Lessons With Ian Otto
As a teacher/mentor I bring over 20 years of experience and dedication playing guitar to my students. Having grown up in the 90’s/early 2000s my primary influences include who I like to call the three J’s: John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and Jason Mraz. What inspired me the most was how rhythmic and soulful their playing is. Specifically with how they use their strumming hand as a strong backdrop for vocals- something that as a singer myself I’ve spent a lot of time on.
Lessons with Ian are fun, thoughtful, and clear in regards to how we build your skills each session. My method is centered around learning classic and modern songs as a pathway towards technical proficiency, while also spending time exploring the magic of how to effortlessly move around a fretboard, ergonomics of proper hand positioning, and the infinite amount of chord shapes available to us. My students range from the absolute beginner to advanced, adapting my approach according to their level. I am well versed in the styles of Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Folk, etc.
What I love most about teaching is the opportunity to inspire, and seeing my students grow over a period of time. It’s a thrill being able to say, “Think back 3 weeks ago when you started learning this song and how hard it was compared to now-you’re killin’ it!”
Able to read music
Photos and videos
Frequently asked questions
What is your typical process for working with a new student?
First lesson is always free, and gives us a chance to get to know eachother and see if we're a good fit. For experienced players I like to hear something you're currently working on to help me get a sense of where you are and how I can help you grow. For beginners we start by first learning the Anatomy of the Guitar, and then right into some fun easy Riffs that are both familiar and perfect for building finger intelligence/strength.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have an Associates Degree in Music Performance. Upon reaching that level I decided it was best for me to save my bank account and pursue my passion as a full time career: teaching, gigging, and also working as a Dance Accompanist for college level/pre-professional dancers (it's a sweet job playing music for dance). Currently, I am employed as the Music Coordinator for Dance at Howard Community College where a few days a week I provide live music for the department's technique classes, run sound/compose music for performances, and assist in managing the school's instruments.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.
30 min: $30
What types of students have you worked with?
I've worked with students of all ages, backgrounds, and experience. The youngest student I ever taught was 6 years old, while the oldest I've taught was in his 70s! Though from that experience, I reccomend 12 as the minimum age for learning guitar. I've worked with students who just wanted to learn guitar and also those who had an interest in singing/songwriting as well. I'm a songwriter, and it's a lot of fun talking about Lyric writing and song structure if that interests you.
Describe a recent event you are fond of.
This past October I had the pleasure of collaborating with a well known Modern Dance company here in Howard County, MD. Our performance was outdoors, and I played my acoustic guitar through a series of pedals (Loop, Delay, Chorus, etc) making some really cool sounds for the dancers as they created unique improvised movement inspired by both the music and the setting we were in.
What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?
Most teachers, like me, offer a free lesson. I would definitely take advantage of this and try out a few different people before deciding to commit long term.