You are the founder of SJGA which is an international guitar academy for adults. Why have you decided to focus on adult guitar education?
The main reason I have decided to focus on adult guitar teaching is that adults need a place where they can feel safe and learn from expert guitarists who know how to educate adults. For many years, adults were pushed to the sidelines because most schooling was geared on children and the young. Finally, I have decided to provide a place where adults may come expressly to learn how to play with a professional guitarist and make incredibly good development on a weekly basis.
My teaching style is specifically developed for adults to learn. My system is developed in such a way that adults may learn and master the instrument. Adults can learn with me or one of my assistant instructors, who have all been trained in Stefan Joubert’s guitar teaching style, in which we look at the entire neck of the guitar and actually get to know the entire fretboard without compromise.
Who can study with you? Do guitarists need to have some experience already or can they join your class even if they have never played a musical instrument before?
Anyone is welcome to study with me. The only thing I ask is that you have a desire to learn and a want to improve your playing. You don’t need any prior experience to participate, and you can even join if you have never played before. If you have past expertise, you can expect a significant improvement in your guitar playing and to make tremendous progress in a short period of time.
You mainly teach on Zoom. Is it possible to study with you in person?
Depending on where I am in the world, you may be able to study with me in person. I spend the majority of my time in the United Arab Emirates, but I also spend time in London, Switzerland, and New York City. If you live in one of these areas and learn with me on Zoom, you can always request to study with me in person as well.
What would be your advice to an enthusiast guitarist who is contemplating taking guitar lessons with you?
I would simply advise a beginner guitarist who want to take lessons with me to take the initial step and schedule the first lesson. We can work on your guitar playing and help you become the guitarist you have always wanted to be as soon as we can break the ice.
What do you tell your pupils when they face set-backs or plateaus?
First and foremost, I would advise you to consider why you wanted to learn in the first place. Try to rekindle your earlier enthusiasm. Another option is to just take a short vacation and use that time to reflect on the setbacks, plateaus, and strategies for moving past them. Sometimes all you need is a spark of inspiration, and other times you’ll need to be patient. As grownups, we sometimes desire to get there too quickly, which is also impossible. We must be willing to put in the effort required to achieve our objectives.
Which music styles do you teach?
I teach many musical styles, including jazz, classical, rock, blues, metal, soul, all contemporary forms, and classical guitar. I have wonderful assistant instructors as well, and we can teach all of the fundamental styles. Of course, we do not teach unusual styles such as Indian guitar or flamenco, but rather all of the fundamental rock, pop, classical, metal, blues, electric guitar styles, acoustic guitar styles, and classical guitar genres.
I have heard about the Stefan Joubert’s methodology. Can you please tell me more about it?
The Stefan Joubert methodology is one that I developed over the course of 20 years of teaching guitar. It is, in essence, extremely straightforward. It involves looking at the instrument scientifically and teaching you to play it with comprehensive understanding of all the string groups, root notes, and varied positions. It’s more than just the cage system. It’s so much more than that. It is a structural approach to music in which you can play across the guitar in numerous string groups, multiple locations, and across the neck sideways, North to South, South to East, East to West, and any other orientation feasible.
It is a comprehensive procedure that will assist you in fine-tuning your guitar neck. In addition, I have a technique teaching methodology that will outperform most other technical studies out there, provided you practice the methodology that I teach. I believe in working with both the right and left hands separately and together. I believe in taking things slowly, in the middle, and quickly. I employ a method from drumming, a technique from piano playing, and a technique from voice techniques. I use my knowledge of other instruments and incorporate it into my guitar playing to provide a well-rounded method of learning that you simply cannot find somewhere else or that is rarely found in another place.
Most of your guitar students might have a demanding career. How do you help them structure their personal practice sessions and which advice do you give them to get organised and make the best out of the little time they have available?
They must be patient. Rome was not built in a day, and if they are extremely busy, they must submit their work within the time frame they have available. But, more importantly, I would suggest give it time and room. It is impossible to make significant improvement without a significant amount of time invested. That is why it is critical to invest the time and effort required to learn. To be willing to sit and practice a lot, even if it takes a long time and you feel like you are not getting far. People who perceive this as a journey will go far further than those who regard it as a destination. Of course, setting goals and having high expectations is a good thing, but only if you see it as a journey rather than a destination.
You were a student of Johnny Fourie for several years. How were your guitar lessons with him? What is the most valuable advice he gave you?
Johnny Fourie was a true master of the guitar. I recall sitting with him for three hours at a time since some other students did not show up to class, and we went through the depths of the instrument as well as many jazz standards. Johnny’s most valuable advice to me was that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Johnny told me that anything I wanted to do with my life, I could do it. There are no restrictions. Don’t allow anyone tell you that you can’t do what you want.
Johnny was a terrific jazz musician. Many individuals have bad perceptions of jazz music. Johnny was not negative; rather, he stated that “anything you set your mind to, you can achieve.” He advised me to listen to myself rather than others. Another piece of advice he gave me was to question everything I heard from everyone. To not accept anything at face value, but to question and enquire about everything. Is this correct? What does this imply? What does this have to do with anything?
Johnny was a wonderful human being as well as a fantastic musician, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from him.