Teaching Approach


Shane teaches guitar lessons in person in Wellington, NZ, as well as remotely via webcam. He currently teaches students remotely at King's University (Modesto, California, US), as well as private students located in the US, Australia, South Africa, UK, and New Zealand. 

Lesson materials are influenced by the student's age and music background, and Shane is able to adapt to meet students where they're at.

He employs a well thought out and proven basic curriculum to start off the lessons. Once he becomes familiar with each student and his/her musical interests, he adapts the materials going forward. For example, teaching a bunch of country songs to a rock-loving student may NOT work! :)
Overall, there is basic technique that every student must learn. But after achieving a good grasp of such technique, Shane's experience shows that students learn best through songs they're already familiar with and enjoy, increasing motivation and momentum to help them "push through" more difficult technical practice until it becomes easy.

The basic curriculum that every student starts off with is as follows:

# Guitar anatomy - learning the parts and the functions of the important parts
# Guitarist posture - best sitting practices, hand orientation etc
# Guitar 'alphabet' - Shane uses guitar tablature notation (TAB) as a foundational language through which to teach the majority of the students' first songs. He's found that manuscript (or formal music notation - which he reads and does teach, eventually) is too much of a hurdle for beginner students to tackle when starting learning the instrument. By using TAB, he can engender within the student a high level of loyalty and enthusiasm which can then be used later to help with the introduction of more formal notation. Basically speaking, he gets the student loving the instrument - then they're OK with tackling something a little foreign, like manuscript!
# Single line melodies - to implement this new language called TAB, Shane uses a basic repertoire of single line melodies (preferably recognizable examples such as the theme from The Simpsons, Star Wars or even "The Star Spangled Banner"). The point is to get the TAB "alphabet" under their fingers.
# Two strands of musical activity are then introduced ... melodies involving multiple string plucking (which leads to finger style guitar repertoire), and chordal songs requiring strumming. At this stage, dialogue can occur with regards to student preferred repertoire, to build some motivation for healthy practice levels.

Lessons are typically 30 minutes each week, or one hour every other week, though Shane is sometimes able to accommodate other arrangements if necessary.

Students need to supply their own guitars - preferably a nylon string/classical guitar (to start with) as the nylon strings are softer on the students' fingers so they tend to play/practice for longer! All other lesson materials are provided.

Shane expects two main things from all students: one is honesty and the other is 20 - 30 minutes of practice each day.

Honesty is with regards to the in-lesson attitude ... students must communicate if they don't understand something. Many feel pressure to appear that they've "got it all together" ... Shane debunks this notion, explaining the fallacy of building on a lack of knowledge. It really doesn't matter how many times he needs to explain something, in however many ways. We can only go forward once we're all on the same page.

Practice is just that - high levels of repetition. The student can utilize any number of techniques Shane gives them to make their practice time for effective and enjoyable!!!