I had just bought my first guitar and I looked online for help but to no avail, they didn’t really help as I didn’t know where to start. So then I looked for guitar lessons and found Kevin Downing’s Guitar School (KDGS). I have been getting lessons for a few years now.
Taking lessons with KDGS really made my guitar learning seamless as they really break concepts down and explain it to you in a way that’s easy to understand. They teach you how to learn. I also like the little tips here and there you get from these lessons that books don’t do, as books or online lessons are not interactive like being in person. I also knew that if I self-teach myself, the process will be frustrating and most likely would have formed bad habits.
I have come from not knowing one end of the guitar to the other to a level I thought not possible at first. When I first came to the school I did not expect to have so much fun learning music and expressing myself through the guitar.
KDGS has a slogan “more than just guitar lessons” on the school sign and I agree with it so much as Kevin, while being an awesome teacher, he is also like a mentor to me and same to the other teachers at the school, as they make the process of learning guitar so much fun and I’m glad I’m on this journey.
If you want to get really improve your skills on guitar, don’t procrastinate like I did and just give Kevin a call asap and he will make the process of learning the guitar seamless like a straight line.
Kevin's school is my first teacher and I am sure will be my only guitar teachers in my life. What I learnt after taking lessons was that guitar is not about just learning a few easy chords, and you can’t do it trying to teach yourself. They also taught me how important muscle memory is and the fact you can’t perform chords or solos over night, but by practicing the right way will help you achieve that quickly. I have improved so much it is amazing.
If I have to pick the one thing that has helped the most, I would say it is the scientific method of practicing. Kevin's team have their own way to help me and other students to practice every day. It is a HUGE benefit!
The more lessons I have the more I feel that they are not only great guitar teachers but most importantly are a mentor or a best friend to me, and care about achieving my music dreams. They encourage me all the time in every way, which makes me improve quickly so I do have a good chance to make my dream come true. Same as Joella, she is so nice and patient! She makes it easy for me when it comes to learning new skills. I mean her explanation always enlightens me in one second, even though English is not my first language, she and Kevin always try their best to explain everything that makes me confused. I really appreciate that!
No matter what you want to be, a professional guitarist or someone who can play guitar and sing your favourite songs, Kevin, Joella and the crew will help you create your own custom practicing plan and make sure you achieve whatever you want. Come to Kevin's school, enjoy playing guitar, don’t just be a guitar owner.
I wanted to learn with someone that focused on all styles of guitar as I had no idea what style I wanted to play. A person we know who had lessons with Kevin said he was "the best teacher in Palmerston North (possibly NZ)." I've started as I mean to go on - with the best!
I have been getting lessons for over a year and a half now, had never played the guitar before, but had always wanted to. I had the perception that the guitar was "easy" to learn, but whenever I picked it up it felt awkward and not natural so I assumed I wouldn't be any good!
The lessons have helped undo all the perceptions I had about learning the guitar. The guitar is like any other musical instrument so I would not say it is as "easy" as picking it up and just playing. Also, you don't have to be a "natural" to learn. I've learnt that ANYONE can play the guitar if they practise regularly, play slowly, take their time to learn properly, ask for help, contribute to the forum, get involved in jam sessions, etc., and have fun! You just have to put in the time and effort, and have some commitment and dedication.
My playing has improved a hundred fold! But the single thing that has helped the most is my self-belief - that has improved immensely. While learning anything new, there are moments of frustration, but Kevin and the Dream Team at the school help you work through that to keep you moving forward
After talking to other students and hearing their musical journey to play the guitar, I am so glad I came across Kevin's school first as he has helped me to just focus on learning to play. Getting them from the start means I don't have any bad habits to unlearn, and it is nice to do something for myself that is creative and a lot of fun!
If you are considering taking lessons with Kevin Downing's Guitar School but not sure yet, I say this – Get on the phone and "Just do it" as the Nike ad says.
I chose to take lessons with Kevin's school because of their clear passion, successful teaching record, and excellent qualifications. I have been having lessons in person with him for just over 6 months now.
I tried to teach myself from online lessons but it was far too unmanageable and difficult for a beginner, and it was very difficult to have the motivation to continue when progress seemed very slow.
Since starting lessons my playing has improved dramatically. They give me different activities to keep my interest up while I'm still learning the chords.
One of the things I have learnt the most is about technique - there are many tricks and tips that I was unaware of. The teachers have helped me to weave these into the learning of the chords so that they happen naturally as I learn and I won't have to rectify mistakes later.
I still have a long way to go until I am the player that I want to be, but I will be sticking with it because it's fun, challenging and very satisfying.
A friend of mine told me about Kevin's school. I was a bit nervous even enquiring as I didn’t think I was a “serious player” just wanted to have a go. So after that first call Kevin told me he was planning an absolute beginner course for 5 weeks. It seemed just the right entry level for someone who had no knowledge but was inspired by some friends in a band to give it a go. When I say I had no knowledge I did take lessons for classical guitar, but they didn’t last long as I got bored with the approach. I have now been with Kevin's school for nearly five years.
I have just completed my first public solo on stage with the 101 Lab Band. What a fantastic feeling, and a great goal that I have achieved – much more than the original “I’d like to be able to play with others” that I set for myself five years ago, thinking I’ll give it a year!
I now play all types of chords, triads, licks, riffs and read music! If this sounds daunting the most important lesson that Kevin and the others teach is do a little bit each day and have a goal. I have also attended many workshops, where I’ve met world renowned guitarists who have talked about their own experiences and opened up some tricks of the trade. These sessions always provide me something to think about and strive for.
