Testimonials

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I have been taking guitar lessons from Mike for the past 4 months and it has been a blast. Mike is awesome and I want to highlight a few of the things that make him an exceptional teacher in the event that others discover him through Yelp as I did.

Mike is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience. He has been a member of numerous bands and has toured extensively across the US and Australia. Even now Mike is actively writing new songs and performing at various venues in San Francisco and Oakland. It’s cool to think that the person giving you instruction gets on stage and performs live when he isn’t teaching.

Mike is a true student of music. Not only does he possess vast knowledge about the technical mechanics of playing guitar, but he also is extremely well-versed in musical theory, songwriting, and the history of music. It is interesting to note that Mike learned to play guitar as an adult in college. Because of this, he is even better equipped to effectively teach his adult students who may walk into their first lesson with little to no prior musical experience.

Another great thing about Mike is that he is both organized and flexible. When I first decided to take lessons I worried that my instructor and I would play random exercises for an hour each week and that my progress would be difficult to track. Upon meeting Mike I was pleasantly surprised to see that he keeps detailed notes for each student, organizes exercises into easy-to-digest weekly practice sheets, and follows up week after week to answer my questions and help me with areas that I find challenging. Also, while Mike has curated a very effective set of curriculum, he is open to letting students choose the ratio between exercises and song playing to ensure that everyone stays engaged and motivated.

Although it should be evident by now, in addition to being a very talented musician and instructor Mike is a great person. He genuinely cares about his students and wants to see them learn, enjoy music, and achieve their goals. Despite his qualifications and abilities, Mike is the complete opposite of pretentious – he is down to earth, fun, personable, and patient. I can’t recommend Mike highly enough.

-Paul K., San Francisco

Mike is a fantastic guitar teacher.  He is dedicated, positive and committed to helping his students achieve their fullest potential with their playing.  I greatly appreciated his casual and flexible style which ensured learning was always fun and never felt like a chore.  He’s able to easily combine the practical experience of chord and song playing whilst also making the theory behind it accessible as well.  This gives you the benefit of having more than just the ability to play a handful of songs but also having a strong overall understanding of the guitar and of the structure of songs and song writing.

-Tom J., Northcote

I only took piano lessons with Mike for a few months, but his style of teaching made a world of difference!  I had taken lessons as a kid for several years, and forgotten almost everything.  Starting back up with Mike, I learned just how much was lacking in my training the first time around.  With emphasis on mechanics, form, rhythm, and breathing (before simply practicing a piece of music), it completely changed the way I learned and practiced, and I am a much better player as a result.  While he’s diligent in making sure you learn the basics, he’s also flexible if there’s something you show interest in spending time on.  As teachers go, he’s the best I’ve had 🙂

-Michael R, Oakland

It was after seeing Michael play at the Old Bar in Fitzroy that I decided to book some lessons. I’d been playing guitar for several years, acoustic and electric, however with no lessons or formal study in music. It was no trouble for Michael to accommodate what I knew into his lessons. He worked on my bad habits and would keep fundamentals like rhythm present at all times, whether it be scales, triads or belting out chords. His lessons were well structured, challenging and always fun – I always felt like I was learning more than one thing at a time. He is a great guy, a true musician with a genuine love of music and he renewed my passion for playing guitar.

-Matt B., Brunswick

Michael taught me in a way that got me loving and appreciating music so much more than I already did.  He is a great music historian. There are so many influences in his own music. He opened me up to some of the mysteries of song writing. “Most good songs have some sort of twist in them”, he says.  At the same time some songs are just so unbelievably beautiful yet are deceptively simple.

Mike doesn’t let you rest on your laurels.  Every lesson brings a new challenge.  That’s the genius of his teaching. Building on your strengths and helping you develop new ones.

-Terry K., North Fitzroy

My son has taken piano lessons from Mike for the past year — and it’s been a fantastic experience. Mike is very focused on the fundamentals — hand/body positioning, rhythm, reading/writing/composing, etc. — while at the same time willing to explore a wide variety of music/artists, based on his student’s interests.  In addition, Mike is super-cool, so he can relate incredibly well to kids (and adults).  He is encouraging (not judgmental) and has a very relaxed teaching style.  Plus, he’s very reliable — good at communicating, keeps his appointments, etc.  I’d highly recommend Mike.

-J. C., Oakland

I learned guitar with Beacho for a few years whilst he was in Australia and haven’t found a better teacher since he’s been gone! Mike has a great knowledge of music, whether it is theoretical or practical stuff like recording. Beacho helped me through my favourite songs and even helped me out with my VCE music exams! Lessons are completely suited to individuals and Mike is possibly one of the most versatile guitarists I’ve met. I’ve tagged along to the occasional gig and it’s great to see his enthusiasm towards anything musical. Great bloke, great teacher and great friend.

