Posts Tagged With: jo bywater guitar tuition

Guitar Student Profile #1 : Rifka Orton


This is the very first of my guitar student profiles I’ll be sharing on the website.

I’ve found that people looking to learn  guitar get a lot from being able to read testimonials and read about other peoples learning experiences.  I teach a wide age range and abilities of students and people start lessons, and continue for very different reasons.

So what can I say about Rifka,  (..or she is often called.   A GREAT name for a guitarist!).  Riffy has been having lessons with me since she was 6.  After starting on a classical guitar she is now mostly seen with an electric guitar.  She has great playing ability, skills and techniques.  We have fun in the lessons whilst working at the moment through Rockschool Grade 2 Electric Guitar book and she has a great sense of music.

Here’s what she has to say…

Student:  Rifka Orton

1) How long have you been playing guitar?
I have been playing guitar for about six years.

2) Why did you begin guitar lessons?
I started guitar lessons because when i was six i loved the colour pink and my dad and I went to a car boot somewhere, I can’t remember where, and there was a pink-purple guitar and because of the colour i had to have it especially because it had a pony on it. My dad said I could only have it if I got guitar lessons and so I did. Now I play guitar for fun and because i don’t like pink as much I now have a red and white guitar.

3) What do you enjoy most about the lessons? and playing guitar?
I enjoy finding new songs to play and Jo helping me sound good. I also enjoy learning different techniques and styles that you find in some pieces of music and in some grading tasks.

4) What do you find the most challenging about the lessons? and playing guitar?
Some of the things I find hard include: mastering new techniques (even though I like it once I’ve mastered it), moving up a grade book and remembering scales.

5) Do you have any advice for people who may be thinking about having lessons in playing guitar?
If you own a guitar or know someone who has one that you could borrow, then try lessons out and then decide whether you want to continue.


Thanks Riffy!


Categories: children's lessons, Guitar / Theory Grades, Learning, Student Profiles, students | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lesson slots available – July 2016

Hi all,

I have some slots for lessons available at the moment due to some of my long term students relocating and going off to University.  Although I am very sorry to see them go, I am also very happy and proud that we have some talented musicians developing.  The last few years have been dedicated, fun and interesting with me learning as many lessons as them…as ever.

For those interested in lessons or knowing of anyone who may be in the Liverpool area please message me for further information, to book a lesson or feel free to browse the website.

I look forward to hearing from you and starting a musical journey!


Thank you


Categories: Lessons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A proud and accomplished muse on: Playing with others

We’ve already hit the lighter nights and we’re quickly heading towards summer.  Festivals, holidays and nature (…and rain most likely).  One of the perfect times of year to be either getting more stuck into that guitar playing of yours (campfires/BBQs/festivals/parks or your back garden) or maybe picking up a guitar for the first time!  Spring and summer are such inspirational times of year to be indulging in creative pursuits.

For some of my students at the moments it’s exam time in schools.  Not only is it a busy and focussed learning time for them it’s also quite exciting for me (…and them!).

I was asked a few months ago to accompany one of my students in his A-Level Music exam.   I was also asked to pick the pieces.  The student in question is one of my more technically accomplished players..  He already had 2 solo pieces chosen (1 quite Rocky and fast and the other more Classical style) so we had to find something contrasting and for 2 guitars..I knew it was going to be fun. We bounced around a few ideas and looked at how we could push his playing standard, technique and styles and after I indulged in a LOT of listening to music came up with 2 pieces.

Beaumont Rag – Doc Watson

Tears – Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler

2 things this brought me..

  • I had a great excuse to go off and listen to genres of music I may not have so quickly.  I discovered/rediscovered 2 of the finest guitarists around in Doc Watson and Chet Atkins!   These two guitarists who have gone on to inspire so many modern players including Mark Knopfler and Slash.   I have a new found love of Ragtime after this experience and I listened to so much of it, it really contributed to a whole new chapter of awareness in my own personal guitar playing.


  • I had the joy of working directly with my student as his Accompanist.  We worked through the songs together and although I was the teacher we became a team.  This is a student I have taught since the age of 14 and is now nearly 18.  That transition in itself was really interesting and great to be involved in.

