Are you a professional guitarist looking to increase your skills? ...or a school student preparing for an important audition? ...or, maybe you are simply seeking a casual, relaxing hobby. No matter what your guitar ambitions are, Private guitar lessons with Pete Smyser can help get you there. Beginner through advanced lessons are offered to students ages 15 through adult, with affordable & flexible scheduling options. Students from 12 to 14 years of age will be considered contingent upon a phone conversation with the parent(s). Students under the age of 12 are not accepted at this time.
Styles of music taught include pop, rock, jazz, classical, blues, folk and more.
Lessons are offered from Pete's Home Studio - a renovated early 19th century barn in Harleysville, Pennsylvania (in Montgomery County, a short drive for those living near Souderton, Skippack, Green Lane, Telford, Lansdale, Blue Bell or North Wales, PA).
The conventional model for music lessons is to attend a weekly 30-minute lesson, but most of Pete's students attend lessons every other week for a 45-minute lesson. Attending every other week allows students more time to practice and prepare for each lesson while also keeping their overall cost down. However, Pete recommends a weekly lesson schedule for any serious minded, career oriented music student.
Lessons can also be scheduled "as you go." Students need not commit to a certain time slot or day of the week (particularly valuable for adult students with unpredictable work schedules).
what's the cost?
The current rates for a lesson from Pete's home studio are $35 for a 30-minute lesson, $50 for a 45-minute lesson and $65 for a one hour lesson.
Beginner guitar students can expect assignments that concentrate on the following...
Technical Exercises - designed to develop the necessary finger control and coordination to play the guitar while avoiding common bad habits.
Reading Music (standard music notation) by working through a method book.
Chords - by learning to strum chords and play songs from an easy guitar song book (usually a Beatles Songbook to start). After a certain point of accomplishment, the student is invited to choose songs (or songbooks) that are of the most interest to them.
FOR INTERMEDIATE/ ADVANCED STUDENTS...
When a student comes to a lesson with prior experience, the first lesson is diagnostic so that Pete can assess the students level, goals and determine an appropriate course of study. Lesson plans are structured to develop ability in the following...
Reading (standard notation)
Repertoire (important songs/pieces that relate to the style of music being studied)
Scales (particularly for improvisation)
With 20+ years of professional teaching experience, Pete Smyser has been invited to present guitar masterclasses and workshops at Universities and has had a key role in training a number of the guitar teachers throughout the region. Some past students have received music scholarship offers from prestigious Universities.
Pete's past teaching locations have included...
Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA)
The Wayne Art Center (Wayne, PA)
Gwynedd Mercy Academy (Gwynedd, PA)
Chestnut Hill Academy (Chestnut Hill, PA)
DeVoe's Music (Lansdale, PA)
Clemmer's Music (Harleysville, PA)
Inquire about guitar lessons
Frequently asked questions...
How does payment work? Payments are made on a monthly basis. Payment is due at the first lesson of each month.
What happens if I need to cancel a lesson? A minimum notice of two days is required to cancel a lesson. The student (or student’s parent/ guardian) is financially liable for any lessons missed or cancelled whereupon such notice is not given. This policy is strictly enforced, even in the event of illness.
How long will it take to be able to play the guitar? This is an impossible question to answer because there is always a higher level of accomplishment that can be achieved if a student is motivated to strive for it. So, in a sense, there is no set “finish line” where it could be declared, “There, now you can play the guitar.” Students do, in fact, begin “playing the guitar” at the first lesson (on a very basic level) and then work consistently to improve week by week.
Does Pete teach electric or acoustic guitar (or both)? Pete Smyser's teaching method for beginners utilizes the same learning process for both electric and acoustic guitar. The notes are located in the same place and the chords are played the same way, so in most cases, it makes little difference whether the student is working with an acoustic or electric guitar. However, it is important for the student to have an acoustic guitar (more specifically, a nylon string, classical guitar) when the time comes to begin learning finger-style techniques. There is a different feel in the looser tension of the nylon strings, more space between strings to allow room for the fingers and a specific size and shape to the instrument that are important when studying classical guitar techniques.
Are group lessons available? No. Individual lessons are far more beneficial for a student than group lessons when it comes to learning to play the guitar.
Do you offer to go to the student's home to teach the lessons? No. All lessons are conducted at Pete’s home studio in Harleysville, PA.
Are there a specified number of weeks that I must commit to when signing up for guitar lessons? No, students can sign up for a single lesson if they like. Some students do this to “test the waters” in order to meet Pete and get an idea what the lessons would be like before making a decision to attend more regularly.
