My Teaching Guitarist - Composer - Educator
[ My book is Guitar Atlas: Brazil ]
My Teaching

My teaching studio is located in Brooklyn NY. I have instruments for the student to use so you don't have to lug yours though early on I would want to see what instrument you are practicing on.
I have traveled at a higher rate to students' homes.
I have been giving lessons online via Skype or Google video for over 5 years now! If you have a webcam built in or external, I can teach you anywhere in the world. I've also done lessons with detailed packages of materials/phone conversation if you aren't set up. In either case I send materials in pdf format and word document. Correspondence is done by phone and email for support of the student. Payment is made through paypal. The various options can be scrolled through. My wife Lilia is a Brazilian speech pathologist and she has helped some of my students over the years learn how to sing in Portuguese the songs I've taught them with proper pronunciation and accent. Over the last years I've also been teaching Cavaquinho and Brazilian 7 string guitar (7th string tuned to C). I love these instruments!
Teaching is so important to me and I enjoy developing arrangements of music for guitar for all levels. If you are interested please write me .

Here is a very short promo about my online teaching

I have been teaching for many years now. My instruction goes beyond guitar to include improvisation for other instruments, Ear training, Harmony and composition. I have recently helped a young woman find her pitch and a way out of having a tin ear to pursue her strong desire to sing. I've instructed in recent times horn players in improvising and even a steel drum player. Some have found me useful for my sight reading methods. I don't teach full time and at the moment am very booked up but am always enthusiastic to help someone who has strong passion for music and especially one who can find the time to practice. Over the years there have been those students who have improved by doing their practice just in the hour lesson every week. I will work with you and show you how to work by yourself.

I've often found much Joy teaching students and beginners but I think I can be very useful to advanced students. I have amassed a body of transcriptions fingered for guitar by some of my favorite horn players and pianists. These include Frank Strozier (alto sax), Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, etc. I have over 30 solos already in digital form and I will do a guitar book on horn and piano solos adapted for guitar one day. Most of the work is done. To recuperate all the solos for a demonstration CD would be quite a challenge! I have definite ideas about positions and slurring to make these solos as easy on the neck and strings as possible. These ideas are always evolving of course.

The development of a "Brazilian solo guitar repertoire" in order to play these types of gigs had led me to amass a vast collection of chorinho and other Brazilian guitar material directly from Brazil. I've spent hours at the Biblioteca Nacional in Rio de Janeiro and in the file cabinets of many generous friends. I've been sharpening my arranging powers over the years and also have a collection of my own arrangements of many sambas, bossa novas and baiãos. This includes a number of arrangements of Pixinguinha which are far more playable than Barbosa-Lima's. It would be my greatest pleasure to help someone on this path.

I have a lot more to offer my students in developing within Brazilian music than what is in the fairly condensed 50-page book I did for Alfred in 2002. Of course this book is still highly recommended! It can be purchased from, or by contacting me directly.

Rhythmic training is an integral part of learning Brazilian guitar as well as instruction in classical guitar techniques. My students improve vastly in their ability to recognize and play rhythmic motives. I was trained in pandeiro and will encourage percussion playing and the exploration of basic polyrhythm.

My Teachers

Studying under such fantastic musicians and talented educators over the years has helped me develop my musicianship.

Hal Galper taught me jazz improvisation nearly 20 years ago. His forward motion approach is integrated into my methods for teaching jazz improvisation

Dennis Sandole was my teacher between 1988 and 1990. He taught Coltrane, Moody, Randy Brecker and Art Farmer amongst other luminaries. Quite an eccentric, he played the role of an old master rather comically. Musically he had a unique approach. Most of his lessons kept me continuously writing and arranging short melodies for guitar. Creating many composition cells that later could be used in a montage or cross-related and extended, was his approach. I've placed some of my small studies (recorded on a cheap tape recorder) on the Dennis Sandole page. He used uncommon materials such as exotic and pan-tonal scales. He passed away in 2000 at the age of 87. His system probably couldn't be completely codified but there is a huge quantity of musical "literature" floating around with his many students which I believe could be studied, organized and made useful to others. One thing which is gone forever is Dennis playing his lines haltingly on piano, opening your ears to an incredible array of contrasting musical gestures. There was a progression of musical devices that all students received in an organized way over the years of study. There exist students who were with him for over 20 years. Some who mainly privately vented their musical passions in small suburbs close to Trenton and Philly.

Drummer Vanderlei Pereira, who schooled me in Brazilian percussion and concepts, really made me work hard to develop myself in all areas of music. He makes you do something new on the spot and doesn't let you give up until you have it. I really learned how to give a lesson from Vanderlei. He is a dear friend and continuous playing partner. As his guinea pig! to get his teaching method together, I made up innumerable sheets of rhythmic cells and their variations for a number of important genres of Brazilian music. Years after his private lessons, I participated in his small workshops.

Dennis Koster coached me in classical guitar technique and taught me a number of his solo flamenco pieces. I spent 8 years on and off studying with him. This master plays his repertoire of classical music transcriptions and flamenco in concert around the country and has written 3 excellent volumes on flamenco guitar. He is as anal as they get in his attention to the movements and functioning of both hands and has aided me in all the music I play. From him, I've learned how to grow in the art of finding the best fingerings and hence this has applied to arranging for the instrument. He is a wonderful human being and great story teller.

A few other important folks in my development are three Brazilian musicians who are great friends. Through playing and hanging each have been very vocal about what they consider good and beautiful. They have sort of mapped out an Aesthetic to aspire towards in Brazilian music. All three are great composers.

Rogerio Souza is the most creative weaver of Baixaria in world for me! Whether 6- or 7-string guitar. This guy has taken me under his wing and put me in so many wonderful playing situations in Rio.

Rodrigo Lessa gave me so much advice and explanation about how Brazilian music works and who to listen to. He is outwardly passionate about what he hears and does all the time. Rogerio and Rodrigo's band No em Pingo d'Agua has moved choro music to new heights. Rodrigo's compositions can be found on Paulo Moura's records, his solo albums and on the albums of Sardinha Pagode Jazz Clube.

Dionisio Santos was my friend in New York. Sadly he passed away this February 2012. In the past we spent hours arguing over the proper harmonic arrangement for various choros. He had strong ideas on what is beautiful and what is not right in Brazilian arrangement. One passage he didn't like could freeze a rehearsal for a half hour of heated discussion! His beautiful cavaquinho playing inspired me to take up the instrument which I now often teach. His approach to using open strings and position playing on both instruments has led me to move my approach on guitar. Examining his playing gave much insight into how to adapt choro melodies for the cavaquinho.
Anna Leaves Astoria

Here is a guitar arrangement of my original tune "Anna Leaves Astoria." It is in the style of baião (this style sounds great on solo guitar!), but uses more modern chord progressions and twists of the traditional dominant 1-4-5 formula often heard in this style of music. You can get an idea of it from this accompanying midi file - sounds best on piano if you just have generic midi settings.

This tune was written for my great friend, the vocalist Ana Fonteles. I looked forward to the day she would advance her career in New York, and maybe even get the feel of another neighborhood. More that she would be happier and more satisfied with life in NY (I like Astoria!). Unfortunately, her life was cut short by cancer in 2004. Maybe someday more recordings of Ana will appear. She is terribly missed.

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You may also click each page below to print the score in .GIF format:
Ana Leaves Astoria page 1   Ana Leaves Astoria page 2
©2005 Billy Newman | Brooklyn, USA |