Composers, Songwriters and Crossover Musicians
One of my greatest joys is to work with people like me who are in the process of developing their creative, artistic skills, and seeing them flourish as a result.
Being creative is what life is all about. I have this crazy idea that most problems in society come about because of suppressed creativity. We are all so extraordinarily creative, but most of us are taught to hold out creativity inside like we are holding our gut in. We are taught learned inadequacy, taught to be embarrassed and defensive about our creative abilities because they are not “good enough for primetime.”
If you are jealous of what someone else can do, then there is a good chance you are suppressing your own ability to shine in that very area. I’m jealous of what a lot of people can do! In the best case scenario, this propels me either to simply admire and appreciate or to get be inspired and get active in learning to do what they can do, in my own way.
I am currently writing my first, full-length musical, thanks to the foundation Jay Kauffman built for me in our one-on-one guitar and music lessons. I’ve always been eager to compose music, but often struggled to find the discipline and patience necessary to learn the technical skills required to do so. Jay gave me specific tips regarding the physicality of guitar playing – finger placement, pressure, etc.— that helped me get good enough to write my own songs very quickly. I was astonished that, after only 2 or 3 lessons, I was able to stumble my way through chord progressions well enough to impress a first date with an original song after dinner. After 2 or 3 months of weekly lessons, I was able to play one of my songs in front of a small audience at an open mic in New York City and feel good about my performance.
My successes as a musician were not solely due to Jay’s many helpful tips and tricks. They were also due to his expert artistic suggestions. He always helped me find the perfect missing chord in the bridge of my new song without ever taking any credit. And I also benefitted greatly from his consistent encouragement and warm approval. Jay is one of the few mentors I have worked with who made me feel truly seen and validated as an artist. He saw talent in me and helped me grow it in the most earnest and lovely way. His contribution to my confidence is invaluable, and I will take it with me throughout my career and my life. Thanks Jay.
What can you help me with?
For whatever reason, I’ve worked often with budding songwriters who are learning guitar. For those who are genuinely curious about what a creative understanding of harmony and song structure can do for your songs, I’m good at breaking it down and I’m good at helping you discover the most interesting and effective and surprising options and techniques to make your songs uniquely expressive. In tangent with giving you a good basic understanding of good guitar technique and how to practice effectively, this can turn you into a killer singer-songwriter, quickly.
Jay has a multi-level approach. A pure technique and musical practice are combined in different levels. The artistic component of classical guitar playing is the essential part of the unique curriculum Jay is developing over time.
1. I improved my music reading skills with Jay’s guidance
2. Writing guitar music is a special trade, and Jay helped me on how to approach this.
3. I was coming from Rock music background, Jay helped me to adapt finger styles appropriate to classical guitar. Lessons go beyond the mere mechanics of playing. As a result, I also gained a good attitude on how to practice and improve in my playing and composing.
I definitely recommend any level classical guitar player to work with Jay. He does not only posses outstanding credentials from The Juilliard School and talent in classical guitar, but also his approach in teaching reflects his personal modesty and pedagogic approach in teaching music in general.
I’ve worked with a few students who are honing their composing skills, and have been thrilled to see and hear the music they create. Composing is such a personal thing and I don’t claim to be a composition teacher, but it might be rewarding to you to get some input and suggestions from me if you have appreciation for the music I write.
I discovered my love of music while taking part in a NY Philharmonic composition program through my high-school, and I knew I wanted to be able to make beautiful music through play of my own——to express my own musical style and taste effortlessly through play and composition.
Finding Jay really was the key for realising those goals.
Jay has plenty of curriculum to go through in the beginning phases and he is patient and helpful throughout that process. The real gift of the lessons came once I could hold my own a bit. At that point every lesson was packed full of pieces I wanted to learn and little compositions I was writing. We would find etudes I liked the sound of and use those to advance my play. We discussed what I was picking up on most and Jay was always there adjusting my technique while I found my way musically.