I came through the experience feeling so happy after enjoying our performing successfully together,  like a good team who had found the songs and pushed the boundaries of his playing.  I was also proud of how well he had done and how his playing has developed.   I was proud and happy to know that there is another musician out there in the world that I would recommend and rate.

My student went from thinking he’d never be able to do it to absolutely mastering it….and making his Mum happy too, she was telling me stories of how she requests performances when visitors go to their house 🙂


Passion, learning and inspiration…..(and coffee)

Once I had arrived home after the exam and by 11am was drinking my coffee and pondering over a cinnamon bun, it led me onto want to write this blog post.

If you love doing something, you never stop being inspired or growing.   You don’t have to be technically of a high standard to experience this either.  After all of the gigs I’ve done, songs I’ve written and guitar lessons I’ve given, I’m constantly inspired by my students and this was another one of those times.

People don’t have to be ‘better’ than you to inspire you,  just different.


Accompanying/playing with others

This so far is a very personal account of a professional experience.  As a musician and guitar teacher I have to say, it led me onto thinking about the importance and benefits of accompanying as a musician.    Or being accompanied, or just jamming (playing) with other people if you can.

I always try to push my students in lessons and where possible and relevant I will play chords along to their melodies, riffs or improvisations and I will coax them into swapping roles so they get a chance to see the other side.  These different perspectives are invaluable to see as a musician and to anyone learning an instrument.  At its basic level, to play chords underneath someone’s melody really highlights how important it is to change chords quickly, and why it’s important to be able to count and feel what you are doing.  These things aren’t always as obvious as a beginner when you do it alone.  To learn to keep time and to be sensitive to another players timing in order for it to work together.  To learn to play with other people, especially people more experience than you will enhance your playing ability/speed/technique.  The benefits are of high value.  And there’s nothing better to explain/embed something quite like actually doing it.


5 benefits and enhancers of playing with other musicians..


  1. Learning to be aware of someone else’s timing other than your own.   When practising disciplines like chord changes or progressions alone it is easy to overlook the extended gap inserted between your D and G chord for example (we’ve all done it! :)).  This will become more obvious once you have someone to play along with because it just won’t fit.  Learn how to catch up and readjust your playing to make it synchronise with theirs (and vice versa).   The beat waits for no one (as is the phrase that I remember being told in college!).  It also won’t catch up with you if you’re speeding along without  concern!  So pay attention.  You may be surprised at first how ‘out of time’ you are but with a little bit of focus and work you will be jamming along smoothly.  If you find this really tough then learn to practise with a metronome to ease you in., they have fantastic quality free metronome apps these days (so, no excuse to not when it’s in your pocket).


  1.  Learning to keep focussed and concentrate when somebody else is playing along with you.  It is much easier to play alone.   One common thing I notice amongst my learning guitarists is that once another performer is brought into the mix it disturbs their concentration.  For a little while they forget what they’re doing, loose time, forget things that they thought they had nailed.  Any chances you get to practice maintaining your focus is a blessing and great practice.  It will embed what you have learnt deeper and also heighten your ability to focus.


  1. Learning from other peoples skills/techniques and expertise in order to develop your own playing.  How are they holding the instrument?  What do they do to get certain effects and clarities?  Be observant.  Ask them questions.  Good teachers are experienced, accomplished and passionate about what they teach and they will be happy to talk about their playing style any day.  As a student I urge people to get as much as they can out of this as possible.   Playing with other people (of all levels) will often teach you things about your own playing you never even thought  of.


  1. Team building.   Playing with your teacher or another musician is a shared experience and you have to be in it together.  Two separate people of varied/the same abilities playing to perform the same piece of music and make it sound good.  And remember to enjoy it!  Even if you don’t feel comfortable at the time I can guarantee you will take a lesson of some sort away from it.  When it works it feels great.  It can also tell you a lot about yourself and the other person.


