I’m committed to working with classical guitar lovers who are serious about transforming their curiosity and technical and musical struggles into real ability.
I have extensive private teaching experience, and am a classically trained performer with graduate degrees from the Juilliard School of Music and the Cincinnati Conservatory, I’ve also been on the faculty of the Bowdoin Music Festival and Western Connecticut State University, and taught lessons for years to children and teens at the Marymount School in New York City.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, I meet you at your level of playing with the goal of supporting your movement through each phase of musical development. This comes in the form of the best possible repertoire choices, feedback, advice, technical instruction, technical exercises, and inspiration I can give.
Learning takes time. Developing lasting skill takes passion. Your passion needs to fuel a lot of serious practice in order to bear fruit. And having an inspiring and knowledgeable teacher to hold space for your improvement is something that can help you immeasurably.
What can you expect to accomplish as a classical guitarist, working with me?
I made a little list. These are the things I commonly cover with students:
- The Eternal Basics
Master and refine the technical basics: Sitting position, left and right hand position, movement and coordination.
- Performance and Self-Expression
Develop your ability to play expressively and communicate with listeners–and deal effectively with stage fright and nervousness.
- Technique Building
Develop and learn how to practice and greatly heighten important component classical guitar skills such as tone, accuracy, coordination. speed, dexterity, strength and suppleness, left hand stretching ability and barring.
- Advanced Skills
Master specific expressive techniques or advanced techniques such as tremolo, rasgueado, vibrato.
- Memorization and Repertoire Building
Master the process of learning, securely memorizing, interpreting and performing repertoire. Acquire and build a repertoire of your favorite music.
- Reading Guitar Music
Develop your sight reading ability as well as the art of working with and deciphering the knotty details and shorthand symbols used in classical guitar scores.
- Music Theory that Matters
Gain a practical and intuitive understanding of music theory in a way that helps you greatly to know how to interpret and communicate the meaning of the music
- Mastering Guitar Fingerings
Last but not least, improve your ability to work out fingerings: I cut through the confusion to help you develop right and left hand fingerings that work for your hands, your technique, your musical preferences.
How often should you take lessons?
You are the only one who knows for sure. It depends on your goals and it also depends, of course, on whether the connection feels right, whether my style of sharing what I’ve learned keeps feeding your growth as a musician and guitarist.
I’ve found that for most guitarists, even those that take very naturally to the instrument, the best results come after a longer period of time. Depending on how much you can practice, a year to several years with an insightful, expert, and encouraging teacher—giving you weekly feedback and tailoring your practice to your specific needs— is, for most guitarists, the best possible investment in long-term success as a player.
There are also some guitarists who are more self-motivated, have a sense of direction, naturally practice a lot, and are able to take the information/feedback they gain in just a few lessons and find good use for it to improve their playing. Depending on your goals, this might be you.
You might also want to take occasional lessons or a month here, a month there, to get through a technical hurdle or develop an aspect of your playing, master some challenging repertoire.
Lessons and Pricing Options
I want to make it as affordable as possible for you to make a commitment to lessons over time, as this is where real growth happens for most students. If you are truly interested in lessons with me and can’t afford my stated prices, please ask me about my sliding scale or trade possibilities.
$80 per hour
Skype lessons are convenient way to learn from a teacher of your top choice in the comfort of your own home. I’ve seen amazing learning and development happen with my students over time with committed skype lessons.
But I find that most of my skype students live in places where the price of guitar lessons is much lower than what is considered reasonable here in New York City, and that many people, due to income constraints or international exchange rates, are unable to continue lessons consistently at the “New York” price.
Because of this, as an experiment, I”ve decided to make skype lessons lower in cost.
Although there are certain advantages to Skype lessons, and all of the same things can be covered effectively, there are issues with Skype as well that have to be worked around, Sound quality (Skype sound is optimized for voice, not for music) is the primary issue. A good microphone on both ends of the connection can make a HUGE difference, but there’s still distortion and wobbliness.
If you have a good, high-speed internet feed, connection glitches are less of a problem, but they do happen. With a shaky or poor feed, it’s easy to waste a portion of the time allotted to the lesson just dealing with reduced quality. Things like this still make a live lesson the most optimal learning mode for playing an instrument.
Studio Classical Guitar Lessons
$80 per hour
I also teach in my studio on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, New York. My students range in age from five to 80+, in experience from absolute beginners to advanced players.
For further information and other pricing info, please visit my teaching pages at JayKauffman.com
If you’re interested in contacting me for online or in-person, studio lessons, email me at email@example.com.
