Lessons during Covid 19.
So, as you know right now we are living through some very difficult and trying times with the Coronavirus confining every single one of us to our homes. However, on a happier note, if you are beginning to get a little frustrated or bored, what better way to spend some quality spare time, than learning to strum a Guitar or Ukulele!? So let's put a stop to that boredom, the great news for all you aspiring musicians and of course my existing students young and old, is that my Guitar and Ukulele lessons are continuing but in a different way!
For those of you who wish to join me for lessons as I can no longer come to your homes, I am offering remote guitar and ukulele lessons using the webchat platform Zoom (zoom.us). You may have this computer App already, or you can download it for free. I will just need your e-mail address, and minutes before our lesson is scheduled, I will send you a mail, on that email there will be a link that you simply click to join your own personal real-time lesson with me.
Alternatively, we can use 'WhatApp' for a video chat, but that will only work on your mobile phone as video chat is not supported on the computer version of 'WhatsApp'.
These virtual lessons are 30 minutes long for the reduced rate of €20, filled with all our usual fun challenges, learning games, and of course a few songs! So please, don't get bored, join me for some time well spent, something really practical and fun that you can channel your energy into.
It doesn’t matter why you want to learn or hone your skills I’d like to help you get there playing tunes that you love!
Hi, my name is Bren Kennedy and I’m a guitar and ukulele teacher based in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. I teach all age groups, kids from about seven years of age, right the way up to adults. The focus is on having fun, whether you are an absolute beginner or merely seeking to improve your skills.
The guitar is an amazingly versatile instrument suitable for just about anyone and for playing all types of music. There are a wide variety of guitars shapes and designs, each preferred for certain styles of music. They typically have six steel or nylon strings. They come in ‘acoustic’ or the amplified ‘electric’ – for your first guitar, a nylon string is usually the agreed standard and would be a “sound” and practical decision. Personally, I prefer steel string acoustic guitars, and find that 95% of the skills transfer over to electric guitars.
The Ukulele is a passion for many casual and expert musicians – it is a great alternative instrument to introduce children to the world of music. I often recommend the ukulele as it is particularly suited due to its smaller size, fewer strings (four total), and the more affordable prices on the instrument itself. Unlike child-sized guitars you never outgrow a uke!
Feel free to contact me if you need help selecting an instrument. For our first couple lessons you can use one of my ukes or guitars to get a feel for which you like better. I’d really love to hear from you so please get in touch with me for a one-to-one personalised lesson on either instrument!
Single Lesson Pricing:
€25 / 45 minutes / 1 student
€20 / 45 minutes / 2 or more students (price per student in a shared session)
First lesson is FREE!!!
Lessons by the Block:
€150 per Block of six 45 minute lessons for one student, get the 7th lesson FREE!
For more Block buy options, please contact me.
Give the gift of music and enrichment! We are happy to provide an electronic or printed gift certificate for single lesson or block lessons. Please contact me for more information.
House calls in and around Greystones at no extra cost. More distant location subject to a travel surcharge (call for details). Or learn with me at my home in Delgany.
Booking and Cancellation:
Call or text me anytime to reserve lesson dates and times. I would respectfully request at least 48 hours notice if you are unable to attend a lesson. For any cancellations with less than 48 hours notice, I reserve the right to charge a cancellation fee.
About the Instructor
Hello, I'm Bren Kennedy. I decided to learn how to play the guitar when I was fourteen years of age after listening to my older brother play ‘Stairway to Heaven’. I was jealous! So I opened my Dad’s collection of encyclopaedia Britannica books – under guitar, and there it was, in black and white, thousands and thousands of tiny words explaining to me how to play the guitar, with not even one picture to help me!
It was a long, laborious and lonely slog doing it that way, but I got there, and I’ve never regretted it or looked back. That was a long time ago!
In the last ten years or so, I bought myself my first ukulele. Most definitely not inspired by George Formby or the dreaded Tiny Tim. I quite quickly learned a lot of songs that I had always liked, and easily adapted them to the ukulele. All sorts of strumming and picking styles, in a variety of genres and musical styles too!
Having firstly learned the guitar, I found it easy to adapt and transfer that same knowledge over to the ukulele. The two instruments have many things in common: (A) how they are held in your hands, and on your lap, (B) strumming and picking strings, (C) the ability to play either chords, or to solo - picking a single string to create a melody line. However, most importantly – they are both incredible fun! There have been days when I would have been lost without my little wooden friends!
