Jamie Anderson, Singer - Songwriter - Parking Lot Attendant

FAQ about Ottawa guitar, mandolin and songwriting lessons

How do I get started?

Contact me: my email address is tsunamiinc at aol dot com, or you can contact me via this website. If I have openings, we can schedule a lesson. You're under no obligation to dive into a whole series of lessons. Just try one. We'll discuss your current level, where you want to go with your music and I'll show you a few things. If, at the end of a half hour lesson, you want to continue then that time slot is yours until you decide otherwise.

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Where do you teach?

My studio is just east of downtown Ottawa, near St. Laurent and Montreal. There's lots of free parking and I'm near the number 5 and 12 bus lines.

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What do you charge?

$25 for a half hour lesson, once a week. Songwriting students have the option of an hour-long lesson and that's $50.

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What forms of payment do you accept?

Cash, Paypal and checks. For your first lesson, you only owe me for that one lesson. After that, please pay for the full month on the first lesson of the month.

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What is your cancellation policy?

Please give me as much notice as possible. If you cancel the day of a lesson, I have to charge you for it. However, you can reschedule the lesson in that same week. I do offer excused absences. contact me for my current policy.

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When do you teach?

I teach several weekdays each week, afternoon and evening. Please contact me for my current availability.

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What ages do you teach?

Adults and kids, age 7 and older. Adults, it's never too late to learn the guitar or mandolin! I've had students as old as 70.

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What do I need to bring to the lesson?

Your guitar or mandolin, a flatpick and your music. If you're coming to your first lesson, you don't need to bring music unless there's something in particular that you'd like to work on. I have books and lots of instructional material in my studio. If you play an electric guitar, there's no need to bring a cord or amp, I have both.

If you take the bus or come directly from work or school and would rather not drag along a guitar, you're welcome to borrow one of mine. Sorry, mandolin students, I don't have any of those to loan.

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What styles of music do you teach?

For those just starting out, I can teach you almost any style. I've helped students learn everything from Nirvana to John Denver. I've enjoyed playing many genres in my almost 40 years of playing the guitar - blues, country, folk, rock, jazz, pop, bluegrass, and R&B. For more experienced players, I focus on more acoustic styles like singer-songwriter, folk and country but I'm open to learning almost anything so that I can teach it you. Give me a YouTube link or a CD with a favorite song and I'll figure it out for you.

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Can you give me advice about buying a guitar or mandolin?

Sure! If you've never owned a guitar or mandolin, just go to any reputable music store and look at the instruments in your price range. Don't let a salesperson talk you into spending lots of money. Learning to drive a Ford is just as good as a Ferrari. You can buy the Ferrari later.

Don't go to a pawn shop or a department store. Usually, those instruments are too hard to play and if you're just learning, that's an obstacle you don't need. Beginners, stay away from eBay or Kijiji unless you can bring an experienced player with you.

If you're a more experienced player and you want to upgrade, check out any place (except pawn shops) that sells instruments. Try a lot of instruments and get the one that feels and sounds good to you. Keep in mind that if the instrument has been sitting around awhile it may need new strings or an adjustment. The advantage of buying from a store is that they can often do the work needed. Never buy a guitar or mandolin sight unseen.

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Can you evaluate an instrument for me?

Sure! Bring the guitar or mandolin to a lesson. I'm not a certified appraiser or a luthier but I know a good deal when I see one. If you can't bring the instrument to me, I can come to you. It's like a lesson in that you'll be paying for my time but if we're going to a music store, we can look at a lot of instruments in a half hour's time.

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How do I know if a guitar is the right size?

Young children need a half or three-quarter sized guitar. Kids around age 12 are usually ready for a full sized guitar but of course, we all vary by size so if you aren't sure, ask me.

Adults can usually play any size guitar. It depends on the style you want to play and if you have any physical limitations. Sometimes people feel like their hands are too big for some instruments but I've seen really big guys play the heck out of a tiny mandolin. It depends on how motivated you are and how much you practice. Practice will increase strength and flexibility.

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What instruments do you teach?

I teach guitar (6 and 12 string acoustic and electric) and mandolin. I play other instruments but I don't teach them.

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Do you teach voice?

I can help you learn how to sing and play the guitar (or mandolin) at the same time. I can also help you improve your pitch and breath control; however, I am not a trained voice teacher, just someone who has sung for a long time.

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Do you teach songwriting?

Absolutely. I've been a songwriter since the 80's. It was through songwriting that I became a better guitar player - I kept writing songs I couldn't play! I've taught group lessons at arts centers, festivals, Duke University and privately in my home studio. I can help you find inspiration, pen great lyrics and find killer melodies. I can help you finish songs or simply, start them. You don't have to read music or play really well. Everyone can write songs!

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I want to sing and play the guitar or mandolin on stage. Can you help me with my performance?

Sure! I made my living as a touring singer-songwriter for many years and I'd be happy to pass my knowledge on to you. I can help you choose songs, know what to say between songs and other techniques. Students do a yearly recital where you can practice what you've learned. (The recital is not required, so no worries if you're not a performer.)

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What kind of training do you have?

I've played the guitar for almost 40 years and the mandolin, about 10. I worked full time as a touring singer-songwriter for 13 years and still tour part time. I've taught hundreds of people through group classes at arts centers, festivals, schools (including Duke University) and through private lessons in my home studio in North Carolina and now, Ottawa. Playing music is exciting to me so I'm always learning new techniques.

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Do I have to know or learn to read music?

No. I can certainly teach you to read but it's not essential to playing music.

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Do you teach other methods of reading music?

Yes. I can teach you to read tablature and chord diagrams. Both are like paint-by-numbers for the fingers, very useful and easier than you think.

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I've tried playing before but I'm not sure I have the talent. Can you help me?

Playing music well is mostly about sweat so if you practice you'll definitely get there. Eric Clapton started at the same place you did.

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My hands are too small/large/weird to play. Can you help me?

Absolutely. If you have an instrument that's the right size for you, you'll be able to play it. If you have a physical limitation that might hinder you, contact me. We might be able to make a minor adjustment so you're able to play.

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My son/daughter has a developmental disability. Can you teach him/her?

I've had several students with those kinds of disabilities. Every individual is different but it certainly is possible for them to learn and to have fun.

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Do you teach one hour lessons?

Only for songwriting students and it's optional. For guitar and mandolin lessons, it's really about how much you practice and not how long the lesson is.

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Do I have to sign up for an entire semester/series/school year?

No. Try one lesson. If you like it, you're only obligated for one month's lessons at a time.

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Can I record our lesson?

Absolutely. It can be a valuable tool.

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Can you come to our home for lessons?

I prefer to teach in my home studio. However, it is possible for me to come to you but my fee will be higher.
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