Got questions about taking music lessons with me? I'm happy to answer anything I can.
If your question isn't answered below, feel free to email me at Phil@MilpitasGuitarLessons.com.
Piano: Ages 5 and up
Flute: Ages 7 and up
Guitar and Bass: Ages 8 and up
I chose these ages because of the physical abilities needed for each instrument. The guitar, for instance, needs better fine motor skills than piano just to get a sound out of the instrument. Starting too young on an instrument can lead to quitting out of frustration.
If your child is too young for their chosen instrument, you might consider piano lessons for a year or two to give them the fundamentals of music (which will apply to any instrument they might play later) and keep them interested in playing music until they’re a little older.
If you have a child under age 5, you might consider a KinderMusik-type program. Those programs use a variety of instruments and techniques to give your child a strong music-learning base that they can expand on with their chosen instrument when they’re older. In my experience, starting earlier on a specific instrument doesn’t lead to faster or more thorough learning. A child starting piano at age 3 and playing 3 years, and a child starting at 5 and playing 1 year will both end up at about the same level.
Absolutely you can! If one of my former students, a 70 year old man in a wheel chair learning how to play gypsy jazz guitar, is any example, it’s never too late to learn music.
The only thing that can hold you back from becoming the musician you want to be is if you can’t (or choose not to) commit to focused and consistent practice time. You don’t need to put in 8 hours a day like some child prodigy to become really good. But you do need to consistently practice and put in the work to accomplish your musical goals.
Worrying about your age is just an imaginary mental barrier. All you need to do is find out what you need to practice to reach your specific goals as a guitarist (that’s where I can help you) and then actually go practice those things. It’s a fail-proof plan for musical success.
A good starting point is 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days per week. The #1, super duper, mega gigante important thing that will help you become a good musician is consistency. Your time with me during your lesson once per week will be for me to teach you new skills and concepts to work on and to check up on how your doing with whatever I’ve given you to practice. The real work happens in your daily practice sessions at home.
Unfortunately there’s no good way to “cram” for music. Learn to play an instrument is all about developing muscle memories in your hands. And the only way to do that is through consistent daily practice. (Like sports, but tinier, and with less sweat.) You’ll find that you advance much quicker towards your goals practicing 30 minutes per day than you would cramming in 4 hours once a week.
In your lessons, I’ll show you exactly how to structure your practice sessions in a way that is super efficient and still keeps things fun. Learning HOW to practice is just as important as WHAT to practice. And I’ll show you every trick I’ve learned in my decades as a player, performer, and teacher to learn this stuff quickly.
If you are a beginner, regular weekly lessons are going to ensure that you’re staying consistent with your practicing and let me introduce new concepts to you regularly to keep you engaged and excited about playing music.
Every single time I’ve tried biweekly or less lessons with a beginner student, too much time lapses in between lessons resulting in a loss of focus on music and the student ends up quitting music. As a beginner, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not having regular and consistent lessons with a good teacher (ie. me!). I don’t want to see you quit music before you’ve reached your full potential just because you didn’t give it enough focus.
For intermediate and advanced players, drop-in lessons can sometimes be arranged. Ask yourself these few questions to see if regular weekly lessons or just periodic checkups will be best for you:
1. Do you feel you’re consistently improving your playing every week?
2. Are you regularly challenging yourself with new and more difficult material on a regular basis?
3. Do you understand why you’re playing what you’re playing?
If you can answer “yes” to those questions, then periodic drop-in lessons might be appropriate for you. But if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, not improving further, find yourself playing the same songs over and over, and don’t really understand how the music all fits together, then you need me to set you on a course for breaking up old ruts and habits and getting you back on track to becoming a better musician. And that happens by visiting me weekly.
If you’ve really got your act together and just need a periodic tune-up lessons or help with a specific problem or goal, please contact me for available time slots. Most slots go to my regular weekly students, but I usually have a couple places to squeeze in a drop-in.
The bulk of the work in learning to play an instrument takes place in your practice sessions at home. Our time during the lessons will be used for a quick check up on your current projects and introducing new concepts and techniques.
In each lesson I’ll give you enough stuff to work on to keep you busy for a full week. Therefore a second lesson during the week usually ends up being just a refresher of the previous lesson or me watching you practice. Neither of those is a spectacular use of your money. And, of course, you’re always welcome to email me if you are having trouble during the week or forgot how something works.
However, if you feel that an extra lesson per week will help keep you focused and on track, then I’m certainly willing to do it either periodically or on a weekly basis.
Somewhere between the ads claiming “Learn guitar in 30 days!” and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to mastery lies the answer to this question. The problem is, that answer if different for everyone. The good news is that YOU are in total control of the answer!
For that reason, no good music teacher will give you an answer to that question without having sat down with you to devise a plan that leads you to your musical goals.
What’s your idea of good? – Do you want to just be able to strum songs with your friends or kids? Or do you want to be a monster shred demon that takes on pieces by Steve Vai, Rachmaninoff, or John Coltrane? Different goals take different amounts of time to attain.
How much time are you going to commit? – 30 minutes per day is a minimum amount of practice time. The more time you put in, using efficient practice techniques (that I’ll show you), the more you’re going to be able to accomplish. Keep in mind, music is not a race. You don’t have to be in a hurry, even though I’ll move you towards your musical goals as quickly as I can. But you’re the one in control of how much and how quickly you improve on your instrument.
If you will not be attending a scheduled lesson, you need to give me at least 24 hours notice. With notice, I’m happy to arrange a makeup lesson time depending on my schedule.
If I’m going to be missing a class (usually due to a performance), you’ll know far in advance. And, of course, you don’t pay for those weeks I’m not available.
You betcha, Sparky! If you’re too far away or traffic is just a little too crummy to get to my studio, we can do your lessons via Skype, online, from anywhere in the world. It’s also sometimes a good way to get a lesson in while I’m on tour.
Skype lessons work best if you’ve got at least a couple months of playing under your belt. With beginners, I prefer to do at least 3 or 4 lessons in person to make sure your form is correct and make sure I’m not missing anything that video might miss. However, if you’re really far away from me, we can make it work even if you’re just beginning.
Tuition payments are due at the first lesson of the month, for the whole month. A 5% per week late fee is charged for late payments. (And I hate charging that fee… So make sure you’re not late…)
Payment can be made by cash, personal check, PayPal, or credit card. PayPal and credit card payments are subject to an additional fee of whatever they charge me to process your payment that way. It varies based on the total charged. Usually a couple bucks. The fee will be charged to you on the following month’s statement.