Playing in the 101 Lab Band has been an amazing experience, with a great bunch of people. The confidence, support and knowledge gained has really helped me, but for an average bloke like me to actually perform at a paying concert- Wow!
The guitar is a complex instrument and requires a chunk of your time…………….then one day, someone calls you a musician, and you think…. yeah!
My Dad had bought Kevin’s book The Secrets of Successful Practicing and I had read it to before contacting him. I was looking for a teacher that was experienced, and had a plan, rather than just turning up and doing whatever they felt like doing each lesson. I’ve had two previous teachers. One for about seven lessons, and one for about three. The only problem was they never went anywhere. Knowing what I know now I realise I didn’t have a chance of getting any value out of what they were teaching me.
So I was basically frustrated and stuck not getting any better, feeling like I wanted to ‘get’ music but having no idea how to do that.
Since starting with Kevin's guitar school a year ago, I know the basics all the way up to where I am currently. That means I feel way more comfortable with where I am at, I’m not trying to move ahead too fast. I’ve got a really structured practice plan which is awesome. Our lessons are really well structured too so I know that there is a plan in motion, even if I can’t see all the parts yet. They also treat you like you are a musician, I think that’s really important. You learn about how musicians do things, and why.
I now feel like I’m miles ahead of where I was a year ago. I’ve come from tinkering about with a few chords, to really understanding what I’m playing. In the past I was just rote learning what notes to play – now I have a real sense that I am starting to understand things like rhythm and timing. The most valuable thing I have learnt is learning how and what to practice.
Kevin’s lessons are totally worth it, and if you want to develop a lifelong musical habit then get started now.
I found out about Kevin's school through my old guitar teacher. She put me onto him because she saw that he could take me in the best direction, and I have been taking lessons for 12 months now.
I have always had trouble with feeling motivated to practise, and my biggest obstacle was not knowing how to make practise productive, enjoyable, and something I would want to do every day.
I have improved significantly since taking lessons because they have given me the tools I need for practising with focus and efficiency. I have learned how to motivate myself, and now have an effective and consistent practise routine.
I’ve made more improvement in the first 6 months than I have in the last several years. I am a better sight reader and have a much better understanding of the fret-board now.
The things that have helped the most have been learning about different voicings of chords, blues progressions, and going over everything in 12 keys.
Not only have I benefited immensely from the lessons and the progress I’ve made, but the lessons are the highlight of my week. I would highly recommend taking lessons with Kevin's school. They are intuitive teachers who provide great mentorship.
I had a look at Kevin’s website and thought “this guy knows what he is talking about”, so I decided to take lessons with his school because I felt lost as to what to learn next, and very frustrated with my slow progress. I had got into a lot of bad habits without realising it, like hitting too many strings when strumming chords, and I couldn’t play in time to save myself. Learning off YouTube wasn’t working, and learning from a couple of mates wasn’t working either. It was a very frustrating time.
Kevin and his team have shown me some amazing learning techniques that are so easy to follow and lessons are great fun, not boring like learning from a website or some second rate teacher. I have learnt more in the past 8 weeks than in the last year and a half. My chords sound amazing now, my timing has improved immensely, and I have been amazed at how much better my guitar playing sounds.
The single thing in the lessons that has helped most is they took me back to basics and showed what I should have learnt from the start, which is their “play slower, learn faster” approach.
I wish I had started with Kevin’s Guitar School at the start, and not wasted the last eight years on the internet trying to teach myself. After only 4 weeks with Kevin I went over to my parents for the weekend and started to play what I’d been learning and after two bars my step Mother (who is very musical) stopped me and said “Wow, what a difference having a teacher like Kevin has made”.
If you really want to learn guitar properly, then GO FOR IT. Having lessons with Kevin's Guitar School is the best way forward, I promise you won’t regret it.
My previous teacher said to me that to take my bass playing up to the next level I need to transfer to Kevin's Guitar School, and now have had lessons with them in person for around 12 months.
I was a little nervous at the start because I thought I couldn’t play well enough. But when I started learning, my nervousness disappeared, my practice became much easier, and I was able to move through practice tasks a lot quicker. They have taught me a lot about how to improve my bass playing fast.
Working with Kevin's school has been a pleasure. I am now able to play songs in time, learn new songs faster, and apply my playing skills a lot better than before. I have really improved a lot – the transition is phenomenal.
The thing that stands out the most is that they have helped me how to practice better and taught me how not to make many mistakes. They are such a great teachers and have helped me become a better player all round really.
Playing in the Jam Session group is totally awesome. I enjoy playing with other people in a group because it helps me become a better player and it makes me feel more confident about being in a band, and hopefully one day I can join his 101 Lab Band.
If you’re considering learning bass or guitar, learn with Kevin's school I can say he will help you to become a better player fast and is always keen to help you if you are a beginner or if you want to improve your playing skills. Kevin and the team will help you prove to yourself you can be the guitar or bass player you always wanted to be.
After reading Kevin’s book The Secrets of Successful Practicing I decided I wanted to get cracking with the correct way of playing. I didn’t want to waste time and money learning with someone who couldn’t help me establish the fundamentals of the guitar and music theory. I’m quite a stickler for correct ways of ‘training’ no matter whether it’s guitar, work or sport. So after talking with Kevin I knew I was in good hands, so I moved to Palmerston North to study with his school for the first 2 years. I do my guitar lessons on Skype now and love them very much, now that I have shifted back to Christchurch.
I had a teacher briefly when I first wanted to learn, but stopped going to him as I got disheartened. At first I thought it was me, but later found out it was because of his bad teaching methods. I stopped playing for about 5 years after that frustrating experience. My advice – pick your teacher very carefully!!
