The Covid-19 Effect...

Hi all, as with everyone else, Corona Virus is having a direct effect on my work, both gigs and teaching.

As a result many of the listing on blog posts below this one will have changed.  I'll post out again as and when things get back to normal. In the meantime stay safe and well. 👍


Gig dates Feb - March

Upcoming gigs with the Green Chain Quartet and Morrison - Bold (Mo-Bo) Duo during February and March.

Event - Prince of Greenwich, Royal Hill, Greenwich 
- Sunday February 23rd evening

Charity Event - for Maudsley Hospital 
- Saturday 29 February evening
Location: The Ivy House, Stuart Road, Nunhead, London SE15
GCQ at ParksFest 2019

Charity Run/Walk Event - for Moorfields Eye Hospital 
- Sunday March 8th from 12.30pm 
Location: County Hall (The London Eye) 

L’Arte Della Pizza 
- Saturday March 21st from 7pm. 
Location: Charlton House in Charlton, Hornfair Rd, Charlton London SE7 8RE
Book, it gets busy!  Phone: 07956 808373
Info/menu etc:  

More dates coming up at L’Arte Della Pizza

I've two more gigs coming up at L’Arte Della Pizza in the wonderful and ancient Charlton House in Charlton, near Blackheath with the excellent Green Chain Quartet on the following Saturdays from 7pm. 

- Saturday February 15th

- Saturday March 21st 

Remember to book, it gets busy!  Phone: 07956 808373

Info/menu etc:  

Address: L’Arte Della Pizza, Charlton House, Charlton Rd, London SE7 8RE (entrance on Hornfair Rd)  

New 2020 Winter-Spring Jazz Course

Want to learn to play jazz?  If you've been playing guitar for a year or so already and have built up the basics of playing the instrument playing blues, rock, classical or country it's not as hard as you might think. In fact a lot of what you already know can easily be adapted to play jazz on the guitar.

'Learn to play jazz by learning tunes and their chords'

Together we'll sit down and tailor-make a 12 week course for you, to move you from where you are in your playing now, to where you'd like to be in 3 months time.

The 12 week course will contain between 6 and 8 tunes to learn, each one negotiated between us to work out which tunes will suit you best to develop your playing style. Each week you'll study your tunes, work through the chord changes, the melody, the rhythm and your approaches for improvisation for best results. Some will be simple, others more challenging, all of them fun to play!

The tunes selected will include those played regularly at jam sessions, i.e. jazz standards, blues, ballads, latin, bebop heads etc. At the end of the 12 weeks you'll know the 'heads' and the 'changes' to your chosen tunes, along with different 'comping' styles, and a range of strategies for improvising on them.

The pathway include a free 1 hour introductory lesson to evaluate your starting points including technique, aural and musical understanding, so we can hit the ground running the day you start your first proper lesson.

'includes a free 1 hour introductory lesson'

Intro Lesson - assessment of your current technique, level of understanding and preferred learning styles. Discussions on what targets we set, likely practice regime, useful text books/reference sources.

The course will typically fall into 3 broad areas:

Foundations - Weeks 1 - 4: typically this will include: getting your ears in gear and fingers moving efficiently around the fretboard, so you play what you want to, not what your fingers are limited to. Chords and progressions, triads, scales and modes, arpeggios, double string studies, fingerings, note names, aural studies, and rhythmic and timing foundations, that apply to the tunes you have selected to work on. In short, building the musical scaffold that makes improvising possible. This stage also includes visualisation and memory techniques.

'Tap into your inner musical ear'

Moving on Weeks 5 - 8: Putting all the above information and resources into your playing. Phrasing, fretboard mapping; getting a clear and simple understanding of how things really work everywhere on your fretboard. How to find the notes you want to hear in your playing and how to apply these to different jazz situations. Exercises and drills that are fun and you can put instantly into your playing. Building on your rhythm and timing skills. Hearing exercises - tap into the 'musical ear you didn't know you had' to make huge leaps in your playing. All of this while working on your next set of tunes.

