MICHAEL MURRAYGuitar Teacher and Performer
Welcome to my website. I am a guitar teacher and performer who offers guitar lessons in Montreal. I hope you enjoy my recordings, tips, articles and reading about my life as a musician.
I am a classical guitarist active as a performer and teacher in Montreal. I hold degrees from the University of Ottawa, the Hochschule fuer Musik Franz Liszt; Weimar, Germany and the Hochschule fuer Musik Koeln; Cologne, Germany. My teachers have included Bruce Holzman (USA), Patrick Roux (Canada), Thomas Mueller-Pering (Germany) and Zoran Dukic (Croatia). I have performed in Canada, USA, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Russia.
Most students take a single one-hour lesson per week but I also offer 30 minute lessons for young children. I feel that lessons of one hour are the optimal length of time to cover the necessary material. 30 minute lessons can be better for young students under the age of 10 as they may have trouble concentrating for one hour although this is not always the case. I teach students of all ages, at present I have students who are retired and several under the age of 10. Parents are welcome to watch the lesson. My current rates are $50 for a one hour lesson and $25 for a 30 minute lesson (for children).
The first thing one has to learn to become a good musician is how to play your instrument properly. While this may seem obvious enough, it is surprising how neglected this approach is especially in guitar teaching. Many teachers teach the guitar by simply teaching songs at the very beginning without teaching the technique required to play them properly. This is a sink or swim approach and even many of those who swim, i.e. manage to learn to play the songs, develop a poor technique in doing so which will have serious consequences later on. My approach is to teach the technical basis first and then teach the songs that can be played with this technique. This approach may initially take a bit longer, i.e. you won’t learn to struggle through your favourite Beatles song in the first lesson, but develops a sound foundation upon which to build. Within 6 months a student taught using this approach can play far more music far more competently than the one in the less structured approach.
I also believe that a student has to have some degree of self-motivation and the lessons must be enjoyable. Younger students may need some positive reminding/encouragement from their parents to practice but if they don’t want to practice, I do not believe that the teacher or the parents should force them to. One hears many stories of people who have had bad experiences with teachers who were very strict, critical and demanding. I think music should be a positive and not a negative force in someone’s life. If a person enjoys playing the guitar and enjoys their lessons this will motivate them to practice far more then external pressure. If they do not enjoy playing guitar, then it is better that their energies are spent elsewhere. By the same token, I think the student should be the one who chooses what type of music he wants to play. It is my job to ensure he plays the guitar well (which requires learning some standard songs/exercises) but once a level of competency has been attained it is up to the student to decide what musical direction he wants to explore. Many of my students, however, end up trying musical styles that are completely different than what they first intended to learn.
For a more detailed description of my approach to teaching, please read the article, My Teaching Method.
As a performer I primarily play classical guitar although I have played a wide variety of styles in my long career as a guitarist. I teach all styles of music from classical to rock to blues to jazz. Many of my students are learning several styles at the same time, playing both heavy metal and classical, for example. I also teach both acoustic (classical and steel-string) and electric guitar. The electric guitar has a different sound than the acoustic but there is little difference in how it is played. I have several students who take lessons on both the acoustic and electric guitar.
I teach in the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal neighbourhood near to McGill University, UQAM and downtown Montreal. For those using public transport, I am conveniently located across from the Sherbooke metro station.
I also offer online lessons. I usually use the Whereby service (very easy to use, does not require an app or program just a link in a browser) but can also use Zoom or Skype.
You can phone me at (514) 287-0810 or contact me by e-mail at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org Note that the address is .ca not .com.
I speak four languages, English (my native language), French, German and Russian.
Tips and Articles
Buying A Guitar
The first step in learning to play the guitar is buying the instrument itself. This can be quite a difficult process as someone who can not play the instrument is obviously not in a very good position to know what to look for when purchasing one. This person is an easy target for unscrupulous salesmen and/or may choose the instrument based on the wrong criteria. I have had many students show up for their first lesson with a poor quality guitar which they paid too much for or a guitar that does not fit their body. They could have saved hundreds of dollars had they contacted me before purchasing their instrument. The instrument itself may hinder their ability to learn to play and be a source of frustration. The first guitar will be something that one will play for hundreds of hours so it is crucial to find an instrument that one enjoys playing.
Choosing A Guitar Teacher
Choosing a guitar teacher is the most important decision you will make in learning the instrument. Your first teacher will influence how you play for the rest of your life so choosing a good one is crucial. My own experience proves the importance of having a good guitar teacher at the beginning. My first teachers were in retrospect not very good and…..