  1. Fun!   Enjoy the process of playing along with someone.  It may not come to you straight away but once you get into the flow of it there’s nothing quite like playing music with another person.  It takes a bit of work to get things to run smoothly but it will bring a different level of enjoyment than what you get alone.  Who knows, you may even start a band!



Enjoy heading towards the summer and don’t forget to take your guitar into the garden for a strum.   If you don’t have one or you can’t play yet….?!  You know where to come for lessons…. Just send me a message or call me for more information or if you have any questions.


Happy riffing!




Categories: Accompanying, Jamming, Playing Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition Plectrums!

They’re here!  Finally after patiently waiting, my new, and first batch of custom plectrums has arrived..  Guaranteed to always have some in my pocket because they look snazzy 🙂

first batch of custom picks :)

first batch of custom picks 🙂

Categories: Business, Custom Merch, teaching resources | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

How to teach your child guitar if you can’t play a note and have no sense of rhythm – a parents account!

I have a student aptly named Riffy, she began having lessons when she was 6 and that was going on for 2 years ago.  This is her Dad’s very well put together account of what to expect and look out for when thinking about guitar lessons for your/a child.  
I absolutely second what he’s saying as great observation and advice, enjoy this read! – Jo
‘How to teach your child guitar if you can’t play a note and have no sense of rhythm. And even if you are musically talented I hope there’s something here for you.
My daughter, Riffy was almost 7 when she saw a pink guitar at a car boot and persuaded me to help her buy it, I added to the money she had on the condition she had lessons as I didn’t want to see it sit in a corner and gather dust. So it started, a totally random act to kick things off and then the luck of finding Jo to teach her but no real planning.
Luckily the guitar was decent, playable, the right size and would stay in tune, In retrospect saner people might have found a teacher first and asked her advice. Or checked out a decent music shop. Equally Riffy was probably just about old enough to start learning to play.
When Riffy started having regular lessons I would  put  a bit of cash into a guitar fund say between 2 and 5 pounds per lesson to start with, The fund is handy because if the lessons continue there are a few things that might come in handy. For example you can use this fund to buy spare strings, picks, a stand, their next guitar, a guitar for you…
What else to buy?
Buy a stand or possibly better yet get a wall hanger for your guitar, it’ll keep the guitar safe from being knocked over if it’s leant against a wall and handier than if it’s put safe on top of a cupboard. Once you’ve got a stand use it, there is nothing to describe the classic slow motion  fall of a guitar slipping over and heading for the floor.
Buy a load of plectrums/picks it’s good to try different ones and they tend to go missing. Most annoyingly they have a homing instinct for falling into the sound hole of an acoustic guitar, I’ll be making my fortune by inventing a device to retrieve picks from inside an acoustic.
Buy some spare strings, or expect one to break just after the shops close and slightly before the next lesson. Also get a string winder because the number of turns required on the tuners quickly gets boring. Check Youtube or guitar books for how to restring a guitar
Get a cheap digital tuner or an app for your phone and use it to check your tuning. Practise tuning by ear and ask your child if the guitar sounds in tune when they start to practice.
A metronome  is another very, very useful thing. You can get one as an app for your phone, alternatively there are electronic and old fashioned mechanical versions. It’s worth finding what works for your child, Riffy for example likes Jo’s metronome because it has a nice visible flashing light on it..
What most of this stuff is for is to make it easy to practice. lf the guitar is tuned, and ready, close to hand your child just can pick the guitar up and start playing. This means you can get in a quick 5 or 10 minute practice with no fuss and no wasted time.
Practise a little and often, any practice is better than no practice and frequent practice keeps things fresh in the mind. After a lesson as you’re unpacking get your child to quickly run through what they’ve just done.
Sit in with your child when they practise, don’t expect them to motivate themselves. Expect them to get things wrong and don’t jump in with criticism. Ask if they can hear something wrong if they keep repeating the same mistake, but mostly just encourage them when it sounds good.
Turn practice into a game, make it fun, if you can play, play along with them, if you can’t get them to teach you what they’ve learnt.
Use bribery, I treated Riffy like a busker one time dropping 10p’s in her piggy bank every time she repeated an exercise.
Video them practising, get them to show off for the camera, don’t worry about quality, or worry about complex camera set ups, I just use my phone cam, if you do get a good result and your kids happy show it off to friends and relatives, let them get some positive feedback.
Build practice in as part of the routine, I chose bedtime as I already used that for reading practice and my daughter was getting older so instead of staying up later I just added an extra activity. If practice is part of  a routine it reduces arguments and resistance.
Learn to play yourself, share the experience then you’ll realise it isn’t quite as easy as it looks, and you might have a lot of fun.’
– by Chris Orton
Chris takes a great interest in the lessons and the process of learning guitar, often having lessons to feed his interest and stay on top of the game! 
I teach all guitar to all ages so if you have a child who you may think of sending to guitar lessons, feel free to message me with any questions.
pink guitar
Categories: Advice and checklists, children's lessons, parent accounts, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Electric Guitar Diagram