After 4 years, Kevin has helped my playing like I can’t believe. He is shaping me into becoming an actual pro level player, rather than a self-taught or hobbyist player. My technique is efficient and clean, I can read music charts, improvise solos, and I feel that in a few years time I will be able to fulfil my dream of playing with the pros and having a career in music.
Kevin’s helping me with my lack of confidence has been crucial, he doesn’t seem to focus on it, but it just happens as a result of the way he teaches. I am never overwhelmed with the thought of not being able to do something and he has every confidence in me that I can do it.
This is my first year in the Lab Band so I fly up from Christchurch for rehearsals. It is great to play in a band so unique and everyone is so welcoming. When I began with the band I was shy and very nervous as I’ve never played in a band before, but now I feel really at home.
I really wish I had found Kevin's school when I first wanted to learn guitar as I could be playing with Eric Clapton by now (jokes!). My advice – Don’t hesitate to learn with Kevin's school if you are serious about forging a career with the guitar. If you’re just wanting to learn your favourite songs then they’ll teach you that too. You also may just find you become a highly skilled guitar player along the way!
Kev, I just can’t say a big enough THANK YOU!!!!
I enjoyed reading Kevin’s articles in NZ Musician Magazine, plus I had read his book, The Secrets of Successful Practicing, so after checking out his website, thought I’d give him a call.
I’ve been playing guitar for years without a true understanding of music as a musician and felt like I was getting nowhere and constantly hitting a wall and instead of looking for help to get through it, would just give up! I realised that in order to become a truly professional musician around other professional musicians, I needed to learn like any professional, and seek out a professional for that, which of course is Kevin to a tee!
I’ve been studying music under Kevin’s guidance now for almost a year now, but before that I had a couple of teachers in the past, but never felt like there was a structure or a plan, or that they really had a deep knowledge of not just guitar but of music and being a musician. So I quickly lost interest, wasn’t challenged and wasn’t growing.
With Kevin’s instruction I have a greater knowledge of written music (not tab!!) and can relate that to a growing knowledge of the fretboard and guitar; I think about music in a totally different way now, I’ve gone from being illiterate to functional with music and not just as a guitarist, I listen to music differently, I play 100% more effectively and with a greater sense of what I’m doing and where I’m going with a tune than ever before. I feel challenged at times, but I get great guidance from Kevin and it’s a challenge that I enjoy!
I live in Tauranga and learn via Skype, but won’t deny that it would be excellent to be there face to face as we have a good laugh during lessons too. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t get the face to face hands on type of detail, but that’s never been an issue! I can communicate no worries with Kevin via Skype. Kevin can talk me through anything, and demonstrate on the guitar as well, and as my knowledge of the language of music grows, we are able to talk it out better and better as time goes on
There is no real single thing that sticks out that has improved my playing as he covers so many things that are important, but if there was one, it would start with learning to read and understand music theory like a musician, then a guitarist. Kevin has also helped and keeps helping with structure in my approach to playing and practicing which was completely missing before, and his advice is immediately practical and applicable.
I attended the Jazz Festival in Palmerston North and part of that was a full day workshop set up by Kevin that was great! It was great to meet other guitarists, talk music and get some ideas and tips from Kevin and the other presenters, great day!
I was probably like most guitarists and stuck in a rut of endless versions of tab and trying to memorise too much music and never being able to play anything from scratch effectively but yet trying to play everything, and not knowing how to relate to other musicians let alone grow my own musical capability, Kevin has helped me turn all that around, he is easy to work with and an extremely knowledgeable musician and teacher, I’ve never seen anyone take out so much information from a piece of music in my life!! I’m glad I’ve taken the step to become one of his students, he is a great mentor! If you want to get lessons with Kevin I say don’t wait, the sooner you get started the sooner you will progress!!
Learning to play guitar was something that I had been thinking about for a year a while. Kevin has been my teacher for the last four years, and when I started I couldn’t play a note, a chord, or read music. I was an absolute beginner, but that has changed quickly.
I do like the one on one/duo class format as you still get the opportunity to have one on one time with Kevin and it also gives you the opportunity to play with someone else with similar ability and you can both see the improvements in each other’s playing. With Kevin being there we have the chance to play songs as a trio which adds to the learning environment.
The thing I have learnt the most is breaking the music or song down into small pieces to play at a time, then after a while you can piece these bits together and play the song with confidence.
The workshops are very good to. The Pedals Workshop was very informative and interesting, and for a beginner it gave me a good insight into the different sounds you can create.
If you are thinking about playing guitar and prepared to devote some time to practice, I am sure you will do well with Kevin. At times I have found the lessons challenging, but with Kevin’s patience and guidance I’ve been able to move through the lessons with ease and see big improvements in my playing.
My mother told me about Kevin and his “fast” way of learning all your favourite songs, so I decided to join the school.
I have been having lessons for a year and a half now, and I just didn’t think I would be able to learn so many things in so little time.
I have been studying with Kevin's guitar school for about 5-6 years, and before that was previously self-taught. Being self-taught was a waste of time as I can now read music competently, have significantly increased my understanding and knowledge of music, have learnt many musicianship skills (too many to mention here), have broadened my tastes into different forms of music, can play bass & guitar competently to perform, and have connected with many talented musicians both local and international that otherwise I would not have met.
I enjoy the duo lesson format as you can learn from the skills of your partner, have fun playing together and make friendships and contacts in the music community. Kevin makes sure you learn properly. He’s not satisfied with near enough and ensures that you develop the skills required to play it right. He’s always patient and thorough and lets you learn at your own pace.
