About Me

The early years

When I started playing the guitar at the age of 14, guitar teachers were few and far between. I had a few classical guitar lessons at school, but that wasn’t the kind of music I wanted to learn at this time. I was listening to the Beatles, the Shadows and the Rolling Stones, and my first guitar was a Kay semi-acoustic which my parents bought me from a music shop in Wimbledon for the princely sum of £14. It was actually quite a nice guitar, and when I bought a little Watkins practice amp to amplify it, I was in Heaven. Even though I couldn’t play very well, I found that by turning up the amp to a certain volume, I could get the guitar to feed back, and sustain the notes indefinitely.

I was now in Seventh Heaven - my parents and the neighbours, not so much! Then along came the Who and the Yardbirds, and I realised that I wasn’t alone in enjoying the exciting guitar sounds I was creating. The electric guitar was evolving from being just a loud acoustic guitar into a new instrument in its own right.

Then along came Hendrix - and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Jimi showed us all that everything that had been done on the electric guitar up to then was pure child’s play. After three years’ studying Medical Sciences at Cambridge University , I decided that I wanted to change direction and concentrate on music. There were no Guitar Tech’s at that time, so it was down to me to go it alone. As well as playing in bands in London where I was now living, I started teaching privately.

Living in London

Between 1976 and 1986 I worked as a teacher and Music Workshop organiser in a Youth Centre in Covent Garden called the Basement run by the Central London Youth Project. These premises were used to shoot the club scenes in the film “Quadrophenia”. The Basement developed over the next ten years into a ground-breaking music facility for young people in Central London, with music tuition, rehearsal, performance and recording facilities, partly funded by Ken Livingstone’s GLC and the Inner London Education Authority. A fuller account of this can found in the Chapter which I contributed to the book “Pop, Rock and Ethnic Music in School” (edited by Vulliamy and Lee, published by Cambridge University Press).

During my time in London I took part in a 3-day Guitar Workshop on the South Bank presented by Howard Roberts, a wonderful guitar player and teacher whose career included recording with Elvis Presley. At this time, Howard was writing the curriculum for the Guitar Institute of Technology in Los Angeles, and I still draw on many of his excellent teaching ideas to this day. Even though there were still no ongoing educational facilities for guitarists in London, I enjoyed going to many other guitar workshops, most of which were run be visiting jazz legends, such as George Van Eps, and the most memorable by Joe Pass, whose ideas on jazz improvisation I still incorporate into my teaching and playing.

Go west young man

Moving to Bristol in 1987, I set up a small song-writers’ recording studio, which I managed for three years in tandem with my private guitar teaching. In 1993, I was invited to join the Avon Music Service as an Instrumental teacher. I worked for this and other local music services until 2002, teaching guitar, bass guitar and A-Level Music Technology in over 30 schools, giving group and individual tuition, and preparing students of all levels for exams and public performances. For one of these music services I wrote the curriculum for classical, electric and bass guitars Grades 1-8.

Since then, I have worked privately as a guitar teacher in Primary and Secondary schools and Further Education colleges in Wells, Wincanton and Taunton. When my interest in classical guitar playing was re-ignited I decided to “go back to school” myself and develop my playing in this genre with a specialist teacher. My continued interest in health and medicine led me to do some training in Kinesiology , Touch for Health and EFT --“tapping” -- various aspects of which I bring to my tuition, especially when dealing with performance anxiety and exam nerves.

Throughout this time I have played in a number of local bands. My current band “Blues Before Sunrise” plays a wide selection of blues and jazz-based music in venues throughout the south-west of England.

If you would like to hear the full version of “Django’s Tune“ which I created for the opening sequence of this website, please click on the playbutton on the audio player below:

Meet Django! :)

Audio Player

[Django's Tune]

Stewart Knight - Wells Guitar Teacher, Somerset