Last Friday April 15th 2016 I had a two hour private guitar lesson at Wandering Minstrel Music School located at 16 Main St, Mississauga, ON L5M 1X3 (Phone: 905 542-3299) from their most distinguished guitar teacher Andrew Kobalek.
It was a Raymazing time; we made memories, some of which I’ll share here,
Streetsville is my hometown so this was a special Raymi Toronto feature personally for me to do. My entire childhood and most of my teenage life was spent in Streetsville (in between city hopping to Toronto) and when I visited this cute little music school in the heart of the historic village, the memories all came flooding back to me. A best friend of mine has taken voice lessons at Wandering Minstrel her entire life as a Soprano singer. So needless to say I was inspired to get playing.
It all started at 3:30 pm which is when the music school opens. I was the first student of the day and they set me up in the sunny room at the front of the building. We sat down with our guitars to jam against the sounds of Streetsville in the background.
A photo posted by Raymi Lauren (@raymitheminx) on
Andrew Kobalek is a great teacher and has long guitar fingernails to show for it. I notice all details. He was very patient, calm and humble. Sitting down to jam or even to learn from a professional guitar player is always kind of intimidating; its embarrassing to play along so badly with someone so good. Every time I strummed something flat I died a little bit inside but Andrew was forgiving, and encouraging; he made me WANT to do better.
Took my music notes to go for the road. I plan to perfect my craft because I actually want to learn how to play an instrument. I practiced Smoke on the Water on the ukulele all weekend long. Obviously I have a rockstar fantasy like maaaaaany others out there who have failed before me. You should never let go of your dreams but stay realistic. I could elaborate on this but that’s a talk for another day.
You have to bring your own guitar to Andrew’s guitar lessons at Wandering Minstrel Music School. I was the exception because this is not common practice. Basically the school doesn’t take you seriously if you don’t have your own instrument. They took me seriously though, because I have a natural ability – see the video – I was playing on Andrew’s electric and he was strumming an acoustic guitar and we switched periodically.
I learned how to play Smoke on Water!
The class was set up to teach the basics – we started by going over the different parts of the guitar. Then we got to the basic and power chords.
Here are the chords a Black Keys song, a Green Day sing and the power chords for Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water.
I am so glad I took guitar lessons when I was in grade 7 so this wasn’t completely foreign to me.
My fingers on the strings – Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple is a beginner song that’s perfect for me because it rocks and I feel like I could get a lot of mileage playing that at parties. We started off with a Black Keys song (Lonely Boy) that you see at the top of Andrew’s homemade lesson sheet above. You can basically take any song you want to learn to Andrew and he will teach you how to play it. The kid’s a genius.
My fingers can be a bit awkward. My fingers are all curved (family trait) so I have trouble rearranging my digits quickly, and it would be hard work (read impossible) for me to play along in a band or try to do the chord changes in a timely fashion for any song to make sense.
There is also some discomfort. I had to get used to the pain caused by the strings. Andrew and I swapped between acoustic and electric guitar throughout the lesson to give my fingers a break. There’s a difference in the thickness of guitar strings based on the instrument. Classical guitar strings are nice and thick an sleek for better sliding down the fret board. Acoustic strings are chunky too and ribbed. Electric guitar strings are thinnest of all and can feel like you’re almost cutting your fingers. Bass strings are ridiculously thick. Anyway, now you know.
Learning to read music and performing in the same lesson on camera makes me a bit agitated. So that explains my curt tone in the video ha ha. It’s hard to focus on the lesson while being aware of being photographed. I am pretty vain and didn’t want to look fug or clumsy or stupid – yet the show must go on.
Andrew Kobalek consistently showed what a solid teacher he is, and how well he knows the material. He encouraged me at every ‘breakthrough’ and reinforced my ‘aha’ moments. He really made me believe I have some natural abilities…
After the lesson I wandered around the school and met some of the future young rockers that take lessons at Wandering Minstrel. Look out for this kid – a young Jimmy Hendrix.
I also met a really nice piano teacher – we were kinda on the same wavelength and became instant friends. Being ‘disarming’ and ‘easy to hangout with’ are good qualities for any teacher. It takes the edge off the pressure one may feel when taking a music lesson. I used to be scared on lesson days. I remember ‘jazz class’ lessons being particularly frightening!
In another room, I snapped a shot over the shoulder of another music teacher conducting a piano recital as she selected a more difficult song book.
The owner of the school, Judy Dadd said they have the technology to teach almost any type of music on almost type of instrument. The teachers are all experienced professionals who know what it takes to be a recording artist and many of the staff are themselves studio musicians. Are you looking for songbooks? The school has thousands of them in lockers like this in every music room.
Left alone in the music school, I tried everything I could prod, poke or play and I was making music with other students too. If I came here regularly I could totally assemble one stellar band, although some of the bandsmen might only be twelve.
Thanks again Wandering Minstrel for helping me refine my guitar playing and showing me it’s possible if I just stick to lessons and practise.