Can you teach yourself?

Is it possible to learn guitar or ‘Ukulele online (or from a book) by teaching yourself? 

Yes, it is possible. All the information you need to know is freely available.

Maybe you’ve looked around already…

Maybe you bought an instrument, a book, and all the accessories, but you still don’t know where to start.

What if you start at a point that’s too hard? What if you learn the right things, but in the wrong order?

Maybe you’ve been playing for a while, trying to teach yourself with the help of online videos or a book, and it doesn’t seem to be going as fast as you want it to go. Here are some ways taking lessons can accelerate your progress:

Lessons can help you accomplish your goals more quickly

A good teacher can connect the dots for you and lead you to a goal.

A good teacher can give you the step-by-step sequence you need to learn something.

A teacher can tie together all of the diverse ideas you might come across and help you make sense of them. 

Most importantly, a teacher can give you instant feedback and encouragement and answer your questions right away before you get frustrated or develop a bad habit that might be hard to undo.

Even if you think you can teach yourself, you’ll do much better taking lessons than you will on your own. I can guarantee that. 

Do you know why? 

Because when I started out, I was in exactly the same boat. I was arrogant, I had played other instruments before and thought I could teach myself. 

It turns out, when I finally decided to get serious, I learned more in a month of lessons with a private teacher than I had in the previous FOUR YEARS of teaching myself!

A good teacher can be a great mentor and source of inspiration

It’s good to have someone encouraging you. 

A good teacher can your mentor, helping and encouraging every step of the way. 

Someone on your side, interested in your progress…

A good teacher will be invested in your progress, and will cheer you on.

A good teacher is interested in how you’re learning, whether your grasping and understanding what is being taught.

Learn the joy of making music!

Good teachers want to share their musical knowledge with you and share in the joy of making music. You can count on a positive experience with a good teacher. You can count on a good teacher not holding anything back and making sure that you learn what you need to know.

Discover something new in music and something new about yourself

Lessons let you discover new music and new techniques. If you’re taking lessons, odds are pretty good that your teacher has more experience listening to different styles of music and different players.

It’s possible that your teacher could turn you on to all sorts of styles and new music you had never thought of before. You might just find a new style of music that you absolutely love!

A good teacher can hold you accountable and keep you motivated.

Nothing is a better incentive for practicing than knowing you have to play something in front of someone in a week.

Improve your self-discipline

Lessons allow you to chart your progress a little bit more easiely than if you were trying to teach yourself. Developing the self-discipline you need to succeed in weekly lessons means that you can develop the same kind of self-discipline in other areas of your life-something that can transfer to your academic career, to your work life, your relationships, and much more!

Thank you for reading! If you’re interested in lessons with me, please get in touch. All the best to you!

-Doctor Cline

The Twelve (‘Ukulele and Guitar) Solos of Christmas, Part I

This December, I set out to post a video of a solo holiday arrangement every day from December 1 up until Christmas, or a total of 25 songs. Well, that proved to be a little too ambitious, but I definitely think I’ll be able to finish at least twelve (for the “Twelve Days of Christmas”! Get it? Sigh.) Here are the first six—three solo guitar arrangements and three for ‘Uke. These are all solos that are suitable for intermediate fingerstyle players. In most cases, I have written out a chart of my arrangement, so get in touch if you’d like a copy:

I. “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”

I arranged this traditional carol for solo ‘Uke in the key of D minor with lots of repeated “block” chords in the right hand.

According to trusty [Wikipedia] the song has been around for over 500 years! Did they play it on the ‘Ukulele back then? Probably not, as the ‘Uke wasn’t invented until 1879!

II. “What Child is This?” (aka “Greensleeves”)

Another real “oldie”, “Greensleeves” originated around the time of Shakespeare. New words were added in the 1860s to create the carol “What Child is This”.

The arrangement here is in A minor, similar to what you will find in several beginning/intermediate guitar methods. Don’t just play this one at Christmas—It sounds great year-round!

