Ken Brown Guitar Lessons

5.0
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(3)
5.0
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3 reviews
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Customers rated this pro highly for professionalism, work quality, and value.
  • Andrew K.

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    Ken is able to break down the process of learning the guitar into easy and manageable steps. Great teacher !

    Jul 23, 2017
  • Lucia D.

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    You can tell that he is passionate about his playing and the music which encourages the student to learn as much as they can. Just started lessons and I already have picked up a bunch of new techniques.

    Jul 18, 2017

About this pro

THE PLAN I'm sure that everyone has their own unique musical background and set of musical experiences. In this sense, we are all different and consequently, have a unique slant on what music means to us. Musicians are special people because they share a certain drive or spark that motivates them (year after year), to continue to explore their musical goals. These goals are usually a result of personal preferences in music, and they come as a result of trying to follow in the footsteps of your musical heroes, or an inner sense of feeling creative, or simply having a desire to do music. GOALS The goals can range from aspiring to make a living in some phase of the music industry, to trying to get the maximum satisfaction from music as a hobby, so that your musical hours add relaxation and a sense of doing something for yourself. It can be a 'special time' of every day or week that, you might say, completes your world, and is an aspect of 'you' that rounds off your life. No matter how music impacts on our life, dealing with it has its risks. For everything we try to gain in our lives, there will be a price we pay. For many, that price can be the frustration of not moving along the road of improvement fast enough, or not being able to 'get to the music' we desire. All of this, coupled with the realities of life (little things like eating, a roof over your head, obligations, etc.), can sometimes create a set of circumstances that lead to this frustration. Experience I have had the exceptional experience of working with and talking to, literally hundreds of musicians like yourself, of all ages, for over thirty years. Most of these musicians (of all levels and backgrounds; from the relative beginner to the college graduate or seasoned professional), all share some kind of frustration (or else they wouldn't be talking to me in the first place). I have helped these people, and this talk is an attempt to be of service to you in the same way. How Does Your Dream Happen? No matter how long music has been part of your life, it comes down to moving from the point you are at now, to the next step towards your goals. I'm sure many dream of being able to devote all of your time to music attend a good music school and be in a musical environment full-time. That takes a lot of doing (and money). For most it is an impractical goal, because of your personal situation and responsibilities. The first possibility is to be your own teacher. This means buying books and reading articles on different subjects; perhaps watching videos, playing with your friends or with records, etc. This is tough for several reasons. It takes a long time because you are spending your time working with whatever is available, whether it is the best thing to do, or not, and there is seldom any 'point A to point B' continuity. This situation can often make problems, in the sense that if you are working on something that is way over your head, you really can't do it! You don't feel good about the results (or lack of results), and after a while, you keep going, because 'that is how you do it,' but the truth of the matter is that you are going in circles and nothing critical really changes! I urge you to consider another solution, which is to study privately with a music TEACHER, not just someone who can play fast and impress you with their technique, but someone with a plan and a structured approach, and with their guidance, move to each new step of improving yourself. S/he will be able to organize your efforts for the maximum level of progress. One of the more important things to catch are, bad habits, before they become ingrained, This will save you lots of time, years in fact. This one thing has caused many a budding guitarist to give up after they hit a wall in their playing. So IT IS CRUCIAL THAT YOU GET LAUNCHED CORRECTLY. as this will save you years of frustration with dead end solutions. Life is short. Do you have the time to lose years going down the wrong path? Even though it is real cheap? Why You Need a Plan? The answer to all of this is to make a plan! This means that after factoring in your time and money commitments, you take a very objective look at your situation, then make a short term and long term plan. You may find, as most do, that your long term goals may change as you move along your "musical road.' That is beside the point. As you change and your abilities change, your 'sense' of where you are and what is possible, will change. That is a natural thing. The reality is that you have a better feeling about yourself because you are moving along, and as you evolve, you simply relate to your musical goals differently. The advantage then, of having a plan, is that you have a more confident attitude as you work at it, day after day, and week after week. The plan can start with focusing on what you should first be learning and working at, followed by a series of short-term goals to take you step-by-step on the road to realizing your goals. With most people, the problem of 'what should I do first' should be addressed by looking at your level of musicianship. Musicianship means your ability to hear music in your head, know what it is, and then be able to execute it on your instrument. It is what is called an 'educated ear.' This is an ear that can 'hear' written music (including melody, harmony and rhythm), or as you hear the melody, harmony and rhythm in your head, to know what it is and be able to play it. Until your ear works for you in this way, you will pay an unnecessary price for every little advancement you make. And it's not as daunting as it seems. One of benefits of my approach is you will learn how to integrate: Seeing, Hearing, Doing, & Understanding Wouldn't it be nice to know what your hearing, and be able to play it on your instrument? These 4 aspects weave together to make a complete musician. If having a structured approach and a 'plan' interests you, just answer this ad. And we can get the process started. The idea is to help you clarify where you are, and what your next step should be. and to have someone like me, working with you to help you realize a practical solution to your musical aspirations. Not to mention, it will be fun too. ;-) I like getting new students launched correctly and seeing how they blossom. Each student takes the same tools and uses them differently to create their own style. This is exciting to me when this happens. I want students to find their own voice.

