31. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

Time bandits was an awesome movie.  Sadly, the real time bandits just suck big time!  I’m talking about the little things in the day that eat away at your available time.  They seem unavoidable and they always crop up.  Laundry is a bad, never ending time thief.  I don’t mind the quick break every 40 minutes to switch a load from the washer to the dryer.  Folding laundry isn’t so convenient though.  Usually that’s when I like to take in a bit of a TV break.  I don’t feel half as bad watching some silly program when I’m folding laundry, because I’m folding laundry.  Email, Facebook, eating, making food to eat all adds up in the day and takes away from practice time.


Early on in my guitar studies, it was emphasised to have a schedule and a practice plan.  It’s all fine to say that you will practice 1 hour, or 3 hours every day.  It’s quite another if you don’t actually have that time to practice.  You don’t want to feel guilty that you aren’t focused on your practice when it actually impossible for you.  This just leads to a vicious cycle where you beat yourself up.  My first attempt at my recent schedule looked great, I blocked out my work and sleep for my work days, kids activities.  Then I looked at all the wonderful white space and was excited about how much practice I could get.  Then I realised, I didn’t block out sleeping time on my days off.  Sleep is so important!!  My schedule was far less open.

This morning, I normally would have been dead to the world after finishing my night shift.  This week though, I’m off due to medical issues.  I woke up at 8 am and spent 2 and a half hours getting ready.  This included a half hour for stretching.  Focused mainly on legs, neck and arms.  Neck and arms are critical to be loose and limber for guitar, and legs, because of all the sitting I do.  My legs complain a lot!  I had to be careful not to put any torsion on my midsection.  Luckily, my back has been doing well.  I had a good half hour warm up session.  A little break now and back to more practice.  My goal today is sight reading and review of some basic pieces. Then I will pick up Julia Florida again, review what I have down, and add to it.

31. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted and life has been full, but not so much with guitar.  Renovations, restructuring and a new business have filled the day to day agenda.  There is also uncertainty in the future with layoffs in my work.  Not so much as IF I will be laid off, but rather WHEN.  So we put that all in perspective and the last thing you would expect is a road trip for a week of guitar study.  It sounds crazy, but that is exactly what it will be, and I think it couldn’t happen at a better time!

There have always been obstacles for me in the pursuit of guitar study. Not just for me though, but I believe for everyone who has ever picked up an instrument.  Bills to pay, obligations, finances, jobs everything seems to push music to the back.  So many people I’ve talked to say they used to play guitar but…. I wanted to play piano but….  there are always issues.  So now I’m going to challenge every one of those issues and over come them to make this happen!Calgary

So my health has impacted my productivity.  Prior to issues, I easily practiced 3 hours a day, 3 to 4 days a week.  This would include 1 hour at about 4 or 5 am, another hour at 10 am, then another hour around 5 pm.  There was room for extra practice sessions there depending on errands and need for sleep.  Since my last bout of health issues, my sleep has returned more to normal.  Sleep in if I could, up in the a.m. and to bed in the evening with little energy.  Trying to squeeze that 3 hours of practice in a day seemed impossible.

We have recently undergone some intense renovations which decimated my rough but practical and ergonomically laid out music studio, and in it’s place grew a wonderful hair salon.  Ok, it’s not a guitar studio, but the hair salon makes a heck of a lot more money than guitar!  One of the worst things for practicing an instrument is having it packed away somewhere out of sight and out of reach.  Same with all the support materials.  This for me was a problem.  With limited energy, taking time to dig out materials, set up a work space, practice, then pack it all in was killer.  Add to it the competition for space with all the family activities going on makes it even more difficult. To resolve this, I’ve started converting my girls room into my makeshift music study.   I will steal some dresser space for my immediately necessary books and music.  A folding chair behind the door, and my guitars in her closet.  When I want t practice, I just throw open the chair, pop open a guitar on the bed, pull out a foot rest and grab the books near me and get to it!