Will you teach me to play the songs that I want to play? Probably not right away. Certain fundamental skills need to be acquired first. Beginners start with an easy guitar Beatles songbook in order to learn to play and read chord symbols from a songbook. So, if you are a beginner and you like the Beatles, then you will be learning some songs that you like relatively soon.
It is important to remain mindful that the main goal is to achieve competency regarding fundamental skills - even if these skills are achieved while playing exercises/ songs that seem less than thrilling. Once the skills are learned, the student can then use those skills to find and play the music that they enjoy (without needing any additional help). At a certain point in the lessons, students are invited to seek out songbooks for music that interests them.
Some guitar teachers simply show students where to place their fingers to play a song. This imitation approach might sound good and even be more immediately fun, but the student will have no idea what they are playing. They don’t know the names of the notes or chords and they can’t read music. So, the teacher has to show them how to play each new song in the same way. With this approach, the student needs to keep the past songs memorized or they will be lost because the student is not able to open a book in order to read the music as a reminder. Steer clear of teachers that do not emphasize fundamental reading skills.
Does Pete offer lessons on instruments other than the guitar? Pete's teaching is almost entirely comprised of guitar students. If, however, someone is interested in lessons regarding the subjects of music theory or improvisation AND they are competent on another instrument (sax, piano or bass for example) then they might be accepted.
Does Pete offer lessons online via Skype? Not at this time.
Do I need to learn to read music? Yes, Pete believes very strongly that musicians need to learn to read music. Many put forth the argument that certain famous musicians learned to play by ear and never learned to read music so it must not be a prerequisite to success. This argument is usually made by individuals that have already made up their mind that learning to read music will be boring, tedious and unnecessary as it relates to their personal musical aspirations. By contrast, Pete believes that learning to read music is well worth pursuing and it will greatly enhance the student’s musicianship which will, in turn, help them to succeed in all of their musical endeavors.
The ability to read and write music can be compared to the ability to read and write English (or any language). If a person does not learn to read and write (English) he might still be smart and able to hold an intelligent conversation, but most would agree that the person’s illiteracy will certainly be a recurring stumbling block in life. They will likely feel embarrassed whenever confronted with this inability.
Music is simply another language and standard musical notation is the best way for musicians to write down and share their ideas. Sure, certain talented individuals do perform music that sounds great without ever having learned to read music – but these individuals are also likely to run into situations where their musical illiteracy will be problematic. Unfortunately, most amateur “guitar players” avoid learning to read music. Many pursue guitar TABs as a poor substitute for learning to read standard notation. This might be fine for a very casual hobbyist. However, if the guitarist should happen to become interested in joining a school’s jazz band or auditioning for a college music program (for example) then reading will be a requirement for acceptance. Many guitar students have come to Pete for lessons because they wish to audition for such programs but suddenly realize that they are not prepared and have very little time to learn the required fundamental information.
-Testimonials from students-
"I want to thank you for being a great teacher to me. Your systematical way of presenting materials are very clear and really helpful for me to review things that I tend to forget. And I enjoy the balance between theory, study and songs in your lessons which not only help me build up a repertoire but also lays a good foundation for me to learn new stuff by myself." - Weike
"I feel like I have learned more this year about the world of music and my instrument than ever before in my life. Your lessons have all been structured, insightful and enjoyable experiences that have been integral to my growth as a musician. Because of you I can now fully appreciate jazz and classical music in a way that I have never been able to prior to your instruction. I will carry this newfound appreciation with me as I head to college next fall and onwards to the rest of my life." -Ben
"Thank you for all the things you have done for me over the years. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't be where I am today. I have become a better player and, because of you, I have surpassed goals I never thought were possible. I would love to stay in contact with you because I know that if I ever need help I can always come to you. When I am home I would love to keep lessons going because I know that there is a lot more to learn, Thanks again for all your help Pete." -Chris
"Thanks for everything you have taught me. You are an incredible musician and I am glad to say I learned from the best." - Chris
“I want to thank you for preparing me, inspiring me and teaching me to be disciplined. Without your help I don't know if I would have gotten to where I am.” -Greg
"I just wanted to say thank you for preparing me for college... Everything has paid off... the arpeggios, Wohlfahrt studies, inversions... everything. I managed to get into the Jazz Ensemble which is the bigger jazz group here, as well as the smaller Jazz Combo. It's a lot of fun, and I don't have any problems following the charts. Thanks for everything.” - Bobbie
"You've taught me that if you really want to make something perfect, taking things step by step, measure by measure, is the best way to do it. I've seen this come up in other aspects of my life as well, such as writing papers, and completing my studying for exams. Therefore, I owe you a great deal for your help. Thank you for everything.” -Asa