Consolidating - Weeks 9 - 12: Building vocabulary. Turning scales, triads and arpeggios into licks and phrases. Common licks used with different chord changes, how to adapt licks to fit lots of playing situations. Filling out between phrases as part of your comping style. More on rhythm - swing, bebop, hard bop, cool, funk and latin styles. Get in the groove with other time signatures - 3/4, 6/8, 6/4, 12/8, 5/4. Apply all of this to your final set of chosen tunes.

Your commitment - Does that sound like a lot to cover in 12 weeks? Well it is! You will need to be sure you have a reasonable amount of practice time available each week to cover everything as we go through the course.

'Get a clear, simple understanding of how music really works'

To book your free introductory lesson, use the contact form to the right of this page, or email me at Fees for the course are the same as my standard rates; info on the Lessons page.

The influence of improvisation on the brain!

Making stuff up, is the art of improvising. In music this happens when we let go and enter the world of our subconscious ... And in some cases it's no different to the verbal skills of having a conversation or making up a story, it's just that the story is told in sound.

But what happens in our brains to allow this subconscious flow of music to occur?  The following outlines some recent research articles on the subject:

What Happens when we improvise?

From the Washington Post: Instant Art: How does a freestyle rapper rhyme without rehearsal? How does a jazz improviser shape an instant solo? How do improv comedians wing it under pressure? 
Listening, interacting, responding all come into
play when we improvise in music

What's the difference between improvising and non-improvising musicians?

A research article posted on on what happens to our brains during the process of improvising.  Do children who learn music by ear get the same benefits as children who learn to read musical notation, or even those who learn to improvise?

Can improvising improve my brain?!

This last article from Psychology Today concludes that there are 3 main benefits of musical training:

- Enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight.

- Early training, before the age of seven, has been shown to have the greatest impact, affecting the brain's anatomy as an adult.

- Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain.

The article ends by pointing the reader to a number other pieces of research that have been done on the subject.

Start your 2020 revolution, with a resolution

Hello fellow musicians! New Year is here again... and bringing with it another year laced with potential.  2020... full of promise, expectation and ... New Year Resolutions. 

If you're learning an instrument, be resolved. Start your 2020 revolution, with a resolution. 

The best type of New Year resolution (if it's going to get results) is the type that sticks... and they usually stick when we apply a routine to whatever we are trying to get done. So if you're practicing an instrument, sort out what your goals are, the practice you need to do to get there; and most importantly, apply a routine.

In short:
1 - Identify your Goal.
2 - Work out what you need to do to achieve it, including the amount of Time you need to invest and the Date you want to complete this by.
3 - Apply your Routine.
Learning to playing an instrument takes time and routine

Most people are pretty good at working out the first stages and lousy at sticking to the routine needed to achieve their goal. This is especially true of people learning an instrument.

The secret, if there is one, is to build the routine into your daily and weekly activity. 

Set aside the time you need, diarise it, set reminders and treat it like anything else that's important, after all it's your goal. Achieve it and it really is like winning something!

So for example:

Goal - learn 5 new pieces
How - with help of guitar teacher and daily practice
Time - 1/2 hour per day
Date - end of the month
Routine - Practice at the start of every day. Set clock to wake 30 minutes earlier.

Of course, if you're a musician, resolution also means the music has come to a close, the tension released, the work is done, the music has been resolved, completed.

And for some of us, especially after a busy Christmas period, where we've been winding up to the holiday period, it's a time to take a break, recharge the batteries, reflect and plan for the year ahead, identify new targets, set new goals, work out a plan ...

Whatever your goals are, I hope you have a good crack at achieving them. Happy New Year.  :-)

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

To all the students, clients, venues, musicians that I've worked this year, thank you for all your support in 2019, looking forward to making more music with you all again in 2020!  

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

New guitar for Christmas? Get started with a free lesson!

This has been popular for the last couple of years, so the same offer is going out again this year :-)

I meet a lot people who say "Ah, the guitar: I bought one but couldn't get started on it..." Well the short answer is they probably would have, if they'd had a few pointers on how to get started; i.e. what to practice in those early stages so they could make good progress, how to get over those new beginners' 'humps' and how to start sounding musical as soon as possible.

So, if you're getting new guitar (or bass, or ukelule, or banjo!) for Christmas... Get started with a free lesson from me! 