There is still some cleaning up and de-cluttering to be done.  It’s difficult to practice when there is chaos and clutter strewn around.  A practice area has to be conducive to productive focus.  This also means that clutters elsewhere have to be taken care of too.  Clutter seems to have a way of being strewn from one area to another by shear proximity. It has to be nipped in the bud before it grows.  One further complication, my office was also part of my studio.  So my workspace has now retreated to the kitchen table.  Here, it competes with daily meals.  Not so convenient to have my organisational stacks of to do papers strategically on my desk anymore.  So I now have to be more coordinated at my paperwork.

Current obstacles I’m facing are my health, recovering from a recent visit to emergency, growing a new business with the salon, and a career change due to layoffs.  With all this, I have to re-apply myself to build up to 3 hours a day at least of practice.  Likewise, I also have to get my main piece ready for the master classes.  I’m as eager as you to see how this will turn out, the ending of which, will surely prove to be another beginning!


21. August 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It’s a busy world, school, work, activities, functions and events.  There are so many demands on time and money.  It becomes hard to decide where to draw a line for the spending budget, or making effort for an additional activity.  The addition for musical study for kids is never wrong.  That is provided that the child is interested and willing to practice.  Likewise, it’s important that no matter what instrument is chosen, that you find a qualified, dedicated teacher.  There are always those neighbourhood kids that are good at guitar, who will be happy to show your child how to play guitar some.  Not always a bad idea, can be convenient and can be great fun. Likewise, it can be a gateway to more serious learning.  Take for instance, Steve Vai, showing up on Joe Satriani’s doorstep with a guitar without any strings in one hand, and a pack of strings in the other asking for lessons.  Neither one did too badly thereafter at all.

Enrolling your child in legitimate music lessons however does not have to be expensive.  Any legitimate music studio will issue receipts that are applicable for the Child Arts Tax Credit, which is always a help at tax time.

Currently space at 8va Classical Guitar Studio is very limited.  For any prospective student that is interested in classical guitar lessons, I will do my very best to accommodate.  My focus is for providing opportunities for learning, and I will make every effort so that no child should have to miss out.

To inquire about lesson times or for questions regarding 8va Classical Guitar Studio, call 306-527-8861, or email at guitar8va@gmail.com.


21. August 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It’s one week until the start of the 2015/16 school year.  Wishing everyone the best in their preparations and back to school supplies shopping.

I have been negligent in updating the web page, so here we go, back on track.  We have gone through some major renovations in our home which has resulted in the physical dismantling of 8va Classica Guitar Studio.  As a result, lessons are now being taught in the living room.  While not my ideal setup, it is by far, not a bad one.  We have the benefit of ambiance of a grand bay window, lots of natural light and fresh air during the summer.  If I had my way, I would permanently set my studio up there, except it would not be well received by the rest of the family.  We are undergoing further renovations and work that will need to be completed before I can start the renovations for the guitar studio.

Once the renovations are complete, 8va Studio will be brighter, more comprehensive and musical than before!  We will have a student waiting area and bathroom, as well as a refreshment center for parents and waiting students.  There will even be a play area for students younger siblings.  I will also continue to make efforts to provide the best learning atmosphere for the study of classical guitar, providing all proper necessities and more for the comfort and convenience for students and music study.

I am very encouraged by the progress and enthusiasm of my students.  Seeing their excitement with each achievement and resolve to surpass new musical challenges is a great reward.  The byproduct of this learning is beautiful music.  Student achievements so far for this summer include students learning to read music and developing early sight reading strategies, playing through their first RCM graded piece, and the start of the first duet piece.  Work also included detailed attention for proper technique, developing technical exercises and scales.

I am especially excited for my youngest student.  Having such a young start with classical guitar and their current progress is very promising.  You never go wrong with music!

05. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog Post


I hope everyone had a great Christmas and have exciting plans for the brand new year ahead.  I had a wonderful time with my family, despite a run of the flu and the extreme cold weather.  The last couple months I have been distracted from my usual focus, and this is where I make my New Year’s resolve.  I’m going to be a bit selfish and work on more ‘me’ time.  That is, more professional musical development and less busy work in other musical activities.  I also will be working on my quest for sleep and improving my own general health to further support my musical activities.  Rest, health and music when combined with family make for a great quality of life.

