Reality-Based Instruction

Learning a musical instrument doesn't have to be a complicated process. Tom approach is straightforward: either you can play it or you can't. If you can't, then something's wrong. If we admit that, and identify the problem, we can solve it. The process of learning to play an instrument is a process of solving many little problems. If you become good at solving problems, you can become good at playing the instrument and vice versa. Tom’s role in teaching is to smooth the way as much as possible and save you time in the long run.

Tom's Teaching Method

The eventual goal for each student is to sound better and to do so in the most efficient, time-tested manner possible. Tom uses method books ranging from 19th century works to the most recent electronics and recordings, tailoring the curriculum to fit each student's needs.

Developing Musicianship

As former host of a long-running public access show, Tom continues to seek and encourage student opportunities to perform before live camera and onstage in addition to traditional ensemble group work and producing individual recordings.


Classical Guitar

Begin with Aaron Shearer's books I & II and then branch out into classical guitar pieces such as those by Bach, Sor, Tarrega, and Guiliani [download Carcassi]. Students as young as age 4 ½, and anyone from absolute beginners to advanced players are welcome.

Contemporary Fingerstyle

Learn fingerstyle steel-string guitar with standard and alternate tunings.

Folk Guitar

Everything from basic campfire guitar songs to flat-picking to traditional styles of the 19th and 20th centuries. Learn ear training and accompaniment styles.

New Flamenco

Explore music from Spain and Latin America. Learn tangos, rumbas and boleros.

Jazz Guitar

Chord theory and improvising techniques. Explore standards and learn how to play in a combo.

Rock and Blues Guitar

Fundamentals of rock and blues guitar including how to jam with the aid of jam tracks.

12-String Guitar

Basic and advanced technique for 12-string including backstrokes, high octave playing, and walking bass lines.

10-String Guitar

The grand piano of classical guitar. Learn fingering and technical issues specific to this instrument.

Bass Guitar

Tom will get you grounded in jazz, rock, and blues with a strong emphasis on music theory. Students learn the fundamentals using a variety of method books and playing music in different styles. 


Tom teaches mandolin from a classical perspective using Gíuseppe Branzoli's method book from 1892 [download Branzoli] and advanced plectrum technique. He also teaches old-time and bluegrass mandolin using Mel Bay and Hal Leonard method books. He prefers for young mandolin students to be at least eight years of age.


Most banjo students want to learn basic bluegrass and old-time music, which Tom teaches using the Earl Scruggs, Mel Bay, and Hal Leonard books. He also teaches classical banjo, requiring an ability to read music. His classical approach to banjo employs a variety of bare finger and tremolo techniques.

String Bass

Tom's string bass instruction is best suited for and has been successful with local school-age students who play in orchestras or jazz bands. Tom uses Janice Tucker Rhoda's books I and II. He also teaches adults beginning to intermediate bass, especially string band and combo playing. Advanced classical students should look elsewhere for training.


Tom can take you as far as you'd like to go on soprano, tenor, and baritone uke from the principles of an absolute beginner, to advanced chord theory and complex strumming styles.