes from within us, it’s pure emotion.  Jason shows us that if we are determined to create art, nothing can stop us.

…and on that note, I’m going to go practice!


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I’ve been taking guitar lessons for months and I still can’t play…

guitar-lessons-in-albuquerque-nm-rio-rancho-nm-corrales-nm-by-a-professional-qualified-teacher-2I had a student 15 years ago. We’ll call her Janet. She had a great attitude and was always a pleasure to teach. Jane had a rough time as a beginner guitarist. Seriously, the amount of natural ability in Jane was low. In fact, I would venture to say that many teachers would have told her parents to have her try something else.  As I often like to point out, however, talent is overrated. Playing guitar, and music in general, requires commitment, patience, and consistent practice. So Janet and I would meet every week and work on tunes  with a focus on rhythm development. She did not flow. She did not groove. She was awkward. She couldn’t hear her lack of feel for the music. I kept pushing her as much as possible with each session, pointing out the things she needed to be aware of in her daily practice. I told her to keep listening!  I also told her it’s ok to sound terrible; it always sounds bad before it sounds good. This is how improvement at anything works! Such were our meetings for close to a year. I encouraged her to keep practicing, and, trusting her teacher’s direction, she continued to practice her guitar playing consistently and patiently.

Then something happened.

Janet could play the guitar! It was gradual. It was a glacially slow process for her.  But she reached a point where she was on stage with a full band at my annual student concert, not only playing but grooving, playing funky guitar with excellent rhythm and feel. It was especially fulfilling for me because she trusted my direction: stay with it, don’t judge your sessions, just do the work and be consistent. And have fun while your’e doing it! Same practice advice I give to all my students. I’m sure she thought of giving up the guitar several times. But she didn’t.

I’ve always been especially proud of Janet but I take no credit for her remarkable improvement. I just guided her practice habits and her practice mindset. I had no doubt she would eventually play well if she persevered. Playing guitar well is something we are all capable of accomplishing.

Keep practicing!


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It Sounds bad until it Sounds Good: the first guitar lesson and my definition of improvement.

IMG_0983It’s hard until it’s easy…

It sounds bad until it sounds good…

  …Your nervous and awkward. Your fingers hurt. You sound terrible. And your sitting with a an audience of one, your guitar teacher, who knows how bad you sound…

From your very first guitar lesson the truth reveals itself: This is going to take some time. And effort.

Oh, and there’s some discomfort involved…

Is this what I signed up for?

In a word: yes. It’s often the hardest thing to convey to a student, the idea that in choosing to play the guitar you’ve decided on a great way to improve yourself. And just like a new exercise routine, meditation, or a new career, learning music requires patience, commitment, and delayed gratification. As with anything in this arena, the results you desire will come so long as you meet these requirements. Talent helps, but it doesn’t guarantee anything (it really is overrated). I’ve known many talented, mediocre musicians. I often tell my students “the more I practice the more talented I seem to become.”

It’s hard until it’s easy…It sounds bad until it sounds good…

I’d love to tell you that when I first picked up a guitar the clouds parted, a shining bright light enveloped me and a commanding voice spoke: “You will be a great musician. You were born to play the guitar. And yes, music will be effortless for you”

Actually I grew up imagining this scenario to be true for all my guitar heroes. They were born to play the guitar. It’s easy for them. They didn’t need guitar lessons. And it may well have been true for many players but it most certainly wasn’t true for me! My humble beginnings on the guitar included sore fingers, rhythm varying from terrible to nonexistent, and zero sense of pitch (I’m laughing nervously at the sheer amount of truth in this sentence! ). And for me it was massive amounts of effort. My saving grace was putting in so many hours of guitar practice everyday because I loved the sound of it so much, regardless of my dreadful lack of ability. I obviously improved but it took quite a while because I refused to take guitar lessons until I studied music in college (big, big mistake; my students learn what I taught myself in a fraction of the time it took me).

Improvement is uncomfortable. It’s a process of leaving our safe, comfortable routine and applying our efforts to doing something, repeatedly, that we can’t yet do. And so we fail, we try again, we fail, we try again. Not the greatest recipe for feeding our ego, but this is how we get better at the guitar. I’ve never seen anyone not improve who simply accepted the discomfort and stayed with it!

Of course the discomfort I’m referring to is mostly directed toward the ego. Your fingers hurt only briefly when first learning to play the guitar.  With the guidance of a good teacher you are likely improving with each practice session (although you may not always feel this way in the moment). The only  real “pain” is the fact that you are not as good as you’d like to be right now. No threat, no risk. Just a little ego bruising.

So as you practice and hit that chord wrong yet again, remember that you probably will sound bad until you sound good. This is improvement. Most importantly, don’t make a huge deal of it and try to enjoy yourself because that is whole point!


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