Paul was tremendously helpful instructing me on jazz comping, improvisation, and other techniques. Paul's method blended musical theory and exercises into a program that allowed me to play new songs while applying the concepts I was learning. This approach made advanced musical concepts much more comprehensible and fun to learn. Aside from music theory, Paul's instruction improved my left and right-hand technique, as well as my ability to listen. Paul has a great passion for music and teaching which is clearly reflected in his patience, attention, and attitude. The most enjoyable part of the lesson is Paul's willingness to collaborate with his students in order to tailor the lesson format to the student's ability and musical objectives.
C. Luciano, Farmington, CT
I have been studying with Paul for almost 3 years now and I couldn't have had a better guide for this musical journey. It was obvious from my first lesson he was a very experienced teacher. Just by listening to where I was at on the guitar he was able to quickly plan my trip for me. He was able to blend a healthy balance of theory and musical ideas that has kept me busy ever since. Paul is a unique teacher because he is able to grow his students into musicians and not just guitar players. He is able to explain any musical concept thoroughly and thoughtfully and he is kind enough to simplify things enough so a student at any level can grasp the concepts.
Lessons with Paul are dynamic. When you are presenting a melody he will comp the chords or if you are learning improvisation he can play the base lines to outline the chords. That makes it more interesting and realistic.
I have found since taking lessons with Paul that my interest in music has grown immensely. He has turned me on to many great recordings and that has inspired me all the more to improve my musicianship and guitar playing. It is also worth noting that Paul is an awesome musician and is always looking for new ways to arrange tunes and present ideas.
If you are looking to pick up the guitar for the first time or think you want to expand on what you already know on the guitar I would contact Paul today. You will be richly rewarded.
Brendan Walsh, Wethersfield CT
I started studying guitar with Paul about 5 years ago. I was experiencing a musical crisis and was fearful of where to turn. I am a classically trained French horn player, graduating with honors from the Hartt School of Music. I had played professionally for a number of years, teaching and performing with ensembles and orchestras throughout New England. In 2000 I had begun to notice a "weakness" in my embouchure. Loss of fine motor control in my lips resulted in intonation and endurance problems. Over the next few years, my deteriorating performance abilities were determined to be due to a condition called focal dystonia. After rehabilitative studies with one of the best horn teachers in CT, I came to the gut-wrenching realization that my professional French horn playing career was over.
I had been practicing a musical instrument almost daily for most of my adult life. What to do, where to turn now that my "music", my "identity" had been ripped from me? I soon decided to pick up the guitar, partly as a balm to ease my pain. For my birthday my wife kindly offered, go pick out a guitar. I came home with a Taylor "Big Baby". Not an incredible guitar, but also not the hindrance that many entry level instruments are. Given my classical training, I quickly burned through a couple of Mel Bay books. I also realized that I could develop some bad "self-taught player" habits, and that I needed to find a teacher. But at my level of musical training, who would be willing to teach me...older guy, good reading chops and ears, but with limited two-hand dexterity?|
A search on the internet brought me to Paul Shumsky. From the outset, Paul has been a kind, gentle and nurturing teacher. He was not trying to impose any musical style or direction on me, he was willing to meet me where I was. As I like all styles of music, from blues to classical, from jazz to rock, I really had no idea where to go, which style to focus on. Not a problem for Paul. In short order I knew that I was in the presence of a master teacher, not only a talented theoretician, improviser and comping guitarist, but also one who was able to teach these concepts in a kind and adaptable manner. His deep knowledge of all things guitar and his ability to patiently impart this knowledge over the days, weeks, months and years needed to develop a beginner into a jammin' player is a rare gift indeed. As it turns out, jazz guitar is where I have settled in. Difficult yes, frustrating, over my head, insane...yes, but with a talented patient teacher, all is possible. At this point in my studies, I feel I am on the cusp of breaking through, to being good...but despite my visions of grandeur, every week in my lesson, I have a patient, kind, caring man who will jam with me and teach me until my fingers fall off. Thank you Paul for being my teacher, thank you for being my friend.
