CSL Guitar Lessons
Christian Lumsden is currently enrolled as a Jazz Guitar and Recording Arts major at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore:
Throughout my studies, I have learned many approaches to practicing and learning how to play guitar.
Having studied and played with more than a few musicians of various idioms, I have collected a diverse set of approaches to music and guitar pedagogy.
As a gigging musician in the Baltimore area, I also have been lucky to come into contact with and learn from many other musicians, all who bring something unique to their approach to music. With this network, I am able to provide many different perspectives on both the technical and purely musical aspect of playing guitar and music in general, across various genres.
What brings me the most satisfaction is seeing growth in people--not just musically, but on a personal level, as well. Through music, we learn about much more than notes and songs. We learn about people, ourselves, traditions. We learn how to communicate better with each other.
I'm able to create lessons and plans for students that are directed at their individual needs and desires. Because of my college studies of music theory and jazz, I am able to help students understand what is going on in the music they play at a deeper level. I have gotten good at crafting my own practice exercises and routines, and have learned how to break a piece of music up into parts that are manageable and easier to learn.
Whether the student wants to increase their technical ability, their knowledge of the fretboard, their tone, better their musical ear, or to learn a specific piece of music, I can help pinpoint what needs to be worked on and how to do it.
I also assemble a collection of resources and on paper or digital materials to give to students. I create fretboard charts paired with grand staff to help students learn chord voicings and work through accompaniment and voiceleading.
On a deeper level, I seek to help people build their own confidence and to express their voices through their music. Learning to play music can be tough! It teaches us how to perservere and teaches us that we are all capable of doing so.
I believe that the study of music is good for the soul, the mind, and community. My hope is that through teaching and learning music, we can strengthen and diversify the community of musicians and patrons, increasing our appreciation for the many forms music takes and the stories it tells.
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Frequently asked questions
What is your typical process for working with a new student?
The first and most important step is to get to know the student and what their goals are! The goal is to help the student get to where they want to be.
So I usually begin with a discussion about the students goals, what kind of music they are into, and how they feel about where they are at musically. We might listen to parts of a few tunes or play through a couple of songs, depending on the student's ability and what they want out of the process.
The study of music is very personal, so it's important to get to understand how to best serve each individual, around their current place in their studies, around their schedules, and around how much and what they can/want to work on.
Depending on what the student is interested in, we might end up working through a specific song for a few lessons until it is playable, or we might spend time on technique exercises and harmonic concepts, which we might not talk about again for weeks until the student has digested the material.
Whatever the goals end up being, at the end of the first lesson, both the student and I typically have homework: I spend time outside of each lesson preparing for the next lesson. I keep a log for each student to tailor the lessons to their needs.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I am currently attending the Peabody Conservatory studying Jazz Guitar. I have also studied with a handful of well established professional guitarists. I have experience playing classical and fingerstyle guitar, as well.
Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.
I typically charge $45 (USD) for an hour lesson online.
I charge $60 (USD) per hour in person.
Because of the current climate, all lessons are online, right now. Because of this, it's not possible to have the first lesson in person. So, I am extending a discount for the first lesson ($35/hour) so students can "try out" a new teacher with less to lose.
How did you get started teaching?
I started teaching privately to younger students who wanted to start learning guitar. I also have volunteered at Living Classrooms in Baltimore as a mentor and general assistant to learning music and production.
What types of students have you worked with?
I have worked with all types of students on guitar at all ages.
Describe a recent event you are fond of.
This time last year, I attended the first ever Choro Camp in New England. I got to learn from, play with, and hang out with some masters of Choro and Brazilian music. It was a nonstop music filled weekend, and I haven't slept so little since then. The connection between people was amazing. I have never felt so welcome playing with people from a school of music I had so little experience and practice in before in my life. And yet, we played, and the music was good. I learned a ton and had a blast. I even bought a 7 string guitar as a result. Ask me about it! Definitely check out Choro, Samba, Forro, and Brazilian music!
What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?
I would look for someone who you feel comfortable talking and playing with, and whose playing you like. You don't need to study with the same teacher forever, and different teachers have different things to offer. It can be really good to establish a continued relationship with one teacher for months or even years at a time. But it's also good to take lessons with different people to get different perspectives.
It's important that you get along with your teacher on a personal level. You want to be able to talk about music in a larger context than just the act of playing the instrument. The right teacher for you will be excited to teach you and share their knowledge.
For guitarists, it's important to find a teacher that is able to work with you on your level, whatever that may be. Guitar, especially in popular music (including jazz), is approached in many different ways across many different idioms, technically and musically. It's all about getting the student the knowledge they need in the way that they need it and to help them get to where they want to be while enjoying the process. As the student, you will know whether it "feels" wrong or if you're simply not getting what you want.
What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?
Think about where you'd like to be musically 2 months from now. 6 months from now. A year.
How much time will you spend working on material outside of the lesson? This informs the instructor about what kind of material to give out and also how to spend the lesson time most efficiently. Sometimes I can give out music that I don't expect to have learned for weeks, and we don't talk about it really for weeks. But with other students, the goal is to work on a specific piece of music each lesson, together, and to focus on all the parts of it together.
Think about what kind of music most inspires you. Guitarists, think about what guitarists make you want to play guitar.
Think about what you are able to play now. Think of a piece of music you can bring to the lesson that really shows me what you are good at or what you want to learn. With music, we do a lot of communicating through our instruments.