mc_carthy_web1. Tell us about your teaching experience?
I started a HS program with two beginning guitar classes of 20 students each and after 30 years retired with 250 students playing guitar in a multi-level program. I now teach at George Mason University and at the Potomac Academy (the community outreach of GMU).
2. Favorite Thing About Teaching Guitar?
A favorite story: When I first started the guitar program, students would come in to the class that were not enrolled and I felt that if they were in my classroom at least they were not roaming the halls. One time two boys walked in. They were polite and asked if they could play guitar. There were instruments available so I said yes. Into my class comes an administrator. He asked the boys who they were. The boys said their names. The administrator continued to interrogate the students to find they were enrolled in a neighboring school. When asked what they were doing at Robinson H.S. the students responded there wasn’t any guitar at their school, heard that it was at Robinson and wanted to check it out. Sad to say I never saw them again.
3. What’s your least favorite thing about teaching guitar? The least favorite thing is changing the traditional thinking of administrators and music educators that Band, Orchestra and Chorus (BOC) is all that is needed to offer a comprehensive music curriculum in our schools. How do you deal with it?
In a traditional BOC HS music department 20% of the HS is enrolled in music. I argue for the other 80%.
4. What are your three favorite lessons to teach at TGW?
1. I love the first day when simple (3 string chords) are introduced. We play and sing as a class. It is a perfect example of how fast students can be playing and enjoying making music. 2. Open power chords are fun and easy to play and the class gets to rock out playing the blues. 3. I love “aha” moments. A good example is showing how posture can make a difference when playing the F chord.
5. What are the top two reasons for a teacher to start a guitar program?
It’s a win win. Students will sign up for the class and you will have a great time teaching it.
6. What are the top two reasons for a teacher to attend TGW?
You will receive a ton of resources and the 3 grad credits are a great deal.
7. What is one thing everyone will walk away with from TGW?
Sound pedagogy to teach guitar. New ways to think about teaching any/all music classes.
8. Did I miss anything?
I’ve been teaching guitar for over 40 years and what I appreciate is at every workshop I pick up tricks, new ways to teach a concept and all kinds of ideas to use in the guitar classroom. Even if you have attended a workshop, consider returning as a TGW alumni.



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