To take up this offer simply email me ( giving the name of the person receiving the guitar, I'll send you a personalised electronic copy of the flyer below. After that just contact me to arrange a time to come over. Job done. 

This could also be a major help if you're making a New Year's resolution to play a few songs on your new guitar by Easter; what a great start this would be! 

It also makes the best of your Christmas present and sorts out your fledgling guitarist's New Year resolution and, if your own resolution was to get them started on a musical instrument, that's two NY resolutions sorted in one hit!  Simple!

Know someone else who may be interested? Use the buttons ⇙ below to share. Thanks.

Upcoming GCQ Gigs.... with Pizza!

OK, more Green Chain Quartet gigs coming up at L’Arte Della Pizza in the wonderful and ancient Charlton House in Charlton, near Blackheath on the following Saturdays from 7pm. 

- Saturday Dec 21st

- Saturday January 18th

- Saturday February 15th

- Saturday March 21st 

Remember to book, it gets busy!  Phone: 07956 808373

Info/menu etc:  

Address: L’Arte Della Pizza, Charlton House, Charlton Rd, London SE7 8RE (entrance on Hornfair Rd)  

How to choose and buy a guitar

December 2019
(New: updated links at bottom of the page)

How to choose a guitar
This is a question I get asked about a lot, especially around this time of year with Christmas looming. From beginning students right through to intermediate level, here's my answer... generally speaking:

You need to consider your budget, your size (or the size of the person you are buying it for), and the style of music you want to play with it. Short of time? Check the 'Three Golden Rules' towards the end of this blog post.

Firstly, what sort of guitars are available?

Acoustic guitars: there are two general types, nylon strung and steel strung, either type can be purely acoustic or may have a pickup fitted so the sound to be amplified.

Nylon strung: generally known as 'classical guitars'. Great for young beginners, or if you specifically want to play this style of music. The strings are generally softer and have lower tension than steel strings. They come in half, three quarter and full size; even full size they are not huge instruments, so fit most people. On full size classical guitars the necks and fretboard tend to be wide and flat and generally suit a bigger hand; adults with smaller hands should look out for guitars with narrower necks such as Faith range of guitars, also some nylon strung guitars are fitted with pickups/internal mic and frequently offered with slimline necks, e.g. Yamaha.

Steel strung: sometimes called 'folk' guitars, but they are used to play many styles of music. They are fitted with bronze wound steel strings and are similar to classical guitars in that they come in all shapes and sizes. Apart from the half, three quarter, and full size models there are names given to differently built acoustic guitars; here are some of them:

Parlour - small intended for indoor performance and practice, short scale and usually sweet sounding.
00 - the standard acoustic blues guitar, small body, but a distinct punchy midrange sound.
Jumbo - medium to large size guitar as the name suggests, big bass and clear highs.
Dreadnaught - large guitars with good loud projection, developed for use outdoors
Grand Auditorium - similar to a jumbo but a more pinched waist and quite deep sound, the original Grand Auditorium design was made by Taylor guitars.

Electric guitars: there are lots of different shapes, sizes, colours, makes and it can be confusing to choose your first electric guitar, but the same rules apply as for acoustics. They come in two types, solid and semi-acoustic, and in the usual range of sizes: half, three quarter and full size. Check to see what is most comfortable.

Travel guitars: Acoustic and electric travel guitars which are made small enough to fit as aeroplane hand luggage. As with all guitars prices and styles vary a lot. If you travel a lot, or just have room for something small, these may well be a good choice. Guitars to check: Acoustics: Washburn Rover, Martin Backpacker. Electrics: Steinberger, Hofner Shorty.

Three golden rules
1) Buy from a shop, not over the internet. Every guitar is different, even across the same model range, and cheaper guitars are often variable in build quality, components and the woods used.

2) Check the neck is straight (look down the strings from the tuning pegs end, the guitar neck should look straight in line with the strings); check the frets are comfortable for height and along the edges, and the action (the level of closeness the strings have to the fretboard) is low and the strings easy to press onto the fretboard.  All of these things can be fixed later but it costs money and time. Buying Tip: If there is a guitar you want, but things need doing to it, ask if the shop will sort these if you agree to buy it. Note: the better shops often offer a 'free setup' as part of the sale.

