Effective Music Learning and Teaching Strategies

Welcome to a place where we explore effective music learning and teaching strategies. After taking lessons from childhood through college and after teaching private piano and guitar for over 30 years, T. H. Gillespie shares from his store of knowledge and experience.

The following posts will discuss issues, techniques, and methods focused on piano, guitar, and bass. We will cover issues in music learning and teaching strategies in general, but also ongoing issues students and parents face when taking private lessons.

You are invited to participate! Feel free to share comments and respond to blog posts. And you may have questions about music in general or about your specific situation. We welcome your questions and comments.


Staccato in music is defined as a way of playing notes in a short, abrupt manner that keeps notes separated from each other (as opposed to legato, which means to play notes in a smooth, connected manner).  Just a quick glance through the internet, however,… Continue reading


GMS students and parents: don’t forget GMS free lesson offers! 1. FREE FIRST LESSON: Your first lesson at GMS is free. This gives us a chance to get to know each other. You are under no obligation to come back. 2. FREE LESSON FOR REFERRAL:… Continue reading


A warm welcome to new GMS students: Alex O. (jazz and classical piano), Matthew O. (piano), Max M. (guitar), Evelyn M. (piano), James G. (guitar), James D (guitar), Erin A. (guitar).  Everyone’s off to a great start and high hopes!  All the best as you… Continue reading

GMS Instructor T. H. Gillespie to perform on St. Patrick’s Day

GMS instructor T. H. Gillespie will be performing with his Irish band (The Irish Airs) downtown Indianapolis on St. Patrick’s Day (Mon, Mar 17), from noon-4pm at the Rathskellar…then again that evening from 6-10pm at the Claddagh Irish Restaurant on 96th st (east of Keystone… Continue reading


Congratulations to GMS student Demitri P. on his recent gold win at ISSMA in classical piano. Demitri, a 6th grader from Fishers, IN, has been taking piano lessons for only a year.  He entered LEVEL 5 and prepared Bach’s Minuet in G Major, which he… Continue reading

Does the Mozart Effect Work: Fact or Fiction?

For several years (if not decades) the issue of the benefits of music have been bandied about.  I wrote a letter to the editor (The Indianapolis Star) several years ago that touted the benefits of music (if you’re interested, you can look it up: Sunday,… Continue reading


A common attitude toward atonal music is that it is just random noise and should not be considered legitimate art music.  Many believe similarly about any music that is highly dissonant (atonality and dissonance may have similarities, but they are not the same).  So…what about… Continue reading

What Is The Best Way To Tune A Guitar?

One of the most common questions my guitar students (and their parents) ask is, “What is the best way to tune a guitar?” This should be an easy question to answer.  But…you guessed it…it’s not. Several factors can have substantial effect on tuning a guitar…and… Continue reading

Digital Piano vs Acoustic Piano: Which Is Better?

Over the years, many parents and students have asked me this question: Which is better and more practical for practicing piano, a digital piano or an acoustic piano?  What are the pros and cons of playing digital piano vs acoustic piano?  Some would phrase it… Continue reading

Is Piano Or Guitar Easier To Learn?

Is Piano or Guitar Easier

As I teach piano and guitar (sometimes both for the same students), I get this question often: Is piano or guitar easier to learn?  Should I learn piano or guitar? …or…Which instrument should I start on? This is not an easy question to answer (but,… Continue reading