Guitar • Bass • Ukulele Tuition
at Waltons New School of Music
‘The guitar is a small orchestra. It is polyphonic. Every string is a different colour, a different voice.’
– Andrés Segovia
‘If you’re going to sweep the floor, sweep it better than anybody in town. And if you’re going to play the guitar, really, really, really get into it, and don’t be jivin’.’
– Carlos Santana
‘Sometimes I can’t think of a better way to end my day than coming home and just strumming my ukulele for a few minutes. I mean, I joke around and tell people that it’s an entire yoga session in one strum, you know?’
– Jake Shimabukuro
I was trying to play guitar for a year, but YouTube didn't help. With this course [Introducing Guitar for Adults], now I can play and understand what's going on.
My [guitar] teacher is engaging and has broad and deep musical and technical knowledge that has improved my playing considerably.
Every week at my [guitar] lessons is a new and positive experience. I appreciate my teacher's expertise greatly and feel lucky for the opportunity to continue learning from him. Waltons New School of Music is very professional and has a friendly, welcoming environment.
A great course [Electric Blues Guitar Basics] – lots of information and great fun.
[A]n excellent instructor who has time for each student. This ensures that whatever issues the student has are ultimately dealt with successfully. [Trad Guitar Basics]
My daughter has attended Waltons for introductory guitar classes [Introducing Guitar for Children] for almost two years and really enjoys it. Her teacher is great, very calm, encouraging and patient, and he doesn't talk down to them. Every week I see progress and her personal pride in playing a little more accurately and fluidly each time. The atmosphere in the building from all staff is one of professionalism, kindness and welcome.
All together I would give the course [Introducing Guitar for Teens] out of 10 – great teacher, great staff, great facilities – Waltons has it all.
Would highly recommend this course [Introducing Guitar for Adults] to anyone starting out on the guitar.
I have been trying to play guitar for years. After a ten-week course [Introducing Guitar for Adults] I really feel I have some chance now!
Anyone can learn the guitar. All you need is a willingness to learn and a professional teacher from Waltons New School of Music. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
A good music tutor is worth their weight in notes! It's the personal touch that makes tuition at Waltons a far superior product to other products, especially on-line tutorials. Having a tutor who specialises in your chosen instrument and has 3rd level or higher qualifications means the student receives phenomenal value for both money but more importantly, TIME. 60 minutes with a good tutor can unravel countless hours of poor self-learning and bad habits, leaving the student highly motivated to improve and develop their playing repertoire. What's not to like! [bass student]
Great course [Trad Guitar Basics] and tuition. Keep up the good work!
Very enthusiastic and able teacher. Go raibh maith agat! [Trad Guitar Basics]
[My son] really loved the class [Introducing Guitar for Children], and the teacher was able to channel his enthusiasm and encourage it.
Angel has given me so much to work with, and I feel that I've got a good grasp now of some essential flamenco techniques. [Flamenco Guitar Basics]
The course [Trad Guitar Basics] tutor is excellent and also very flexible. He knows how to bring someone up to speed if they fall behind in class. Very enjoyable as well as instructive.
Great way to get started with the guitar! [I have] a very thorough and patient instructor, with good choice of content for the classes [Introducing Guitar for Adults]. I have found that my playing has improved greatly.
My teacher Gary is professional, committed to teaching guitar in a fun environment, and he takes a personal interest in his pupils, ensuring that they make steady progress. He is a real gent.
I learned more from this 10-week course [Acoustic Blues Guitar Basics] than from trying to teach myself acoustic blues for over 10 years!
I was nervous learning an instrument like the guitar for the first time as an adult, but our teacher made us all feel at ease and the pace of the lessons suited our learning development. I can't wait to come back! [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
I had forgotten how much I loved guitar until I returned to Waltons School of Music. Thank you.
[A] great teacher – patient, organised, knows when to step back and when to push, very adaptable and knowledgeable.
I tried learning guitar on my own over the years and then didn't pick up the guitar for two years. This class [Introducing Guitar for Adults] has been perfect for me, with encouraging, good-humoured teaching. I'm enjoying learning!