3) Be wary of cheaper instruments made in China, quality control is variable and buying can be a bit of a lottery, especially if buying over the internet. Again buying in a shop will help sort these issues.

Note - Some people ask whether a solid top acoustic guitar is best... my response: try the guitar and see! Solid tops generally sound louder and project better. Laminated tops tend to be stronger, are less prone to warping and, to the player, usually sound just as good.

What makes are known to be good?
Generally as with most things you get what you pay for. Well designed and made guitars of any type will be at the more expensive end of the scale. Mid range and cheaper instruments can often be OK but, as with most products, they are built to a price point, i.e. they make them to the price they think the market (i.e: you 'the buyer') will think is reasonable, and to remain competitive with other manufacturers.

Many companies produce a wide range of instruments to cover the price ranges, usually with a subsidiary company or brand name making the cheaper instruments.

What about secondhand guitars?
They are seen everywhere from charity shop and pawn shop windows to ads on E-bay, Facebook Marketplace, Gum Tree. While they pop up all the time, the best time to look out for a bargain is September and January-February. They are usually a fair bit cheaper than new guitars, but often good enough and often not used very much; a worthwhile option for beginners and improvers alike. As above, use the 3 Golden Rules when buying.

Fender and their subsidiary Squier
Gibson and their subsidiary Epiphone
Fret King
G&L - Fender guitars in all but name, and great quality.
Music Man

Add all the electric guitar companies above to the following list of acoustic guitar brands:

Martin - and their subsidiary Sigma
Simon & Patrick - subsidiary of Godin
Seagull - subsidiary of Godin

There are many other names used on guitars in the cheaper range, mostly they're made in China. Always apply the 3 golden rules above regardless of how much it costs, what the salesman says etc..

Prices, prices, prices..
Assuming you are buying a new guitar, not second hand.

                              Acoustics                   Electrics
Cheap               £80 - £200                 £90 - £200 (may include a practice amp)
Lower Mid       £200 - £400               £200 - £450
Upper mid        £400 - £700               £450 - £800
Expensive         £750 - £2000             £800 - £1800
2nd mortgage   £2500 - £5500+        £2500 - £7000+

Recommended shops
Any shop with a good selection of instruments and knowledgeable staff. Usually specialist guitar shops. Here are a few of my local personal favourites here in London (there are many others that may be good, I just have experience to these shops and like them):

Ivor Mairants - Rathbone Place WC1
Hobgoblin Music - Rathbone Place WC1
Macaris - Tottenham Court Road, and Denmark St WC1
Rose Morris - Denmark St WC1
Hanks - Denmark St WC1
Guitar Guitar - Epsom (largest guitar store in Europe)
Guitar Guitar - Camden
Yamaha London - Wardour street WC1
Tune Inn - St Mildreds Rd, Lee, SE London
Eric Lindsey Music - Catford SE London
Rock Bottom - London Rd, Croydon
Martin Phelps Music - South End, Croydon

Need more info? Check out the links from music shops below:
Guitar size:

General guide:

Which electric guitar:

Beginner Guitar HQ - advice, tips and useful articles:

Beginners overview:

GCQ Gigs Coming Up...

I'm back at L’Arte Della Pizza, with the excellent Green Chain Quartet, in the wonderful and ancient Charlton House in Charlton, near Blackheath on the following Saturdays from 7pm. 

Saturday Oct 26th 

Saturday Dec 21st

Remember to book, it gets busy!  Phone: 07956 808373

Info/menu etc:  

Address: L’Arte Della Pizza, Charlton House, Charlton Rd, London SE7 8RE (entrance on Hornfair Rd)  

RGT Exam Deadline & New Acoustic Guitar Syllabus

Yo! Just a reminder about the RGT@LCM exam entry deadlines for the Winter Session: the deadline for paper entries is 1st October, online entries can be made - via - until 8th October.  

Late paper entries will be accepted, with current late fees, until 8th October.