David D, Glastonbury CT
Paul is an exceptional guitar instructor. He has a thorough knowledge of jazz concepts, theory and styles that is easily visible in his playing. His approach to teaching is multidimensional in that he is quickly able to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in his students' playing and then provide the necessary guidance to help you absorb and overcome problems from a variety of different angles. Paul's approach is to provide the student with the knowledge base and tools that will lead him or her to a higher level of command while at the same time not dictating how to play. I've been playing the guitar for 15 years and since starting lessons with Paul I've realized how many more musical doors there are to open. Through the years I have had many teachers and looking back, I would certainly rank Paul as one of the best.
Shawn Kruse, Bristol CT
I rediscovered the guitar in middle age, having been self "taught" as a teenager and having taken music-store guitar lessons for a brief period. The result of that experience was mainly a bunch of bad habits on the guitar, which I am still unlearning with Paul's patient assistance.
I can't say enough good things about Paul as a guitar teacher - his mastery of the instrument is complete, he can play and teach all styles and there is not a piece of music I have ever brought him that he cannot quickly transcribe after a few listens (including intricate lead solos). Beyond all that, he has been able to perceive exactly what I need as an individual student to progress.
Alan Curto, Bristol CT
| I am a self-taught guitarist and have been playing for 8 years. I had reached a plateau in terms of skill and interest. Working with Paul re-energized my interest in guitar by introducing me to jazz guitar concepts and all the great new chords, progressions, and sounds. He helped demystify music theory for me and how to apply it to the fret board, and correct my self-taught technique problems that were limiting my ability. Paul is very easy going, friendly, and flexible, and has a wealth of knowledge in all kinds of guitar styles. I appreciated that, in addition to teaching jazz, Paul could switch gears and explain the styles of my favorite guitarists, such as Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Working with Paul was a very worthwhile and valuable experience.|
Nathan Hill, Hartford CT
Paul is an amazing teacher. He judged very quickly my level as a student and tailored his instruction accordingly, teaching me both what I wanted to know and what I needed to know. Every lesson was valuable: he fed me new material as fast as I could take it, and my improvement over a span of just a couple of weeks was tremendous. He maintains a comfortable learning environment. If I got flustered while trying to play something, he was able to work me through it, and once you're flustered, that's hard to do. I recommend Paul whole-heartedly.
Aaron Parsons, Harvard University
| Paul's a great teacher. Patient and knowledgeable, he creates a relaxed environment where you can try new things, screw up, ask questions, etc. and feel totally at ease. Regardless of what we're working on - technique, theory, repertoire, improv - I leave every lesson feeling like I've learned something new, practical, and essential.
J. P., Boston MA
| I started taking bass guitar lessons with Paul a year ago. I had a strong desire to play but little confidence and no technical knowledge. I put myself in Paul's hands and felt humbled by how much there was to learn. He was reassuring and kind. His direction made me feel comfortable and optimistic. Over the course of the year I've learned many songs and a lot about playing music. As a teacher, Paul is disciplined but not rigid. If you're having a bad week and come unprepared to the lesson, He'll say,
"That's okay. We have plenty to talk about." And he'll
focus on theory or whatever individual challenges you're struggling with.
He's not judgemental, but respectful of whatever place you're
in. If you're discouraged, he'll point out the ways you've progressed
and the milestones you've reached. I feel very lucky to be studying
with Paul Shumsky. He's a gifted musician and teacher. I highly
recommend him to guitar students of all levels of learning.
Dorothy M., Cambridge MA
| Paul has a knack for spotting strengths and weaknesses and then
tailoring his lessons to fit a student. He is also really good at providing
motivation in the right form at the right time.
Lee Sylvestre, Hartford CT
Paul is the best teacher I have ever had: patient, knowledgeable, and
kind. Everyone should have a teacher like that.
Misha Rutman, Somerville MA
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