Posted in teaching on 10 June, 2020 by flaviomatani

Given the pandemic and the measures taken to prevent its spread (lockdown, social distancing, etc.) all my teaching is now taking place online. Mostly using Zoom at the moment, which has a very slight advantage in that you can configure the sound settings. There are things you cannot do, like playing together with the pupil, as the latency in these systems prevents that -you cannot really play together when each party hears the other one half a second late. But you can carry out the lesson, hear the pupil, give advice. It works. Not perfect, but usable. It also has the advantage that there is no geographical constrain, you could take lessons from anywhere in the world.

If you might be interested in taking lessons online, do send me a line to flavio_matani@mac.com.


Posted in teaching on 13 May, 2020 by flaviomatani

This is a tricky one, one which I haven’t got to the bottom of. I’ve seen this happen in a majority of people taking up the guitar in, say, late middle age. A combination of unsteady hand which bounces off the strings, rough tone, missed or muffled notes, uncertain timing. Some of these things are easier to sort out than others but the whole effect is often quite difficult to ‘treat’. And the pupil is of course most often aware of the situation and finds it mortifying or at least annoying and cannot get around it.

Some of the issues (as it is a combination of various things) can be dealt with with the old formula -analysis before playing, breaking pieces down to small chunks that are more easily ‘digestible’, practise very slowly at first so as to retain control, repeat those small bits many many times once you’ve got them right. All this seems to be much more easily said than done for many people but it is the system that works best. Alas, it works to an extent.

In some cases you have to manage expectations -no, it might not be a good idea to play Bach’s Chaconne just now. Maybe ‘Adelita’ would be a better choice at this point.  Even so, I find in some cases you have to go further back and, whatever they are playing, break it down to very small bits or simple elements and work on those -even down to get a three or four note scale to come out clearly and even in tone might require attention. Try to find simpler alternative pieces that are still satisfying to play. It is a complicated balance to keep and the main thing is to keep the motivation high, the wanting to do something through that medium of the guitar.

exams, again

Posted in teaching on 30 May, 2017 by flaviomatani

I have touched on the issue of exams before. It pops up regularly, particularly this time of year (end of May and nearly end of the school year as I write this).  Grade exams are good for many but not for all. Some people thrive on the extra pressure, some don’t take well to it. There are additional issues: inevitably, the syllabi for the exam are a narrow sample of what is possible to do on the instrument -not just in terms of the syllabus being centred on ‘classical’ Western music from the  XIX and XVIII centuries, to the exclusion of non-Western musics and also the many strands of popular music of the Western world in which the guitar is prominent.  There are, of course, positive sides: clear deadlines, the having to cover material (like scales and aural training, etc) which are beneficial for people’s formation but are often seen as boring or pointless.

At this point (summer of 2017) I have two pupils about to take Grade 7 and several others taking lower grade exams and a couple of people doing theory of music. From my own point of view, this is all a good thing as it keeps me on my toes and makes me have to refresh stuff that I had learnt long, long ago.

Like so many things in music learning, the process of having to learn all that stuff is as good (or better) for the pupil as the end result.

of advertising, domains and this music teaching thing

Posted in teaching with tags , on 17 October, 2016 by flaviomatani

Considering whether to set up my guitar teaching page on WordPress.com. I’ve set up a basic site at https://camdenguitar.wordpress.com. It works but their basic templates are so ugly!

There is a clash of names between my previous site (camdenguitar.co.uk) and a local music shop with an almost identical url, which has resulted in people finding them instead of me when they search for guitar lessons in this area (even if you type my address in a search box Google will still ask you ‘did you mean… x’ x being the guitar shop’s url. So I have a small problem right there; thinking of several possible solutions but don’t want to ditch the domain just yet, I’ve had it for over twelve years and put it on lots of stationery and advertising.

In the meantime, I’m still here. Three of my pupils have recently successfully done  their ABRSM Grade 8. I have a very interesting set of existing pupils, including a very capable electric guitarist wanting to explore and expand his skills and a fledgling composer with enormous passion and drive and vast erudition on matters of theory of music and composition, even though his practical skills need some polishing  on harmony, counterpoint and other matters-but that’s why he’s coming for lessons. I’m not getting bored! But I do need to get a bit busier.

Some Testimonials from Pupils:

Posted in teaching on 26 September, 2016 by flaviomatani
Some Testimonials from Pupils:

• David Gardham:

I’d had a few guitar lessons at school (over 15 years ago!) and enjoyed playing guitar in my spare time. I decided it was time to take formal lessons as I was keen to develop my skills and knowledge further.  I found Flavio randomly – but he has proved to be a fantastic teacher. He is knowledgeable, encouraging and inspiring- as well as an annoyingly good guitarist!  I’m a classical player but he teaches a whole range of stuff.  I’ve had lessons with Flavio for 18 months and am delighted with how my playing and theory has improved.  But most importantly he’s helped me rediscover my passion for the guitar.
(David reached ABRSM Grade 8 in 2015 after only a few years taking lessons).