Note: In response to teacher feedback from previous Session, RGT recommend for candidates (and / or teachers) to bring backing tracks on a smartphone, a pad or a laptop together with a portable (Bluetooth) speaker they could connect their device to – as a back up to a CD.

Also: The new Acoustic Guitar Syllabus and Handbooks will be available very soon. Please check for more details and look out for updates on our social media.



Live on Saturday! At L’Arte Della Pizza

The GCQ (Green Chain Quartet, with yours truly) are at L’Arte Della Pizza, in the lovely Charlton House and Garden in Charlton, near Blackheath on Saturday September 7th from 7pm. 

It’s jazz, and pizza, and beer time.. see you there! Note: It gets busy, so best to book a table!

L’Arte Della Pizza info/menu etc:  

The Green Chain Quartet

Greenwich ParkFest

Lovely gig with the Green Chain Quartet at Hampstead Heath on Sunday. The sun shone, we played on the famous old bandstand at Parliament Hill and, judging by the applause, lots of people seemed to like what we did. 

We seem have been lucky with our outdoor gigs and the weather this summer too, amazingly.. even though the weather overall hasn't been all that great! 

We played at Greenwich PARKSFEST event a couple of weeks ago and it rained right up to event day.. but on festival day it was dry and warm, the following day it bucketed down! So the weather gods have really been looking kindly on us this summer. 

We got a nice write up in the Greenwich Visitor too:

Live GCQ on Hampstead Heath - Sunday 18th August

Right, so the weather forecast is good, dry and sunny with a bit of wind. I'll be treading this famous old bandstand once again in the latest of the Green Chain Quartet's outdoor summer gigs. 

Come and say hello, bring a picnic (lots of folk do), it'll be a lovely afternoon. 

The Green Chain Quartet

Learn more about the bandstand (and the band!) at:

GCQ and the Parliament Hills Fields Bandstand

Sunday 18th August 3 - 5pm: I'm with the Green Chain Quartet at Parliament Hill Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields (nr Tennis Courts), Hampstead Heath, Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QR  (Nearest Tube: Tufnell Park, Northern Line, 10 min walk)

Upcoming gigs

Some more public gigs coming up over the summer...

Saturday 20th July 2.30 - 4.30pm: Supercool boogaloo jazz and blues with the Green Chain Quartet at the Kellerton Road Street Party, Lee, South London.

Sunday 21st July - 3 - 5pm: Soul, disco, funk, RnB with the fabulous Meantime Road Runners at Greenwich Park Bandstand. (That's us at the very top of this webpage).

Sunday 28th July 4.15pm: More Supercool boogaloo jazz with the Green Chain Quartet at Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, Greenwich. Directions

Sunday 18th August 3 - 5pm: with the Green Chain Quartet at Parliament Hill Bandstand, Parliament Hill Fields (nr Tennis Courts) Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QR

Thursday 22nd August from 1pm: Yet more Supercool boogaloo jazz and blues with the Green Chain Quartet at Mycenae House, Mycenae Road, Greenwich. Directions

Meantime Road Runners - The London Marathon entertainment - Greenwich

Gordon Mark Webber's spiffing Meantime Road Runners are back at Water Station 6 in Greenwich (by Maze Hill) for the London Marathon on Sunday 28th April.

Playing the tunes to keep the runners running and the rest of us warm! If you are running, or there to watch, give us a wave, or.... you can tweet us: @davebold_guitar @GordonMarkMusic @PhilVeacock

It's a great spot to see the runners coming through because at this point they are still pretty close together. We usually start playing at about 9.30. Hopefully see you there, as usual it'll be wonderful! Of course it will.. No, it won't rain... tsk... What?!

Meantime Road Runners.. the right way up and upside down

LCM/RGT Summer Exam Dates

Hi everyone, just a reminder that London College of Music's Register of Guitar Tutors exam dates for the summer are now available.

Listed below are the next dates for public practical exam sessions in England and Wales.  
For more information please see: London College Of Music Exams

Summer: 01 June - 31 July
Closing date for paper entries is 01 May. 
Online entries are accepted one week past the closing date - booking closes at midnight on 08 May.

Just around the corner..!

New stuff coming soon! Gig dates, new guitar courses etc etc. Watch this space.