I recently attended a song writing workshop with renown songwriter Charlotte Yates that Kevin organized. I totally enjoyed it and surprised myself that I could come up with the lyrics for a song over the duration of that seminar!
The lessons with Kevin have been time and money well spent and I plan to continue for the foreseeable future. If you are planning on getting lessons with Kevin, I’m sure you will get a lot out of them to.
My three older brothers all learned from Kevin when they were at high school. My mum is also quite involved in the music scene around town – she was Kevin’s music professor at university. When I told her I was thinking about learning the guitar she mentioned Kevin’s name straight away.
Last year when I was at teachers college I begun to realise that the guitar was an instrument I really enjoyed but also found that I wasn’t going to get any further without having lessons. Now that I am a teacher it has become a wonderful tool to use in the classroom for daily sing-along’s with the class as well as for school concerts and assemblies etc. I also love the way my brothers will bring out their guitars on family occasions, and how the music brings us all together.
I’ve had lessons with Kevin's school for almost two years and can say it’s been the best money I’ve spent all year. I feel more confident and also enjoy playing it more than I ever did.
The biggest thing I have learned is the belief in myself and having the confidence to keep trying. Kevin really motivates me to keep at it and to get it right, and he constantly reminds me that the hard work will pay off. I can already tell that it is.
The duo lessons are great because it provides the perfect balance of individual work as well as putting your new knowledge into practise under pressure. Kevin is able to teach whatever you’re ready for and give you the feedback you need. It is also great being able to play with others because the guitar is such a social instrument that it is important to have the confidence to perform with others.
Kevin is very thorough in teaching the correct technique and making sure you do things correctly rather than racing through. After having played the guitar on my own for so long this has been the hardest thing for me because I’ve really had to go back a number of steps and by doing so have discovered how much there is to learn!
Being a teacher myself, I can tell that Kevin puts a lot of effort in to helping his students. He is passionate about the guitar. This passion helps me feel motivated and keeps me working hard. He treats me like an individual and teaches me what I am ready for, not just what’s next on the agenda. I really like this about the lessons because there is a clear direction.
If I think back to the first day of school this year right before I started lessons, I was so nervous and pretty terrible playing the guitar with my class. Some of the children even laughed at me which was a big confidence knocker! Nearly a year on I was able to play 8 songs on the guitar for our end of year prize giving in front of a large audience and I absolutely loved it! I can’t wait for more opportunities to play my guitar with and for others!
My friend Elliot, who also studies with Kevin's guitar school, loves it and told me about him, because I wanted to further my abilities and take my learning to the next level. I’ve had lessons with the school for around 9 months now, but was self-taught before that and getting nowhere.
Taking lessons has helped improve in many areas and now I find that I’m able to play cool guitar riffs of my favourite songs, taking things slowly when learning new stuff, and my music reading has also improved a lot to, which makes learning new things quicker.
Kevin’s unique duo teaching format has been great because it gives me an opportunity to play with other guitarists and is good fun to.
If you are thinking of signing on with Kevin's guitar school I would say, “Do it – because you will be surprised at what you can learn and how quickly your guitar skills will improve”.
At first I had to wait to get into guitar lessons with Kevin, but the wait was worth it. He came recommended from other players I knew, as well as my last teacher who shifted overseas. At the moment I have been having lessons with his school for around two years now.
The lessons have helped me with very basic intuitive knowledge and the psychology of practising in a proper fashion so I can advance quickly. I also like his triadic approach to rhythm playing, and the duo teaching/learning approach of which I am very comfortable.
If you are thinking of taking lessons with KD Guitar School they are well worth it, but you better get on the phone now and hopefully you won’t have to wait like I did.
After having seen how my son Brendan (see his testimonial below) progressed under Kevin’s guitar school tutoring I decided that I could really benefit from the same expert tuition. I have now been having guitar lessons with them for a little over two years.
I was making very slow progress trying to learn by myself from books, videos, etc, but Kevin’s teaching method has made it much easier to learn new concepts about guitar playing and stopped me from adopting any bad habits. I think learning bar chords and how to use them has been the biggest thing that has helped me so far.
I quite like the duo lesson format because it allows you to jam, compare ideas and measure your progress against that of your fellow pupil.
The Introduction to Effects Pedals seminar was really good in that I was able to learn how to set my pedals up to make them sound nice. I can’t wait to attend some of the other seminars and workshops.
If you have the opportunity to get lessons from Kevin's guitar school you would be committing a crime to turn them down.
I decided to take lessons from Kevin's school because he came across as professional and experienced and I was looking for a teacher that obviously showed a huge love and passion for guitar, which he does. Kevin is my first ever guitar teacher and I have had lessons now for two months. During that time he has taught me a lot about the instrument itself, and taken me from being a complete beginner guitar player to be able to play a number of my favourite songs.
The single thing that has helped me the most is Kevin teaching me about having patience with the music learning process. I didn’t get the chance to perform, but it is a great idea to gain confidence playing in front of other people and am looking forward to doing them soon.
I can tell you Kevin is very supportive, makes you feel welcome, and his teaching methods are excellent. He has taught me a lot about the guitar and music in such a short space of time.
I have been having lessons with Kevin for about 4 years and he is the only guitar teacher I have ever had. He has given me a good grounding in the basics of theory and playing the guitar – from there I have progressed on to more complicated material. Kevin has also suggested how to set up my practice schedule to maximise my learning time.
I think the duo/class format works well. At the end of the lesson there is a chance to play along with both Kevin and the other student which is great for learning how to keep time with other players and gives me the opportunity to improvise solos over the top of live rhythm parts.
