John Williams – Guitar Teacher

Guitar
Classical Guitar Performance, Peabody Conservatory
Beginner to Advanced

guitar, lessons, classicalI am a classical guitarist performer and teacher. I have received my Bachelors and Masters degree in Classical Guitar Performance at the Peabody Conservatory under the guidance of Manuel Barrueco, and am currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Curtis Institute of Music. As a performer I have over ten years of experience playing concerts both at home and internationally and I feel very fortunate be able to have a career doing something that I love so much. Teaching is also a great joy of mine, and I have worked with students of all ages and levels. Of course classical guitar is my focus and strongpoint, but I also think that studying classical can be invaluable in learning many of the fundamentals of music that can help with any style. As far as lessons go, it really depends on the student and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Lessons will encompass all aspects of playing from technique to making beautiful music. A particular focus is placed on problem solving whatever challenges will be encountered in a way that is effective, easy to understand, and will minimize “bad” practice and frustration. Typically this includes training the hands to work in a way that is free of tension and practice methods that are efficient and enjoyable. When working with students, of course I will always have repertoire suggestions that will be encouraged, but I really try to work on pieces that the students like. From my experience as a player and teacher, nothing is more motivating than working on something that we really want to play.

 

When did you begin playing Guitar, and why?
I began to play when I was 10 and I’m not really sure why! But I really loved it and knew it was what I wanted to do after a few years.

What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
Besides studying a little piano and chorus as an undergrad, not much.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
Professionally I want to continue to gain experience as a performer and teacher and be as active as I can. What I personally strive for is to always try to improve and become a better guitarist and musician.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember once I was having trouble on a specific passage in a piece that was quite hard. A friend of mine who is an incredible guitarist showed me a way to practice it that would isolate the the passage and train the hands in a much more direct way. The results were almost immediate which led me to rethink everything I knew about practicing. Over the last several years I am continuously discovering new ways to practice and refining methods that I already know. Knowing how to practice well is the one most important skills we can have as musicians.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
You can’t expect your hands to be able to play quickly or accurately without teaching them how. In other words, when you have a difficult passage it’s not enough to read the notes from the score and practice it aimlessly. When I am learning something new I will spend time to figure out exactly what the best fingerings to use for each hand are, and then I will make sure that I always play it that way. This consistency will helps to eliminate tension and uncertainty in our hands and mind.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
I wouldn’t say there is a “most” challenging moment. I am always working very hard to become a better guitarist, whether it’s by improving my technique or evaluating the musical decisions I am making. It’s never easy and there is always so much we can improve, but I don’t mind this at all. Seeing the results of the work that goes into it is one of the most rewarding experiences I can think of.

What is your biggest musical achievement?
Again, I wish I had a more direct answer, but these days I don’t think of any one achievement. I feel really fortunate to have had the musical experience I’ve had so far. When I was in high school I won a lot of competitions across the country, during my undergrad I had the opportunity to study with one of the legends of classical guitar and meet incredible musicians from all over. And now I’m (hopefully) finishing up my studies at one of the best music schools in the world. Music has created a lot of opportunities and experiences for me that I couldn’t have gotten from anything else, and it feels good to see results stemming from all the work in the practice room.

Favorite thing about teaching?
I really love working with people and sharing what I’ve learned from throughout the years. Everyone has their own relationship with music…what it means to them, what they get out of it, and what they want to do with it. Not everyone is looking to pursue a career in music but I think music has something to offer everyone.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Just have fun. Sometimes the challenges we encounter when learning an instrument can be frustrating and even discouraging, but patience is key. Keep practicing, enjoy the process and you will see results.