• Patrick Duggan Jnr

You probably don’t remember but one of the first pieces you taught me was the beautiful acoustic “is there anybody out there”
I was in awe and thought my fingers will never be able to play that,then came Brouwer.
Before I knew what was happening I was playing the lead from comfortably numb and working on Steve Vai, Van Halen, Johnny Marr and John Dowland!

(more to come…)

We have recently help our pupils David Gardham, Marcel Armour and Zeynep Sun prepare for their successful ABRSM Grade 8 exams.

Guitar Lesson Fees:

Posted in teaching on 26 September, 2016 by flaviomatani

Flavio Matani
Classical and Electric Guitar Tuition
London NW5 1AS, UK
Tel. 020 72672268
mobile: 07958-527692
email: flavio_matani@mac.com
twitter & Skype: flaviomatani

We provide tuition on the classical and electric guitar, catering for all levels of abilities and most interests, including classical, rock, pop styles and bass guitar, as well as other acoustic and Latin-American styles.

We can provide coaching for the Associated Board (ABRSM)’s Grade examinations on the Classical Guitar, up to Grade 8 and beyond, also Trinity/Guildhall Grade exams and Rockschool.

Also, we teach Theory of Music and are able to coach for ABRSM Theory of Music exams.


The fees for Guitar lessons are as follows:
(fees quoted if you pay in blocks of four lessons. Add £2 if you intend to pay for each lesson apart).

£36.oo per 1 hour lesson, £38 visit lesson.

£27.oo per 45 min lesson, £30 visit lesson.

£19.oo per 1/2 hour lesson, £23 visit lesson.

payable in blocks of four in advance, as follows:

£140.oo per block of 4 one-hour lessons, or £152 for visit lessons

£108.oo per block of 4 45 min lessons, or £120 for visit lessons

£76.oo per block of 4 half-hour lessons. or £88 for visit lessons.

Payment of the next ‘block’ of lessons is expected on the last lesson paid for. There is a small £3 surcharge for visit lessons.

If you must cancel an appointment for a lesson, please give at least 48 hours advance notification, otherwise the lesson should be paid for.

Thank you.

Flavio Matani.

dilemmas and contradictions

Posted in teaching on 6 May, 2016 by flaviomatani

Another day teaching in a ‘low achieving’ school which, weirdly, is in a posh neighbourhood. My first pupil has a terrible guitar that won’t stay in tune, is difficult to play and is hardly more than a toy. I mentioned this to him and was told by the head of music that I shouldn’t remark on the unsuitability of the guitar as the family are poor and cannot afford to buy an instrument. Now, what do you do in such a situation?

I tune the guitar every time for him. Try to set it up and adjust it  insofar as it is possible.  It never lasts even the whole lesson, which in any case is way too short.

And yet, he’s learning to play and making progress.

teaching notes for a little piece by Fernando Sor (‘Andantino’, from Op 35)

Posted in teaching on 10 August, 2015 by flaviomatani

• ‘Andantino’  /F Sor , page 94 in Jeffries’ book started 31-10-14 not today

bar 15: practise this change apart. Put fingers 1,2  in place at the same time first of all, then finger 4. Aim always to put both fingers for a pull-off in place at the same time.

dynamics: we talked about ways to shape the phrases

– call and response: those two note motifs -call a little louder, response a little quieter

– literal repeats: first instance on the sound-hole, the repeat on the bridge.

–           notes from previous lesson: needs to be quite legato

– make sure you don’t release fingers too early -you tend to prepare the next fingers a bit early

– make sure you don’t over-prepare right hand fingers by touching on strings that should still be ringing.

in between lessons

Posted in teaching on 8 July, 2015 by flaviomatani

This guitar teaching thing… often swings wildly between being enormously rewarding and satisfying and being enormously frustrating. Often, not because of the teaching itself, although it can happen, particularly in the schools I teach at, for some reason I haven’t been able to fathom: pupils coast along or are not reliable in terms of attendance (or notification of non-attendance) or payments, in the case of private pupils. In the schools, it is often the inevitable bureaucratic procedures, the red tape, the way goals are sometimes defined, to favour the school meeting targets rather than the pupil getting something they will keep for life.

It is however still a fantastic feeling when you see that one of your pupils ‘gets it’ and begins to make leaps forward in their playing or their understanding of what they’re doing.

these guitar lessons… (part 243 of many)

Posted in teaching on 13 February, 2015 by flaviomatani

Teaching a 62 year lady who picked up a guitar for the first time in her life five months ago and is now at a Grade 1 level (more or less) and who is  enjoying it enormously. There are good sides to this guitar teaching lark.