John is a master of many styles of guitar playing – Irish traditional, flamenco, jazz, rock, you name it – and his enthusiasm for all kinds of music is infectious. This series of classes [Trad Guitar Basics] was very informative and fun to attend, and it gave me the basis for practise and improvement over the coming months. I enjoyed them greatly.
Excellent teacher. I had so much fun learning to play guitar in a fun and relaxed environment. I will definitely come back. [Introducing Guitar for Teens]
This has been a most enjoyable and fulfilling learning experience. My [guitar] teacher is a classy, professional but very much down-to-earth guy. He puts you at ease and is hugely encouraging and supportive. On my first visit I was a little tentative on arrival. His style is to engage and listen, and I immediately felt comfortable and assured. Since then I've genuinely enjoyed every minute of these sessions. Don't think I can say that about too many experiences of anything I've been involved with over the years!
My guitar tutor is an undoubted professional who is so well qualified to teach. He also has excellent communication skills – which is not always the case with tutors! I came to improve and that's what I'm achieving, courtesy of a focused and engaging teacher who makes the lessons so enjoyable.
A great introduction to guitar and will be something I'll continue into the future. [Introducing Guitar for Teens]
A fresh, interesting approach. Lots of very useful styles, chords, etc. [Trad Guitar Basics]
Each class [Introducing Guitar for Adults] brings me closer to a possible dream realised.
I have the best [guitar] teacher in the world!
The guitar teachers at Waltons School of Music are brilliant. I would recommend them to anyone. Shame the term is over.
I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and our teacher’s enthusiasm and dedication to teaching us how to play. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
I tried learning online and got nowhere. Already, after the course [Introducing Guitar for Adults], I can play a few songs. Will definitely recommend it.
Good atmosphere, enthusiastic and supportive teacher, and small class size. This course [Trad Guitar Basics] helped me take another important step towards becoming a better guitar player.
I found the course [Introducing Guitar for Adults] very enjoyable and very much looked forward to my hour class every week. My teacher created a very relaxed and fun learning environment and managed to include enough variation for me to have a good understanding of guitar playing. Will be continuing classes in the next term.
I expected to learn some chords and a few songs, but I am also learning about music and how it is constructed. The [guitar] lessons have far exceeded my expectations.
Really enjoyed the [Introducing Ukulele] course and am amazed at how much I learned in ten weeks!
Fantastic [Trad Guitar Basics] teacher with stellar enthusiasm.
My daughter thoroughly enjoys each [guitar] lesson. In just a short space of time she has developed confidence in playing her guitar and a desire to improve and learn more. This is purely attributable to the fantastic tuition from her teacher. Thank you!
I now have a real sense of direction for what I should be practicing. [Electric Blues Guitar Basics]
Fantastic course [Flamenco Guitar Basics] for anyone interested in this beautiful instrument.
The course [Electric Blues Guitar Basics] covered a lot of material that was really handy for us to use ourselves to practice.
I would highly recommend the course [Introducing Guitar for Adults] to anyone who always wanted to learn the guitar, especially those who think they are 'too late' or are afraid of the instrument.
[I have] a very supportive and talented [guitar] teacher. He always goes above and beyond his role as a teacher, and I consider myself very lucky to have found someone with such a unique gift.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the [Introducing Guitar for Adults] course and would recommend it to anyone.
I never thought I would be able to read chords and actually play something in such a short time. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
Gary is a fantastic guitar teacher. His teaching style is so relaxed and as somebody who was an absolute beginner, I cannot believe how much I have learned in such a short space of time. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
You are never too old to start learning to play an instrument. Cannot believe how much I have learned during the past year. It has been such a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Delighted I have finally taken up playing the guitar.
[A] passionate and talented teacher...100% in tune with the student [bass guitar]
As an absolute beginner, I did not expect to learn so much in such a short time. Excellent tuition, and the [Introducing Guitar for Adults] course was fun as well as rewarding. Thanks and well done!
John Sweeney is a terrific tutor. He listens to my sons and builds up a great rapport that keeps them interested in the guitar.
The perfect introduction to acoustic blues playing. Highly recommended. [Acoustic Blues Guitar Basics]
An excellent music course for children [Introducing Guitar for Children]. I'm delighted at the progress [my daughter] has made – as is she!
