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SOME REFERENCES FROM HAPPY PICKERS! 

Stuart Walters-Girout
I am in my early fifties and have been tinkering with a guitar forever, trying to play guitar for more than twenty years, still not being able to play a few songs properly. Many years ago, I tried a classical teacher, went for two lessons, and decided much too complicated for me. The desire has always remained with me to play the acoustic guitar, and as a result last year, I walked into a guitar shop and asked about lessons. I was referred to a music school, and signed up for lessons.
The school has some 500 pupils, mostly teenagers. I attended for two months, struggling with the rigid timekeeping, (the next pupil for lesson waiting outside the see through glass classroom) and noise from next door classrooms, drums, electric guitars and other instruments which was pretty disturbing.

The lessons are very CD orientated, teacher goes through tab form only, demonstrating on his guitar, and lesson is over, you then rely entirely on CD till next lesson, with no review of workspace in the next lesson, the lessons are designed to finish as a course within a time limit! Well, then by chance, browsing the internet for acoustic guitar information, I discovered Hugh’s website. I had met Hugh many years ago, he placed me through his recruitment business with a company which I did extremely well some nine years later, and also, he assisted me in choosing the best out of two Martin guitars in a music shop in Sandton City!

I contacted Hugh, visited, and had great fun chatting about past, he is a fine host indeed, we chatted about guitars, careers and so on, Hugh listened patiently to my frustrating gripes concerning my music lessons, and suggested I get in touch with John. I have been taking lessons from John for several months, and cannot say enough. What a fantastic person and teacher. I have learnt notes, chords, fingerpicking styles (including bluegrass!), strumming techniques, and best of all I am learning to read music, both music notation and tablature form. I would never believe I was capable of all this in so short a time, a few months back. I already confidently play several songs, including Classical pieces! What more can I say, Thanks so much John.

John is patient; gently administering pressure to learn in a one on one basis in a peaceful environment where one can concentrate. What a contrast to what I have been exposed to, I love my lessons. John also has phenomenal music experience in many different styles of music and will accommodate any style you aspire to learn. I now look forward to each lesson, enjoying the session, having fun, and always assured that I learn something new, and most importantly John teachers to play the instrument strictly the right way, where one will benefit for future. My old habits are fading fast!

I have no hesitation in recommending John van Nierop as a music teacher, and thanks Hugh, for your introduction to John.

Martin Jorgensen
I have been trying to play guitar for more than fifteen years, not really getting anywhere and playing a few simple songs badly. I decided to start lessons and found John Van Nierop through Andy Mc Gibbons Guitar World. (John will be referred to as “TEACH” from now on in this testimonial). I have been going to lessons with teach for about 2 years now. In the beginning it was quite difficult for me to convince teach that I didn’t want to learn to read music but rather just take the easy “Castle Lager route”. By that I mean that I wanted the bare minimum to get me on the right track, play songs that people want to listen to, more importantly that they would enjoy listening to. Once Teach realised that I was a bit of a hopeless case, he has helped me with many simple techniques that make my MARTIN GUITAR more palatable to the listeners ear. He has taught me tons of songs that I have perfected and filed away in the file. Recently I have played in a few pub gigs and four pub evenings at SA Breweries (+/- 100 people at each gig). I would never have been able to do this before my lessons with teach. I can’t believe that they keep asking me to come back. They haven’t offered to start paying me, perhaps that’s coz I work there. All the same I have managed to pull it off with all credit to teach.

I would recommend anyone (of any playing level) to go to Teach for his reasonably priced lessons and I would strongly recommend that they do not take the Castle Lager route, but do things properly. Listen to the bleddie teacher.

Forgot to mention, these lessons are great fun too and that I purchased my Martin Guitar from Hugh’s fine guitars.

Cheers
Martin Jorgensen & Martin Guitar

John Sternberg
I have been taking guitar lessons with JohnVon Nierop for the past 3 years and have opened up a whole range of new opportunities and challenges that I never knew existed. I am mainly an acoustic guitar (Martin D18GE) player and John has taught me a variety of songs ranging from Dylan to Clapton. I have also ventured into playing classical guitar and electric guitar (you can’t get more adventurous than Hendrix!). My next trick is to learn to sing (…nog n storie!).

John is a fantastic teacher and musician, has huge patience (thank G..) and is a great guy to learn (and jam) with.

Regards
John
Geof Harris
John is a holistic music teacher, not just a guitar teacher. By that, I mean he covers Music in a contextual sense: it is of very limited use to just learn pieces/songs in isolation, because then all you've got is a few songs but no idea how to progress musically out of that 'box' - those pieces will exist by themselves but not be linked together as part of the Greater Database of Music. A lot like learning to say a sentence in a foreign language but not having the faintest idea of what you are saying.

Ultimately it goes nowhere, adding to the frustrations of the players... and the listeners too, don't forget them! Whereas with his profound understanding and intelligent teaching approach, John shows the pupil (at the same time as learning to play the guitar - it is fun too) the 'relationships', or more specifically how to learn to identify the relationships, of the parts that together make up the whole: the 'why's & wherefore's...'. Sometimes we can't see the scenery to the side of us because we are so busy looking to the front. Understanding the relationships is key to the future manipulation of the 'tools' in The Music Toolbox.

The importance of this is that the students will develop a comprehension of how the Building Blocks of Music fit together, and why, and in the long run the learning curve is straightened making it sooner it will be for them to rise to a higher level of performance and creativity. Knowledge is power. This sounds like a very good deal to me. John is the best music teacher I have ever had!

Geoffrey Walter Harris : ex pupil, now living and playing in the UK
Hugh Cumming
John van Nierop has been my guitar teacher from 1989 to the present. He has helped me in all styles including: Bluegrass flatpicking, the Blues, and various folk styles. John has a tremendous knowledge of the guitar, and has a great way of teaching, never intimidating the pupil, and is always very patient and understanding. I have no hesitation in recommending John as your teacher, and am confident that you will grow from strength to strength in your guitar playing. - Hugh Cumming.

Regards
Hugh