I’ve been a guitarist for close to 40 years now, and a professional one for almost 30.
I started when I was 12 – with an Alfred Guitar Method book, a guitar that wouldn’t stay in tune, and fingers that couldn’t seem to push the strings down.
After one summer of (mostly) self-instruction I was already the best guitar player in my school, easily eclipsing kids who had been doing it for a few years already.
I say this not to brag, but to illustrate that I’ve always had the ability to teach myself. I can troubleshoot the problem spots and come up with workable solutions. I still do that to this day, in my own playing and with my students.
But although I’ve always been instinctively “musical”, I’m not a truly gifted player. In fact, I think the key to my success as a guitar teacher is that I’ve had to work hard every step of the way to earn my skills as a guitar player.
And I still do.
I only had a handful of formal lessons as a teenager, but what I lacked in professional tutoring, I more than made up for in determination.
My somewhat haphazard plan of attack:
- I listened to every record (then cassette, then CD) and read every guitar magazine I could get my hands on.
- I asked a few guitar-playing friends question after question.
- I joined my church “folk group” and got some practical experience strumming my acoustic guitar every Sunday for mass.
- I started garage bands and jammed – badly – on song after song.
Every step of the way, I took mental notes on what worked, what didn’t and – most importantly – why.
Fast forward a few years. After graduation from Towson University with a degree in Music Education – where, by the way, I was not a guitar major, but rather a voice major – I joined a professional band making actual money singing and playing my guitar.
After years of gigging with various bands of various styles and various quality (check out my resume, if you care about such things), I decided to turn my attention to teaching guitar.
I had given some informal lessons over the years, but had never really focused on it. It was a way to make a few extra dollars but not much more than that. And, of course, with that type of approach – just dabbling in it – I got dabbler results with my students, which is to say, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
But as I was approaching a certain age, I decided that maybe it was best to phase out the heavy playing schedule and see if I could teach guitar as my full time gig. After all, I had a college degree in music education and I’d taught myself pretty well. Maybe if I concentrated my efforts on the teaching part – the same way I had on the playing part for so many years – I could get quality results for my students as well.
And so I set out to be an actual, professional guitar teacher.
My teaching journey began with 2
victims students at the Maryland Conservatory of Music and a beginner class at the local community college. I also managed to convince 2 students to take private lessons with me at my home studio.
Slowly I built my teaching business into a full roster of students, a rock band ensemble and summer camps at the Conservatory; multiple classes at the college; and a growing roster of private students at home.
Ten years and hundreds of students later, I realize that THIS is what I was meant to do. I love playing – it’s been my passion since I was a kid – but sharing that passion for music with others and helping them to achieve their own musical goals is what really moves me.
I’ve taught teens with visions of rock stardom and adults with the simple dream of finally learning to play an instrument.
I’ve taught retirees with time on their hands and working professionals with precious little time to invest.
I’ve taught students with incredible natural talent and others with serious physical and emotional challenges.
And I’ve loved every single minute. At this point, I can’t imagine a life where I’m not teaching guitar.
A few years back, I was honored with a feature spread in the 2012 “Best of Harford” issue of Harford Magazine!
“For most aspiring musicians, the guitar is the symbol of cool. And for most angst-ridden teenagers all over the world, learning how to play the rock’ n’ roll catalyst is not always a simple task. That is why many Harford County residents have chosen longtime rock band frontman, Jim Bowley, as their teacher.”
Read the full article by Jenn Dansicker here: “Finding Your Inner Jimi Hendrix”.
My Teaching Resume
I cannot speak for other private instructors – and certainly not for other online guitar teachers – but I can outline for you what specific skills and experience I bring to guitar lessons. Whether you are getting private coaching from me or simply studying at your own pace from one of my premium courses, you’ll benefit from the following:
1 – Practical playing experience in professional settings.
I’ve been a gigging pro for over 25 years and have played guitar in touring bands, club bands and private party bands. I’ve pretty much seen it all. I know what works and what doesn’t, and it comes from the perspective of a someone with lots of stage experience. What I teach my students works in real-world musical situations.
2 – An advanced degree in music education.
Not only do I have practical, professional experience, I also have an advanced degree from Towson University to back it up.
Towson is not only one of the top music programs in the mid-Atlantic region, but it also turns out more students who go on to be pro players and music instructors in Maryland than any other school. It was there that I learned how to teach musical concepts and techniques effectively.
3 – Teaching experience with real, live guitar students.
I’ve spent the last ten years teaching hundreds of guitar students – real, live guitar students – in a variety of settings: one on one in private lessons, in group classes, in seminars and in summer camps. My students have ranged in age from 10 to 70; they are male and female; some of them have had serious learning or emotional difficulties.
I give you the main bullet points of my resume here so that you can be confident that what I teach online works in real life.
And I know this to be true since many of my students can be found playing professionally in rock bands; jamming in high school jazz ensembles; performing in community theater pit bands or church worship groups; pursuing music degrees at the college level, including the famed Berklee College of Music; or just happily playing for their own enjoyment with family and friends!