My daughter looks forward to her class [Introducing Guitar for Children] each week. She learned so quickly how to read music. The teacher is very good with kids.
A comprehensive introduction to the instrument. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
Great [Introducing Ukulele] teacher. Never having played an instrument before, I didn't have high expectations for this course, but years ago I fell in love with Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's 'Over the Rainbow' on ukulele and wanted to play it – and believe it or not, now I can!
Brilliant teacher. Really enjoyed the [Introducing Guitar for Adults] course!
[A]n exceptional musician and [guitar] teacher. I have really enjoyed the variety of material which he has introduced me to. Over the year we have looked at some classical pieces, some Irish music and recently we have been looking at jazz. I feel a lot more confident about my playing, and I have a far better understanding of rhythm in particular. Also, the more I play the more I enjoy listening to music. I look forward to the class each week, and I would like to thank my teacher for his patience and his very clear manner of explaining musical concepts.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of learning and developing a new skill. This was further enhanced by the enthusiasm, motivation and continual encouragement and support of the teacher. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
Really enjoyed the [Trad Guitar Basics] course and John – he is a wealth of knowledge!
After each [Trad Guitar Basics] session I left with a smile on my face because I'd learned something new. Thank you very much and see you for another course.
Great interaction between the teacher and each individual student. Great fun too! [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
I learned loads and really feel like I have a good general knowledge of guitar. [Introducing Guitar for Teens]
[I have] an excellent [guitar] teacher, and I felt that every week I was being challenged with new songs, new chords and new strumming patterns that took me out of my comfort zone and made me a little more confident.
The relaxed atmosphere made the [Introducing Guitar for Adults] course really enjoyable, which made the lessons a lot easier and helped me to progress quicker than I ever expected.
I'm no Paco de Lucia but with this class [Flamenco Guitar Basics] at least I've taken the first step!
Great, knowledgeable teacher. This beginner guitar class [Introducing Guitar for Adults] helped me go from not knowing one end of a guitar from the other to actually being able to play a song!
Michael is a fantastic teacher who combines huge enthusiasm for his subject with huge knowledge (and patience!). An excellent course [Acoustic Blues Guitar Basics].
The tuition is first rate...fantastic tutor, with excellent ability in both playing and teaching. [Introducing Guitar for Adults]
We offer tuition for beginner, intermediate and advanced students in:
- Acoustic Guitar (various styles)
- Blues Guitar (acoustic & electric)
- Classical Guitar
- Electric Guitar (various styles)
- Flamenco Guitar
- Irish Traditional Guitar
- Jazz Guitar
- Bass Guitar • Electric Bass (various styles)
- Jazz Bass
Guitar and bass tuition can also include preparation for music grade exams from preliminary to performance or teaching diploma level (see below for exam syllabi), as well as Junior Cert. Music and Leaving Cert. Music practicals, and it counts as the ‘personal skill’ challenge area for Gaisce – The President’s Award. Electric guitar and bass tuition can also include instruction in effects and technology. All of our guitar, bass and ukulele teachers are also active performers, both live and recorded.
Our options for guitar, bass and ukulele tuition include:
- Weekly private (one-to-one) lessons, 30, 45 or 60 minutes in length.
- Group lessons, designed for students at the same level of proficiency who enrol together, and available as 30- 45- or 60-minute ‘partner’ lessons, as well as 60-minute lessons for 3 or 4 students.
- Single 1- or 2-hour Intensive Lessons.
- Four group courses for beginners, Introducing Guitar for Adults, Introducing Guitar for Teens, Introducing Guitar for Children and Introducing Ukulele (see following tab).
Group Courses for Beginners
We offer four popular foundation courses for absolute beginners (as well as a summer version of Guitar for Adults):
- Introducing Guitar for Adults
- Summer Introducing Guitar for Adults
- Introducing Guitar for Children
- Introducing Guitar for Teens
- Introducing Ukulele
‘I would highly recommend the [Guitar for Adults] course to anyone who always wanted to learn the guitar, especially those who think they are “too late” or are afraid of the instrument.’
