Jeff S.

Jeff S.

12 Reviews
Perth Amboy, NJ

About Jeff S.

Background check: Last verified 06/16/2014
Jeff passed a background check on 06/16/2014 that included the following:
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Jeff teaches: Males 1 and up
Females 1 and up
Teaching since: January 2009
Last sign in: Today
Average response time: 3 hours

Overview

Jeff is a seasoned instructor in guitar, songwriting, music performance and music business. He also offers lessons in public speaking, voice-over performance and ukulele. He welcomes students of all ages and experience and has successfully and happily taught beginners to pro-level musicians and recording artists. Jeff is pleased to announce that he is currently accepting Takelessons online students via Skype.

Jeff can teach guitar and songwriting in all styles and is an adept acoustic and electric guitarist. His knowledge of chords is extensive and his acoustic fingerpicking skills are formidable. Jeff structures all lessons around the individual goals and playing level of his students. Jeff's students tend to study with him for quite some time, as his wealth of knowledge, diversity of instruction and patience are extraordinary. Jeff prides himself on customizing every student's lessons based on their particular preferences, goals and skill level. "It's a very personalized kind of instruction, as I never take a cookie-cutter
approach to teaching…".
Jeff's 3 promises to all students is to give them personalized lessons, be attentive to their needs and goals. and to make them feel like every lesson is worth their investment of time and money. As long as students practice regularly, they can expect to dramatically increase their clarity of playing, their chord "inventory", their musical ear and awareness and play the songs they've always wanted to learn.

After honing his craft as a songwriter and performer, Jeff created and taught songwriting and music business classes at colleges,universities, and music schools throughout the country for many years. Some of the places he taught include UCLA Extension, Santa Monica College, Pasadena City College and The Harrison School Of Music.
When asked to summarize his views on teaching and music: "Teaching and playing music always puts a smile on my face; especially when I see that the student is having fun, learning what they want to learn and feeling the passion about music that motivated me to pursue my own musical career".

As a working singer/songwriter/guitarist, Jeff is known for his memorable melodies, intelligently crafted lyrics and heartfelt vocals. His compositions have earned him over 35 awards from various national and international songwriting contests and he's a former staff songwriter for the long-standing New York City-based publisher, Bourne Music. He has also won best music video awards at 3 international film festivals.

Some of the artists that Jeff has been compared to as a guitarist and vocalist include Keb' Mo', James Taylor, Kenny Loggins, Ry Cooder, John Mayer, Bill Withers, Jim Croce, and Don Henley.

Jeff is a NJ native, but lived and performed in Los Angeles for many years, where he worked in the studio or shared the stage with well-known artists such as Dave Koz, Norman Brown, John Daversa, Hiroshima, Little Richard and N'Dea Davenport.

Jeff catalog of over 450 songs and compositions spans virtually every genre, but many of his tunes are amalgams of pop, blues, jazz, R&B, country and rock. Quite a number of Jeff's songs
have appeared in film and TV. One that Jeff is particularly proud of, is the dynamic pop ballad, "Journey Of The Heart" (co-written by Jeanne Smith), which was licensed by the N.C.A.A. (National
Collegiate Athletic Association), who deemed it "the official anthem" of their NCAA Hall Of Champions facility in Indianapolis.

Jeff has commercially released 4 CD's of his original material: The most recent of these is his 2013 release, "Blujanova" (a merging of blues, jazz and bossa nova), which was praised by platinum selling and Grammy-nominated jazz star, Dave Koz: "Jeff's voice is so clean and pure...the production is lovely...warm and inviting...I love the interesting and surprising takes on some classics too, especially 'I Feel Good'…that brought a smile to my face!".
The other CD's stretch into other genres. "Truthteller" (bluesy pop/rock and singer/songwriter material) "Me, Myself, and I" (acoustic) and "The Spin" (pop, rock, and country-tinged singer/songwriter material). All of Jeff's albums are on his label, Relevant Records. The late great John Braheny, author of the best-selling "The Craft And Business Of Songwriting (Writer's Digest Books), gave high praise to Jeff's CD, "The Spin", calling it "honest, crafty, melodic and the songs are all exceptional". Patch.com called Jeff "a consummate songwriter".

