TEACHING METHOD & BIO
How It Works
Private and small group Instruction on acoustic and electric guitars, bass, ukulele, songwriting, music theory, most styles and genres to ages 5 and up, beginner to advanced. I have been teaching and performing music in various settings for over 30 years.
I am also blessed to have worked with many special needs kids and adults. These experiences have allowed me to acquire the patience and skills to successfully work with these individual as well those who consider themselves slow learners.
I teach at The Jam Brothers music shop in Walnut Creek, and on location for those who cannot easily fit a visit to the store into their busy schedules. Remote lessons via Skype are an option for students located out of the area.
The focus of my instruction often involves teaching the student his or her favorite riffs and songs while simultaneously teaching the “ear training” skills which allow him or her to solve the mystery of self instruction, but only if the student so chooses that additional option.
I am open and willing to bend with the varying learning pace, needs, and desires of each student/client.
I have developed special drills for organizing left and right hand skills that very few teachers know of where we go from point A to point B much faster (unique methods for learning chord movements, strumming & picking patterns, and intuitive memorization techniques).
You Tube “lessons”, free tabs, instructional books, and videos cannot match face to face music instruction from an experienced, meticulous, college educated, inspirational, compassionate, and patient mentor.
My Musical Journey
Born and raised in Richmond, CA in 1963, I started learning the guitar at age 13. I began performing in a multitude of music groups on guitar, bass, and vocals starting at age 21. These were mostly cover/oldies bands that played at bars, music festivals, and special events such as weddings and company holiday parties, which always paid the best !
I started teaching guitar lessons in 1982 out of the garage while still in my teens living with my folks, continuing on and off on a part time basis (adding bass, and eventually ukulele to my repertoire) until it became my primary source of income in 1996, only a year after graduating from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Cum Laude in 1995. I won a prestigious Evert B. Person music scholarship in 1994 which nicely supplemented my tuition.
By 1997, I was teaching out of studios at two music stores in Sonoma County (Stars Music and Zone Music), both of which went through closings and eventual re-openings under different ownerships at the peak of the recession around 2008, but were thriving most of the time I was there: I taught over 40 lessons a week for nearly 10 years. Eventually new horizons beckoned.
Since moving to Walnut Creek, I’ve gradually built up a worthy clientele, my biggest break coming in the Summer of 2011 with the opening of The Jam Brothers Music Shop. Owner Shawn Steen quickly added me as the primary instructor. Business has blossomed with the growth of the store.
I look forward to continue building strong, fruitful, & warm relationships with my clientele/students.
In studio with Tiffany- 4 years of lessons
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“I have been taking lessons with Mark for over a year.
As an adult learning how to play an instrument for the first time, I was pretty nervous. Mark’s calm nature immediately put me at ease.
I thought I was going to have to spend a good amount of time practicing chords and learning Mary Had a Little Lamb, so I was surprised when Mark started me right off working on playing songs I actually like. This definitely gave me more motivation. This is how we’ve done all our lessons. I’m pretty amazed at the breadth of songs that Mark knows and when I managed to find a few songs he didn’t know he was able to pick them up quickly after listening to them on my MP3. He really makes the effort to help me learn to play the songs I pick. And somehow he also manages to sneak in lessons about music theory and tips on technique.
As a professional, I don’t have a consistent schedule and Mark is always flexible to meet my needs.
Another big plus for me is the fact that Mark gives lessons at the Jam Brothers store which is extremely convenient. Bonus: whenever I’ve needed extra gear like a guitar strap, everything I need is right there.
I’ve seen Mark with many different kinds of students, from kids to AARP members. He is a great teacher. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to learn to play guitar. So dust off that old guitar or bring in your little future rock star (while you grab a sub at Morucci’s)!”