– J. McNally
‘An excellent music course for children. I’m delighted at the progress [my daughter] has made – as is she!’ [Guitar for Children]
– S. Murphy
‘A great introduction to guitar and will be something I’ll continue into the future.’ [Guitar for Teens]
– J. Keating
‘Really enjoyed the [Ukulele] course and am amazed at how much I learned in ten weeks!’
– N. McDonnell
Our four ‘Basics’ courses for guitar provide extensive introductions to the styles for players with some previous experience:
‘I learned more from this 10-week course than from trying to teach myself acoustic blues for over 10 years!’ [Acoustic Blues Guitar]
– D. Farrelly
‘A great course – lots of information and great fun.’ [Electric Blues Guitar]
– N. Brennan
‘Fantastic course for anyone interested in this beautiful instrument.’ [Flamenco Guitar]
– R. McKenna
‘After each session I left with a smile on my face because I’d learned something new. Thank you very much and see you for another course.’ [Trad Guitar]
– M. Pardelinha
Beginning guitar and bass students should also consider taking Music Fundamentals, designed to supplement private tuition with the basics of music theory.
Our Jazz Blues Ensemble Workshop is an excellent introduction to blues and jazz ensemble playing and improvisation for those new to the forms.
Introducing Music Technology is a practical, hands-on course designed to teach absolute beginners how a PC and inexpensive home studio technology can be used to record and produce virtually anything at home.
Our Songwriting Workshop will help you to develop your creative ideas – in any musical style – and turn them into finished songs.
Guitar • Bass • Ukulele Faculty
- Michael Behan • acoustic / classical / electric / jazz guitar
- John Clarke • acoustic guitar, Introducing Guitar for Adults
- Miguel Ángel Lejarza • classical / flamenco guitar, Flamenco Guitar Basics
- Graham McCartin • acoustic / electric guitar
- Michael McInerney • acoustic guitar, Acoustic Blues Guitar Basics
- David Mooney • bass guitar, jazz bass, acoustic / electric guitar
- Eoin Mulvany • classical guitar
- Gary Norman • acoustic / electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, Introducing Guitar for Adults,
Introducing Guitar for Children, Introducing Ukulele, Electric Blues Guitar Basics
- John Sweeney • acoustic / electric / traditional guitar, Introducing Guitar for Adults,
Introducing Guitar for Teens, Trad Guitar Basics
- Brian Tavey • classical / acoustic / electric guitar
Tuition fees for private, partner and small group lessons are listed in the Enrolment • Fees section of our website and depend on the length of lessons as well as the duration (number of terms) of enrolment.
Group course fees are listed on individual group course pages.
Enrolment • Booking
Enrolment for guitar, bass and ukulele tuition at Waltons New School of Music requires a completed enrolment form and, except for those students using payment plans, full payment of tuition fees.
Intensive Lesson booking requires a completed booking form and deposit.
Private, Partner and Small Group Lessons • Ensembles
Group Courses for Adults • Teens
Introducing Guitar for Children
Martin A. Walton Memorial Scholarships
Taking place in late May / early June each year, the New School’s annual Martin A. Walton Memorial Scholarship Competition awards full-year tuition scholarships in three categories:
- Young Student of the Year (students aged 18 and under)
- Mature Student of the Year (students aged 19 and over)
- Most Promising Beginner (students who began studying their chosen instruments within the same academic year)
New School Ensemble Prize
This prize is awarded for the best performance in our scholarship competition by an instrumental, vocal or mixed ensemble made up of two or more students, as well as for progress over the school year.
New School Songwriting • Composition Prize
This prize is awarded for the most creative original composition or song for solo instrument, voice or ensemble, performed by the composer or songwriter alone or with ensemble for our scholarship competition.
See Scholarships • Prizes for more information.
