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Guitar Lessons


How do you find a guitar teacher who not only plays well, but who actually knows how to teach you how to play well….as well?

A teacher who is accessible, personable and fun to work with?

A teacher who sincerely likes working with beginners, if you’re a beginner?

One who is great at inspiring kids to love playing and even love practicing, if you are a parent?

One who can teach you all the technical, musical and pedagogical secrets he’s learned from some of the world’s most prominent classical guitar players and teachers, if you are a classical guitarist?

One who loves showing you all the best ways become your own self-teacher, if you are a self-taught player looking for course-correction?

One who is committed to helping you to find and grow your greatest strengths, to see and overcome your biggest blind-spots, and to conquer your most daunting technical hurdles?

A teacher who is probably a lot more affordable than you think? A teacher who might be just the right match for you?

 

Hint: you very well might be on his website.

Guitar Lessons


How do you find a guitar teacher who not only plays well, but who actually knows how to teach you how to play well….as well?

A teacher who is accessible, personable and fun to work with?

A teacher who sincerely likes working with beginners, if you’re a beginner?

One who is great at inspiring kids to love playing and even love practicing, if you are a parent?

One who can teach you all the technical, musical and pedagogical secrets he’s learned from some of the world’s most prominent classical guitar players and teachers, if you are a classical guitarist?

One who loves showing you all the best ways become your own self-teacher, if you are a self-taught player looking for course-correction?

One who is committed to helping you to find and grow your greatest strengths, to see and overcome your biggest blind-spots, and to conquer your most daunting technical hurdles?

A teacher who is probably a lot more affordable than you think? A teacher who might be just the right match for you?

 

Hint: you very well might be on his website.

My Teaching Philosophy

  • Each of us has a different musical personality, and my commitment is to do everything in my power to make yours shine and reach its full potential.
  • I meet you at your level of playing and support your progress from there to however far you want to take your guitar playing, giving you clear and concise ways to develop your technique, musicianship, confidence and creativity.
  • I listen for exactly what you most deeply want to accomplish as a guitar player—whether this is simply to have fun playing music you love, or to play at a professional level.
  • I cross-reference that with what you actually need to learn in order get there.
  • I show you how to do so, step by step, by giving you the best possible repertoire choices, practice protocols, feedback, advice, technical instruction, technical exercises, and inspiration I can give.

 

My Experience

I’ve got 30-plus years of teaching experience with budding guitarists from as young as 5 to over 80.

I am a classically trained performer with graduate degrees from the Juilliard School of Music and the Cincinnati Conservatory, I’ve also been on the faculty of the Bowdoin Music Festival and Western Connecticut State University, and taught lessons for years to children and teens at the Marymount School in New York City. I’ve performed from Central Park to San Francisco, from Carnegie Hall to Shanghai, from  New Deli to Ulaan Bataar

 

Styles

I teach most popular styles of guitar at a beginner to intermediate level. (Not Jazz) Everything from fingerpicking, strumming, crafting great accompaniments if you are a singer, to understanding how to use theory, chords and scales effectively if you are a songwriter, giving you the tools and knowledge to make the most out of the guitar’s magic.

 

Lessons for Your Children

I’m an experienced teacher of children and teenagers, and have been the faculty private guitar teacher for Marymount School (Pre-K through High-school) since 1996.

The most important thing for me when teaching children is making sure that their unique individual musical gifts are encouraged and gently challenged, so that they can shine.

I include classical guitar principles, music reading, and music theory in the lessons, and mix this with popular guitar chords and songs that they can enjoy singing and playing  I’m careful to make sure they are playing music that motivates them to practice enthusiastically.

Once they have learned the basics they get to have even more say in what they want to learn. Some choose to focus on singing and playing and even songwriting, while others choose to keep getting better at ensemble playing, and at playing classical guitar solos. Fair warning to parents: some choose rock guitar solos as well.