-Eddy C., Northcote

As one of Mike’s students from Melbourne in Australia, I can personally highly recommend him as a guitar teacher. He’s everything you want in a teacher of any discipline. Knowledgeable, skillful, friendly and above all, patient. He’s not some wanker who imposes his own musical tastes on you, so whatever you’re into, he’ll be able to accommodate you. I’ve seen him play jazz, classical, and kick ass in his rock band.

Excellent value for money, the lessons are always fun and never boring!

-Ruaridh A., Brunswick

Mike was a better teacher than I could have hoped for.

He has a rare combination of making sure you learn what you want to learn, while being clear about what he has seen work. As others have said on this site, he is a good person and someone you will enjoy hanging out with. I never felt guilty when I couldn’t practice as much as I wanted, but at the same time I did feel that Mike genuinely cared about my progress and wanted me to have the gift of music in my life.

I got the sense from all the other students that they loved working with Mike as much as I did.

-Matthew S., Oakland

As a guitarist who has played for decades and for years in working bands, I wondered where to find the right music teacher, so I couldn’t have been more pleased when I went to Mike. First off, he’s a music teacher, not a guitar instructor, and that’s exactly what I wanted. After playing with him for only a few moments, he identified what I needed to work on and had great exercises that humbled me but also moved me forward in short order. I find our lessons to be a perfect mix of theory, exercises, and fun. Already my live playing is better and my confidence is increased!

Mike is supportive and friendly yet rigorous and makes good use of our time, something I really appreciate. I couldn’t recommend him too much to experienced players who are looking for ways to move their music forward. One day I look forward to coming to Mike to learn the piano!

-Russell M., Oakland

 

I couldn’t be happier with my guitar lessons with Mike.  He’s that rare combination:  a great musician who’s passionate about music AND a truly gifted teacher.  Super chill guy as well.  The aspiring guitarists of Melbourne are lucky to be getting him back.

-Ellen M., Oakland

Hi lucky Australians, you get to take guitar lessons from a great teacher. I definitely feel lucky that I got to take some lessons before he left. Mike knows how to teach (lessons from great guitar players who don’t know how to teach are to be avoided!), and he knows what he’s talking about. Most importantly, he has an opinion as to what you should be learning. You can choose the direction, any direction, but if you listen to what he thinks is important for you to work on, you’ll probably learn a lot really quickly. If you want to figure out a particular song or how to play a certain kind of music, he can of course help you with that. He also makes theory make a lot of sense, especially as applied to song-learning or songwriting. He’s a very nice person and is really supportive! His is a safe learning environment. Also, he has great equipment. Seriously, it makes lessons so fun. Enjoy.

-Jeannie F., Oakland

I took piano lessons from Mike for almost a year and he is the best teacher I could’ve possibly asked for.  Detailed, attentive, flexible, genuinely interested in helping you learn – not to mention a fantastic person and friend!  Mike is casual and knowledgeable and the lessons are fun every single week.

I took piano lessons as a child but didn’t get very far and I wanted to try it again with more of a emphasis on theory, improvisation and writing.  I found Mike on Yelp and from day one he listened to my goals/musical interests and tailored lessons exactly to what I was trying to learn.  Everything was within a detailed framework that allowed me to be expressive while still developing essential knowledge and technique.

There are a lot of talented piano players who have technical skill and talent, but it will be hard to find anyone who is ALSO as naturally gifted at teaching.  Mike cuts through excess information and gets to the core of things.  It felt like every lesson was personalized and even though he’s done it a thousand times he makes it seem new.  On top of everything else he provides awesome cultural and historical references that make the lessons feel all the more interesting and exciting.  Look no further – if you’re starting out or have experience it’s the best you can find.

-Greg T., Oakland

Mike is an amazing teacher and all-around great human being. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

I was a complete beginner when I started guitar lessons with Mike last fall, and I am so happy with how much progress I’ve made. I can plunk out a decent number of songs now, and (more importantly) feel like I’ve got a really solid foundation of skills to build on. Mike doesn’t even laugh at me when I want to learn angsty Indigo Girls or Natalie Imbruglia songs! Truly a gentleman and a scholar.

The lessons are a combination of technical skill-building, music theory, and songs, and I really notice the progress every week. The homework and written instructions for practicing between lessons are super clear and organized, and so helpful for (those frequent occasions) when I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to be doing.

It’s also awesome to pick Mike’s brain about his incredible wealth of knowledge of music and music history. His enthusiasm is infectious, and being around someone who loves music so much helps motivate me on those nights when my fingers just don’t want to make that G chord. He might even let you borrow some of his CDs, if you’re nice.