*** Lesson Details ***
At the first lesson, I will ask you to tell me what songs you want to play and artists you want to play like and I will set the table for that by providing the chords you'll need, chord and scales and exercises to enable you to play them and guidelines and tricks on how to make it happen as quickly as possible. I know a wide variety of songs in all styles and styles, including current hit songs as well as pop, rock, blues, jazz, country songs. if you have a song or artist that I don't know already, I will learn it (often on the spot) and if not right then, at the next lesson. I have taught my students to play songs by artists as varied as Taylor Swift, U2, Jason Mraz, Adele, Eric Clapton, Django Reinhardt, Doc Watson. And that's just naming a few.

I always make it clear to my students at the first lesson: "There is no such thing as a stupid question". I want you to feel comfortable to stop me at any time to clarify what I am teaching you, ESPECIALLY if it is too difficult or vague. I pride myself on always being organized for your lesson and making sure that you grasp whatever it is I am teaching you. The goal is to get you to be able to play what you want as quickly as possible. This will take practice and dedication on your part, but I will do everything in my power to help you get there.

I never force anything on any of my students. but I feel it would be beneficial for you to learn to read music OR read tablature and chord diagrams. You tell me which one and we'll go in that direction. If you'd like to read music, then we can decide on a book for you. I have used Hal Leonard instructional books (with CD's! this way you can play with a backing track and get a sense of rhythm, which is very important), but I'm open to other method books you might have or like.

After 3 to 6 months, you will feel you are significantly more skilled on the guitar than you were before we started lessons. You will know more chords (and move from chord to chord), be able to do at least some basic fingerpicking and be able to read some music or tablature.

*** Specialties ***
Acoustic fingerstyle guitar (a la James Taylor, John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Keb' Mo', Jason Mraz, John Martyn, Jim Croce, etc.

Blues guitar a la Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Keb' Mo', Jorma Kaukonen, Ry Cooder, etc.

Bossa nova guitar

Songwriting (any aspect and any level; musically, lyrically, structurally, etc.)

the songs of Taylor Swift---quite a few of my younger students want to play her material, so I have about 15 songs ready to teach you and always learning more (by popular demand)

Adapting songs that are keyboard-based and creating arrangements of them for acoustic guitar. Examples include songs by Adele, songs by Elton John, Irina Menzel's huge hit song from "Frozen", John Legend's "All Of Me", Coldplay's "Viva La Vida", etc.

Recording on Garageband.
I became so skilled with Garageband that I was asked to give seminars at Apple Store locations, showcasing my recordings and how to use the program.

Voice-overs; performance, recording, etc.

Photos and Videos

An overview of the guitar instruction available from Takelessons instructor, Jeff S. and some examples of what he could teach you.

Experience

Guitar, songwriting, speaking voice, music performance and ukulele instructor Jan 2009 - Present
Takelessons

For over 5 years now, I've been teaching guitar, songwriting, speaking voice, music performance and ukulele for Takelessons. Depending on a student's location and preference, I either go to them or they come to my location for their lessons. I also offer online lessons via Skype.

Education

B.A. Sep 1973 - Jun 1977
American University

Awards

Best Music Video Aug 2014
New Hope Film Festival
Best Rock Music Video Aug 2012
World Music & Independent Film Festival

Affiliations

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Jan 2003
ASCAP

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a membership association of more than 480,000 US composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers. The ASCAP is committed to nurturing music makers throughout their careers.

Write a Review

12 Reviews on Jeff S.

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Nitesh J. Dec 14, 2014
Guitar · In studio
Verified Student
Jeff is an outstanding teacher.

I started taking guitar lessons with him since November 2012, for more than 2 years now. I was an absolute beginner with the guitar, and Jeff taught me the basics of the guitar amazingly and helped me build a strong guitar core. Jeff lets you stay a few extra minutes after the class ends, if you are "in the zone" or if you are just finishing up the lesson. He also gives great advice on the type of guitar you would be best off buying. Jeff also tells you when you need to change the strings and gives advice on fixing up the guitar should it have a problem. Also, Jeff teaches you any song you want. The genre doesn't matter - Jeff will help you master any song you wish to learn. One of the most important thing about Jeff is that he is always looking to find ways to make playing guitar easier and make it sound better. He gives little tips that greatly help you, in both playing chords or songs. He is also very patient and will always answer your questions, so don't be afraid to ask anything. Jeff also supplements his lessons with the Hal Leonard book, to help you learn how to read and play written music and he also explains what all the symbols mean.