Lessons with Jay isn’t about strict, tedious work. Jay listens and collaborates to make learning your own instrument a brilliant experience. Towards the end of our time together, when I was really able to express myself, we would workshop pieces I was able to write and sometimes improv for ideas. Thanks to Jay, I’ll play guitar my own way for the rest of my life.
I’ve also worked with professional composers who are trying to compose specifically for the classical guitar—it is an especially tricky instrument to write for, and I can offer very professional and specific advice and feedback about what works, what doesn’t work, what will sound great, what will be playable.
As a metal and rock player, classical guitar is something I’ve been very curious about but never studied. I always wanted to, but I was hoping for something beyond my local teacher options, and with Jay my hopes were exceeded. Jay’s gotten me even more enthusiastic about classical guitar and classical music in general, so I can even use the principles in my own music and writing. I’ve become motivated to practice more. Jay is also a cool person who cares very much, and is good at constructive criticism, which really builds my confidence. He’s very specific and to the point. That’s what I really need.
But it’s not just like a program where you go through all the steps. I’m able to ask my own questions in many different areas, and learn many different things in one lesson. It’s very balanced. Jay has great technique habits, and I get great habits from him. He’s very conscious of every aspect of what he’s doing and can teach that clearly. He gives me reference points in my mind when I practice. He also uses good analogies and thought pictures in his teaching, so the guitar becomes more alive. He teaches how you can look at it from a bigger perspective– you get deeper into playing that way. I’ve also become more emotionally engaged when I play. I’ve started listening more, I’ve started feeling more, and I’m more connected to the music. This is something I’ve been looking for, and and is hard to find.
If you are a musician such as jazz guitarist or rock guitarist who wants to get some pointers or guidance with classical guitar, boost your classical chops in order to expand your skills, I’ve always enjoyed this, and I might even be interested in trading a few lessons, since I’m interested in expanding my skills in those areas, and in getting pointers and feedback.
With Jay’s advice… I feel like I’ve gone from 1 and 1/2 pistons to a V8. And I’m not talking about tomato juice.
All Images and Artwork ©Jay Kauffman
Unless otherwise noted. Please inquire about purchase or use.
Lessons are taught online and in person. Scholarships and trades available in special cases.
For lessons in your home in Tucson, add $10 to each lesson price.
- 60 Minute Lesson
- 45 Minute Lesson
- 30 Minute Lesson
- Classical Guitar and Composers/Songwriters — 60 minutes or 45 minutes recommended
- Acoustic Guitar —60 minutes best, 45 minutes works well
- Kids ——45 minute lessons are best for most kids. 1/2 hour works for the youngest
For now, I don’t have a cancellation policy—until my schedule fills up, it’s too much trouble for me to act like a doctor’s office or a corporation. I appreciate it, though if you let me know in advance about a lesson you need to cancel, and I prefer to try and reschedule it to another time in the week..
- Private Membership Website Page (Currently I set up a special (private) page on my website for each student, online or in personI do this for you as well as for myself, so I can keep a running record of the teaching and learning process. I upload all the materials and practice suggestions to this page in sections corresponding to each piece of repertoire. You don’t have to use it much or at all, in fact it’s good if you have and develop your own method of keeping pace with learning and practice complexities. I set up a page for all my students, but the practice suggestions are only for online students. (
- Private Collection of Classical Guitar repertoire and Technique Videos
- Private collection of Online Lessons and Materials, made available as needed to each student
- Accompaniment Collection
- I also record accompaniments for songs and melodies that students can play along with, and develop their skills at playing in duet settings.
- You can record the zoom sessions if you like so you can refer back to them.
In Person Lessons
- Tucson Studio with great view to a private landscape garden
- If the weather is good, we can have our lesson outside in a lovely veranda area.
- I travel around Tucson, upon availability.
- Add $15 to the price of each 45 minute or 60 minute lesson.
Or you can purchase a lesson and we will find a time ASAP.
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