III. “Jingle Bells”

Fun facts: J. Pierpont’s classic was originally written as a Thanksgiving song in 1857!

My ‘Uke solo employs repeating thumb notes on the fourth string, a technique I use quite a bit to give the rhythm some forward momentum. There’s also a descending counter-line underneath the melody in the chorus. Clever, eh?

IV. “Edelweiss”

Again, not a holiday song per se, “Edelweiss” is nonetheless often associated with the Christmas season.

A lot of folks think “Edelweiss” is a traditional Austrian folksong, but it was actually written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II for the classic 1959 musical The Sound of Music.

V. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

This hugely popular song was originally a story by Robert L. May published by the Montgomery Ward company in 1939!  Ten years later, May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks composed the song.

My solo ‘Uke version includes a fair amount of campanella, a technique that involves playing scalar melodies across different strings so that the notes overlap and ring into each other.

VI. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”

One of my personal favorites, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” was first performed back in 1934. In my solo guitar arrangement I incorporate thicker, “jazzier” chord voicings and even a couple of blues licks!

Well, there you have it, the first six solo arrangements of at least twelve I hope to produce this holiday season….

If you like what I’m doing, please subscribe to my YouTube channels, Learn Guitar With Doctor Cline and ‘Ukulele for Self-Improvement.

I’m currently accepting new students, so if you would like to study with me, please get in touch.

all the best to you!
-Doctor Cline


A Busy, Creative Fall for Doctor Cline!

The past several weeks have been full of creative projects for me! Here are some highlights:

“Body and Soul”

At the end of September I dusted off my Strat for some experiments with electric guitar, including a chord-melody arrangement of “Body and Soul”, one of my favorite jazz standards:

“Rocky Mountain High”

I continued to use the electric guitar in creating an instrumental arrangement of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”, which I am planning on releasing on Spotify/iTunes next month. A few episodes of my “Good Morning Botanica” vlog include previews of the arrangement. Here I am playing a bit of it in the studio:

My duo partner Adriana was kind enough to take some footage of me actually HIGH IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS playing the arrangement on the top of beautiful Guanella Pass: 

Look for a complete “music video” of the arrangement coming in early November!

Etudes for solo ‘ukulele by loretta notareschi

My friend Dr. Loretta Notareschi has just completed a fantastic set of Five Etudes for Solo ‘Ukulele. I was thrilled to perform three of the pieces at the Regis University Faculty Recital on October 10, and I created videos for them, which you can find here:

I’m also honored that Loretta is going to use a quote from me for the “blurb” on the back cover of the publication!

In preparation for the performance I put fresh strings on my Uke and filmed the process for my vlog. Hope you find this high-speed string change (set to one of my original ‘Uke compositions) entertaining:

New Arrangement of “After the Gold Rush” and Meditative Video From Power of Eights

In early October, Power of Eights (a piano-guitar duo featuring Adriana Teodoro-Dier and me) created and filmed an instrumental arrangement of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush”, which we premiered at Regis on October 10:

We are also continuing our series of inspirational videos set to the original compositions of our Zodiac Meditations cycle. Here’s “Libra” our latest installment, filmed last summer at Centennial Cone, near Golden:

Teaching Studio

Finally, I am continuing to accept students at my teaching studio in the Stapleton area of Denver. If you or someone you know is interested in lessons, please contact me for more information.

All the best and much love!

-Doctor Cline


Warm-Up Routine For Classical Guitar

Here’s a video of me going through my typical warmup routine on classical guitar. This routine covers

  • Scalar technique (i.e., coordinating right and left hands while playing single notes).
  • Slurs (also called “hammer-ons” and “pull-offs”).
  • Arpeggios

For a .pdf explaining the routine in greater detail, send me an email. If you like, let me know any questions you might have or any other topics you would like to see me cover.

all the best to you!

-Doctor Cline