Years in business

52

Times hired on Thumbtack

1

Number of employees

1

Background check

Completed
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10 photos and 1 video

    Q & A

    • What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
      Depending on your budget and goals we decide what package deal will work the best for you. You save considerably with a package. We have 3 month 6 month and annual packages
    • What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
      First lesson is an assessment and orientation. I find out what your musical goals are and design a customized plan of study. Go over the basic techniques needed to play correctly,and create an experience of playing music together. Below is something that most students find helpful: The elements of "Efficient Practice for Guitar" are composed of three elements: Understandings: Concepts: which you must understand in order to begin to practice effectively. Tools: Practice Approaches to be used to solve problems in playing. These approaches are based on certain key Understandings, such as Muscle Memory and Sympathetic Tension, as well as Attention and Awareness. Exercises: Specific routines to be done during practice, that will build technique, (playing ability) in a step by step fashion, each step building on the previous one, and preparing for the next. UNDERSTANDING: DESIRE, ATTENTION, AND AWARENESS Desire, Attention, and Awareness are the three things you must understand in order to begin your journey toward getting as good as you want to be on the guitar. Each leads to the other. Desire: Your Fuel For Success I have seen that I can give students everything they need to learn to play well, maybe play great. With one exception, that is. In fact, there is one most important quality you must have, in order to go through what it takes to learn to play the guitar. That is desire. You must really feel a need for it in your life, whether you want to play on the amateur level, or the professional. When I find this desire in people, it strikes me as a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, desire alone is not enough. In fact, I have often met people who had that desire, but lost it due to frustration about not being able to make any progress in their efforts to learn the guitar. They assumed they didn't have the talent, and gave up. I have also met many people who have played badly for years, and they bravely keep hoping that all the problems they have with all those pieces they struggle with will someday go away. Someday, playing will be enjoyable, and satisfying, and even sound good! Someday they won't fall apart when they play in front of other people. Of course without guidance that someday remains just a dream. The person who gives up, and the person who continues playing the same way year after year, assume that the great players have some special natural ability that they unfortunately do not posses. It is a rather hopeless feeling. Even though I think my methods will help anyone, these methods are especially for people who are in this state of frustration, so they will learn that the problem is not lack of ability. They just do not have the correct information about how to practice to get results. Your desire to play the guitar is what makes you begin your journey, and when coupled with the correct information about the mechanics of playing and practicing, your desire will increase and carry you further. Nothing succeeds like a success. You want to create goals that can be achieved in short time frames (5 minutes for example) When you are able to master something in a short time, it means you have not bitten off more than you can chew, and since there is little to no frustration, it is very motivating. Attention And Awareness: The Price You Must Pay, And What You Get For It. It is the desire to play well that I draw upon in the student, in order to get them to pay the price that must be paid on a daily basis, in order to play well. Many students resist paying this price. I am not talking about time spent practicing. I am talking about the mental power and focus it takes to develop the AWARENESS that is essential for playing well, and enjoying constant improvement. You develop this awareness by learning how to PAY ATTENTION. Sounds simple, doesn't it. And yet it is the first thing I have to teach most students. I usually have to teach them that they are not paying attention when they practice, they are not intense enough mentally. They are not noticing all the things that must be noticed to develop the necessary "sensations" required to control the fingers, so they can do their job I believe that anyone can learn to play the guitar as well as they want to, if they are willing to pay this price. We usually think of all the hours of practice it takes to play well. And yet I have seen people who have put in many years of practice, and they don't play well at all. So the price of playing well can't be just time spent practicing. No, it has more to do with what you are doing when you practice. And not just what you're doing with your fingers, but more importantly, what you are doing with your mind, with your attention. That's why it's called "paying attention." There is an old saying, "genius is the ability to pay attention to details." If you really understand this statement, you will see that anyone can be a genius. It should really be understood backwards. What we call genius is the result of enough time spent developing a great awareness and sensitivity to something, by continually focusing our attention on it in an intense way. One of the biggest myths and misunderstandings that I would like to dispel is the idea that a lot of time spent practicing is the key to playing well. It doesn't matter how much time you spend if you don't know the correct things to do, and the correct way of doing those things. Fifteen minutes of correct practice will have more benefit than 5 hours of incorrect, unintelligent practice. (Actually, bad practice doesn't do you any good at all. It just makes you better at playing badly!) Understanding: There are no "mistakes", only unwanted results In order to practice effectively, we must change our idea of what the word "mistake" means. When a mistake happens in our practice, there is usually an immediate emotional reaction. Some annoyance, some feelings of inadequacy, and probably the feeling that it shouldn't have happened, or probably won't again. It was some act of God. (This is especially true when playing in front of someone else, when all the weak spots come out.) The fact is there is always a reason for mistakes. They always have a cause. Usually, the cause is not even that difficult to uncover if you know how to look. If we have allowed our first finger to be held stiffly, sticking up in the air, in reaction to what our fourth finger is doing, we shouldn't be surprised if that first finger misses it's next note, especially in a fast