Liverpool born and bred, I have had quite a musical upbringing. My Father was an Organist and frequently practised the piano at home. My younger brother is now also an organist/pianist. My older brother has worked in Musical Theatre, London based, including a 3 year stint in the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End as understudy to Raoul and is now Head of Music at a Primary School in London.
I began playing Violin & Piano at an early age, though ironically I was one of those students who didn't want to practice. As a Guitar Teacher, I now know what that must have felt like for my Teachers!
It was only as a teenager that I heard the guitar in a variety of settings and I felt a natural inclination towards the instrument. The simple acoustic strumming of my youth leaders singing worship songs in youth group, the electric guitar parts featuring in a lot of the rock/blues orientated music I listened to, all I naturally leaned towards were the guitar parts.
By this time my parents had heard enough empty promises to practise and they said I would have to prove I was interested enough to learn the guitar. So I started learning chord symbols from the choruses used in youth group at church and working through the easier songs, then I asked one of the leaders if he would show me a few things. This included a basic 12 Bar Blues form and a Blues Scale. I went home and recorded 10-15 minutes of the chord progressions and then played the scale like crazy over my dodgy cassette recording. It was quite a pivotal moment as I started to hear the chemistry between the two parts without a theoretical base at the time. This is much the way we learn language from birth, immersed in it and applying theory to the practice as time goes by. I also started to recognise things in the music I listened to which made me think I might be able to figure them out.
I spent about 2 years working hard at learning as much of the rhythm & lead guitar parts of any music I listened to by ear. This process taught me a lot of theory-in-practise that, at that time, I didn't realise I understood. It was only when theory was being taught to me formally that I made a made the connection.
During those 2 years, I also approached a Classical Guitarist at church to recommend any tips. He recommended Frederick M. Noad's 'Solo guitar Playing' Book 1. He said that if I was disciplined enough and did everything it told me to, I could work through the whole book in 6 months to a year. This book has been invaluable and is now one I use with my more mature guitar students, with very satisfying results. Towards the latter part of these two years, I started to go to someone else from church who was really into Jazz Guitar. He expanded my knowledge of chords, which of course took me into a new context. We used to 'Jam' once a week playing through lots of Standards and improvising by ear, using what knowledge we could pick up to improve our ideas. We did lots of duo gigs and I often played or at least rehearsed with his Quartet for more experience. Again, an invaluable part of my progress, and with a much loved friend to whom I am deeply grateful.
About this time I was approached by parents at the church to teach their children how to play the guitar. I said that I could try and that we could stop if it was not working out. They just kept coming and, slowly, the work was established.
The result of these 2 years gave me the boost I needed to be successful in auditioning at the local Music College. I had not studied music formally at school and so I needed to prove I had enough knowledge and ability to jump in at a higher level.
I did this through a BTEC HND and then later went on to the University of Ripon & York St John, now University of York St John, initially to study Music with Education, though I found school based teaching to be a far cry from teaching guitar itself. I ended up leaving the teacher training behind and focused in, once again, on music, especially composition. Since the degree I have had a few commissions. I have also written a lot of solo guitar material for Acoustic (Steel String) Guitar using alternate tunings and wrote some of the music used at my own wedding. Latterly I have been writing a lot more songs with lyrics as well as instrumental music.
It was through these courses that I obtained funded lessons, giving me some professional input on my playing. This certainly accelerated my learning and helped to shape my own teaching. This time I practised!
During the first course, my love for guitar branched out into bass playing and I pursued this with great interest alongside the guitar and this passion has remained since. All of these different experiences, along with the vast variety of musical styles I listened to influenced me in a very broad way and have made me the Guitarist I am today.
Now I live with my wonderful Wife and 3 Children and work as a Guitar/Bass Teacher & Musician in York.
I am also involved in a great church called Calvary Chapel York and help out with the Music and Youth Ministry there.
For more detailed information on the work I have been doing in recent years, please check my Professional Profile.