Grade Exam Syllabi
Links to downloadable guitar and bass syllabi (pdf format) with different exam boards:
- Associated Board – Classical Guitar
- London College of Music – Classical Guitar
- London College of Music /
Registry of Guitar Tutors – Acoustic Guitar
- London College of Music /
Registry of Guitar Tutors – Electric Guitar
- London College of Music / Registry of Guitar Tutors – Bass
- London College of Music / Registry of Guitar Tutors – Ukulele
- Rockschool – Guitar
- Rockschool – Bass
- Royal Irish Academy of Music – Classical Guitar
- Trinity College London – Classical & Plectrum Guitar
- Trinity College London – Rock & Pop Guitar
- Trinity College London – Rock & Pop Bass
Friday Casual Concerts
Our Friday Casual Concerts are a great opportunity for students of all instruments (and all musical styles) to play in public, in a relaxed and supportive setting, before friends, family and other students. These brief concerts, which take place once a month on Friday evenings at 7 pm in the school, allow individual students and ensembles to perform in public, show off their skills and learn how to cope with nerves. They are also highly recommended for students preparing for grade exams.
Our End-of-Year Student Concert takes place in the National Concert Hall’s John Field Room each June and showcases some of our best students and ensembles, of all ages and in all musical styles, as well as scholarship and prize winners in our Scholarship Competition. Performers are selected by their teachers and the school administration.
See School Concerts for more information.
Currently-enrolled students (and parents of students) at the New School are entitled to several useful benefits, including:
- Discounts on Waltons World Masters Series events
- Discounts from Waltons Music
- Discounts on ensembles, sessions and music theory courses
- Discounts on practice facilities
- Discounts on city-centre parking
See Student Benefits for more information.
Our Outreach Programme offers a range of curricular and extra-curricular music courses that take place in primary schools, post-primary schools and youth centres. We offer Guitar and Ukulele courses for absolute beginners as part of the programme. See Outreach Programme for more information.
Music at Work Programme
Music at Work is a unique programme that provides convenient and affordable music courses in Dublin-area workplaces. We offer Guitar and Ukulele courses for absolute beginners as part of the programme. See Music at Work Programme for more information.
I'm a beginner. What should I look for in buying a guitar, bass or ukulele?
There is no ‘right’ answer to this question, and choosing the best guitar or bass for you or your child will depend on several factors, including the type of music you or your child is interested in learning/playing and age.
Generally speaking, folk, traditional, song accompaniment, acoustic blues, etc. are usually played on a steel-string acoustic guitar. This is the type of guitar we recommend for students in our Introducing Guitar for Adults and Introducing Guitar for Teens courses, and we can also provide guitars as part of Course + Instrument Packages for both. Rock, metal, blues, alternative, etc. are usually played on an electric guitar. And classical, Spanish/flamenco and sometimes folk and traditional are usually played on a nylon-string ‘classical’ or ‘Spanish’ guitar. Partial size nylon-string guitars are generally the easiest for younger players, and this is the type of guitar we recommend for students in our Introducing Guitar for Children course.
The two most common bass types are precision and jazz, and the two main difference between them are their necks and pickups. Precision bass necks have a fairly consistent thickness, and closer to the nut (the small piece of hard material under the strings, near the headstock) they taper in slightly. Jazz bass necks are thinner and are more noticeably tapered towards the nut, making them easier to play for beginners and younger students. Precision basses generally have a split-coil pickup that produces a more defined and ‘solid’ bass sound. Jazz basses have dual humbucking pickups that produce a ‘cleaner’ sound and give players a wider variety of tonal possibilities.
Sometimes thought of as little more than a toy in the past, the ukulele is now used by musicians and bands the world over – and ukuleles are now available for everyone from beginners to professionals. The main considerations when choosing a ukulele are size and quality. Ukuleles come in four standard sizes: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Soprano and concert ukuleles are the most popular and the sizes that most people associate the ukulele with. Regarding quality, as a general rule, try to buy the best ukulele you can comfortably afford. There are countless ‘cheap’ ukuleles available, but the vast majority are little more than toys. Start instead with a reasonably priced ‘budget’ uke, which will offer the best balance of quality and affordability.
Do I need my own guitar, bass or ukulele?
Yes. You will need your own instrument both for the lessons/course you are taking and for practice at home. However, it is possible to use a school instrument for the first lesson/class so that you can get advice from the teacher on choosing the best instrument for you. Let us know before your first lesson if you would like to do this. Although all students should bring their own instruments to lessons/classes, electric guitar and bass students do not need to bring their own amplifiers.
