Cameron Peace has been teaching guitar professionally for over 15 years to all age ranges and skill levels.
He started his guitar career playing blues and rock before attending the University of Washington where he studied classical guitar under Steven Novacek and jazz under Marc Seales, obtaining a BA/BM in guitar performance. Cameron also graduated from The National Guitar Workshop’s intern program and taught numerous classes with the company as a faculty member.
He is an active performer in the Seattle area and has worked as a studio musician for instructional books, instructional DVDs, as well as appearing as a studio sideman on the albums of local artists.
About the Studio
I strive to create a relaxed environment in lessons and cultivate a good relationship with my students. I don't consider myself a strict teacher, instead opting for a teaching style based on positive reinforcement. I’m genuinely excited to see progress when students put in the time to practice and take every opportunity to point out their good work.
When we agree there is not sufficient time spent on the instrument outside of lessons, we work together to find a way to open up the time or help motivate practice. Through my experience teaching I have found that this approach leads to the best outcome and an overall more positive experience in lessons for the student and for myself.
Approach to Guitar Lessons
My approach is largely based on the interests of the students and I will customize my lessons accordingly. However, in addition to their specific area of study, there are four main areas that I try to focus on with every student.
I begin each lesson with a short warm up to get our hands moving. This also gives me a chance to focus on the student’s technique and talk about the physical aspects of the instrument. I’ve found this is helpful for a couple reasons. It emphasizes the importance of warming up to avoid injury and also provides a window of time for technical focus that might otherwise be passed over.
General Guitar Knowledge
This area of study encompasses scales, chords, arpeggio patterns and other aspects of the instrument. Knowledge is this area is extremely beneficial because it allows the student to better understand how the instrument works and how it relates to a broader musical perspective. It also provides a framework that aids in memorization and will allow the student to be more flexible in their study of specific genres/styles of guitar playing. For example, a student that has spent time working on scales will have a solid foundation for guitar styles that emphasize improvisation (e.g. jazz, rock, blues). A student that has memorized chord patterns and their relationships will find it easier to play styles that use the guitar as accompaniment for the voice (e.g. folk, pop, country).
Learning to read music in standard notation is helpful for a variety of reasons. It allows for much higher degree of comprehension of many musical concepts, broadens the scope of accessible musical material, and can also aid in memorization. In addition, it allows the student to relate to the wider musical world and communicate with other musicians. However, I do not necessarily require that students learn to read music in standard notation if it is not something that are interested in learning. It largely depends on their individual goals for the instrument.
I view ear training as a necessary skill for any musician. Learning to interpret and identify sound will allow the student to better appreciate the art form on it’s own terms. It will open up observations and understanding that are difficult to grasp in the abstract. It will also greatly increase memorization and overall musical fluency.
For younger students who are still figuring out what they like musically or for students that don’t have a specific area of interest I do a generalized approach to studying the instrument. We work on technique, reading music, general guitar knowledge, and ear training. I pick out simple pop or folk songs to work on. We also learn how to strum, use the pick, and play using the fingers of the right hand.
For students interested in artists/music in the folk or singer-songwriter genres I stress learning how to use the guitar to accompany the voice. We work on different styles of accompaniment (e.g. strumming, arpeggiating chords, fingerpicking, etc.), and learn how to make performable arrangements of songs. We learn different chord forms and their uses, work on understanding how chords relate to each other and take a look at song forms. As students progress in this area, I focus on having the students write and arrange songs of their own.
Approach to Rock/Blues/Pop
For guitar lessons with an emphasis on rock, blues or pop guitar I focus on learning songs the student is interested in addition to general guitar knowledge. We also spend more time working on solos and riffs in the style of their interest. I use guitar solos as an avenue into understanding scales, left and right hand techniques, chord/scale relationships and other topics.
For students interested in jazz I focus lessons on the following areas: scales, arpeggios (chord tones), improvisation, chord voicings, comping, repertoire, understanding functional harmony, addressing altered dominant chords and transcription. In my view one of the most important skills for a jazz musician to acquire is the ability to address harmony while improvising. Much of the time I spend in teaching jazz guitar is building up the necessary framework to make this possible.
For classical students I mainly concentrate on three areas: right and left hand technique, repertoire, and reading ability. We also talk about tone production, balancing voices, rest and free stroke, left and right hand fingering and interpretation. I believe that many of the hurdles in classical guitar lie in technical demands, so I place extra emphasis on making sure the hands are working correctly.