The thing that I have learnt the most is probably the ability to read music, this allows me to understand the material and gives me the opportunity to learn and practice at my own pace at home.
I think if you are serious about wanting to play the guitar and are willing to put in some time and effort, then Kevin would be the best possible choice of teacher for you.
I chose to take guitar lessons because it was an activity that was quite foreign to me and it interested me. Up until that point all I had done was sport 24/7 but playing the guitar was a nice change and provided me with a different sort of a challenge.
I’ve had lessons with Kevin's guitar school for nearly two years now. One thing that I have gotten out of Kevin’s lessons is they have extended my musical interests. He has taught me some older rock songs which I would never have listened to had I been on my own.
The lessons have been great but the single thing that has helped the most is he taught me the basics and the right way to do them right from the start, which makes for a lot faster and easier playing of the more complicated songs once you get there.
To anyone considering taking up the guitar, I say challenge yourself because you can’t take anything positive out of regrets. I was in that same boat not long ago and have thoroughly enjoyed the guitar lessons.
I started going to KD's Guitar School for lessons to further my skills and knowledge after my previous teacher recommended him.
I have been having lessons with him for around 4 years and he has helped me take the knowledge and skills and apply them more to my own playing. In the past I learnt many songs, etc, but I would forget them because I wasn’t taking licks, riffs, and other ideas out of the songs and applying them to my own songs and solos.
I have also found the class/duo format great as it allows you to share different ideas and improvise more. The workshops are great to – I have attended the pedal workshop and the jazz guitar one taken by Larry Koonse.
I used to play in the 101 Lab band and I improved my playing in many ways. It increased my improvising skills, taught me how to relate to other instruments in the band like the drums and bass but most of all in increased my confidence. From there I have moved on to playing my own gigs.
If you are thinking of taking lessons with Kevin I say “Do it! You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain!”
I took lessons with Kevin firstly because of my previous teacher’s recommendation. The lessons with this teacher were going well, but after a certain amount of time she thought that Kevin would be better able to help me with the bass in the future, so I switched teachers. I had also tried to learn on my own for a period, but that didn’t work as I found I needed lessons with a good teacher to keep things on track.
I’ve had lessons with Kevin for almost a year now and my playing has improved immensely during that time. I feel a lot more confident reading music and I’ve had the opportunity to get better at playing with other people. As a bass player, I really like having a guitar player in my lesson because it’s a lot of fun playing with someone else and it means that I’ll have experience playing with others if I want to join a band in the future. I have also learnt that keeping good time and rhythm throughout the songs is very important which initially didn’t come naturally!
Kevin makes the lessons fun and varied, while also helping you to progress your skills at a good pace. You’re in very good hands with Kevin.
I decided to take the lessons with Kevin's guitar school because I wished to go further with guitar and heard he was a brilliant guitar teacher.
I had previously taken lessons with another teacher, but stopped after a year as I had reached my potential in those lessons. I found that my progress with my old teacher was slow and the lessons were boring. After that I tried to teach myself at home, but what I was learning was incorrect and I was teaching myself bad habits.
I have been taking lessons with the school for over four months now and I have improved a considerable amount for the amount of lessons I have taken. He has taught me how to read music in different ways and also learning many new techniques and strategies has helped. I think the ability to read and understand music properly is the single biggest thing that has helped me.
If you are thinking of taking lessons with Kevin I would say “These lessons are well worth the price and you will benefit greatly from the lessons – more than you can ever imagine.”
With my last teacher I used to just give up and not practice because I struggled with the way he was teaching it, but now I have learnt that he was teaching me things that were wrong.
After he left, I decided I wanted a better quality of teacher and Kevin came recommended to us. After one year with Kevin's guitar school I have improved 110%, I can now read notes, I enjoy practising, and I am learning so much. After a little hesitation, I have found that reading notes is the single biggest thing that has helped me the most.
I am glad I learn guitar with Kevin. If you are unsure, I say go to Kevin because he has lots of experience, he makes it easy to understand, and gives you lots of praise.
Jason Just – guitar teacher in Wellington
Taking lessons with Kevin has in one word given me: Freedom. Under Kevin’s tutelage I have learned how to play confidently without being mired in an academic marshland and he’s helped me to not overplay. Lessons have opened my mind to styles of music I never knew or didn’t like and to constantly seek new and inventive ways to be creative.
The single thing that has helped the most is discipline. Regular practise leads to success. Learning music is a slow but rewarding journey and it requires a daily application to achieve goals.
I have attended Kevin’s Effects and Amplifier seminar, which filled in the holes of the simplicity and the touchiness of electronic enhancers. Kevin is an excellent communicator in groups large and small.
I had the fortunate opportunity to be invited to play in the first Lab Band for a while a long time ago, and while it was a dauntingly professional prospect it was highly enjoyable and memorable, being quite a different experience than any band situation.
Kevin has studied knowledge not just of the guitar, but also of business and psychology. Application of that knowledge passed on has affected all aspects of my career and personal life in a positive and beneficial way. Kevin’s a world-class teacher, mentor and friend.
If you are frustrated with your playing and have tried all the books, all the videos, all the teachers, endless different YouTube versions of the same song, and are truly serious about wanting to improve, you’d be lucky to find a better educator in New Zealand, let alone the world.
I have been going to Kevin for 15 months, he was recommended by my previous teacher who said he could further my skills as she was unable to take me to the next level.
It was frustrating being unable to play to the standard to which I wanted, and Kevin has showed me the correct movements, ways to negotiate the guitar neck, chords and which fingers to use. I have improved immensely in all areas.