I would highly recommend Jeff to anyone who wants to learn the guitar as he goes to great lengths to help his students in any way possible.
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Michele M. Dec 10, 2014
Guitar · In home
Verified Student
I am 38 years old and I had started to try to learn guitar on my own for a few months before I started taking lessons with Jeff. I had gotten frustrated with just using a book and the internet and was very impressed when I met Jeff. He took the time to get to know what I wanted to learn and how. He always listens to me and tailors our sessions to what is best. He can actually see the things that he knows I will struggle with and will give the advance "pep talk" to me to not get discouraged when I try to practice. He takes the time to watch me play very closely so that he can give me advice on how to better my hand positioning and finger movements (and I need that!).

And that's just Jeff's interaction with me. In addition to that, he is a great musician. He can hear everything and can write down the chords of a song he never before in only a few minutes. He can play almost anything just by ear. He also knows music theory and was able to help answer my questions in that area. He also guided me towards some theory and scale books since I showed extra interest in that.

In terms of personality, Jeff is very patient and kind. He cares about what he does and he cares about his students. He knows what it's like to face the challenges of learning an instrument. He was even gracious enough to spend his time helping me to pick out my first electric guitar (I had been using just an acoustic). In additional to that, he is ALWAYS on time for lessons and spends that extra few minutes when he can.

I would highly recommend Jeff for guitar lessons!
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Ajith P. Dec 7, 2014
Guitar · In home
Verified Student
If you are looking for the best guitar teacher, I recommend Jeff. He teaches music with precision. Jeff is patient, and makes sure you get all the notes correct. He is eager to teach new songs, even if they aren't in the book. Jeff also knows the best accessories for the guitar (strap, tuner, etc.) and where you can find them. He also gives the option of coming to your home, which is convenient. Jeff teaches different genres of music, like blues, folk, classical, and jazz. At the end of class, he plays games with you, like guess the note. He has a vast knowledge in music; he will tell you what the symbols on the page mean. Jeff also helps you learn the chords, which are hard. He is truly an awesome teacher!- Ashwin
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Sheeba J. Dec 6, 2014
Guitar · In studio
Verified Student
My Music background: Been in the church choir as a kid and teen. Love country and pop music. Never played any instrument whatsoever. Always wanted to learn to play the guitar. 2013 summer had taken beginner course at community college.

Lessons with Mr. Jeff: Taking group lessons at the community college, left me yearning for more as well as gave me the strong feeling that i was not learning my basics right. Hence decided to try private lessons. Was looking around on the web for Guitar teachers in/around Edison for couple of months. When i found Mr. Jeff online, and read his profile, I knew i had found my teacher. What impressed me most was:
1. His versatility in different genres of music. The vastness of his knowledge.
2. His specialized focus in finger-picking (My dream some day down the line!)
3. His flexibility in offering lessons - he even offers lessons on Skype.

Its been close to 6 months now. And i have enjoyed every moment in my music journey.

My greatest challenge was to unlearn many of the bad habits from the past. And Mr. Jeff has been greatly patient about it and has given me so many different options and tips/tricks to help me get better. He has a close eye and a sharp ear. There is not one note that i can slide under wrongly without him noticing. Right from handling the instrument right, finger positioning, to appreciating the playing of the instrument itself, he not only tells you how to do things right, but always backs it up with logical reasoning as to why he suggests certain ways. He never forces anything on you, but allows you to make your own choice - which i think is great, because since you are not forced to do anything that you are not convinced about, you have greater conviction to stick to it, because it was your choice.