My musical focus will be spent on a focus for my advanced repertoire study, development of my musical understanding and more recordings.  My goal for this year will be on performance, both live and recorded.

A special thanks to Cobb Swanson Music for their great $2 boxing day sale!  I was able to pick up several great theory books that I will be distributing to my students.  Sure, they are old, but theory doesn’t change, and for $2, that’s a nice bit of change in return.  The books that we will be using are the “Lawless Theory Course Preliminary Rudiments” 2nd Edition.  I studied from the “Lawless Total Theory” for my RCM theory exam.  All the information I needed for the exam were contained in that one book.  This is the first portion of the book that I used which will get my students started in an sound understanding of music theory. 

The next book is “Keyboard Theory – Intermediate Rudiments” by Grace Vandendool.  Don’t be confused by the keyboard theory portion of the title.  If you are going to pursue the RCM theory exam, you will be exposed to both treble and bass clefs and need to be familiar with reading and writing in both.

Another of my dreams is being fulfilled, one of our Christmas presents includes a 6″ reflecting telescope to arrive early this month.  Along with the telescope I have also subscribed for a family membership with the Royal Regina Astronomical Society.  I have always wanted to organize guitar outings, and now I may be able to combine them into a larger event that including musical BBQ and Star Party.  I will be posting updates as its progress as I go.

Warm up before practicing, keep warm by playing and before we know it, spring will be here!

02. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Feature

Finding the right teacher is so very important.  You might like your teacher because they are in a cool rock band, or you get along really well and you enjoy the lessons.  That is fine for in a social or hobby perspective, you are learning some, but you really enjoy the time spent and that’s what’s important for you.

If however, your goal is to learn to play classical guitar, you have to ask seriously ask yourself and your teacher a couple questions.  First, can they play classical guitar?  Do they really know the material and especially, the technique?  Second, can they teach the technique and material?

The classical guitar technique books are awesome, no doubt about that, but to understand the technique goes beyond a picture and couple paragraphs in a book.  Can your teacher sit down and explain the fundamental techniques to you, and adjust your lessons to your individual needs.  It’s more than just telling you to curve your fingers, straighten your wrist, your teacher needs to be able to help you understand the form and develop practices that will focus on improving your fundamental technique.

After a few lessons, your teacher should have a small checklist of things specific for you to check when you are at home practicing on your own that will help reinforce your technique, and you will not be able to find that specific checklist in any book.  They are specific to you.  This short checklist will change as you progress, and they will begin to focus more on refinement as opposed to generalizations.

To choose the right teacher you have to know what are your own personal goals.  What objectives do you wish to achieve?  Are you interested in only playing a few easy pieces for your own enjoyment, are seriously looking at advancing in ability, perhaps maybe to proceed to college or university?   Your goals my change over time.  What may have been a casual interest for you in time may blossom into a passion for greater things.

So the final thing to consider for your teacher is what are their goals for you?  Are you just a regular paycheque for them?  How far are they willing to take you with their lessons?  What is their plan for you to help you move on to bigger and better things, are they willing to let you go to explore elsewhere, and if you do, are you welcome to come back?

With 8va Classical Guitar Studio, I strive to provide for the needs of my students.  I am constantly looking for ways to improve both my teaching skills and to address the many unique needs of my students as everyone has their own special circumstances in regards to lessons.

As well as lessons, I work at developing the market in Regina for classical guitar.  Connecting with as many resources and venues as possible.  This will provide opportunities for my students to explore beyond the confines of my studio.   It is my desire to provide opportunities for my students to connect with higher learning for music.  Collaborating with other musicians and teachers as well as having opportunities to perform.

