"Helping Adult Students Connect Meaningfully with Music"
My goal is to take the mystery out of playing great, expressive music.
Who are my students?
- Business and professional people, students, artists, actors with busy careers who feel a desire to bring music into their lives
- Retired people or those later in life who have always wanted to learn an instrument and finally have the time to devote to it.
- Guitarists who have been playing for a while or may have stopped practicing at some point and want to break through to the next level.
Advanced players who want to refine their technique or deepen their understanding of music theory. I have taught recording artists, symphony musicians, and professional singers and songwriters.
- 30 years teaching private guitar, electric bass and music theory lessons
- 15 years on Hunter College Music Department faculty
- I teach rock, jazz, blues and folk guitar to adult students at all levels – beginner to advanced
- Experienced, patient teacher
- Each lesson is tailored to each student’s individual needs and learning style
- I teach in my students’ homes in Brooklyn and Manhattan
- Available weekdays and weekends, days and evenings
- One full hour lesson - $75. Buy 8 lessons in advance, get one free!
In light of the current coronavirus crisis, I am offering video lessons on a sliding scale, based on what is currently affordable for you.
What students say...
"Jonathan is a superb music teacher. He is very knowledgeable and patient and will cater the class to your ability/desire. His passion for music will inspire you...Please try him out as a teacher as he has been pivotal for my music education...Also, make sure you see him play at a venue around the city."
- Mark E.
"I am 56 years old and had no previous experience with any musical instrument before starting guitar lessons a couple of years ago. I’ve been working with Jonathan for most of that time and I think he is excellent. He is calm and patient and explains things well to a non-musician. I don’t have much natural aptitude and he’s been great at helping me stay motivated despite my slow progress. I’d heartily recommend him to any adult learner."
- Dan B.
"Jonathan is a great teacher. Even though I’ve been playing professionally for years as a singer/songwriter, my lessons with Jonathan have opened up exciting new possibilities for me on the guitar. His patient, clear approach makes it easy and fun to learn. I would highly recommend his teaching for anyone starting out or looking to improve their playing at any level."
- Ellen W.
"Jon is a magnificent guitar teacher. Extremely knowledgeable about the guitar, about different types of guitars and different types of music genres. He taught me a lot about rock, blues, country, folk and even classical. Not only did he teach me how to play the instrument, he taught me music theory and reading. He is a kind, gentle, patient teacher. Not only a wonderful teacher but a wonderful human being. Even though I am no longer his student, we remain good friends and I shall always fondly remember the years when he guided me through the magical world of music."
- Ricardo R.
"Prior to working with Jonathan, I had two other guitar teachers and after a few months, I lost my interest with both of them. Playing guitar is always something I've wanted to do but never had the right teacher until I met Jonathan. From our first lesson, he made it clear that his goal was to make sure that I want to pick up the guitar as often as possible. Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you'll get at it, and there's no way of improving unless you are consistent with your practice. That was step one for me, and after a year or so he continues to come up with creative ways to ensure I want to pick up the guitar after our lesson is over.
He's also extremely patient and non-judgmental. Learning new things can be a struggle, but he's never made me feel as though I'm incompetent or can't overcome a hurdle. He's open about things he struggled with when he was first learning and things very experienced guitarists struggle with as well which is very helpful.
Lastly, as a guitarist, Jonathan can play anything. I'll hear a song during the week that I want to learn and within a minute or two he can figure it out and teach it. It's impressive. I also love the fact that we discuss music theory and the reasons as to why certain chords or notes go together. I've improved immensely since working with Jonathan and can play comfortably with friends of mine who have been playing for over a decade.
I would highly recommend Jonathan to anyone of any skill level."
- Scott N.
"I started taking guitar lessons when I was about 16 years old with Jonathan. When I look back I really like the fact that he always made learning chords and theory seem like a breeze. Every lesson was fun because I would learn songs by my favorite artists. His talent and passion for the guitar was very inspiring and he was always patient and explained things in a very clear manner. I am very glad I got to meet him and be his student."
- Axel L.
My teaching philosophy
I didn’t begin playing seriously until later in life, so I remember what it’s like to be just starting out. And I found my struggles as an adult student to be an advantage as a teacher because they helped me understand how to break down each advancing step into its component parts and present them to my students in a logical and methodical way that they can actually absorb. Some teachers prefer to work with “advanced” students with whom they can work at a faster pace; I get satisfaction from helping students break down the process and seeing them progress at their own pace, whether they are beginners or more experienced players.
"Why is this part so hard? It should be easy!" My years of experience in observing and helping students allows me to spot the sometimes hidden technical problems that are holding you back from smoothly executing a transition. By identifying those specific moments, you will know exactly what to focus on to make the most efficient use of your practice time. In this way, even a few minutes of focused practice can yield tangible benefits.
My education and teaching experience
Although I began college as an English major, I found that the music courses I was taking “on the side” were my favorites by far. The courses I took piqued my natural curiosity about how music works and provided my largely self-taught guitar playing with a solid foundation in music theory. I eventually transferred to the jazz program headed by John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet at the City College of New York, where I gained valuable ensemble experience as well as a well-rounded musical education.
After graduating with my B.F.A. in Guitar Performance, I studied privately with guitarist Dan Carillo, who has played and recorded with Harry Belafonte, Dianne Reeves and Tania Maria among many others. Through studying with Dan, who holds a Master’s degree in music, I observed that his deep knowledge of the structures of music was critical to his proficiency as a player, and I was inspired to continue my formal studies as well. I ended up with a M.A. in Music Composition from Hunter College, where for many years I also taught Music Theory, Sight Singing, and Ear Training courses. The depth and range of my experiences over a lifetime of learning and teaching has given me the ability to meet each student at their own level and to find what works best for them in helping them to meet their goals most efficiently.
Why one-on-one lessons are the best way to go
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of instructional YouTube videos and websites out there. Many of them are excellent resources. But I have had many students come to me having learned (sometimes quite a bit) from online sites but feeling unsatisfied with their progress. This is because even the most well-crafted video cannot say to you, “I notice that your thumb is angled at such-and-such a way behind the neck. Try moving it ever so slightly, like this.” These small observations and adjustments, which will be different for each individual, are often the most important keys to helping a student break through to the next level.
A message for beginners
Over a lifetime of teaching students of all ages, levels and abilities, I have seen that adult beginners face unique challenges in incorporating music into their already busy lives. I have developed an array of approaches and strategies that will help you to successfully implement a regular practice routine and to stay motivated in the face of the demanding schedules most of us already contend with. I will guide you through a doable, step-by-step process that will have you playing the music you love faster than you might have imagined possible. Five minutes a day is all it takes to begin.
I travel to my students’ homes in Brooklyn and Manhattan
I play and teach full-time, so I am available for lessons daytimes and evenings, weekdays and weekends. Regular weekly lessons work best for most people, but if your routine is less predictable, I will do my best to work with your schedule.
There is a full-charge 24-hour cancellation policy. Scheduling a lesson constitutes agreement to the policy.