Thomas Hontalas

Thomas H.

San Francisco, CA

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Thomas teaches



Thomas delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 12+ and special needs

Teaching since:
June 1982

My approach to guitar instruction is to teach the student to find where every note, chord, and scale is located anywhere on the neck of the guitar. I`ll teach the student how to build chords and understand exactly what you are playing by reading music and charts, and learning the proper chord theory. I believe a strong student can play solo, improvise, read and play beautiful guitar pieces. I'll teach you how to play jazz, cut up the blues, rock out, play rhythm and lead, while playing chord solos, putting melodies over chords, or study simple classical pieces.

I`m a well mannered, soft spoken, easy going mature gentleman. I`ve taught lessons over the years to students from all walks of life. I enjoy teaching and watching people develop their skills and find enjoyment out of music. I`m a very patient teacher. Among my students, I've taught my daughter to play piano and sing at a very young age. She has performed and instructed professionally and internationally, and now runs a dance company abroad.

For beginners, I can start you out with very easy chords to play using only 2 or 3 fingers. While you learn chord structure and reading music, we will learn open string chords, strumming, playing scales and continuing on from there. Intermediate and advance players will learn to implement more chords into your playing, soloing, and reading more advanced pieces.

I`m also a songwriter and have written many songs over the years both instrumental and vocal, so I can help students with songwriting techniques, helping to complete and arrange any songs you've written.

I have guitars, amps, keyboard, audio/video recorder, and plenty of books from which to study. All you need to bring is your enthusiasm!

Thanks for reading my profile, and have a wonderful day.

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Guitar Instructor
Jun 1982 - Present

I started studying music at the age of ten, playing drums and percussion in my elementary school band, learning to read rhythm charts. Moving onto junior high school, I started my interest in guitar and became first chair trumpet in my school's band and brass ensemble. This was my first taste of performance as we played in many venues including my featured performance for a local major Network TV Christmas Special hosted by a famous TV actress at the time.

I was always inspired by Hendrix, Clapton, Jimmy Page and Duane Almond as I started listening to rock and blues music. So I picked up the guitar at age fourteen, and started private guitar lessons. I really got into jazz as I entered my twenties and further expanded my musical range with the piano. Fascinated with chord structure and how they flow together, I implement many chords into my playing, breaking them down into fragments and moving them up and down the neck of the guitar. I believe in teaching this to students so you're not stuck playing the same chords over and over again.

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Music Composition
Sep 1976 - Jun 1977
San Francisco City College
Sep 1973 - Jun 1976
Washington High School-Portola Junior High School-San Francisco


Fluent / Native Proficiency

Photos & Videos

Photo by Thomas H.
Photo by Thomas H.

Photo by Thomas H.
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5 Reviews

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Ashish Gulati Sep 6, 2015
Guitar · In studio

Tom is an excellent tutor. In our first lesson I felt very comfortable - Tom was very thorough and prepared for the lesson. I can't wait for my next lesson!

Jake Peterson Aug 6, 2015
Guitar · In home

Tom is a great instructor, very patient, prompt and fun to hang out with!

Jade A. May 16, 2015
Guitar · In home

Tom and I have had 2 sessions together now and I feel great about how they have gone. I have taken a few guitar lessons in the past with another instructor and he just does not compair to Tom's style of instruction. What I mean by that is Tom was able to assess exactly where my skill level, understanding, and rate of retension rather quickly apposed to waisting my time we were able to start exactly where I needed to. From there, I was astonished with how much knowledge Tom has of music theory and his skill of explaining it each step of the way. I'm excited to continue my lesssons with him! I already feel I'm going to be exonentially better in no time at all :)

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Ike M. Apr 25, 2015
· In studio

Tom is a practical teacher, and understands what you need to work on. I've learned to put a lot of my Jazz Theory immediately into practice. Since working with Tom he's taught me to:

Play from lead sheets
Play turnarounds
Find harmonic balance with closed chords in the right playing range
Play in a variety of styles including pop, blues, swing, bossa nova, and bop
Improvise on scales
Sing and play at the same time

And most of all, he guided me into the huge world of jazz music. Making sure that you're learning the right stuff out of the tons of information out there is crucial--and Tom helped me find that. Also, his patience for my learning speed couldn't be more appreciated. Thanks Tom!

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John E. Apr 5, 2015
Guitar · In studio

Tom is a wealth of information. His knowledge of Jazz and blues chords is endless. Its really a matter of how far do you want to take it?

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