Melvin Smalls

Teaching and Leadership

Melvin Smalls teaches guitar at Learn Together Lowcountry homeschool co-op in Bluffton SC

Melvin brings over 30 years of teaching experience to every lesson he provides. Much of his knowledge & expertise was obtained while performing the “classics” of multiple genres & styles. Melvin is currently the minister of music for his local church. His greatest joy is watching the “lights turn on” in his students when they realize it’s them playing music. Melvin most enjoys teaching beginning students, where they have such a hunger to learn.

Classes

Skills needed at the beginning of the course:

  • No guitar experience necessary; some musical knowledge is helpful
  • Ability to listen and follow directions
  • Ability to manage time allowing for practice
  • Must have a guitar. If you do not already have one, contact the instructor for suggestions. Expect to spend around $150.00

Skills to be learned by the end of the course:

  • Tuning using a tuner or string comparison
  • Basic chord families in Sharp keys
  • ADE, DGA, GCD, CFG, EAB
  • Some basic meters: 4/4, 3/4, 6/8
  • At least two basic strumming patterns for each meter: one for slow songs and one for faster songs
  • Familiarity with basic musical concepts
  • Melody vs. harmony
  • Rhythmic pulse
  • How to sense meter and strong beats
  • How to read a chord chart and/or lead sheet
  • Reading chord diagrams
  • Ability to play, from reading, something resembling the song (even if they’ve never heard it)

See all classes.

Skills needed at the beginning of the course:

  • Ability to tune own instrument (arrive at class with instrument tuned, please!
  • Basic sharp key chord families (key of C, G, D, A, E)
  • Ability to identify and reproduce basic meters
  • Ability to read an unfamiliar chord chart or lead sheet with known chords
  • Ability to change chords without sacrificing the rhythm to pause.
  • Be prepared (each class period) to improvise a basic solo, once that topic is covered.
  • Willingness to expand practice time to 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
  • This is schoolwork you are paying for (!) and it should be valued in that way.
  • If you cannot commit to this, the beginners class may fit better as you build a foundation of guitar and musical skill.

Skills to be learned by the end of the course:

  • How to practice effectively
  • 12-bar blues form: blues chords (dom7, maj7, min7)
  • Bass walk-downs/ups
  • Basic slurs (Hammer-ons/pull-offs/slides)
  • Basic improvisation
    • Chordal (when playing solo)
    • Scalar
  • Some single sting lines
  • Some fingerstyle, chicken-pickin’, or string-skipping
  • Reading scale diagrams: major, minor and pentatonic scales
  • Reading notation to allow for better lead sheet reading
  • Transposition, Capo skills
  • How to discover the key of the song for improvisation
  • Beginning barre chords

See all classes.

Skills needed at the beginning of the course:

  • Be able to execute hammer-ons and pull-offs with accuracy
  • Be able to accompany and find the key for a “jam session”: minimum in a major key, a minor key and a 12-bar blues
  • Know how to read notation on a lead sheet.
  • Have some finger-picking skills
  • Comfortable with string skipping patterns
  • Some familiarity with Barre chords
  • Some familiarity with how to practice effectively

Skills to be learned by the end of the course:

  • Barre patterns
  • Upper neck positions
  • Learning songs by:
    • Notation
    • Tablature
    • Ear
  • Advanced rhythm skills: percussive techniques
  • Transposition on sight with and without a Capo
  • How to write studies to practice techniques need in the piece being studied
  • Learn at least one full-length (at least a minute) guitar solo at tempo

See all classes.