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My teaching philosophy

My Philosophy Graphic

I currently enjoy teaching all levels of guitarists, from beginners to advanced, as well as beginning and intermediate voice and piano students, in private and semi-private lessons, as well as ensemble classes. My aim is to help students discover and cultivate their natural musical abilities and develop a strong foundation in proper technique and theory crucial to becoming lifelong well-rounded musicians. Each 30-minute lesson or hour-long class emphasizes sight reading musical notation and other nomenclature specific to their instruments. For example, I encourage guitarists to attain a fluent command of tablature, strum patterns, chord diagrams and lead sheets; vocalists focus on vocal exercises as well as solfège and sight singing; pianists focus on sight reading the Grand Staff, technical development, and theory. I focus students on playing solo and ensemble pieces selected by the teacher, the student or the lesson plan set forth in the specific curriculum assigned to the student. Students can also choose to focus on such areas of interest as lead guitar, personal favorites, rhythm, harmonization, or preparing for a specific performance date. Students thus build musicianship, technique and understanding along with repertoire.

My Lesson Offerings

My Piano Keys


For guitarists, I first determine the student’s musical goals and aspirations and place them in an appropriate instructional text. All guitar students are encouraged to obtain my book "Classical Guitar Theory Reference".  For classical players, I also recommend Frederick Noad’s Solo Guitar Method series and Christopher Parkening's Method books.  As an MTAC Certificate of Merit teacher, I follow the extensive curriculum and repertoire requirements outlined in their  program syllabus.  For pop and rock style guitarists, I recommend Mel Bay's, Aaron Stang’s or Hal Leonard’s Guitar Method.  Other guitar teaching resources include methodologies by Jody Fisher and much more from my extensive personal music library. For young children, I recommend Noad’s First Book of the Guitar.


For vocalists, I rely mostly on the renowned method developed by Seth Riggs, vocal coach to the stars, as well as the Berklee College of Music's Anne Peckham method. I focus on learning to strengthen the voice in ways that will protect it from misuse and damage while increasing range, tone and performance skills. Voice lessons consist of piano-accompanied vocal warm-ups and exercises targeting areas of weakness while focusing on strengths. I also encourage students to work on specific pieces of their choosing for recitals or performance. Sight singing and solfege techniques are also used for training and development. Students can work with or without a microphone.



Pianists focus on learning to sight read the Grand Staff, technical development, and theory. For younger pianists, I prefer the Bastien Series method books that offer a thorough, well-rounded approach to piano technique, theory and performance. For adult pianists, I recommend Alfred's Adult Piano Course and John Thompson's method series. These offer an extensive and interesting repertoire in a playable format. I often supplement lessons with repertoire from a wide variety of other sources and help students learn to play pieces of their own choosing. While students learn to perform solo and duet pieces each week from the instructional materials, I help them hone proper technique and learn to understand music theory and history, as well.  My piano lesson plans also draw extensively from MTAC's Certificate of Merit piano syllabus.

My rates

Hand Shake

Lesson Options: once or twice per week.

1. At my home studio or on Zoom: 30.00 per 1/2 hour lesson; $45.00 per 45-minute lesson;  60.00 per 1-hour lesson.

2. Travelling to the student's home for lessons: 20.00+ additional travelling fee, depending on distance.

3. Semi-private lessons, 2 students: $60.00 per student per hour session.

4. Ensemble class: Minimum 3-student enrollment; $40.00 per student per hour session.

More Benefits

Music Sheet Graphic

Whatever a student's musical goals are, it is a known fact that several years of music instruction significantly improves a person's academic performance and intellectual abilities. Therefore, I highly recommend music training for people of all ages. I look forward to helping you become the musician you've always wanted to be! I work with my students to first define their musical aspirations. Then, I design a custom lesson plan aimed at achieving their personal goals and fulfilling their musical passions. I draw curriculum from a wide variety of sources influenced by my own performance repertoire, musical experience and education. I supplement their lessons by incorporating compositions from musical eras that span the Renaissance to the 21st century. This well-rounded comprehensive approach to learning music history, theory and development enhances the player's performance and the listener's appreciation of it. I tend toward tried and true classic instructional materials, as well as handouts from a variety of sources, including unlimited teaching resources online, such as IMSLP and

My book "Classical Guitar Theory Reference" is also an indispensable resource for all guitarists. To purchase, go to my home page.

My students are given the opportunity to make professional quality digital recordings of their musical accomplishments. They can also participate in periodic recitals and online web recital performances.

© 2008 - 2020 Susan Graves Redlands, CA, USA