Registering with 8va Classical Guitar Studio is your key to an open door of music learning.  One where the student and learning is the most important.  Policies are a formality while learning is the reality.  If you are interested in learning classical guitar, ask to find out how lessons with 8va Classical Guitar Studio would work for you.  If you want to know more about classical guitar, feel free to inquire with me as I am more than happy to discuss all aspects of classical guitar and activities related to classical guitar in Regina.

26. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

With 8va Classical Guitar Studio, I am looking to spread the gift of music for Christmas.  From now until the end of December, I am offering 3 months of private one on one weekly lessons for the price of 1!  This offer is for new students to 8va Classical Guitar Studio.  That’s $120 worth of lessons for $40. Great for stocking stuffers, or a gift card that fits easily in the strings of a new classical guitar for that musical prodigy in your family.  There’s no better way to start off the New Year than the joy of learning a musical instrument!  A one time studio registration fee of $40 applies for all new students.

26. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It has been a fantastic year for me guitar wise.  Lots of changes and growth in the classical guitar community.  With the growth and development that we’ve seen, and the work that has been invested, it is sometimes hard to believe that we aren’t further ahead.  This resulted in an attitude check on my behalf.  The reason is, classical guitar in Regina is still a very very small and isolated market.  So the fact that it has grown as much as it has so far is really a credit to that hard work that we have invested.

There is still a lot more work ahead of me, and this also requires a re-focus on my objectives to ensure that I’m on track and not overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  Winter for me has been the most productive season for guitar development.  Less yard work, cold weather, and very cold weather inspire me to wood shed in my basement studio.  To capitalize on the frosty season of hibernation, I am looking to focus on my practice more efficiently, and spend my time more productively musically wise.  When I’m awake, and can’t sleep, practice guitar.  Watching TV, practice guitar.  Not practicing guitar, then working on my theory and harmony.  When I’m not focused on practicing my music, I will be helping my kids with their music practice.  All this and further developing my music pedagogy, learning to become a better teacher for my students and the guitar community.

All that and to clean out the basement too.  That may be a bit much, but I’ll tackle that task one corner at a time!

23. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog Post

Rowers, kayakers, and canoers all have some things in common.  They utilize a conveyance on water, they mechanically propel themselves on the water, and wear life jackets.  Just as they all have similarities, they also have several differences.  They use different mechanisms to propel themselves, they sit different and execute different techniques to achieve their goal.  You can take a good canoeist, put them in a kayak and they may be able to move around, but not nearly as efficiently or cleanly as the kayaker.

The very same can be said of guitarists.  Every style of guitar has their unique differences, and it would be pretty extreme to expect any one style to pick up another and rock it.  This is one of the expectations that beginning classical guitarists have more often than not.  This is even more difficult if they are self taught in the other style of guitar.  Early on, I was told to be aware of the differences between classical and electric styles as it was more difficult as a guitarist to learn both.  Luckily, I had a teacher that played both, who learned from a teacher who played both, and they both did it extremely well.  I can’t say that I do the same, but I managed my lessons just fine transitioning between the two.  What I can say is there was a significant transition from one to the other.  The entire feel of the instrument was different and I had to make an effort to change technique from one to the other.  Beyond that though there are other significant factors that have to be taken into account.

1- Moving from a pick, to a classical right hand.  Pick playing utilizes short fast alternate picking with contact on either side of the plectrum over the strings.  For strumming rhythms, the whole hand and arm is utilized for the rhythm.  Often, the guitarists hand is very close to the strings and body of the guitar, and the palm is involved for additional muting effects.  For classical guitar, the right hand is more stable with minimal movement when playing.  The right hand is also held above the strings with no contact to the guitar body.  Instead of alternate picking, classical guitar uses alternate fingers, generally with more follow through than a pick, and also contact is made on the same side of the string, playing in one direction as opposed to the up / down playing of a pick over the string.

2- Left hand for many styles of guitar use a more laid back hand, with the knuckle of the first finger locked or resting on the neck of the guitar.  This facilitates a fulcrum point for initiating string bending.  Because the electric and steel string acoustic guitars usually have strings that are closer together, finger groupings are more smooshed together. This hand position easily facilitates this.  It was recently demonstrated to me by Dave Grandel of String Theory Guitar Academy how he used one finger to fret two notes by placing his finger straight down between the strings!  I was very impressed.  Classical guitar strings however, are spaced further apart, as are the frets due to the nature of nylon strings.  This allows the intricate left hand fingerings and movement in classical guitar.

