Henry - 'Take Me Back'
My guitar & songwriting pupil Henry performs his original song ‘Take Me Back’.
Henry wrote, arranged, played and sang all of the parts of this song himself.
With Henry’s songwriting, I act as a mentor. I give feedback on his songs, ideas for improvement, offer my opinions on his song’s strengths and weaknesses. I don’t rewrite his songs. I may suggest a slight change to the melody, a chord here or there, some structural changes, a lyrical tweak. I have helped him to use Apple Logic Pro X in a more effective way to capture and explore his ideas.
If there are fundamental problems with a song, we will address those in lessons – sometimes a big change is needed to make a song work. But all of this is just guidance, and Henry does the work himself. He is free to take or leave any of my suggestions, as they are his songs not mine – and I respect that above all else.
Henry had guitar lessons with me from 2016-2019, passing his grade 7 LCM rock guitar exam with merit. He then had a 4 year break from lessons, restarting with me 5 months ago. Henry said he was interested in studying songwriting with me after seeing a YouTube video of me writing my Christmas song.
I asked him to come up with a subject/idea for a song for next lesson, but when I saw him a week later, he had written three complete songs!
Here is what Henry has to say about my lessons;
“I started with Cliff some years ago to help me with RGT Grade 7. Apart from passing that exam with merit, he also pointed out a lot of issues, like string muting and my timing, to improve my guitar playing. These are things that previous tutors did not really point out so I am very grateful to Cliff for that.
I then took a break for some work related studies I undertook. When I returned I was inspired to learn songwriting after seeing a video by Cliff. As he mentions above, he has been instrumental in helping me understand many aspects of songwriting that has only increased my passion for it. He also helped me a lot on how to work with Logic Pro X. Songwriting and recording music is something that I had never really pursued before the beginning of this year, and yet culminated in me recording a song that I posted on YouTube. So I am very thankful to Cliff as my tutor.”
Jaxon - 'Everlong'
My guitar pupil Jaxon plays ‘Everlong’ by Foo Fighters.
Jaxon (age 14) has been having lessons with me for 8 months, and recently passed his grade 5 LCM electric guitar exam with distinction. He could already play before he started lessons with me, so I can’t take all the credit!
Here is what Jaxon’s dad has to say about my electric guitar lessons;
“We’re really happy to have found Cliff. He is a fantastic teacher. Extremely patient, kind, pleasant and focused. He is very, very knowledgeable and clearly very talented. We were a bit apprehensive about lessons being online, but we have been able to form a great relationship with Cliff and the whole learning experience has been comfortable, straightforward and enjoyable.”
Mykolas - Grade 8
Congratulations to my pupil Mykolas for passing the London College Of Music grade 8 acoustic guitar exam with distinction – AT AGE 14!
Mykolas had acoustic guitar lessons with me for 6 years, culminating in his grade 8 distinction in 2022. He is the youngest of my pupils to pass grade 8 with any exam board, in any style of guitar – an impressive accomplishment!
How did he do it?
Mykolas had strong opinions about what he wanted to play, and how he wanted to play it. We didn’t always agree on that, and some healthy discussions were had! Mykolas set high standards for himself, and consistently put the practice time in.
There were some times when school etc got in the way, and he took some breaks, but came back to lessons with me as soon as he could, each time aiming higher.
Here is what Mykolas’ mum had to say about my acoustic guitar lessons;
“Thank you very much for all the excellent teaching you did with Mykolas during the years, the attention, kindness and patience.”
Leila - future pop star?
My guitar pupil Leila (age 11) plays some of her original songs, and talks through how she composed them.
Leila started guitar lessons with me as a beginner three years ago, and is currently studying for her grade 4 exam. As well as working through the grades, we have covered a lot of pop songs, and Leila recently started writing her own songs.
Here is what Leila’s mum has to say about my acoustic guitar lessons;
“Leila asked for a guitar for her 8th birthday and a chords book and insisted she didn’t need lessons. We thought it would just be another fad. Then a local parent recommended Cliff and after her first lesson Leila was hooked. Cliff is such a calm, patient, enthusiastic teacher who gives Leila the technical instruction, but also the creative freedom to explore playing music with her guitar. We couldn’t recommend Cliff enough.”
Tom - 'Comfortably Numb'
My pupil Tom plays Dave Gilmour’s guitar solo from Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’.
One of my favourite guitar solos, by one of my favourite guitarists!
Here is what Tom has to say about my electric guitar lessons;
“I have been studying with Cliff for just over 2 years and in that time Cliff has transformed my playing. Within two lessons he’d sorted my hand positions, fixed a few bad habits and had a plan in mind for what we should cover to meet my personal needs – no one size fits all. Since then he’s always looked to keep the lessons interesting with theory always backed up with technical exercises to make it easier to understand, his knowledge of guitar theory and the instrument itself is exceptional. I’m still learning all the time and would recommend Cliff to anyone who wants to improve.“
Fifi - 'Overrated'
My pupil Fifi (age 12) plays ‘Overrated’ from the Rockschool grade 3 guitar syllabus.
Here is what Fifi’s mum has to say about my electric guitar lessons;
“Fifi has been learning acoustic and electric guitar with Cliff for four years now.
She has made excellent progress as Cliff covers music theory, sight reading, improvisation and tips on songwriting in the lessons.
Clarissa - 'Gigue'
My pupil Clarissa (age 10) plays ‘Gigue’, by Johann Anton Logy. Clarissa has been studying with me for 3 years.
This piece is from the ABRSM grade 3 classical guitar syllabus. I think that Clarissa did a great job learning this piece!
Here is what Clarissa’s mum has to say about my classical guitar lessons:
“Clarissa has been learning the guitar with Cliff for 3 years. Cliff is an excellent teacher: calm, friendly, methodical and highly knowledgeable across all styles. Clarissa enjoys her lessons and has made great progress.”
Matt - 'Johnny B. Goode'
My pupil Matt plays Chuck Berry’s iconic intro and guitar solo from ‘Johnny B. Goode’. Matt has been studying with me for 16 months.
Hearing the intro to this song as a child is one of the things that made me want to pick up a guitar in the first place. I was impressed with Matt’s attention to detail on this song, so had to film him!
Here is what Matt has to say about my electric guitar lessons;
“I have been playing guitar for about 30 years but made more progress in the last 16 months of lessons with Cliff than any time before. One thing I love is that he knows instinctively what songs to pull out of the draw for me to learn; those songs that make me think “Yes! I’ve always wished I could play that.” He backs it up with the theory about how each song works and the techniques it uses, so I can apply them in my own improvising and writing.”
Tom - 'Paranoid'
My pupil Tom plays Tony Iommi’s guitar solo from Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’. Tom has been studying with me for two and a half years.
Tom’s guitar broke just before we started recording this solo, and ‘Comfortably Numb’, so he had to use mine at the last minute. He made the transition remarkably well, especially since my guitar has a floating bridge, which affects the behaviour of the guitar significantly!
Fifi - 'Fallout'
My pupil Fifi (age 12) plays ‘Fallout’ from the Rockschool grade 3 guitar syllabus.
Here is what Fifi has to say about my electric guitar lessons;
“The lessons are really fun and Cliff is a brilliant teacher. I really look forward to the lessons, because I always learn something new every week.“
Clarissa - 'Andantino'
My pupil Clarissa (age 10) plays ‘Andantino’, by Fernando Sor. Clarissa has been studying with me for 3 years.
This piece is from the ABRSM grade 3 classical guitar syllabus. Another great job from Clarissa!