FindaGuitarTeacher caught up with Brooklyn guitar teacher James Berry this week and talked with him about the climate of guitar lessons in Brooklyn and New York City, and James was kind enough to talk with us about his guitar teaching and his approach to learning how to play guitar. You can see the full video on James’s guitar teacher page, as well as read the transcript of the interview here.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Hi James.
James Berry: Hi how are you tonight?
FindaGuitarTeacher: I’m doing great. We’re here talking with James Berry, who is a guitar teacher on FindaGuitarTeacher.com, and we’d love to hear all about your guitar teaching today. Can you tell us first, where do you teach, what city are you in and what part of the city?
James Berry: I teach guitar in New York City, and I teach in Brooklyn. I teach in students’ homes throughout the borough of Brooklyn.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Great. And do you find that you teach both adults and children? And what’s the ratio – do you find you teach more kids or more adults?
James Berry: I’d say at this point that I teach guitar to equal numbers of adults and children.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And, overall, how would you describe the guitar lessons climate where you are? Do you find that a lot of people want to learn how to play guitar?
James Berry: Yes. I think Brooklyn is a good place to be to teach guitar, because in the past ten years or so, a lot of people have moved to Brooklyn; it’s a growing place, and a lot of families have moved to here, so you have a lot of children who are interested in guitar, and a lot of adults who are interested in learning guitar, as well, so I think it’s a good place to be, and I think that’s only going to continue in the future.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And do you find that people are interested in certain styles of guitar more than others?
James Berry: I would say that, on the whole, the adults I teach tend to be interested more in rock and blues, especially like classic rock songs, and the younger guitar students I teach, as you might imagine, are into more current pop music, like Taylor Swift or Katy Perry or Bruno Mars.
FindaGuitarTeacher: … Those kind of simple three or four chord songs –
James Berry: Exactly.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Great for getting started with, right? Yeah, cool!
FindaGuitarTeacher: And are there other styles of music that you offer, and can you tell us a little bit about that?
James Berry: Yes, I teach a wide variety of guitar styles. As I said, a lot of my guitar teaching is based in rock and blues and pop, but I also teach quite a bit of country; I can help people with some jazz standards, bossa nova, as well, so … so whatever someone is interested in, I can help them get going in that direction.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Sounds good. Can you give us a sense, in very simple, broad terms: what is your overall approach to guitar teaching? What do you tend to focus on?
James Berry: I’d say my main focus is to help my guitar students enjoy guitar playing, whether they’re just starting out, or whether they’ve been playing guitar for a while – that they feel, both about the guitar lessons, and about the experience of playing guitar in general, that it’s something they really enjoy, that they feel that they can pick up the guitar and play songs they like … that they can play guitar and sing at the same time … that they can play guitar together with their friends. My feeling is that, if they’re enjoying it in that way, they’re also going to be learning the most, either from me or through teaching themselves things.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Sounds good. And can you give us a sense of how much you charge and what your scheduling format is like? How often do you work with your guitar students?
James Berry: Of course. I teach guitar students I work with at least one hour per week, but many of my students work with me more than one hour per week, and I charge by the hour … my fee is $60 per hour.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Tell us a little bit about your guitar equipment. What kind of guitars do you work with and do you use any effects or recording equipment when you teach guitar?
James Berry: In general, when I’m teaching guitar, I teach with an electric guitar, and I use a Fender Stratocaster, played through a smaller Vox amp – the Vox AC4TV (FindaGuitarTeacher: Hmm – that’s a great amp). It’s a wonderful amp and portable too, so perfect for what I’m using it for.
FindaGuitarTeacher: And do you advise your guitar students on buying their own equipment?
James Berry: Yes, I do. In fact, I’ll say to students, if they are coming to me, and they don’t have a guitar at that point, just to put off purchasing one until we actually meet. Then that can be part of the discussion of the first guitar lesson. I can help them – point them in the right direction of a good guitar to buy – what kind of price range to look for. It can be a bit bewildering with all the choices out there, but, when we discuss it, I can help the student narrow that down and find a good guitar.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Well, listen, thank you so much for talking with us today. It’s been great to hear about your guitar teaching.
James Berry: Thank you. Thank you for having me on.
FindaGuitarTeacher: Absolutely. Thanks, James. Bye.
James Berry: Thank you. Bye-bye.