3- Seating position for classical guitar is generally not comfortable for other style players.  Generally other styles will usually have the guitar resting on their right thigh while sitting back ( or forward ) when they play.  In this position, they can comfortably play sitting on couches, sides of beds, cross-legged on the floor, on a bench, or just about any where they would want to set and play.  Classical guitar requires a very formal position for proper execution which has the guitar resting on the left thigh which is elevated by a foot stool.  Sure you can play sitting on the edge of a couch, or on the side of a bed, but it’s not recommended, and without that leg raised up, it’s much more difficult.

Given these differences, as well as the differing techniques, if a student has experience in another style of guitar, they must take care and expect a transitional learning curve when they pick up a classical guitar.  Even though they may have a knowledge of the fret board and the notes on a guitar, they will have to take time to balance their left hand to the classical position.

Reading music is another issue.  Most guitarists from other styles are used to reading chord charts, and music written out in tablature.  A guitarist may know instantly how to play a C chord and recognize its variations from a chord chart, but when facing the same chord written on a staff, it will appear drastically different and take time to decipher.

These aspects of sight reading music, and adjusting to the position and techniques of classical guitar all take time to learn.  For the experience guitarist, it may feel like starting all over again.  The effort though is worth it if they stick to it. For once they begin to settle in to the classical technique, they will soon begin to become more comfortable and be able to apply their knowledge to their classical work.  The key then is to adopt the patience of a beginner, to harness the experience they have achieved from their previous guitar experience.


06. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It is very important to expose yourself to as much music as you can.  Studies, etudes, and smaller pieces.  This is also very important for sight reading.  As Jason Vieaux teaches, your sight reading shouldn’t be more than 2 grades below your playing ability.  For most that I talk with, that is an area that needs further development, and is another topic all together.  The goal for any guitarist is to learn more pieces, and to play them well.  For the beginning guitarist, this may seem an extremely difficult task, with all the effort of learning technique, learning to read music and to try to learn a new piece may be enough to discourage one with a casual interest.  For an enthusiast, this is just the start.

To help a student through the initial difficulties of learning new pieces, it helps to keep everything in perspective.  Lets compare learning music to another task, say writing a book.  Using a reference that most people will understand due to it’s popularity, we will look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  The book is 309 pages, with 17 chapters.  It took 5 years to write.  Mind you, the author claimed that in this time she was planning out later books.  We can compare this extra time to additional work that a guitarist must make in practice.  So 5 years works out to be 60 months.  With 17 chapters it works out to about 3 months per chapter.  This time to write one chapter of a book works out to be about the same time to learn a new piece, 3 months!  Mind you, some pieces, like some chapters in a book, may be larger or more complicated and take more time to learn.

Now, once a chapter in a book is written, it’s done and off to the publisher.  Not so with classical guitar.  With music, once you’ve learned a piece, you have to maintain it.  Keep it in shape to prevent errors from creeping in and to keep it in ones memory.  For a given author, once the chapter is written and in the book, they can sign it, give it out, read it aloud to their audience easily word for word.  The written story is available any time for any member in the public to access.  For the musician however, although we don’t have to go through the whole process of crafting the story each time a piece is played, you essentially have to ‘type’ out the manuscript fresh, word for word for the listening audience.

When you look at learning a piece in this fashion, you can appreciate the time that it takes to properly learn a piece.  Remember though, that as you are learning one piece, keep practicing your sight reading by continually playing other pieces that are new to you.  In this way, you will build your repertoire and garner a deeper understanding of your instrument and music.  You may also find other pieces that you will wish to commit to the full learning process and add to your repertoire.  But most importantly, have fun, enjoy and don’t give up!  The worst piece in your repertoire are is the one not played!