I think the single thing about the lessons with Kevin that has helped the most is being able to play without looking at the strings, frets, and fingers. I am very pleased with my progress, and hopefully one day will be good enough to play in the 101 Lab Band!
Kevin is very professional, has an easy manner in teaching you the techniques, and teaches you how to have fun with your guitar.
I have had lessons with Kevin for four years now in person. I found him through a family member and decided to take lessons with him because he has a known reputation as the best guitar teacher around. Other teachers I had before Kevin seemed uninterested in teaching crucial musical elements which hindered my progress as a musician and bass guitarist.
Before I started taking lessons with Kevin I found learning songs to be difficult and my sight reading ability was poor, so the lessons have improved my playing immensely. He has taught me both to read music to a high standard and with a good technique, making everything a lot easier.
Probably the ability to sight read has benefitted me the most, due to this I have been able to play in many different types of ensembles and have been able to expand my musical interests.
I have attended a song writing seminar and a rhythm section seminar which have both been of huge value. Talking to a song writer about the steps they go through to write a song showed me both how to start and where I was going wrong. While the rhythm section seminar was really useful in explaining the role of each of the instrument in a rhythm section and provided excellent tips when playing with other people.
Perhaps the defining factor with Kevin is that he doesn’t just teach you to be a guitarist/bass guitarist he teaches you to be a musician, something which I think is often overlooked by many guitar tutors these days and really limits your ability to play with other people.
I have known Kevin for over 20 years and have been going to him for fun for most of that time. I say fun as opposed to lessons as it is fun.
Kevin’s teaching style is so relaxed that you don’t even know you are learning. He is approachable, easy to get on with, and is equally at home with a new learner or a seasoned pro. I intend to carry on with my lessons because while I am only an amateur Kevin makes you feel and play like a professional.
I decided to take lessons with Kevin's guitar school after reading his book The Secrets of Successful Practicing. I wanted to start taking my music seriously, and after I read his practising book I knew he was the right teacher for me.
I had a teacher at school, but I wasn’t learning much and I really wanted to learn how to read music notation. The best thing about Kevin’s lessons is he motivates me to go further every week and the speed of the lessons are not too fast or slow. All of his tips on playing are some of the best advice I have ever had.
I regret not going to him earlier, you will not regret it either!
I found out about Kevin through his guitar column in the ‘NZ Musician’ magazine and wanted to get ‘in person’ guitar lessons from the most professional guitar teacher I could find. I had lessons with another teacher, but left because I could not study the genre of music that I liked.
Taking lessons from Kevin has improved my playing immeasurably! I can now play many other people’s songs and compositions, and my own. I have improved through my lessons to the point where I am happy to admit to others that “I can now play the guitar!”
I play in The 101 Lab Band and it is essential ‘on the job training’. The people in the band are a vibrant mix of musicians and individuals. While the band is hard work, it is also fun and social!!! The band also galvanizes your playing! I have also been to some of the great workshops and seminars he puts on, including some with world-renown musicians
Kevin is a supportive teacher, never hurtful/critical, is reliable, consistent, thorough, and has depth of both theoretical and practical guitar practice. He is professional, a true teacher, likes what he does and above all else is kind. He supports all music genres.
If you are considering taking lessons – Hope and pray that Kevin has a vacancy for you!
I heard about Kevin through one of his long-time student’s and have been having lessons for 10 months now. I have had many teachers in the past, but felt like I wasn’t really learning the right stuff, wasn’t learning enough theory, and wanted to read music notation. I can now sight read basic music and understand a lot of what I play more. It’s great so far I feel like I’m learning the guitar the way it should be taught.
One of the things that helped the most is that after learning music from Kevin for just a few months I was able to play guitar for the band in a local Operatic Society production “Slice of Saturday Night”. The thing that has helped the most is learning to read music and filling in all the gaps of things I missed out on with my previous teachers.
Learning guitar and the theory behind it properly is very rewarding, so get in with Kevin now and learn how to do it.
I started learning guitar with Kevin from the beginning and have had lessons for just over one year now. Nearly all of the lessons in person, but we have had a few lessons over the internet while I was overseas.
I’ve always wanted to play the guitar and now I am actually doing it. It is great to have a hobby and have something different to do after work (practice!!). I really enjoy the lessons with Kevin. I like how he mixes songs and theory, so it gives me the extra incentive to practice.
In one year Kevin has taught me pretty much most of the chords, notes, and I can already play many songs that I love. I also like the fact that I can choose the songs I want to play, so I don’t get stuck into practicing songs that I don’t like.
I attended the beginner’s pedal seminar a month ago, and really enjoyed it. I am about to buy my first pedal and it was good to learn about the different types of pedals and effects and be able to choose the best type of pedal as a start.
Kevin is a fantastic teacher, very knowledgeable and talented so don’t waste another minute, book your lesson!! He has loads of experience teaching guitar and is very patient.
Someone told me about Kevin and I have been having lessons with him for many years now. I decided to take them because he emphasised reading and theory in the modern music context. I had a classical guitar teacher before Kevin and had completed Grade 8 Trinity College, but wanted to continue playing more in the blues and jazz direction.
Kevin’s lessons have helped give me technique in the modern context. For example, the alternate picking technique has been of huge benefit in both rhythm, timing, and soloing. I am also getting lots out of the soloing training, but the thing that has helped the most is being able to read modern charts. The workshops with Danny Caron and Bruce Foreman were inspiring to.
Playing in the Lab Band has definitely improved my playing and again the reading of modern jazz charts has improved my playing enormously. It is also great to play with others.