Mike is a patient, kind, and incredibly effective teacher, and also great company. My lessons are one of the high points of my week, and every week I come away feeling a little bit more confident and happy with my playing than I expected to. Learning to play music again has been such a gift, and I am so glad I found such a great teacher to get me started.

-Vanessa R., San Francisco

I’ve been taking guitar lessons with Mike for just under two years and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  He is a great musician, an inspiring teacher and a phenomenal person.

Mike is a master in all the technical aspects of playing guitar and piano, as well as music theory and the history of music.  His lessons are a great balance between learning the fundamentals required for becoming an advanced player and fun exercises to keep things interesting.

In addition to being a multi-instrumentalist, Mike is able to play pretty much any style you could bring him, and he’s always more than happy to dig in and help you deconstruct a song you’re interested in.  While I often like to take advantage of this, I also love to let Mike guide me towards new music and styles.  This is very important to someone who’s learning and needs to be introduced to new musical influences.

As someone who has taken up guitar post-college, it’s been great to learn from Mike’s work ethic and dedicated approach to mastering the guitar & piano.   Given that he’s a very prolific writer & performer himself, he’s always able to draw from personal experience when I come to him with questions about songwriting, recording, or even which gear to use/buy.

Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a new teacher to help you take your playing to the next level, Mike is the man to talk to.  I cannot recommend him highly enough.

-Sam H., San Francisco

I *love* my guitar lessons! I’ve had a guitar for years and despite accomplishments on other instruments, I wasn’t getting any farther with my few chords, so I decided to hunt around for a teacher. After classes at SFCMC (fun!) and Blue Bear (eh), I found Mike. I cannot believe the amount of progress I have made in three months of lessons!

During our first meeting, Mike explained how he could work with me to improve my guitar playing in a variety of different ways. We settled on starting with a series of different exercises and he took notes during the lesson that I could review at home. He also helped me set up a reasonable practice schedule and gave me endless advice on how to make it interesting. I immediately noticed a big difference in my playing as he pinpointed areas I could improve basic things, like my hand posture and finger positioning. As time has gone on, he’s given me a huge variety of practice tools, shown me how to turn exercises into practical music-making, suggested films and live shows to enhance my understanding of guitar, and in all ways been an excellent, patient and motivating teacher.

If you would really like to learn the guitar, I highly highly recommend lessons with Mike. Not only a great teacher and musician, but a incredibly nice person who really supports his students and their music. Check him out!

-Demetra D., San Francisco

Mike is a great guitarist, but far more importantly he’s a great teacher.

I’d been playing guitar for around 5-6 years before I met Mike and tried a few different teachers along my way.  In general the theme is the same; I met great guitarists who I aspired to play like, but who just didn’t provide the structure or vision that I needed to reach the same level as them.

Mike blew them all away.  In a few short months he’s been able to show me the depth that’s just waiting to be explored in the guitar, while helping me tackle it in an organized and effective way.  He’ll push you to get better, but he’ll also let you set a pace you’re comfortable with.

Great guy all around, and an excellent guitar teacher.  Highly recommend.

-Joe F., San Francisco

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m completely review-writing-phobic, but Mike is such an awesome teacher that I just have to give him some props.

Mike is a great mix of conscientious and chill–I know I’m always learning, but without the guilt trip or snooty-ness that often comes with classical training. He always strives to make the material interesting and relevant, and really adjusts his style to the level of his students. Mike is also dependably patient and flexible, and I’m definitely looking forward to continuing lessons as soon as my life calms down a bit.

-Yi Z., San Francisco

Over the past year I’ve rekindled my love of playing acoustic guitar, thanks to Mike.  I’m mostly self-taught (read: “bad habits”) and Mike has provided some v. much-needed structure and organization.  My technical proficiency has ramped up big-time and I’m understanding the instrument and music theory so much better now which, hey, adds a lot to the overall playing experience.

And, as a “fella of a certain age”, I can feel the ol’ brain circuits lighting up when I play through the exercises, which BTW are more fun than work.  Mike keeps it fresh by tossing new things into the mix and yet the lessons keep building on each other, so that something I worked on a few weeks before often becomes the “missing link” to a song I’m learning now.

Mike seems to know when to shift gears or try something new or have you modify your technique to keep you motivated & moving forward.  He is a great teacher and all-around good guy.  Highly recommended!!…..

-Dennis S., San Francisco

I won’t be able to continue my music lessons with Mike because of some other commitments but hope to get him back as a teacher in the future once my hectic schedule subsides. He’s resourceful, available, and genuinely caring about your musical aspirations.  I still look forward to the remaining lessons I have with him. I owe my improvements on the guitar to this guy. He’s great.

-Jane Y., San Francisco

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