Well after sitting honing my Illustrator skills I have completed my labelled diagram of an electric guitar.  After playing guitar for 20 years it never ceases to amaze me how much I learn and relearn about things I already thought I knew!

I’m primarily putting up the diagram with labels this week and shall follow with some descriptions of the labels very soon.  The PDF will be again on my Free Resources page to be downloaded and printed at your leisure.

Anatomy of the Electric Guitar diagram

What I have learned through doing this is how many different shapes and sizes and mere ideas of guitars are in existence.  It has made me wish to play every single one of them just to hear and feel the fine – tuning differences.  I only learned yesterday that Pythagoras was responsible for the way we use the divisions of notes in music today.  The physics of music seems to interest me greatly 🙂

My weapons of choice in electric guitar world are currently a Fender Thinline Tele ’72 which has a beautiful sound and my Jackson DK3 from my metal band and University days (this will never leave).  I’m now eyeing up everything..


Categories: Downloadable Guitar PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, pythagoras, teaching resources, the physics of music | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

#2: Notes on the Guitar Neck

Week 2!

In continuation of my downloadable and printable materials I have compiled a diagram of the guitar neck complete with the notes on all 6 six strings.

The guitar neck can be a bit intimidating at first but once you start to see the patterns you will find your way around it in no time.  To begin on your journey feel free to print off my guitar neck diagram. It shows the notes on the neck from the open strings E, A, D, G, B, E all the way up to the 15th fret.

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (left to right)

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (left to right)

The guitar frets/notes ascend and descend chromatically. Once you become familiar with the different frets and chords as actual notes (and not just shapes) you will open up a whole new understanding of the guitar as an instrument.

Any questions send me a message and i’ll help as much as possible.

Other than that enjoy and head over to  Free Resources to see what else you can benefit from in the world of Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition!

See you next week!


Categories: Downloadable Guitar PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, notes on the guitar fretboard, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Welcome to Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition

Welcome to Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition!

I’m a dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic guitar tutor based in Liverpool.  Aigburth (L17) to be precise.  This is now the official website for all of my lessons be they playing guitar, songwriting or music theory. 

I have been playing guitar for 20years and teaching for 10years.  For more details on my professional background please head to the Tutor Biography page.

I teach all styles of guitar – Rock, Pop, Folk, Blues, Funk.

Whatever level you are interested in learning at I have experience and currently teach a very wide range of ages and abilities.  My youngest student is 6years old and my oldest may not like to say! But I cater for all.


Different reasons people are interested in guitar lessons:

A hobby

To learn or develop songwriting

To help with music education (GCSEs/A-Levels) and for aiming towards College/University

Fun in retirement or a bit of a break/something creative to do.

To develop or learn good technique (and this is relevant for all abilities!)

Acoustic Guitar skills

Electric Guitar skills

To learn to accompany whilst singing

Performance advice/development

To invest in creative expression

The list is quite endless……


The bottom line is that whatever your wish regards playing guitar I can help. 

For those interested in taking Grades I can offer RGT, Rockschool and ABRSM at each level.  I have 100% pass rate.

Please have a look around the site and if there is anything else I can be of assistance with on your journey to deciding how you would like lessons please contact me on: 07810 267 574  or

Good Luck!


Categories: Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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