“Gordon is an exceptional teacher. I feel lucky to have discovered him (luckier still he’s prepared to travel some distance weekly to teach me) and I have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone looking for a one-on-one music teacher.
I arrived, aged 40, at the decision to learn the mandolin as a total novice; now, three years on, three years Gordon’s student, I can scarcely put the mandolin down and the house, somewhat miraculously, is full of tunes. So, not wishing to give him too big a head but… my life has changed for the better for knowing him: long having longed to play an instrument I’m now even learning a second – the octave mandola.
Like all really good teachers, from the beginning, Gordon set high expectations and high standards but also demonstrated these high standards himself. You can see this in his own highly skilled musicianship, for instance, and in his professionalism – as a performer and a teacher – as well as in the way he teaches beyond what is ‘expected’, always more than generously imparting his knowledge, understanding and expertise.
Coming to specifics, Gordon’s teaching of me has focused on a meticulous attention to technique whilst at the same time encouraging me to develop a sense of musicality and confidence in my playing. He’s passionate about instrumentality and he is always sharing new ways to make the mandolin sound not only like the essence of itself but, by borrowing and innovating techniques from fiddle, harp, whistle, make it sound like more than the sum of its parts.
As a great teacher, he knows when and how to motivate and challenge and he’s got bags of patience for when things aren’t going well. Which has come in handy! He is well able to diagnose what’s working, what’s not and his criticism is always constructive, offering techniques to improve.
All of the above comes with a firm dose of Gordon’s own inimitable sense of humour, the less said about which the better!
So, he is inspiring, because of all of this, but also because of his huge knowledge of music and his infectious enthusiasm for Traditional music. Infectious enough, actually, to encourage me to go the route of graded exams in Irish Traditional Music with the London College of Music. Working my way through these has been testing my nerve! But it has also provided an enormously rewarding challenge and a helpful structure for improvement. I’ve now achieved Grade 6, with merit, and I’ll be taking Grade 7 in a few months…fingers crossed.
Irish Trad’ aside, we’ve kept our lessons varied, and Gordon’s introduced me to Early, Classical, Baroque and Traditional European music helping me to develop different skills and understand these skills in context, having a lot of fun and developing a pretty decent repertoire of tunes along the way. Outside our lessons, but with Gordon’s support, I have even played sessions and the odd floor spot.”
Jane, mandolin and octave mandola student