Regarding the above recommendations not all are ‘full endorsements’. Each player and teacher has their own view on guitar technique and music-making, as do I. I am very grateful for their kind remarks. Thank you everyone!
Phillip Houghton 2015
Having grown up on lots of rock music, in the 1970s I came up with this little saying to help me simplify the ‘new world’ of classical music that I fell into:
Rhythm is king, Sound is queen and Music is their baby.
I have taught the classical guitar since 1977, teaching privately and in schools and conservatoriums, helping players to prepare for exams and recitals from the early grades up to PhD and professional level and also coaching ensemble and chamber groups (amateur and professional).
I currently live in Sydney where I teach privately, placing a lot of importance on the imagination and physical comfort of the player, the exploration of all styles of music (classical, world, folk, jazz, ancient), phrasing, interpretation and good articulation in rhythm, sound, dynamics, colour, voicing and line.
However my prime focus is on the basis of technique (mechanical skill) and how it relates to making music : how we are built and what forces we use, posture, breathing, balance, positioning and movement, reflexes, stamina, fluency and the prevention of injury. Injury can occur if we ’fight’ the guitar but we are really only fighting ourselves/our inbuilt nature.
To help players avoid or overcome injury, I teach a technique that is based on leverage which is a natural way of moving that uses the lowest muscle-force as is necessary. This allows us to adjust and position our weight lightly and easily, to use resistant-force effectively and achieve good balance throughout the body from feet to hands.
With a smooth and more efficient technique, music-making becomes more enjoyable and players can explore the poetry of colour, rhythm and sound with a new found freedom and sense of discovery.
“Observe nature and learn. Watch a bird as it lands on a slender branch. See how it gently adjusts its weight to the nature of its perch. This is how you should approach the guitar": Len Williams (John Williams’ father and teacher) advising a ‘gloriously unmusical’ student how to play, in London 1950s. This quote is from the book Strings Attached, the Life and Music of John Williams, pages 79 & 80, author William Starling, publisher The Robson Press. Copyright William Starling 2012. Used with kind permission.
I have also helped lute, jazz, rock and metal players with technique and their injuries: all different techniques but all can look into leverage for beneficial results.
Beginners to advanced players are welcome to enquire about lessons. Please see the form at the end of this page.