Phil, mandolin student

As an aged (65+) learner of the mandolin, I have found Gordon pleasant, sympathetic to my difficulties, very knowledgeable about Irish music of all types, and generous with his time and advice. I feel that, with his tuition, I have genuinely made progress and have found an enjoyable new pastime. Thank you Gordon.

Nóirín, mandolin student

“Gordon has been my mandolin tutor for one year now. Although I started as a novice I now have a good repertoire of music, some of which I can play more competently than others. I owe that to him and his patience.

He is a stickler for basic technique initially, because he is not only intent on teaching you to play, but rather to play well and get the best sound from your instrument. This has certainly paid off with me as he is now challenging me with more difficult pieces.

His sense of humour and easy going attitude are an advantage, but most inspiring is his passion for the music he plays.

If you are considering a one to one music tutor I would more than gladly recommend him.”

Andy, tenor banjo student

Having decided to take up the banjo at the tender age of 50, being unable to read music or string more than two notes together to resemble a recognisable tune, I approached my local music shop for advice. Gordon came highly recommended, and it later transpired that he’s very well known on the local music circuit, so in June 2018 I got in touch with Gordon and started music lessons for the first time in my life.

To say this was a daunting experience to begin with would be an understatement, but Gordon has a very friendly style of teaching which he combines with infinite patience and excellent communication skills to help focus on correct technique and getting the very best sound out of the banjo. He knows just when to challenge your skills to encourage you to move to the next level and when to change down a gear so as not to overstretch and adversely affect your confidence, which has been really effective at helping me progress incrementally.

Balancing music lessons with a busy job has not been easy, but with Gordon’s help I am now able to sight read music, learn tunes by ear and work my way through a number of melodies in a manner I never thought possible in such a relatively short period of time.

Gordon continues to add value to each lesson, introducing new techniques, elaborating on relevant music theory to enhance my understanding of chords and musical structure, as well as keeping a close and exacting eye on technique to ensure that my playing improves week by week. In short, I consider myself to have been very lucky to secure Gordon as a music teacher and I would highly recommend him to anyone serious about learning to play the banjo.

Jane, mandolin student

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.

Jade, mandolin student

“I started mandolin lessons with Gordon in early 2018. My musical background is drums and ocarina, but I never learned to read music. I wanted to rectify this when starting out with mandolin, so I needed a teacher who was willing to teach me both.

I contacted Gordon through searching online and he was quick to respond and arrange a time for my first lesson. I was a little nervous to start as it’s been a long time since I’ve had music lessons. However, I found quite quickly that Gordon is a very friendly and patient individual. When I make mistakes he discusses them with me so that I can improve. This has been especially important for me, as I want to learn proper technique and not stray into bad habits. He has also introduced me to some wonderful pieces that I never would have heard of if not for my lessons. I appreciate the history behind such pieces, as Gordon has a wealth of knowledge he is always willing to share.

Overall, I’m really happy with Gordon as a teacher and have noticed definite improvement in both my playing and understanding of sheet music. He is a dedicated teacher who has been very understanding and adaptable to my busy/erratic work schedule. It’s been very rewarding to realise my progress and Gordon gives praise where it’s due. I’m at a stage where I feel confident andjustified with my progress to commission a mandolin build from a UK luthier, and Gordon has given me much appreciated advice on the matter.

Mandolin teachers (especially those focused on traditional and early music etc) are quite few and far between in the UK, so I consider myself very lucky to have found Gordon. Not only is he local, but he’s just a brilliant teacher and all round decent fellow.”

Kay, mandolin student.

“I have been having mandolin lessons with Gordon for a couple of months now. Gordon is really easy to get on with and is clearly very knowledgable and enthusiastic about his music.  He has great patience and handles all my tutting and huffing when I struggle with something.  His pricing is extremely reasonable, especially as he comes to me and lessons are an hour. Highly recommend Gordon for all your mandolin needs.”

The Jones Boys play highly accomplished traditional music from Ireland, England, Scotland, Brittany, Sweden, Bulgaria …

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