If there is there something I can say to someone who is considering taking lessons with Kevin but is not sure yet – “Don’t hesitate”.
– Hamilton County Bluegrass Band
Graham has performed on numerous TV and radio shows and some of the largest music venues across the globe, including the Grand Ole Opry. He has also performed with some of the biggest names in country and bluegrass music like legends Bill Monroe, Tex Morton, and Slim Dusty to name a few.
Graham is also a sought after teacher of banjo, guitar, and mandolin and was already an advanced player when he sought out my advice and expertise. See his enlightening video testimonial below to see what value he has got out of his lessons with me.
“The lessons with Kevin have met all my goals plus more and have helped me in many ways with my professional career. Teachers like Kevin are rare on a global scale. I like the way he breaks complicated things down and makes them easy to understand, which only comes from years of experience.”
I have been going to lessons with Kevin for a while now. The only music teacher before Kevin was the high school trumpet teacher many years ago. Looking back I think I would have continued with the trumpet if the teacher had half as much enthusiasm that Kevin has.
If I had tried to teach myself I am sure that the guitar would have ended up in the cupboard very quickly. In my view having well structured lessons with a professional teacher like Kevin is essential if you want to master the guitar.
From not knowing one end of a guitar from the other to being able to now play and read quite advanced music is a dream come true for me. With every lesson with Kevin I gain another piece of the seemingly vast music jigsaw puzzle. The thing that has helped the most is with Kevin you not only gain the knowledge and develop the skills to play the guitar but you also get help and advice on how to use that skill and knowledge to bring out the best in your playing.
Being involved with Kevin has enabled me to have the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops with some of the great guitarists in the music industry. Also, the 101 Lab Band is a tremendous concept and gives you the opportunity to play with other guitarists. From the various times that I have been in the band I have found that it is a tremendous avenue for me in helping me gain confidence in not only my playing but also singing in front of an audience. I am now playing in a band doing some gigs and enjoying every moment.
Kevin is not only a great teacher but also becomes your coach, mentor and friend who has a passionate interest in helping you not only reach but exceed your musical ambitions. If you are really serious about learning the guitar then you need to get in touch with Kevin like I did so many years ago. I can guarantee that you’ll have no regrets.
– singer, songwriter, recording artist.
I have had about ten years of tuition from Kevin at different times during twenty-two years playing guitar. My very first lessons were with another teacher, which I found very useful, but it was part of a short series of group lessons and there was no opportunity to have follow-up lessons afterward. Later I had several lessons from local teacher Graham Lovejoy through my high school and suggested I contact Kevin for further development.
At fifteen years of age I was a predominantly self taught player and knew that I needed to improve my guitar technique. Kevin was recommended to me as a teacher who could help me. Later on in my playing career I decided that I needed to also improve my musical, chord theory, improvising and melody composition knowledge and I chose Kevin to assist me in achieving those more advanced aims.
Kevin has helped me think about what I am doing while I’m playing, he has guided me to become a more careful and considered musician. When I play with other guitarists I notice few can play both by ear and using music, improvise as well as read music, I believe my lessons with Kevin have helped me develop these skills.
Education is very important if you want to be a good musician and Kevin knows the process involved to take your playing from a beginner to an expert level.
Kevin was recommended as one of the best guitar teachers to me and I was at a point where I needed more focused guitar tuition to further my skills. I felt that I had to take this step if I wanted to get anywhere with learning the guitar.
I have been taking lessons with Kevin for three years now, but I had multiple teachers before I joined Kevin. I started playing guitar at an early age at another local tuition company with large group tuition, needless to say the teachers were sporadic in their teaching and over the years I was there I received teachings from many different teachers in many different classes. My guitar playing was suffering for it and at times I felt that the point was reached where I should just give it up. However, I liked the instrument too much to give it up and upon inquiry found a teacher, Kevin, who was dedicated and serious about his work.
Kevin has taken me from guitar player with a few shreds of knowledge in the basics to a guitar player who has a solid base and can confidently tackle new advanced material with ease. He has taught me a lot, more than can be summed up in a few lines; from rhythm, soloing, improvisation, equipment selection and use to professional techniques for the real world; Kevin has taught it all.
The Duo format is advantageous in many ways; as a player I was very nervous playing in front of others. Kevin’s lessons cured me of this affliction; playing and practising with another person at my skill level has dramatically increased my confidence when playing in front of a crowd. The Duo lesson also keeps your rate of learning up and also prepares you for professional life when you have to play both in large crowds and with other musicians, thus this format is a great benefit to those who take advantage of it.
If I was to pick out of the multitude of things Kevin has taught me, the single most important one I would have to say is direction. Kevin has given me direction to my guitar playing; he has given me a large skill base and a direction to go in.
The latest seminar I attended from Kevin was on the usage of pedals and effects for the guitar. This proved to be an invaluable insight onto the usage of such devices, previously being a person whose only knowledge came from fiddling around with them. Kevin has a colossal knowledge of all things guitar and I immensely enjoyed hearing him share his knowledge.
I would 100% recommend taking lessons with Kevin, at no point have I ever regretted the decision and my guitar playing has improved tremendously for it. Kevin is a down to earth guy who knows his stuff, he’s easy to talk to and his teaching ability is surpassed by none..
Evan Richmond – bassist for Urban Ursha.
I have been playing bass for over 12 years, but I found there were a lot of gaps in my musical knowledge and realised I couldn’t fill these gaps on my own. Kevin has a very good name in Palmerston North and a friend who had previously taken lessons from him recommended him.
