Searching for fresh inspiration? Wondering how to ‘break through’ to higher levels of expression, technique, and creative purpose? Intensify your six-string imagination by exploring global musical ideas – I teach online & in London
As a lifelong musical searcher, teaching has always been a natural passion. I love helping others find joy in the same instrument that has given me so much – and firmly believe that ‘talent’ mostly equates to ‘enjoying the feeling of improvement’. If learning energises you, nothing is a struggle.
Above all I aim to ‘teach you to teach yourself’, always tailoring methods to suit. I draw from my Guitar World lesson series on global musical learning, as well as my own varied experiences, spanning schoolteaching and session work to jazz journalism and raga research musicology.
- Zoom lessons! Fully tech-optimised, mic’d setup for maximum clarity, plus your own webpage with tabs, video demos, etc
I play electric/acoustic/slide guitar, fretless bass, and sing – and also the Indian tabla, sitar, & santoor, having studied in Varanasi under master sitarist Pandit Shivnath Mishra. My own teaching draws inspiration from the direct, ear-led methods of the Indian gurukul – see below for more…
Online lessons: Zoom etc
Nowadays, learning online is far more effective – and enjoyable – than ever before. Recent tech advances have made the experience clearer, more reliable, and more human than even just a few years ago. Try it!
Tech-optimised setup: for Zoom, Skype, & FaceTime – HQ mic & camera, external sound card, fast internet, + an easy ‘setup guide’ for your end. You also get your own private webpage with lesson tabs, video demos, explanations, listening links, etc – like this (click to enlarge):
All abilities and styles: from young beginners to advanced improvisers (youngest Zoom student is 8 – it can work!). Flexible with days, timezones, desired regularity – and you can WhatsApp me with questions anytime.
Price: It’s hard pricing things I enjoy…so rates are based on what else I have on, while also taking student circumstance into account. Gotta pay the rent, but don’t want to price enthusiastic learners out either – please tell me if you’re super-keen but currently broke (I’ve been there…). Prices never go up once you start.
- Standard rates: £40/hour (generously timed) – inc. lesson page writeups with video demos, tabs, etc. Start with a 4-lesson taster course (£120), or try the 7-lesson ‘Global Sampler’ series (£200)
Tell me what you’d like to improve on, and I’ll work with you to design a bespoke course that suits. Discounts for regular/longer bookings – get in soon before early 2021 gets full…
Global sampler menu: See what might get you going…some topics I’ve previously focused on (mainly via session work & educational writings for Guitar World, MusicRadar, Darbar, Jazzwise). Taster selection:
- North Indian raga: the many colours of Hindustani melody
- Indian classical tala: tabla, mridangam, & kanjira grooves
- West African rhythm: Ewe polyrhythms, Saharan kora harps
- Global altered tunings: slide blues to Joni Mitchell via Peru
- Percussive acoustic: organising the different drum sounds
- Odd-time songwriting: how to break down any groove
- Jazz walking basslines: catalysing low-end inspiration
- Advanced legato: multi-step bends, fast fingernail slides, etc
- Natural harmonics: resonances of the ‘fretless fretboard’
- Microtonality: quarter-tones, ‘nudge’ tunings, JI, gamelan
- Fresh ear tools: melodic sargam, rhythmic languages
- Singing for guitarists: cross-rhythms, harmonising lines
Specific artists: e.g. Nick Drake, Robert Johnson, Tommy Emmanuel, Joni Mitchell, Django Reinhardt, John McLaughlin, Jeff Buckley, Jose Gonzalez, John Martyn, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, & various other Woodstockers, blues boomers, folk fingerpickers, slidemen, solo instrumentalists, & so on
Ask me anything: I love adapting ‘non-guitaristic’ styles too – arranging electronic, classical, percussion, etc. Always up for new challenges…tell me what you might want to get stuck into. Also see my full writings list & musical CV for more.
