I started playing guitar at the age of 11. After teaching myself for several months by playing along with records and doing my best to make sense out of various pop music books of the time, I started taking private lessons. After a year of private guitar lessons I spent another year in private piano lessons. It was around this time that I started playing with a number of "garage" bands as well as playing regularly at the church I attended. By the age of 14 I started writing my own songs and quickly realized that I wanted to have a career in music. All through High School I worked hard on my guitar and composition. And while I grew in the area of "playing by ear," without the professional guidance I needed, I acquired a lot of bad habits that later had to be unlearned.
Going to college to study music and guitar exposed me to a broad range of playing styles, and specifically addressed my right hand techniques for classical guitar. After graduating from CSUF with my degree in Classical Guitar, I recorded and toured for the next 3 years with the band Omega Sunrise. After Omega Sunrise stopped touring, I continued in Christian Music as the Music Director for the Fresno Vineyard for several years. During the week I worked at Sierra On-Line as a composer for computer game music, on the weekends I was playing with cover bands in clubs and leading worship on Sunday mornings. After taking a break from church music between 1992 to 1997, I started playing again as part of the worship team at our church in Seattle. Now living here in the Baltimore area, I have been playing at Trinity Assembly as the regular guitarist for the worship team since 2002. I teach private lessons here at my studio in the White Marsh area.
If you live in the White Marsh/Rosedale area near Baltimore and you are interested in lessons give me a call: (410) 665-3143, or send me an e-mail.
Here's a little about my approach to teaching Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Guitar:
Beginning Students -
For beginning students, I like to focus on 1st position chords and strumming. This will give someone new to the guitar a chance to be playing a song they know within the first few weeks of playing.
The next step is two part - While the student continues to learn more chords in 1st position, I like to start having them work on solo playing. I usually use the song that they just learned the chords to. Now the student and I can play a duet and swap parts. All through this time I refrain from getting into notation other than chord symbols. While I am a believer in reading music, I have found it to sometimes be an impediment for beginning students. If they can achieve some success, as they mature, their own desire will eventually lead us to theory and notation.
Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm! It is so important for a guitar player to be able to establish the rhythmic feel of a song. This is especially true for settings where the guitarist might be the only instrument - for example - singing around a campfire, a small worship setting, or even just singing some Christmas carols with friends and family. Often the guitarist needs to be the drummer and bass player as well. With beginning students I like to focus on getting a sense of how these parts all work together, how to break down strumming patterns by instrument part, and how to be conscious of the words and melody of a song to help define appropriate rhythmic patterns.
As in all things in life, not all students progress at the same rate. Some students might get through this is 6 months, others might take over a year. The key is to be persistent...keep a regular practice schedule, and practice regularly, practice often, enjoy your practice time, and above all...practice!
Intermediate Students -
Once a student is in command of the 1st position chords, has some experience with playing a melody, and can handle basic strumming patterns, they probably have some good coordination going between their right and left hands. By now they have already been introduced to basic right hand pick techniques. At this point I like to join the strumming and picking techniques together with some damping techniques. This is a great opportunity for introducing power-chords, and power-chords are a good transition toward bar chords.
Once a player learns how to manage power-chords, they need to learn the notes on the E, A, and D strings. It is fun for the student to go back and play previously learned songs using power-chords!
Scales - I like to start with some basic scales at this point. Beginning with a simple single octave major scale that stays in a single position, I like to move the Intermediate player into multiple octave scales over moving positions. Students are always encouraged to play only as fast as they can play perfect. Playing fast and inaccurate only ingrains bad habits.
Recording!!! It is around this time that I like to start using the studio in lessons. Often a student will not hear what they really sound like when they are playing, as they are so focused on playing. Recording a student and then listening back gives them a chance to critique themselves. It is this kind of "self-discovery" that I have found to be extremely beneficial to students. If a student can hear, internalize, and correct problems with a modicum of instructional guidance, it is a much more powerful influence on their learning than just having verbal critique from an instructor!
Oh yes...and Practice!
Advanced Students -
With my more advanced students I like to tailor lessons for the specific goals of the student. What do they want to learn, and what is the ability they wish to acquire? Each area of exploration might take 3 to 6 months for an initial introduction, a year or more for an in-depth study, and no doubt years to master.
The more advanced areas I am comfortable working with students in include:
- Rock rhythm and soloing
- Jazz rhythm and soloing
- Music theory, composition, and reading
- Ear training, Nashville chart reading, and general improvisation
- Classical technique and performance
- Technology for guitar, recording, and live performance
Above all, while I am a relatively accomplished musician, I am also well aware of my limits. There are some areas where I am fairly proficient, and others where I would not hesitate to recommend another instructor.
Also, because of my teaching philosophy and the music materials I choose to use for lessons, a person considering me for a teacher should likely be interested in Contemporary Christian Music, or Church and Worship music.
Debbie Seibert is a graduate from CSUF with a BA degree in
Vocal Performance. She also has a Master's from Goucher college in
Education. She toured professionally as a vocalist with a band in the
80's, and has been teaching music in schools since the 90's. She currently
teaches music and drama at Perry Hall Christian School in Perry Hall, Maryland.
She also works with students privately at the home studio. She specializes
in working with middle and high school students focusing on musical theater, and
contemporary praise and worship music.
If you are interested in learning
more about voice lessons you can contact her at (410) 665-3143, or via e-mail.