Rory's answers to some frequently asked questions from current and prospective students

How often should I take lessons?

-- I recommend weekly lessons, usually between 30-60 min. Having a music lesson once a week introduces a regular schedule for you to learn new material, practice over time, and repeat frequently enough to be effective. With lessons more than a week apart, it's a little more difficult to keep everything rolling at the same pace. However, some students take lessons every over week due to scheduling or financial restraints and that can work as well. Send me an email and we can find the lesson schedule that works for you.


Where do you teach lessons?

-- I can travel to your home or use my studio space at Piedmont Piano Company in Downtown Oakland. There is a $10 difference in price for home vs. studio lessons to cover travel costs. For homes with more than one family member taking lessons, travel cost applies only to one lesson. 


What is your cancellation policy?

-- If you need to cancel a lesson due to a scheduling conflicts I am happy to change the lesson time or schedule a makeup with 24 hours notice. If you give a short-notice cancellation in less than 24 hours, I ask that you schedule a makeup lesson within the month or be charged for the missed lesson without a makeup. If you know before the beginning of the month that you need to miss some days for work or vacation, etc. I can schedule that ahead of time with no makeup lessons necessary. 


What about age? How early can I start my kid? Do you teach adults as well?

-- I have experience teaching ages 5+ and enjoy teaching adults, young adult, teens and children. It depends on the student, but in my experience 8-10 years old is a great age to start. As young as 6 can sometimes work too, and of course it's never too late to start after 10. I started learning guitar myself when I was 14 and I teach plenty of adults who were complete beginners when they came to me.


Do I have to commit to regular lessons or can I take them "as needed?" 

-- Although regular lessons are recommended, my schedule is flexible. If you contact me with a special request/need, we can definitely work something out. Still, it is generally preferred that we set some kind of schedule in advance.


I want to get guitar lessons for my child. As a parent, is there any way I can be involved in lessons?

-- Absolutely! It's great when parents become involved with the teaching process. A lot of growth, especially in younger students, can be greatly facilitated by encouragement, praise, structure and of course help remembering to practice. I welcome parents to sit in on a lesson - regularly or whenever they like - and see exactly how I teach.


Do you teach any instruments besides guitar?

-- Yes! I also teach ukulele and electric bass. I have a great time playing/teaching these instruments and love having students who play them.


What do I need for lessons?

-- You will need your instrument and a music notation notebook to write down exercises and lesson content. If you don't have your own instrument yet, I can provide you with one for lessons, but you will not be able to use it to practice outside of lesson time.


What style(s) of music do you teach/play?

-- I teach and play a variety of styles. I love funk and soul, R&B, jazz, rock, blues, punk, indie, hip hop, and classical and have experience playing most of those styles. I'm happy to teach whatever you're interested in, although I have a repertoire of material for all levels if you're not sure where you want to start.


What's the best guitar for me to learn on, electric or acoustic?

-- Either is perfectly fine. It really depends on what styles you'd like to learn - it's easier to play gnarly blues solos on electric, but acoustics are generally better to play around the campfire. We'll work with what you have and assess what's the best fit for you. Many beginners find nylon-string acoustic guitars easiest to start on as the strings are are softer than the steel-string acoustic and electric guitars. 


Do I need to learn how to read music to play guitar?

-- Definitely not. It's an excellent skill to know how to read musical notation, but unless you want to learn, it's not something we need to spend a lot of time on. If you're more interested in other aspects of music, such as improvisation, theory, or learning songs, chords and scales, I have no problem using guitar tablature notation (shorthand that's a lot easier than musical notation) to teach.