John Thies

John T.

Novato, CA

Lesson Details


Levels Taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Even though I am only listed as giving hour lessons, I can give shorter lessons. The price for those would be negotiable on an individual basis. I have taught many half hour lessons over the years and I still like 45 minute lessons also. On line is a better choice for the shorter lessons in that I wouldn't be having to deal with the commute. So let me know about your interest, and we can work something out for you. I know you would enjoy the lessons and would get a lot out of them.
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John teaches



John delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 10 to 80

Teaching since:
May 1974

My name is John, and I have been a guitar teacher here in Marin County, Ca since 1990. Before that I taught guitar and played gigs in the Kansas City area since 1974. I taught at Mt Tam School in Mill Valley for 10 years 1999 to 2009, and I taught part time at Branson HS in Ross Ca from 2006 to 2017. I am a patient, fun teacher and I teach everyone from beginner to semi pro. I can teach you to read, and to improvise over songs, and my specialty is chord, scale relationships, and chord building. I travel to you if you live in Marin or southern Sonoma County. My fees are reasonable and are figured on distance from me to you. I also teach over the internet which I have done with numerous students over the years.
I'd like to say a few words about my early lessons with you. If you are a beginner, we will start by becoming comfortable with the guitar, and explaining how it works, i.e. how to hold the guitar, how to hold the pick, some strumming tips, and explaining a bit about how the musical alphabet works, and any questions you have will be answered. If you've played before I will ask you some questions about what direction you want to take, and if you can, I will hear you play. If you are shy don't worry about that, you won't need to play for me. We will learn to find all notes on the guitar neck quickly, and will make sure your technique is proper. If you desire to learn to read music, I will also introduce that subject to you. Some other early lesson topics will include some picking exercises, and technique related issues. The lessons are geared for you, so you can let me know what you want to work on. Thank you and looking forward to our first lesson.

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Guitar coach
Sep 2005 - Present
Branson HS

I have worked with the guitarists in music and performance class, which is for all incoming guitarists. The class learns the basics of the guitar including reading, playing chord progressions, Note identification, and includes small group performances for the school. Quite a few of my freshmen have continued with private lessons with me after the completion of the class. Some of them study on Skype because of scheduling problems. Skype lessons are a wonderful way to learn, and the students seem to find them enjoyable and useful.

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Photos & Videos

My singer and I performing in Sonoma.


11 Reviews

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SC Aug 12, 2017
Guitar · In home

John is a great guitar teacher. He is friendly, relaxed and easy-going. John provides just the right amount of music theory. He keeps things moving during the lessons so there is time to cover and practice a concept. He is patient and there is zero pressure. John is conscientious and reliable about scheduling.

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Marc Jul 17, 2017
Guitar · In home

Excellent Instructor with loads of information from the first lesson!

Sophie Mar 23, 2017
Guitar · In studio

I've been working with John for a while and have learned so much! We've been working on everything from acoustic guitar to electric bass, and I couldn't ask for a better instructor. Not only is John a great teacher, he's a fun person to be around!

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Tony Mar 10, 2017
Guitar · In studio

John has been a respected and valued member of our music faculty at The Branson School for over 12 years where he has taught worked with our jazz ensembles and taught our guitar students both in class and privately. He is well liked by both students and faculty, and his knowledge of technique and music theory is both extensive and practical. John is a wonderful colleague who is always upbeat and positive, and his students appreciate his approachability and warmth. John is a teacher of unimpeachable integrity, and I am happy to give him my most enthusiastic recommendation!

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Shelley Feb 24, 2017
Guitar · In home

John is very enthusiastic and patient, even with absolute beginners. He is always on time and keeps the student engaged throughout the entire lesson. We would definitely recommend John!

Harrison Feb 19, 2017
Guitar · In studio

I am NOT a gifted guitarist and am slow to get it! John's incredible passion for guitar and music is totally evident and along with his never ending patience keeps me there for the long haul. John helps demistify the complex aspects and I am able to progress much quicker than self study programs on the internet. One would be hard pressed to find a better more qualified teacher.

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Kyle Feb 19, 2017
Guitar · In home

John is an awesome teacher. His most valuable trait is his ability to contextualize everything he teaches. Intervals and chord progressions are not just a product of music theory, but songs that I can relate to. He's very knowledgeable and is very good at explaining what I don't understand. John makes learning the guitar fun and rewarding. I'd definitely recommend him.

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Kurt Feb 17, 2017
Guitar · In studio

I feel as though I have made huge progress under John. He has extremely extensive knowledge about music theory and history. He has an easy going approach to teaching, and is suitable for advanced and beginner players, especially if you are interested in jazz music. He is very flexible concerning locations, and will play with you over Skype if necessary.

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Anne Feb 17, 2017
Guitar · Online

John has worked with me on bass and guitar for 2 years, both at my school and through skype! We've covered a lot of theory and applied it to a bunch of chords and songs. He's the nicest music teacher I've ever had and he has the best song suggestions. :)

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Julian Feb 17, 2017
Guitar · In studio

I have been taking private lessons with John once a week since the beginning of the school year, and I can definitely say that my guitar skills have improved significantly since before then. Every week I learn new material from soloing which used to seem impossible to new chord shapes. I would recommend John to anyone in the Marin area looking for an upbeat teacher to teach them new ways to play the guitar.

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Greg Feb 17, 2017
Guitar · In studio

I was a guitar student of John's for nine years, beginning at the age of nine. When I started with John I'd never even held a guitar before, much less played a note of music. As a student, I went from learning the basics of the instrument to playing easy, beginner songs, to studying far deeper aspects of Music Theory eventually. Through it all, John always pushed me to reach further to be a better student and musician. And he taught me with a very welcome sense of humor, as well. I can't imagine there being a better teacher for me to have studied with.

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