2019 has been a huge year for Finale Guitar. Here’s my best bits selection:
Back in March I finally found a little unit that was just right for me and have been refining it into the perfect teaching space and shop ever since. Having a permanent space has made life much easier and more efficient. There is plenty of space, with all the equipment a learner could possibly need. Best of all I can now keep everything set up how I want it at all times meaning I have more time to prepare lessons instead of setting and packing up all the time, and my students have more time for learning in a tailor made environment.
In the Spring a group of Finale Guitar fans gathered for a lovely evening of jamming, drinking and close harmony renditions of pop classics, to celebrate the opening of the new studio. Who knew “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” could be so moving?! We had tunes from the amazing Taff Trail Rambler and I Set the Sea on Fire popped in for some beautiful acoustic jams. There were also lashings of grog to toast the new studio (probably too many lashings in my case- the way we toasted the studio it’s a miracle it didn’t catch fire).
The extra space has been mega useful, enabling me to set up my online ukulele shop which now provides high quality ukuleles to the UK market via eBay. I have also had the good fortune to find Aiersi, a high quality manufacturer of hand-finished ukuleles and guitars who have been an absolute breeze to work with over the last year. The space also enabled me to work with local luthier Theo Parmakis to provide high quality setup and repairs. Sadly he has now moved to Newark to continue to learn to build instruments, but I am pleased that we will continue to work together to provide repairs (and hopefully get a few tunes in too!) and I will hopefully continue to enjoy his company and insights into music theory, weird modal wizardry and all things code-y.
On the live music front I have enjoyed performing with my band Cosa Bossa, whose gigs in the latter part of the year have been a great success. Our concert at The Drawing Room alongside Alekto and the mighty Bad Brew was a highlight of the year for me. I have also been performing with Charlotte Branson, who is currently going from strength to strength- look out for her name on the top 40 in 2020!
My trip to Portugal back in February provided some great musical opportunities, particularly a great jam with the master musician of Faro’s Fado Museum, João Cuña! I had a lovely time learning more about this fascinating genre of music and look forward to discovering more about its history.
To see my ebook sell more copies than ever before was nice, but to finally have the paperback edition publicly available is hugely rewarding. I’ve always wanted to see my name on the front cover of a book and to do so at age 25 feels like a solid achievement. Hopefully it will appear on a few more over the coming years (if I get my act together and finish writing the blooming things!).
Sneaking in towards the end of 2019, the inaugural Beginners’ and Improvers’ Guitar Jam and Vegan Curry Night (catchier title pending) was a great success. Declan at Ajanta’s on Abbeydale Road made us all very welcome and we had a nice night playing music, learning new chords and a little music theory and enjoying a banging curry in good company! If this sounds like something you would enjoy we’ll be continuing the event in 2010 on the last Wednesday of each month- you can find more information by clicking here.
Of course my proudest achievement is my students and in 2020 I taught more of them than ever before. More importantly I have done my best to implement all the things I have learnt over the past few years of teaching, particularly through regular progress reviews for each learner. In this way I have gained a better understanding of how best to tailor my lessons to their needs and boost achievement and lesson satisfaction. Of course this is an ongoing process of learning and refinement and I have lots of new improvements and ideas to implement over the coming months. It is a privilege to work with so many talented people and I am constantly inspired by their (/your!) motivation and enthusiasm.
Although this has little to do with Finale Guitar, my other achievement for 2019 was the 270km charity run/walk through the Sierra Nevada which I completed in October. I raised over £500 for Animal Free Research UK and had an amazing time (although sadly I also completely wrecked my knees in the process).
In 2020 I am aiming to gain a better understanding of my pet area of study, the neuroscience of music. I also aim to share my knowledge with more guitarists via the internet. My general goal is to automate my commercial endeavors and move much of my tuition online in order to be able to spend more time travelling and researching the evolutionary aspects of music cognition. With this in mind I have some very exciting projects lined up.
Folk Friend – I am starting a brand new Youtube channel specifically for folk guitar tutorials. I have made Youtube videos for several years, but sporadically and on a hand-held phone. This year I have invested in a new camera, tripod and video editing software and plan to start a brand new channel with high quality tutorial content, uniquely for folkies! The channel will cover all the fundamentals of Celtic guitar backing, music theory, how to write harmonies, stylistic analysis of famous guitarists and much much more.
Ukuleles – my ukulele eBay store has done well in its first six months- I am looking forward to expanding it. There are very few reputable suppliers of high quality beginners’ instruments on the web and I am proud to be saving beginners from the depressing experience of trying to learn on a rubbish instrument. I will be expanding the range over the course of the year and hope to automate and outsource much of the work involved by the end of the year in order to have more time to devote to my studies, Youtube and teaching.
Music evolution research – I have been researching the material for a forthcoming Youtube/blog series and eventual e-book. I am discovering more every day about the areas of the brain which process music and enable us to fully enjoy it. The evolutionary purposes of these regions is not immediately obvious and the topic has proved to be a rewarding and ever-evolving area of study. Unfortunately every rock I turn over on my hunt for understanding hides five smaller rocks beneath it, so I am unable to give any timeframe for the finished project, but can promise a series of blogs over the next few months outlining what I have discovered so far.
Spain – I will be off to Granada for a month in March. I plan to spend the time finishing off a few personal projects which have been on the back burner for a long time (like my semi-completed choose your own adventure sci-fi story!), discovering the history of flamenco, working on the research mentioned above and doing a lot of cycling.
My first e-book (now also available in paperback!), “Backing Guitar Techniques for Traditional Celtic Music”, continues to sell well and I have received lots of positive feedback. I recently updated the text, correcting a few mistakes which were pointed out to me and plan to create a modular edition in 2020. This will cover some of the early sections for complete beginners in more depth with further exercises and be available to purchase very cheaply as individual units.
I have been working on a book of Irish Fingerstyle Guitar Tabs for some time now. All being well it should be released in March! You can find a few free excerpts from this book as tablature here, here and here.
I also plan to continue my studies through the Open University.
I am very lucky to be surrounded by so many kind, generous and knowledgeable people. Here are a few of those who have helped me over the last year. Apologies to the ones who I have forgotten!
I have got lots of plans and can’t wait to get started, so it only remains to wish all my students, collaborators and friends old, new and undiscovered (yet!) a very happy new year and a fulfilling and productive 2020! May your strings never rust and your chords be jazzy and bright!
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Those are my ambitions… What are yours? Is learning to play an instrument one of your new years resolutions? If so, MESSAGE ME TODAY! Your first lesson is free and this time next year you could be showing off your new skills!
Please do also message me any material you would like to see covered on the new Youtube Channel…