I had never tried online music lessons before, but they were the only possibility for me to study with Jay, as we live across the ocean from each other (he in NYC and I in London) I’ve found them to be extraordinarily convenient! It is like having your instructor come to your house–quite literally. One doesn’t have to lug a guitar across town–the time saved travelling to lessons can be used to practice for the online lesson. Thanks to his tutelage when I was younger I had a strong technical foundation that allowed me to continue my studies at the Manhattan School of Music (pre-college division) and the Oberlin Conservatory as a guitar major. Jay adapts his lessons to the needs of the student and is flexible enough to change his pedagogy as necessary by doing constant reassessments as the needs of the student changes over time. I have studied with him as a relative beginner (as a teen), more advanced player, (many years ago) and now as a formerly advanced player who has not played in a while–and for each skill level, he has been a great teacher Our online lessons over Skype have been crystal clear, and both of our guitars (especially his) sounds great over the internet! My playing is better during these lessons as I don’t have to worry about playing in an environment that I am not accustomed to. So I’d sum up the advantages for me: 1. Flexibility (easier to change lessons and schedule online lessons) 2. cost (money saving not commuting) 3. comfort (kick off those shoes) —Justin Yoo, Egyptologist, London, England
I have always only had in person lessons, and I thought the distance and the internet computer communication would make it more difficult to see what each other was doing, for me to feel like I was playing for a real person who was present, for Jay to communicate the subtleties of the music and guitar technique, for me to be heard and seen.But I found it took very me little time to get comfortable. I was in my familiar environment, and it was easier to settle down and play well. I liked that it took Jay absolutely no time to focus on some of my challenges and address them. The webcam and the mic built into my laptop seemed just fine, Jay could hear everything and see both of my hands. Jay had no trouble at all observing my hands and listening. It was just like being in the same room, in some ways even better. An hour went by very quickly, I received some fantastic advice, a long term technical issue addressed, all in all really comfortable, excellent, personable. —-Misha Robert, Luthier, Victoria, British-Columbia, Canada
As a metal and rock player, classical guitar is something I’ve been very curious about but never studied. I always wanted to, but I was hoping for something beyond my local teacher options, and with Jay my hopes were exceeded. Skype lessons are convenient and time-efficient, of course. The sound quality is good, the online interaction is personal and supportive. And Jay’s gotten me even more enthusiastic about classical guitar and classical music in general, so I can even use the principles in my own music and writing. I’ve become motivated to practice more. Jay is also a cool person who cares very much, and is good at constructive criticism, which really builds my confidence. He’s very specific and to the point. That’s what I really need. But it’s not just like a program where you go through all the steps. I’m able to ask my own questions in many different areas, and learn many different things in one lesson. It’s very balanced. Jay has great technique habits, and I get great habits from him. He’s very conscious of every aspect of what he’s doing and can teach that clearly. He gives me reference points in my mind when I practice. He also uses good analogies and thought pictures in his teaching, so the guitar becomes more alive. He teaches how you can look at it from a bigger perspective– you get deeper into playing that way. I’ve also become more emotionally engaged when I play. I’ve started listening more, I’ve started feeling more, and I’m more connected to the music. This is something I’ve been looking for, and and is hard to find. —-Magnus Gautestad, Guitarist, Musician and Performer (Norsecode), Teacher , Kristiansand, Norway
I often have poor streaming connection, and screen share didn’t work for us because I use Linux, But in spite of that, Skype lessons with Jay have worked well and are worth it. Jay has a multi-level approach. A pure technique and musical practice are combined in different levels. The artistic component of classical guitar playing is the essential part of the unique curriculum Jay is developing over time.
1. I improved my music reading skills with Jay’s guidance
2. Writing guitar music is a special trade, and Jay helped me on how to approach this.
3. I was coming from Rock music background, Jay helped me to adapt finger styles appropriate to classical guitar. Lessons go beyond the mere mechanics of playing. As a result, I also gained a good attitude on how to practice and improve in my playing and composing.
I definately recommend any level classical guitar player to work with Jay. He does not only posses outstanding credentials from The Juilliard School and talent in classical guitar, but also his approach in teaching reflects his personal modesty and pedagogic approach in teaching music in general.
—-M. Suzen, PhD
What Technology Do I Need? You need a computer with a webcam…most have built in webcams these days. You need to sign up for Skype or Google Chat, both of which are free. A credit card or paypal account. (Fees on request.) A good microphone attached to your computer would be helpful but not absolutely necessary if your computer has a built-in mic set up. You should arrange your seating space so that I can easily see you playing guitar. Make sure that you can adjust the webcam up and down so I can see your playing or your face.