Guitar teacher, Dan Smith, giving guitar lessons on New York City’s Upper West Side, takes a few minutes from his busy guitar teaching schedule to speak with us about the guitar lesson climate in New York. Here is a transcript of the interview, but, please visit Dan’s guitar teacher page to see and hear the interview in its full form.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Welcome, Dan Smith. Thanks for talking to us today about your guitar teaching.
Dan Smith: Thanks for having me.
FindaGuitarTeacher: It’s our pleasure. Well, I’d like to start off the interview by asking you where you teach. What city do you teach in? What region? And do you teach in students’ homes or do they come to you?
Dan Smith: I teach in New York City, in the borough of Manhattan, and all my students come to me and work with me in my studio.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And can you describe briefly the guitar lesson climate in Manhattan? Do a lot of people want to learn guitar, and what styles of guitar are people most often interested in learning?
Dan Smith: Sure. A lot of people want to learn to play guitar here in Manhattan. It’s been that way for years, and I don’t anticipate it slowing down anytime soon. It’s definitely a big focus for a lot of people. But in terms of styles of music, certainly classic rock and blues have always been a big focus for me, and those are two styles of music that virtually everybody wants to learn. But, I teach a full range of styles, from country to folk and reggae and punk and whatever – pretty much everything that you want to learn, maybe with the exception of classical or flamenco guitar. But certainly folk music has been more of focus in recent years, for any number of reasons … but I cover a wide range.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And, in simple terms, how would you describe your guitar teaching approach? What’s your focus when you teach a guitar student?
Dan Smith: Well, I’d say, on one level, the experience I offer is really grounded in hands-on guitar playing and giving guitar students the skills they need to play anything they want to. But, the real benefit of working with me goes beyond just putting your fingers on the guitar strings. What I’m really focused on in my guitar lessons is teaching my students an overall approach to making music that will allow them, among other things, to really learn how to teach themselves, and develop their overall musicality, so they can feel more relaxed and confident in any guitar playing situation – whether they just want to play guitar by themselves, or with their friends, or if they’re interested in performing and/or writing their own music. But, guitar lessons with me go much deeper than just a song a week or the information of learning to play guitar. It’s really more of an overall approach.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And do you teach guitar to both adults and children?
Dan Smith: I do. However, the majority of my students these days are adults. I have a few younger guitar students. The youngest students I teach are thirteen years old and up, but most of my guitar students are adults in their thirties, forties, and fifties.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And, can you please describe your fees and your guitar lesson scheduling format?
Dan Smith: Sure. I start with a forty-five minute introductory guitar lesson, and I charge seventy-five dollars for that. And, if we do decide to work together, I work with all my students a minimum of one guitar lesson per week, and you can do a lesson as short as forty-five minutes; but, most of my students work with me for at least an hour or two, and my regular hourly fee is a hundred dollars an hour.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Can you tell us a little bit about your guitar gear? What kind of equipment do you use to teach guitar? What kind of guitars do you use – effects with the guitars? Do you employ recording equipment, and do you show your guitar students how to use that?
Dan Smith: Sure. Well, I’ve got a couple of electric guitars here in the studio, as well as a couple of acoustic guitars. For the electrics, I have a Fender Telecaster, as well as a Fender Stratocaster; and for my acoustics, I have a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar, as well as a Yamaha FG-410 acoustic guitar, which I’ve had forever – that’s probably my oldest guitar – I’ve had that since I was a kid. And, in terms of effects and recording, when guitar students are interested in doing that, I encourage them to start with Garage Band, which is a great recording program, that you can use for your iPad, as well as your iPhone, and, obviously, just on your regular computer. But, I myself, work with Pro Tools, and there are amazing effects within Pro Tools, as well as … I have a couple of simple pedals here in the studio as well.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And do you offer guidance to your guitar students about purchasing their own equipment?
Dan Smith: I do. In fact, when guitar students come to me, and they’re just getting started with learning to play guitar – maybe they haven’t purchased one yet – I encourage them to wait and discuss it with me … because I find that students get a much more satisfying result from their purchase, if they’ve had a chance to talk with me about it a little bit, and I can send them to a very good store, and we can figure out, you know, what’s going to be the right guitar for them, at the price that they want to pay. Generally speaking, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on your first guitar.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Dan Smith, it was great talking with you today about your guitar teaching.
Dan Smith: Thank you.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Best of luck to you and take care.
Dan Smith: Thank you very much.