Guitar Teacher’s Diary

October 3rd 2017

My first lesson is at 3:45pm with David, a man in his forties. We play “Take It Easy” by the Eagles, strum the chords and sing, each take a solo. It has a good energy. We also play “Your Song” by Elton John, a Tom Waits song, an American folk song called “Hang Me” (from the film Inside Llewyn Davis) to practise finger-style, “These Days” by Jackson Browne, and go over a B natural minor scale which he uses to improvise on “Fields Of Gold” by Sting.

Earlier in the day I go to the river. The sun coming in and out, the water moving softly. I try to let myself just be there, relax and be open and see what comes. I enjoy the sun on the back of my neck. I crouch down, squatting, watching the river, turning my head this way then that, looking down then up the river, noticing the trees hanging over it, feeling the ache building in my legs, pressing into the ground so that my spine can lift like I learned in yoga. Then I sit against a tree trunk and play with conker shells – spiky but not sharp. I turn at the sound of a black waterbird with a white head diving into the water and see it coming back up.

I walk from David’s house to my second student, ten-year-old Ethan. He’s studying Grade 1 classical guitar and loves working towards exams. He wants to get level with his sister who is on Grade 2 violin. Sometimes teaching is frustrating but I thought today how it’s a privilege to work with people in this way, to build these one-to-one relationships. We go over his exam pieces, making notes about things to improve such dynamics and right hand technique. I write in his notebook and draw five 10-minute practice boxes with the days of the week by them (Sunday and lesson day off) which he can tick off each time he practices.

Next I teach thirteen-year-old Emily. The room I teach her in is her father’s consulting room. There are books on psychotherapy and Buddhism, poetry books, and a copy of the red book by Jung. For a while there were lots of toy animals on a shelf – Emily said they were for her dad’s work. I glance at the book spines and feel inspired. It’s got a good feel to it, their home. We play “Hallelujah”, transposed to make it easier to sing. We do a strumming version and a fingerpicking version. We play Caje Sukarje, an Eastern European folk tune with syncopated rhythms. We start learning “And I Love Her” by The Beatles and recap a finger planting exercise from last week. 

I walk home and it’s almost eight by the time I get back.

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