piece. I have learned over the years that we deserve every mistake we make. In fact, we have created and guaranteed them by the way we practice. They are simply the result, or effect, of our practice. Our practice is the cause. This is good news, because if we change the cause, we will get a different effect, or result. This means we can figure out how to get the result we want. So begin to replace the word "mistake" with a much more accurate and useful phrase. A "mistake" is just an unwanted result. No emotion attached to it. Our job is to know the result we want, and figure out how to produce that result by working according to our understanding of the mechanics of playing. Muscle Memory UNDERSTANDING: How The Fingers Learn Our fingers have this amazing ability, as does every muscle in your body, to "remember" anything they do. We all use this ability of the muscles in different ways in various things we do in life. Were all familiar with how a carpenter will take a few practice swings with a hammer before striking a nail. He will slowly bring the hammer to the nail head, guiding his arm and the hammer along the path he wants them to take when he swings fast and with force. Then, after a few practice swings, he'll let it fly. The muscles "remember" the path they took at the slow speed, and have no trouble repeating the exact movements necessary to take that path again, and hit the nail accurately. The same process occurs in practicing an instrument. The person practicing performs various movements with the fingers, directed to a certain result. If the movements were done slowly and accurately, with no extra tension in the muscles involved, the fingers would have no trouble reproducing them at a faster speed. Why slowly? Because that is the only way to have the mind control the fingers and make them do what is desired, and keep extra tension to a minimum, or eliminated entirely. That's why the carpenter does his practice swings slowly, so he can control the path of the hammer. What he's really doing is allowing his muscles to experience the exact movements and adjustments that are necessary to hit the nail accurately. Remember this: Whatever your fingers experience doing slowly, in a state of balanced relaxation, they will be able to do very quickly. This ability of the muscles and nervous system of our body to remember and repeat movements they have already experienced is the foundation of how we learn to play the guitar, or any instrument for that matter, and is called muscle memory. It's important to realize that this is not some special secret thing only some people have or some people use. We all do it already, but you must understand it and respect it when you practice, in order to be able to practice effectively, that is, get results. The great players understand these things, and they practice like they understand them. You can too! For You or Against You? Finger memory is a great thing, but it can work for you or against you. Because if you do the right thing once, then the wrong thing, and then various combinations of right and wrong, you end up with some pretty confused fingers. This is like taking double exposures when trying to get a clear picture.You just get a blurred mess. This is what most people actually do when they practice, and why they experience little or inconsistent results, and a lot of frustration. When they practice, they do not make the fingers do the right thing. They are allowing the fingers to make haphazard and inaccurate movements. In ten repetitions of a passage, the fingers may actually do it ten different ways (resulting in various mistakes, wrong notes, or "oops" moments). Usually, the person practicing is not aware of the fact that s/he was doing it ten different ways. It may be something relatively obvious like using slightly different fingerings, or something more subtle like tension in various muscle groups. The person practicing is not aware of the differences, but the poor fingers are! When the player then tries to play that passage for someone, well, how will they ever know which of those ten ways the fingers might decide to do it? This leads to a very useful definition of good practice. Good Practice is knowing the right thing to do, and then making sure your fingers do it. This means you must know what the fingers should do, and then you must make them do it over and over. This is another way of saying, "do the right thing and do enough of it. The key to knowing how to do good practice is to realize that your fingers are your faithful servants and friends. They have great memories, but they have no conscience, that is, they will remember and repeat whatever they do, but they don't know the difference between right and wrong. So, they are just as happy to do the wrong thing as the right thing, they just do what you have taught them (actually, they are happier doing the right thing, it's just that they really have no choice, since they can only repeat what they have already done). Since they don't know if what you just had them do is the right thing or the wrong thing, they leave that up to you. It's our job to make sure it’s the right thing. DESIRE + CORRECT INFORMATION + CORRECT PRACTICE = INCREASED PLAYING ABILITY CONFIDENCE & DESIRE
    • What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
      • About Ken Brown…. Ken plays concerts, recitals and benefits throughout the area. He is available for bookings. He taught guitar at Menlo College, where he also headed the guitar department. Ken studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, & San Francisco State. He has also studied with some of the most influential and important guitarists of this century, including: Classical: Segovia, Pepe Romero, Jorge Morel, Laurindo Almeida, Rey de la Torre Jazz: Joe Pass, Barney Kessel, Howard Roberts, Warren Nunes. He composed music and performed for the ballet IMPRESSIONS. He is also the author of Classical Studies for Guitar, (published by Belwin-Mills) and articles for Guitar International. • Testimonials…. “Ken will find a way for you to be able to play no matter what the obstacle. I have club thumbs and tiny hands and can do things I never thought possible!”….Dr. Fiona Plows “I think you are an outstanding guitar teacher (probably the best I have ever studied with)! I intend to continue to study with you if you will have me as a student. Best Regards, Raleigh Estrada”

    Business hours

    Pacific Time Zone
    Sunday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Monday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Tuesday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Wednesday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Thursday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Friday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Saturday12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m.
    Coverage Area for Ken Brown Guitar Lessons is about 150+ miles of Redwood City, CA.