—Ornamented jazz walking line in Am (Guitar World, Feb 2020):
My teaching philosophy
How I teach
At the core, music is about human expression – we learn best when we love what we do. I believe learning the guitar should be:
- Empowering: Attitude outweighs talent – I aim to ‘teach you to teach yourself’ in a collaborative, fun environment
- Personalised: We’ll focus on your goals, and cover new concepts too – helping you take charge of your musical path
- Efficient: Every guitarist can feel exhilarated by the sheer pace of progress – we‘ll unlock the methods that work best
I draw from my own broad experiences as a performer, teacher, writer, and musicologist – my mission is to immerse fully into what I do, and spread the joys of musical learning as best I can (…nobody gets into this line of work for the cash).
Every teacher has their own ideas, preferences, and stylistic biases. Naturally, mine have been shaped by my immersions into the ear-based, improvisatory methods of jazz, blues, and Indian classical – here are a few core ‘guiding principles’, very much used in my own learning too:
- Train the ear: this gives you the ‘toolbox’ to teach yourself any style
- Listen widely: feed the brain with quality, variety, and new sounds
- ‘Sing inside’ as you play: music is about emotions, not muscles
- Experiment freely: constantly create your own melodies & patterns
- Enjoy it: Find fun in self-improvement, then mastery is no struggle
‘Global music is the 99%’: Typically, a record store has aisle after aisle each dedicated to various sub-genres of pop, rock, indie, classical, etc – with ‘world music’ given a solitary shelf somewhere in the back room. But this category – essentially, the ‘other 99% of earth’s music’ – contains an inexhaustible wealth of fresh sounds and ideas. Delving in will enrich you!
Apart from opening our ears as listeners, going global allows us to find super-effective learning methods, typically missed in Western music curriculums. Why wouldn’t I want to pass on the percussion syllables, melody games, and cyclic visualisations I picked up from my sitar gurus? And why not try internalising polyrhythms the Ghanaian way?
Similarly, new sounds make more sense when connected the human voices, cultures, and passions that created them – music is more powerful when its context is felt along with it. (And for a broader illustration of my own pedagogic context, check out a few of the educators I’ve found inspiration in: e.g. Victor Wooten, Hal Galper, – and outside music, Douglas Hofstadter, Oliver Sacks, Mister Rogers…). Start with Victor:
—Reworking ideas from the Malian kora harp (Guitar World, Nov 2019):
London: lessons & workshops
London: in person
I live and teach in South London at the moment – can walk/cycle/bus around (within reason). See the rest of the page for what I do and how I do it, including:
- Private tuition: in-person lessons for all ages and abilities
- School classes: currently from age 4-11 (& holiday groups)
- Global workshops: sitar/santoor/tabla, rhythm demos, etc
Live & session work: Recent gigs have included a jazz club, a Hindu Temple, and a wedding proposal. Full playing CV here – ask about hiring me for concerts & recordings, and hit me up with ideas!
Musical CV / experience
I’ve always sought out a varied spread of musical experiences, becoming familiar with many different learning methods along the way as both a student and an instructor. Recent educational work has included:
- 10+ yrs private teaching: one-on-one, schools, workshops, etc
- Online Guitar World instructor: see Fresh Repertoire series
- Mixed-age classroom groups: from 4-11, in South London
- Special Educational Needs: teaching electronic music classes
- Zoom guitar lessons: inc. the children of a music professor
- A Kichwa shaman: seeking guitaristic connection with nature
- Hindustani school demos: demystifying sitar, santoor, & tabla
- Indian classical musicology: see Living Traditions collection
- ‘World of Tuning’ research: my project on global guitar tuning
George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and global improvisation. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them. Recently I’ve worked long-term for Darbar, Guitar World, and Ragatip, and published research into tuning and John Coltrane’s raga notes. I’ve written for Jazzwise, JazzFM, and The Wire, and also record, perform, and teach in local schools. Site menu above, follow below, & get in touch here! everything here will remain ad-free and open access
George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and global improvisation. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them.
Recently I’ve worked long-term for Darbar, Guitar World, and Ragatip, and published research into tuning and John Coltrane’s raga notes. I’ve written for Jazzwise, JazzFM, and The Wire, and also record, perform, and teach in local schools. Site menu above, follow below, & get in touch here!
everything here will remain ad-free and open access