I took lessons in high school but when I left to go to university I had to stop due to studies taking over. After 9 months of lessons with Kevin I can now sight-read to a reasonable level and have a greater understanding of musical concepts that I didn’t have previously. I can now look at licks and riffs I’ve been playing for years and understand why they work so well. Also Kevin’s insights on professionalism and musicianship are a great addition to each lesson.
Kevin is very patient and will not rush you through the concepts he is teaching, he will make sure you understand fully before you move on. Even if you already know how to play to a reasonable level, most musicians have gaps in their knowledge that can prevent them from reaching their full potential. If you have goals in mind Kevin will provide you with the skills to get you where you want to go.
I had played guitar for 2 years before I met Kevin and before I left Tauranga my teacher at the time had said to me “go see this dude called Kevin Downing.” So I did. And I’ve been taking lessons with him for almost 3 years now.
My guitar playing skills have improved over 100% because Kevin teaches how to read and understand music theory, notes and lots of other stuff, as well as some pretty choice songs too. The professional program we use is great, and you are always doing challenging stuff right from the word go. Also, the duo style playing with a person about the same ability as you is cool as.
I reckon that learning music has helped me the most because I wouldn’t have improved a lot more without the music. My all time favourite thing about learning with Kevin is that everything unfolds as you get better and he knows whether you are ready or not. Bro if you need a guitar teacher or want to learn guitar or bass from scratch or get better, get together with Kevin. He’s the man.
I attended a couple of beginner guitar courses and our tutor recommended Kevin along with a few friends who recommended him as well. I’ve had no reason to doubt becoming a student since. Kevin is my first “real” guitar teacher.
I started one-on-one lessons in August 2010 and have just started duet sessions. I can say Kevin reads you like a book and knows exactly what you need to work on and what to practice to become the best guitar player you can be – he’s a short-cut to guitar god-ness. He says it like it is.
What has helped me the most is having a mentor and being able to read music. Active tuition really makes me work towards my musical goals – if I wasn’t being trained each week I’d easily fall into bad habits and not make the progress I’m making now.
If there is one thing I can say to you it is “Book in now – do it!” You’ll be amazed how quickly your skills develop if they’re channelled correctly – it takes a bit of work, time and money, but so does anything worth doing.
– singer, songwriter, recording artist.
I came across Kevin’s book The Secrets of Successful Practicingat the library. The book discussed problems and solutions that I was facing for years, and I felt that it would be an honour to take lessons from someone with such high level of expertise and experience.
I was mostly self taught after a negative experience with a teacher when I was in my early teens and I was not progressing with that teacher, and also felt like I had no talent for guitar.
I have had lessons with Kevin a little over a year. With him I have learned about the power of successful practicing and now feel like I am in control of my progress. At the same time I also learned that you need a mentor no matter what level you are at. A mentor is very much like a friend (with top qualifications) that points you in the right direction and helps you see and fix mistakes that you can easily overlook.
I am now part of Kevin’s Music Teacher Mentoring Program which is life changing in many ways. He has life experience and insights that go beyond music and business training. It is hard to explain – but there is a spiritual and intellectual aspect that makes working with Kevin very special.
His faith in my ability and hands-on practical guidance has made the difference between dreaming and living my dreams. I was on the verge of giving up music and Kevin brought it back to life! If I had to pick one thing that helped me the most – it would be learning how to practice efficiently and avoid “overwhelm”.
Kevin is a world class guitar coach and mentor. He plays regularly with some of the world’s top players and has coached many very successful guitarists, guitar teachers, and songwriters. If you have a chance to study with Kevin – grab it! It is a real honour, a source of inspiration, and the best investment you can make!
My Mum found out about Kevin through word of mouth and his website. I was interested in playing the guitar and I enjoyed playing it but I didn’t really know how. My Dad got me started, but after beginning with Kevin he has really helped improve my playing. I can now read notes and my fingers are now really flexible and strong to move up and down the guitar easily. I play fluently now and feel confident playing.
One thing in the lessons that helped a lot was when I broke my arm and couldn’t play, Kevin gave me a theory book and taught me all the names of the notes and what they looked like, which made it so easy, so when I went back to play the guitar and I could read music!! I could still learn without actually having to play.
At 12 years of age I am the youngest person in Kevin’s 101 Lab Band and I think it is heaps of fun. I get to play with other people and that makes playing a lot more fun and exciting. We play more songs and I get to play solo’s. I like listening to other peoples solo’s as I learn a lot from those that are more advanced than me. Being in the 101 Lab Band has improved my playing and my timing as playing in a group this is really important – this is really different to if I was playing on my own. I have learnt about performing on stage and if you make a mistake you just improvise over it, and you never know it might even sound better than what it was suppose to. I still feel nervous on stage performing, but the audience is grateful and we are just playing to them.
I would say that taking lessons with Kevin is a great thing to do if you want to be fantastic. You need to be motivated and put the time and effort in, and then you get the rewards. Kevin is awesome, the lessons are so much better than I could ever get at school, he is patient, he takes his time to know what I need and teaches me in a way that I need.
I decided to take lessons with Kevin because it sounded like he took a range of students, in both ability and age, and I liked the fact that he had as much experience as he did. Since having lessons with Kevin for over a year now I’ve learnt so much about music performance and theory. I came from a culturally strong singing background but with not a lot of confidence around instruments. Kevin showed me how to develop my confidence and how to be involved in all aspects of music, especially the instrumental side. I wouldn’t otherwise think I had the ability to be involved in it.
Studying music with Kevin is very rewarding. He is always encouraging and sensitive to your personal circumstances. He is very supportive of your musical interests and passions and is able to respond to your individual learning needs and long term goals in music.