About Classical Guitar Lessons

This is where my training lies. I am fully qualified to teach at all levels.
In addition to having as much fun playing guitar as it is possible to have, here are a bunch of things we can work on together:

 

  • The Eternal Basics
    Master and refine the technical basics: Sitting position, left and right hand position, movement and coordination.
  • Performance and Self-Expression
    Develop your ability to play expressively and communicate with listeners–and deal effectively with stage fright and nervousness.
  • Technique Building
    Develop and learn how to practice and greatly heighten important component classical guitar skills such as tone, accuracy, coordination. speed, dexterity, strength and suppleness, left hand stretching ability and barring.
  • Advanced Skills
    Master specific expressive techniques or advanced techniques such as tremolo, rasgueado, vibrato.
  • Memorization and Repertoire Building
    Master the process of learning, securely memorizing, interpreting and performing repertoire. Acquire and build a repertoire of your favorite music.
  • Reading Guitar Music
    Develop your sight reading ability as well as the art of working with and deciphering the knotty details and shorthand symbols used in classical guitar scores.
  • Music Theory that Matters
    Gain a practical and intuitive understanding of music theory in a way that helps you greatly to know how to interpret and communicate the meaning of the music
  • Mastering Guitar Fingerings
    Improve your ability to work out fingerings: I cut through the confusion to help you develop right and left hand fingerings that work for your hands, your technique, your musical preferences.

Special Considerations and Adjustments for Teaching Online

Nothing beats in-person lessons. But teaching online–which most of us in the world are stuck doing right now–does offer some upsides.  

I’ve found that as long as all the tools are working properly, and the adequate technology is present, online lessons are just as engaging and fun while often being even more focused and efficient. Screen sharing can make it easier to explain and demonstrate really clearly, and file-sharing makes it easier to quickly the exact repertoire and exercises needed for each situation.

One of the most difficult hurdles I’ve met is that it’s impossible to play along with my students in real time. This is an such an important facet of teaching, since playing with others is where all of us learn so many of the essentials of musicianship intuitively. In order to fix this problem I developed a system of recording duet or accompaniment tracks for each level of learning that allows you to feel almost like you are working on a a piece with me. It’s still a substitute, but I’ve found it a very helpful and effective one.

 

Rates

If you are interested in lessons, contact me and inquire about rates.

I want to make it as affordable as possible for you to make a commitment to lessons over time, as this is where real growth happens for most students. I have an asking price, which I hope you will be blessed enough in life to be able to pay—-but if you can’t, and I certainly understand that. I don’t consider it “charity” to teach anyone at the rate they can afford.

If you have a tradeable skill, hit me up—also open to barter on something that might be equally valuable to me as learning guitar might be to you. You’d be surprised at how wide my interests are, so don’t write this possibility off.

 

 

 

Testimonials

Jay is a gifted teacher who works with the student and engages them. He develops students as musicians and also develops their confidence in playing in front of an audience. He’s a fantastic teacher.

Matthew Solum

Guitar Student Parent, New York

My son and I have been taking lessons with Jay for a few months now. My husband and I had really wanted our son to take up some sort of musical instrument and he went back and forth between the drums and the guitar and ultimately chose the guitar. I had taken a semester of guitar back in high school but hadn’t really played anything since and thought it might be fun to start back up so I asked Jay if it would be possible for us to take back to back lessons and of course Jay was incredibly accommodating. It has ended up being such a great experience and something new and fun that my son and I can share together. Since we are both taking lessons, I am able to help him with the fundamentals he is learning and can play and/or sing along to help him a bit. I have been able to jump around a little more and learn some pieces that I was interested in and Jay has taught me some picking techniques which I had never learned before. Jay makes lessons incredibly fun and engaging and immediately puts both of us at ease even if we are having a hard time with something. We have so much fun practicing together and we look forward to our lessons every week!

 

Brittany Bouschard

Guitar Student AND Guitar Student Parent, New York

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.

Magnus Gautestad

Guitarist, Musician and Performer (Norsecode), Teacher, Kristiansand, Norway

At first I thought guitar was too hard and took too much time and effort, but then I decided to give it another shot. Now I find myself looking forward to my guitar lessons every week. Over the past year I have seen myself improve at guitar. I’ve learned to play a lot of my favorite songs like Hey Jude and Don’t Let Me Down. I love how I get to learn how to play the songs I love on the guitar, and learning has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. Mr. Kauffman is a great teacher

Zoe D

Young Guitar Student

I have studied with Jay as a relative beginner (as a teen), more advanced player, (many years ago) and now as a formerly advanced player who has not played in a while–and for each skill level, he has been a great teacher . Our online lessons over Skype have been crystal clear, and both of our guitars (especially his) sounds great over the internet!  Thanks to his tutelage when I was younger I had a strong technical foundation that allowed me to continue my studies at the Manhattan School of Music (pre-college division) and the Oberlin Conservatory as a guitar major. Jay adapts his lessons to the needs of the student and is flexible enough to change his pedagogy as necessary by doing constant reassessments as the needs of the student changes over time.

