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Columbia Guitar Instruction
Gary Bruce · Columbia, SC
Guitar Teacher Gary Bruce offers guitar lessons in Columbia, SC, as well as Skype guitar lessons, and we talked with Gary recently about his guitar teaching, and how he helps his students learn how to play guitar. You can check out the interview by visiting the Gary Bruce guitar teacher page or by reading the transcript we’ve provided below.
Gary Bruce Gives Skype Guitar Lessons and Guitar Lessons in Columbia, SC
Lessons.com: We’re here today with Gary Bruce who teaches guitar and who has a profile on Lessons.com. Welcome, Gary. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.
Gary Bruce: Appreciate it, James. Thanks for letting me interview with you. Thanks for having me on board.
Lessons.com: It’s our pleasure, and I’m really looking forward to learning more about your guitar teaching. Can you tell us first where do you teach guitar? What city and what state are you in?
Gary Bruce: I’m in West Columbia, South Carolina, and West Columbia is right on the outskirts of Columbia, which is the capital city, and is also where the University of South Carolina is.
Lessons.com: Do you teach in your own studio or do you travel to your guitar students’ homes or a combination of both?
Gary Bruce: When I first started twenty-nine years ago, I was going to people’s houses and they were coming here. And now I’ve got my own studio that people come to. I’ve spent a lot of time and money developing the studio – I wish I could pan around to let you see it, but it’s on my website. But I also do guitar lessons through Skype, so I can teach guitar anywhere in the world, but I try to limit it to the U. S.
Lessons.com: That’s wonderful. You mentioned your website. What is the name of your website? (Editors note: You can find out the name of Gary’s website, as well as his contact information by checking out the Gary Bruce guitar teacher page.
Lessons.com: Do you teach both adults and children?
Gary Bruce: Well, I try not to start them until they’re at least twelve or thirteen, so I guess children, I would say no; I would say teenagers on up, so on my website, it says ages twelve and up.
Lessons.com: How would you describe the guitar lesson climate there in Columbia and West Columbia? Are there a lot of people who want to learn guitar?
Gary Bruce: Well, as I mentioned earlier, since there is a university here, we’ve got a plethora of people and styles ranging from heavy metal to country music, because I’m not that far from Nashville, Tennessee. I’m close to Charlotte and Atlanta. So what I basically concentrate on, get most of the requests for, is classic rock, of course southern rock, because I’m here in the south … rhythm and blues, traditional blues, rock, pop, and jazz. That’s what I pretty much focus on.
Lessons.com: You cover a lot of styles there. And, when you’re with an individual guitar student, how would you describe your guitar teaching approach?
Gary Bruce: I can sum it up in two words: “Custom tailored”. I tell all my students – and I use a lot of analogies as a teacher to make sure I’m communicating effectively – I say, “Here’s the difference of me and your average guitar teacher: You can walk into a department store and buy a suit that’s your size and fits you and looks good on you, or you can go to a tailor and have one made. Which one do you think is going to fit you better and you’re going to get more compliments on?” And that is my approach as a teacher. I have my own method that I’ve developed over twenty-nine years of teaching guitar, that I don’t just teach songs or solos; I teach the theory and the principles behind it. It’s not like where, if you would take a theory class at a college, where you would get bored with it; it’s applicable, and I get them up and running and playing. I know that their goal is to play songs, and I say, “I wanna get you playing faster than you wanna get playing – if you can believe that – but I know what it takes to get there, and I don’t want you to go through the motions of playing – I want you to understand it, so I’m all about understanding and teaching the instrument.
Lessons.com: That’s wonderful, Gary. Can you tell us about your scheduling format and what your guitar lesson fees are? How often do you work with your guitar students?
Gary Bruce: Sure. The fees are forty-five per lesson, and they’re scheduled every two weeks.
Lessons.com: And how long are the guitar lessons?
Gary Bruce: They’re hour lessons. So, it breaks down to an hour guitar lesson, every two weeks. So, it’s two lessons a month; some calendars will have three Monday’s in it, if your lessons fall on a Monday. But, I found that approach to be a lot more effective than your traditional thirty minutes every week, and the hour every two weeks works really well for my guitar students. Now, I also video my lessons, while they’e being taught – the camera stays on me, just like it is right now – and when the guitar students leave, they get a DVD of their guitar lesson on video, plus all of the charts that I make with the software programs that I use. So, everything’s documented very well.
Lessons.com: That’s well organized, Gary. That’s wonderful and very thorough for the guitar students. When you’re teaching guitar, what guitars do you tend to play when you’re teaching a student?
Gary Bruce: Well, the Strat that you see me holding is what I use the most, but I try to match what the student has, so if they have a Les Paul, I pull down one of my Les Pauls. If they have a jazz guitar, I pull down my Ibanez jazz hollow body. If it’s an acoustic guitar, I use an acoustic. If it’s bass, I pull down my bass. When I saw on your questionnaire, when asked about your equipment, my typical answer was going to be: “How much time do we have?” because I’ve got a studio full of gear.
Lessons.com: And, with your guitar students, do you offer advice to them about what kind of guitar to buy?
Gary Bruce: Absolutely! I talk to them. What I do initially is I have them come for what I call a free intro lesson, where I get to know them. I see if we’re a good match, which there’s not really anybody I can’t teach, and they get to find out where I’m located, so they can determine the travel time etc. etc. It gets a lot of the logistics out of the way, and kind of breaks the ice. So then, once I’ve done that, and I’ve ascertained where they are and what type of music they want to play, I basically boil it down to electric or acoustic. And then I’ll steer them to one of the local music stores or an online store that I deal with. And, it’s based on years of experience of what gear works. You don’t have to spend the most – you know $1000 on a guitar. You can get a good acoustic for two hundred bucks, but you gotta know where to look. So, I do a lot of research and steer them in the right direction.
Lessons.com: That’s wonderful, Gary. And, before we end our interview, would you like to play something for us – maybe a segment of a song, twenty or thirty seconds or so? Just to give our viewers a taste of your guitar playing and what you like to play?
Gary Bruce: Yeah. I play all sorts of styles, but I figured what I’d do – most people like to hear – they like to hear me rock out, so I’ll do a little thing in E for you. And it goes something like this.
Editor’s note: Gary breaks into a really cool, rocking blues/rock lead that demonstrates why an aspiring guitar student would want to have him as their guitar teacher. Watch and hear Gary play, please visit the Gary Bruce Guitar Teacher Profile Page.
Lessons.com: That sounds great, Gary, and the key of E always sounds great, when you’re playing something like that. Doesn’t it?
Gary Bruce: Absolutely. You’ve got that open E string, you can’t beat it. (Gary hits the open E string producing the unmistakable sound that attracts so many to learning how to play guitar). You know, you can take that same scale and play like blues (Gary demonstrates). So, you can do a lot with the same scale – we don’t have time to get into that, but it’s all on the website, and I cover it all.
Lessons.com: That’s wonderful, Gary. It’s really been great to learn more about your guitar teaching, and we look forward to seeing you on Lessons.com.
Gary Bruce: James, I really appreciate it. Thanks for your time.
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