While we follow the Hal Leonard's book for theory, from the very second lesson, i was encouraged to try playing songs that i liked - an effective approach to learn chords in parallel. And since i love to sing and play, (it was quite a challenge - which i didnt realise earlier), i couldnt just download the chords for a song from the net and start playing/singing right away. Mr Jeff puts a lot of effort in making the right chords for me, in the right scale that suits my voice and is in a comfortable range so that the end result is melodious to the listener. And given that am neither a great student (practicing regularly always a challenge!) nor a great singer, he has had to make so many versions in order to help reach my goals. Am honestly motivated by the fact he does not give up on me when i struggle with a song, but constantly finds ways of how I can conquer it. Maybe not how it is played in the actual record, but to an extent that gives me the satisfaction of being able to play that song within my capacity as a beginner. It is a great feeling when you play a song to tune for the first time.

Apart from being a keen observer, he is also very good with knowing the mood of the student and the student's perception to a particular music piece. He knows exactly what I think even before I can say it out loud. He clearly knows my strength and my weakness. This tells me that he is able to relate to me at my level and not from thousand feet high where he is. He is quick to appreciate when you do a good job and motivates you to stick on and persevere when it is not a great day at the lesson.
He also always remembers what was discussed in the previous lesson and the areas of improvement, so there is no escape. :) This has struck me most because, i know he is connecting to me as an individual student and that am not yet another student on the line.

He has also been most obliging with last minute schedule changes and has always accommodated me.

His home, where he gives his lessons is also very nice and warm. No awkwardness or discomfort of any sort. Thought i will mention this, because this was one of the thoughts in my head when i was searching for a teacher.

Overall I am very glad and thankful that he is my teacher. I will greatly recommend him to anyone who wants to start or take their skill to the next level, because he is not only knowledgeable and but "he can" teach. Hearing him play a piece, is motivation enough to persevere. I only wish I do him better justice by putting more time into practice.

Thank you very much Mr. Jeff.
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Thomas S. Dec 5, 2014
Songwriting · Online
Jeff is among that rare breed that do more than just teach. Whether it's learning guitar, or how to write songs, what ever your musical desire may be, learning with Jeff is a life changing experience and a gratifying journey towards your personal success in meeting your musical goals. I have known Jeff for over 30 years and can say, without question, you will not find a more compassionate, knowledgeable, or more capable guide through the world of song.
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Keith R. May 17, 2014
Guitar · In home
Verified Student
Excellent teacher, very willing to teach and listens to what you have to say, very relaxed and just an all round perfect experience, I've learned more in three weeks than I ever thought I would learn, loads of fun and I hope to use him as a teacher for as long as I can afford it, A+++++ in every aspect of teaching and a great person.
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Eddie R. Mar 6, 2014
Verified Student
Best Guitar Instructor I've Ever Hada

If you are looking for the best guitar instructor, you need to study with Jeff. I have been taking lessons with Jeff now for almost a year, actually this coming February will be exactly one year. The best decision I ever made was hooking up with Jeff. I am studying fingerstyle acoustic guitar with Jeff. Let me tell you that he has helped me improve my guitar playing 100 fold. He has me playing James Taylor songs, which I thought I could never accomplish at my age, which is 60 this January. So it’s never too late make your dream come true when you take lessons with Jeff.
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ANULA A. Nov 26, 2013
Guitar
Verified Student
Great Teacher

I'm a beginner and Jeff has great patience with me. He let me catch up lessons at my speed and makes sure I'm playing well.
I'm also learning to read music from him.
He is very encouraging and patiently clears any doubts I have while playing. He points out mistakes and makes sure I clear it before going to the next lesson. I look forward to my lessons with him every week as it makes me happy and more confident while I play guitar.
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Peter H. Nov 12, 2013
Songwriting
Verified Student
A great teacher who help me start to write song

I wrote my first song after I started to have lessons with Jeff. Jeff encouraged me follow through my motives, offered effective guidance and advices that helped shaping my first song. I am very happy with what I learnt from Jeff and am looking forward to have Jeff's teaching along my future songwriting journey!
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Roger M. Nov 6, 2013
Guitar
Verified Student
teacher with skills and patience

I'm practicing Guitar about a year now , I'm older student 50+ and did not know any music back ground at all when I started with Jeff,
it is my great honer to start my guitar lesson with him , with his patient and my practice ,I learned great amount ,I wish I could have more time for guitar practice lesson with him .