Justin Yoo

Egyptologist, London, England

My daughter Nadia was a complete beginner at age 5 when she started taking guitar lessons with Jay. He is a patient teacher and has given her the confidence and knowledge to grow and get to the next level with the guitar.  Over time, she has displayed increased levels of self-assurance whether playing at school recitals or for family. Due to COVID we transitioned to online lessons this year but Jay ensured it was seamless. Now in their third year together, he structures the lessons to not only meet her where she is but also to what her personal interests are – this last academic year she has been learning multiple folk ballads from Latin American countries
Natasha R.

Guitar Student Parent, New York

I have studied with Jay Kauffman for some ten years and would highly recommend him! He is very knowledgeable, patient and a good instructor. His prices are reasonable. Further, he is a wonderful player and I have had him perform at several functions.

Bill C.

Classical Guitar Student, New York

Jay’s approach to teaching is distracting me TO the music and away from the usual din in my head which disconnects me from both my hands and the guitar. So instead of listening to the whirlwind of chopped up thoughts I’m usually having while practicing, which are mostly negative (did that wrong, strings ALWAYS buzz, my hands must be misshapen, shouldn’t be even trying to do this, etc.), I am listening to the guitar — to the strings. The second thing is coming naturally from the first: I am feeling a direct connect between my mind, hands and back and shoulders and what sounds are happening. So I feel in control.

Rachel M

Guitarist, Guitar Student, New York

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.

Mai Mollman

Student, Guitarist, Writer, Iowa

Jay’s pedagogy is clear and accessible. He takes into account all levels of students, so the beginner doesn’t run away discouraged or the advanced turn off because they’re not challenged.

Mark Scott

Guitarist, guitar student, Ohio

Jay has been my 12 year old daughter’s guitar teacher since she was 6 years old, She loves that he is calm and patient and works with her to find pieces that she is interested in learning. With his knowledge, skill and guidance she went from playing 2 verses of “Brown Eyed Girl” to playing the guitar solo in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Sweet Child of Mine” !

Lisa Gemmel

Guitar Student Parent, New York

My daughter started taking on-line guitar lessons with Jay Kauffman this school year. Jay is a warm, encouraging and highly qualified teacher who clearly enjoys teaching guitar. In a relatively short time, our daughter has progressed from a complete beginner to learning how to play increasingly complex strumming patterns and chords, as well to play with a pick. Jay works with a variety of music, some selected by our daughter and some by Jay, all of which serve to increase her skills while having a lot of fun along the way. It’s been a terrific and rewarding experience. We recommend Jay highly.

Lauren Irwin

Guitar Student Parent, New York

I have always only had in person lessons, and I thought the distance and the internet computer communication would make it more difficult for Jay to communicate the subtleties of the music and guitar technique, for me to be heard and seen. But I found it took very  me little time to get comfortable.  It was just like being in the same room, in some ways even better.  An hour went by very quickly, I received some fantastic advice, a long term  technical issue addressed,  all in all really   comfortable, excellent, personable.

Robertguitars.com

Mikhail Robert

Misha Robert, Luthier, Victoria, British-Columbia, Canada

My daughter has been taking guitar lessons with Jay Kauffman since September of 2017. Over these past few years she has enjoyed learning to play many different styles of music on guitar. Jay has always made lessons fun and always presented an array of song choices for her, so that she could focus on a piece that she was interested in. My daughter has always said that Jay is a very patient teacher, taking time to explain different notes, chords, and techniques, so that she really has a handle on it.
In the spring of 2020, during covid, we transitioned from our in person lessons to Zoom based instruction, and Jay continued to give the same quality attention in this new format. He was flexible with his time, and emailed music sheets for her to practice with between lessons. He went above and beyond sending multiple music files for my daughter to listen and practice along with during the week. They even moved beyond acoustic guitar and explored playing some songs on the electric guitar, which was really fun for her.

Overall, Jay has been a wonderful teacher for my daughter. He has made the learning experience fun and enjoyable for everyone. It’s great to watch her learn and master new songs. Jay is easy to communicate with, and responds to any questions we might have between lessons in a prompt manner. We feel lucky to have Jay as Molly’s guitar teacher!

Maureen Cesario

Guitar Student Parent, New York

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.

 

M. Suzen, PhD

Nicosia, Cyprus

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