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Forte Featured Teacher: James Woolwine

Forte Featured Teacher - James Woolwine Blog

Katie Hone Wiltgen, Chief Education Officer

May 15, 2024

We are pleased to introduce you to this week’s Forte Featured Teacher, James Woolwine, who teaches both piano and guitar.

About James

James has two big passions in life: music and helping others. Being a music teacher is perfect for James, as it lets him dig in to both passions equally, and he loves seeing his students become better musicians and better people, working through the unique challenges and rewards that music provides.

James has played music his entire life, starting with piano lessons at age 7 and advancing to become an award-winning classical pianist. He also took up the guitar as a teenager and loved it so much that he studied guitar at Berklee College of Music, graduating with degrees in both Performance and Music Business.

James’s Forte teacher profiles:

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James’s Teaching Style and Approach

How would you describe your teaching style?

I strive to be flexible and relaxed, but also thorough and effective. I want every student to enjoy a positive musical experience while improving toward their goals.

What's the best part of music lessons with you?

I try very hard to connect with each student individually, and I'm proud to have retained many students for years.

How do you encourage and motivate your students to progress?

Positive and supportive feedback always! Even when a student is really struggling, they shouldn't feel bad about that.

What would your students tell us about you as a teacher?

In their own words:

"Mr. James is an excellent piano teacher. He is attentive, patient, and kind. At the same time, he is able to push his students so that they meet their potential. My 8-year-old daughter has been studying with him for over a year and we cannot imagine her learning from anyone else!"

" quality aside from the obvious that is needed …is patience and motivation. James has both."

"James has been patient, encouraging and instructive .I would recommend him heartily to anyone."

"James taught one of my sons guitar and the other piano for over a year. He’s a great musician (buy his CD’s!) and a patient teacher. He’s methodical but fun."

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James’s Unique Specializations

If you were to select one or two things that you specialize in as a music teacher, what would it/they be?

Working with adults who may be completely new to music, or have a scattered background and want direction. I also enjoy breaking down confusing concepts, like Music Theory, into meaningful chunks.

What genre(s) of music do you specialize in or most enjoy teaching?

I started in Classical music and still love it, but I've played and written Metal, Rock, Pop, and Folk music too.

Other than your primary instrument(s), are there additional disciplines or skills that you particularly enjoy teaching?

Music Theory, because it's the foundation for everything else (composition, songwriting, etc.)

Student Success and Feedback

Can you share a success story of a student you've taught?

I've had many adult students. One in particular started with me in 2016 as a complete beginner. She's still with me, taking guitar and piano lessons. She has completed multiple method books, so much that I've had to search for new material to keep challenging her. She often gets frustrated with herself, but I think of how she started from nothing and now plays intricate Classical music.

What feedback do you often receive from your students (or your students' parents) about their lesson experience with you?

James’s students and their family members, in their own words:

“His teaching style is easy to follow and the classes are enjoyable.”

“After 4 months I am playing songs which I never dreamed I would be doing. Great teacher and great personality.”

“My grandson is very excited about going to his piano lessons. He is even more excited about doing his piano homework. James takes the time to explain what is needed. He works at the child’s level.”

“James has an exceptional listening ability and knows just the right corrections and suggestions to help you improve during your individual practice.”

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Getting to Know You… Getting to Know All About You

Other than being a musician/music teacher, what is your forte?

Being a good parent and good human all-around.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of music?

I love staying fit (even considered becoming a personal trainer), and sports like volleyball.

If you could collaborate with any musician or composer (living or dead), who would you choose, and why?

That's a tough question because there are so many people I could choose, but I'll go with Beethoven (before he went deaf and crazy 😆). He's always been one of my favorite composers.

What is the best musical advice anyone ever gave you?

"You understand when you're ready." - my college guitar teacher, Jon Finn

As musicians, we are always learning and growing. What's something you're currently working on?

I recently wrote a complicated solo guitar piece for someone (I write custom compositions). Now, I'm learning to play it myself, and it's a finger buster!

If you could learn any other instrument, what would you choose, and why?

Singing - I'm a songwriter too and want to sing my own work. I've taken voice lessons before and look forward to resuming them.

What music are you listening to lately and really loving?

As I write this I'm listening to Beethoven. I play classical music every morning while making breakfast for my kids, but in the car to school, it's Metallica!

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Something everyone knows, which I will enjoy butchering intentionally. 😉

What is your afternoon snack of choice?

Yogurt with berries (I'm trying to be healthier these days).

Want to take a lesson with James? View his Forte teacher profiles below to get started!

Guitar LessonsPiano Lessons