Garret Swayne

Garret S.

Canoga Park, CA

Lesson Details



Garret delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 14 to 60

Teaching since:
January 2004

Hi, I'm Garret S. For the past 20 years, I've been a successful recording and performing artist, an award-winning singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (primarily voice, guitar, and bass, but I also play piano, mandolin, and harmonica.) Music has been a faithful friend most of my life. And nothing gives me a greater sense of reward than sharing that gift with others, teaching them these skills I've acquired—much more rapidly, by the way, than I was ever able to learn them myself. It's truly gratifying to see it when a student experiences for the first time what it feels like to express yourself through music.

My approach is very intuitive and bypasses the drudgery normally associated with music instruction. You don't need to READ music in order to PLAY music! I teach you to hear it in your head, feel it in your soul, and express it through your hands, your voice, your words. You'll sound better than you ever imagined! Does this happen overnight? Probably not. But with a little effort, it can happen a lot faster than you think.

*** Lesson Details ***
In general, I teach my students to first internalize the music you want to play--hear the song so deeply in your head, it's almost like an internal CD player. Once you can hear everything that's going on in a song, it's just a short leap to learning how to translate what you hear in your head to chord changes you make with your fingers. That's the secret to developing a golden "ear".

If say I'm teaching guitar, we start by learning the basic chords, then as soon as possible, we start stringing them together into songs. I encourage my students from the outset to bring in the songs they want to learn to play. Although I may recommend certain songs from time to time, in order to nail down some particular skill, I generally leave it up to the student to choose his or her own repertoire. So I'll teach you to play any song you like. But more importantly, I'll teach you how to go about figuring out songs on your own. That's a skill that can actually be taught, and once it's mastered, once you learn how to play by ear, you can truly become your own teacher! You also never have to buy sheet music again! (Which BTW is wrong at least 75% of the time!)

With my voice students, my emphasis is on developing correct pitch, proper breathing and good tonal placement. Every singer has a different vocal "mask" they generally sing from. While this often forms the basis of their unique individual style, sometimes it becomes a vocal "cage", limiting the voice or confining it to certain styles of music. I try to acquaint my students with techniques to break out the walls of the cage and explore all the vocal textures they're capable of. With the voice, as with any musical instrument, it's as much about listening and hearing as it is about singing. Singing harmony, for example, with another singer requires that your ear be attuned to the changing chords of the song. Otherwise your harmony will sound out of tune.

With my bass students, it's about learning patterns, scales, runs, chord progressions, but it's also about learning to play with good groove and accurate time, because the bass, in addition to framing the chordal structure of the song on the bottom, is an integral part of the rhythm section. And again, with the bass as well as with the guitar, training the ear to hear the changes is an integral part of being a true to play along in any situation, whether you've played the song before or not.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Living room; guitar amps, bass amp, digital piano keyboard

*** Travel Equipment ***
If I'm teaching guitar, bass or mandolin, I bring my own instrument. If I'm teaching piano, I'd expect them to have a piano.

*** Specialties ***
Guitar, Bass, Piano and Vocals: beginner to advanced

I can sing and play virtually all styles of popular music--blues, rock, country, folk, jazz, latin, you name it. As a performing professional, the skill I call upon most is my ear. Once you learn to hear the chord changes and the rhythmic subtleties in a piece of music, you can truly play along with anything. And because that skill directly impacts so many aspects of what we collectively call good musicianship, I tend to make ear development the cornerstone of my teaching approach. Indeed, I have very specific techniques for teaching students how to play by ear. If a student can indeed develop that ability, every other musical skill becomes a piece of cake. That's why I stress it so much.

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Professional Proficiency
Professional Proficiency

Photos & Videos

written by Garret Swayne and John Butler
from Cafe Bellissimo in Woodland Hills, CA
an original compositioin about my grandfather who was indeed a candy maker in Poland, as was his father before him. Recorded at the 2008 Folktacular in Santa Monica.
Photo by Garret S.

Photo by Garret S.

Photo by Garret S.

Photo by Garret S.
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1 Review

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MaryEllenR Jun 8, 2011

Worth His Weight in Gold

Garret is a very knowledgable and talented teacher. He immediately made my daughter feel at ease and comfortable in her surroundings. He is patient and creative in his teaching and my daughter is enjoying her lessons.

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