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In the early days...

Cliff Smith Guitar Lessons, Cliff in the early days

More lessons...

University and after...

Nowadays...

In the early days

Cliff in the early days

Born in London, I began playing the guitar at around age eight or nine. My older brother played in a punk band, and there were several guitars knocking around the house. Inspired by this, I enrolled for guitar lessons at school. I studied classical guitar for a couple of years, but the music didn’t excite me and I eventually lost interest.

I did, however, enjoy thrashing around on my brother’s electric guitar at home, and after a while he got so sick of the racket I was making that he decided to teach me some chords. I remember learning ‘Let It Be’ and playing it to death for about a year.

We had The Beatles Complete songbook at home, a Bob Dylan songbook and an electric organ. I used to fiddle around on the organ and guitar and managed to get a few songs together. Years later, I discovered that many of the chords in my songbooks were incorrect. But, like most beginners, at the time I assumed that I was just doing something wrong.

I toughened my fingers up a bit on my brothers electric guitar before moving on to his acoustic, twelve string and bass. I got my fair share of blisters and spilled some blood in the process.

On starting secondary school in London I was provided with electric guitar lessons. These lessons (and the great teacher I had) combined with my newly discovered passion for sixties & seventies rock (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, The Beatles etc.) set me firmly on the path to a career in music – I loved it too much to spend the rest of my life doing anything else. In my second year I started my first band, playing my own compositions. I continued playing throughout my schooldays and found it a great release for my substantial teen angst…

Lessons, more lessons and some Rock 'n Roll!

On leaving school I studied piano, electric guitar, classical guitar, folk guitar, percussion, music theory and songwriting at Morley College, London (where I was later to become the tutor for both the classical and folk guitar courses).

I also started another band, The Glass Tears, a psychedelic rock outfit playing our own original songs. During my time with the Tears, I was also making a living from busking on the London Underground and in London’s Leicester Square. It was during this time that I began my guitar Teaching career, as people would stop me and ask for lessons.

I then joined rock band Hog as lead Guitarist, playing many gigs on the London scene. Resolving to study music in more depth, I enrolled on an intensive music course at Merton College, Greater London.

During my studies I joined the Pandemonium steel-pan jazz-rock orchestra as lead guitarist, playing some fun gigs, including the Radio One Roadshow. I was also playing in a jazz duo with a pianist, and teaching guitar voluntarily in London primary and secondary schools to gain some experience in teaching children.

University and after

On leaving school I studied piano, electric guitar, classical guitar, folk guitar, percussion, music theory and songwriting at Morley College, London (where I was later to become the tutor for both the classical and folk guitar courses).

I also started another band, The Glass Tears, a psychedelic rock outfit playing our own original songs. During my time with the Tears, I was also making a living from busking on the London Underground and in London’s Leicester Square. It was during this time that I began my guitar Teaching career, as people would stop me and ask for lessons.

I then joined rock band Hog as lead Guitarist, playing many gigs on the London scene. Resolving to study music in more depth, I enrolled on an intensive music course at Merton College, Greater London.

During my studies I joined the Pandemonium steel-pan jazz-rock orchestra as lead guitarist, playing some fun gigs, including the Radio One Roadshow. I was also playing in a jazz duo with a pianist, and teaching guitar voluntarily in London primary and secondary schools to gain some experience in teaching children.

Nowadays

Currently, I perform with rock bands, mainly The Forgers Cover Band and Ultimate Beatles. I sing lead and backing vocals in addition to playing lead, rhythm, bass and synthesizer guitar. I have performed extensively with these bands and others across the UK and Europe, Lebanon and Australia. Highlights include playing to 3000 people at ‘Boogie In The Park’ in Bedford with Ultimate Beatles in the summer of 2005, and 7,000 at Music On The Moor in Hemel Hempstead the following year.

Performing in Beirut in the summer of 2012, just as the Syrian conflict was erupting, was a very moving experience for me.

When I’m not performing, I teach Adults privately from my home studio in London, and Online Via Skype. I enjoy the challenge of igniting a spark in my pupils and inspiring them to reach their full potential.

Oh, and I want to learn the mandolin…

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