I love most music but if I had to narrow it down, I would have to say that ‘Gypsy swing’ and ‘American folk’ would be my own personal favourite genres. In addition, I love the ‘Great American songbook’ tunes, rock n roll standards and cool lounge tunes too. Personally, I prefer fingerpicking over strumming – but that’s me!
So, one of the keys to teaching an instrument to anybody, besides having fun, making them laugh and feel totally relaxed – is choosing the right songs to play and adapting them to their skill level. My goal is to inspire students both young and old through my passion and love of music.
Younger kids can have the attention span of goldfish not to mention their little fingers starting to get a little sore, so choosing the right material to play from the outset is really important to me. I think that if they learn these instruments when they are young, the possibilities of where the instrument can take them are endless! They will have a massive leg-up on where they decide to go with their guitar or ukulele skills.
I will start them out on their ‘learning journey’, building a solid foundation for their playing. Learn that the guitar or ukulele is their friend - and nothing at all to be nervous or scared of, it must be fun! Since bad habits can form almost instantly and can cripple the progress of any student, learning from a teacher – with one-to-one instruction is a must. It is vital to have a watchful eye over every second of the student’s learning, instantly correcting any possible pitfall or slight mistake in fingering chord shapes, rhythm etc. I will cover tuning their instrument, correct posture, finger techniques, strumming, picking and rhythm, and a full library of beginner and more advanced amazing and essential chords – plus many other topics.
Both ukulele and guitar require the student to learn ‘chords’. A chord is defined as: ‘three or more musical notes played together to harmonize with each other.’ Chords should normally sound pleasant! Some chords can sound sad or dark, jazzy, slightly weird, or very happy! Chords are formed by grouping certain fingers into specific shapes or clusters, these shapes are then placed very precisely onto certain strings, so that when strummed or picked with the other hand, create a lovely mellow sound. We hope!
Most songs will have at least three chords and possibly many more, so we will gradually learn and build up a library of chord shapes that we can apply and adapt to different songs as we progress along with our instruction.
So, you’re probably wondering would little Jake or Jessica like the guitar or ukulele! Well, they both sound beautiful in their own unique ways – but very different too! So, I’ve attempted here to arm you with a brief informative paragraph on each instrument, I really hope it helps!
More on the Instruments
For newcomers to the uke or guitar here is a piece to further your knowledge on the differences between the two instruments. They are both amazing, but admittedly, the guitar has the upper hand, as it is far more versatile than the uke, due to its two extra strings and more frets along the neck! They both sound brilliantly played together too! There is nothing you can’t play on a guitar. The ukulele is a more limited instrument, but it is so easy to learn and play well.
The ukulele is like a tiny guitar. Traditionally made from wood, but these days there are cheaper plastic models available. It comes in four body / neck sizes - Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone, all of which are quite small. All ukuleles have only four strings which makes them far easier to play than its six-string cousin the guitar. The ‘uke’ is much lighter in weight too, and when strummed it will sound sweeter and much higher in pitch than a guitar. The strings are normally nylon which are far softer on fingers than the average guitar.
Most guitars have six strings, but there are also twelve string guitars too! They are typically made of wood and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are two main categories for the guitar, the acoustic and the electric. Now, to further complicate things, there are also two main categories for the acoustic guitar, the steel string and the nylon string (also known as the classical or Spanish guitar). The steel string can project great volume when needed and can be strummed or picked with fingers. What’s also nice is that many acoustic guitars come with an option to plug directly into an amplifier so as to get your nerve up and play at public functions or concerts. The nylon string guitar traditionally would be picked with the fingers, (Spanish ‘Flamenco’ style players!) but of course it can be strummed also.
Electric guitars are different. There are four main sub categories here too! The following names refer to their body shape and electrical pick-up styles. There is the classic ‘Stratocaster (Strat), the Telecaster, and the Les Paul. Finally, there is what is known as the semi-hollow electrical guitar which is kind of half way between acoustic and electric. The list really can go on for some time, but they all have one thing in common, they are very hard to hear without being plugged into an amplifier – which can add considerably to the cost of your full kit. They tend to be quite heavy as they are made from a solid block of wood, not hollow like an acoustic guitar. They can also be rather noisy too, depending how far the amplifier is turned up! But, they are great fun!
So, best of luck with your choice- and don’t fret (really bad pun intended!).