What is the best age for a child to start lessons?
Six years old is usually the youngest age that we start students on guitar. Guitar is very physically challenging for students younger than this. When to start lessons depends on things like coordination and attention span – and sometimes hand size. It is best for children to start off with a 1/2- or 3/4-size nylon-string guitar. Nylon-string guitars make it much easier for children to ‘fret’ notes without the strings hurting their fingers. Young beginners can start with private (one-to-one) lessons at the school, or take our Introducing Guitar for Children group course. Because the ukulele such a small and lightweight instrument, it is easy for younger children to learn. As with guitar, coordination and attention span are two factors to consider.
Am I too old?
No! We have successfully taught guitar, bass and ukulele to hundreds of mature students, of all ages. No one is too old to make music. Adults can start either with 30-minute private (one-to-one) lessons or two of our popular group course for absolute beginners, Introducing Guitar for Adults and Introducing Ukulele.
Both of my children want to learn. Can they take lessons together?
Yes. They can take ‘partner’ guitar or ukulele lessons, as long as they start at the same level. Partner lessons are an enjoyable and satisfying way to explore music together. Ideally, the children will benefit from mutual observation and motivate each other to improve – and the enjoyment will go well beyond the lessons as they practise and progress together.
What skill levels do you teach?
We teach students from complete beginners to advanced, up to and including diploma level for guitar and bass. All of our teachers take beginning and intermediate level students, and each of them has specific strengths for advanced guitar lessons and courses, including classical, jazz, rock/metal, blues, fingerstyle, Irish traditional and flamenco.
Can you prepare me/my child for grade or practical examinations?
Although we don’t require students to take grade examinations, tuition can certainly include preparation for grade exams in guitar or bass with a range of exam boards, including the Associated Board, London College of Music, Rockschool, Royal Irish Academy of Music and Trinity College London. Our teachers can also prepare students for Junior Cert. Music and Leaving Cert. Music practical exams.
What's the point of lessons, when I can use a book or YouTube videos?
A teacher can observe your technique and progress in real-time and give you immediate feedback, specifically tailored to your needs and goals. You will be reassured by getting reinforcement for things you do well and constructive advice for areas that need improvement. Questions and difficulties can be dealt with as they arise, so you do not develop bad habits that will later be hard to correct. While there are many materials and aids available to help you ‘teach yourself’, determining where to begin and what path to follow is not so simple. A good teacher evaluate your skill level and provide sound guidance to keep you on track and focused on topics most appropriate for your development and personal objectives.
What about tabs vs. music notation?
Beginners learning guitar, having discovered tabs, frequently ask whether there is any point in learning standard musical notation as well. The answer really depends on what you want to do in terms of playing guitar.
Tabs (or tablature, to use the full term) are easy to learn and can be a great help in learning to play your favourite song or piece of music. However, it is also important to realise that they are limited – all they do is show you which frets to finger and in which order. They cannot show you time or key signatures or note length, which means that unless you already know the piece of music you intend to play, you will have no idea what it should sound like. You can’t learn an unfamiliar piece of music from tabs alone.
If you learn to read music, on the other hand, the time will come when there will be nothing you can’t play and no one you can’t play with. All you will need is the music, widely available in music shops and online.
What kind of pick do I need?
Picks (or plectrums) come in many sizes, although they tend to be a fairly uniform shape. The key question is their thickness, which varies from almost paper thin to rigidly thick, and the material they are made from. Both qualities change the sound the guitar produces when played with a pick. The best advice for a beginner guitar player is to buy a packet of assorted sizes/thicknesses and find out how each one affects your playing and the sounds your guitar makes. You will quickly find that you have one or two favourites that you nearly always use.
My strings buzz when I play. What can I do about this?
This could be due to one of two things. The first and most likely situation is that you are not pushing down on the strings with the correct amount of force or are pressing them in the wrong place. Make sure you place your finger as close to the fret as possible (nearer the bridge) and also with enough pressure. If your strings still buzz then it could be due to incorrect setting of the guitar (truss rod, bridge, nut height, etc.) You may need to take it in to Waltons or another music shop to have a specialist look at it.