‘There is more than one way to learn how to do something, and everyone responds differently to various teaching techniques and methods of learning.
‘It is an educator’s job not merely to dispense information on their own terms, but to find out how, and at what speed, a student best absorbs knowledge.
‘I believe the most effective way to achieve this is through one-to-one tuition in an enjoyable, progressive process that should feel rewarding for both teacher and student.’
‘Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.’ Beethoven
Music tutor, guitarist and award-winning education writer Joe McGowan has over 25 years’ experience teaching music in schools, colleges and private practice in the UK and Spain. His work has included personal counselling, music therapy and teaching children with special needs.
An Honours graduate in music and the arts, Joe attended the Royal Conservatoire Scotland (formerly the RSAMD) where he obtained the second of his two degrees in guitar, composition and music theory/history. He also holds a diploma in music theory and teaching diplomas from the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College, London.
Joe is a registered RGT (Registry of Guitar Tutors) instructor and a mentor for Glasgow University students and post-graduates.
Having studied with renowned composers including John Maxwell Geddes, James MacMillan, Gordon McPherson and Tom Wilson, Joe received mainly classical composition training, but his own musical tastes and creative output are more eclectic, with popular songs, fusions and blues music figuring among his compositions for orchestra, mixed ensembles and solo pieces for piano and guitar. Recent work includes the minimalist composition, Infinite Circles, which was written for a composing workshop that will appear in his upcoming fifth music education textbook. (Excerpt from this piece below.)
A guitarist for 33 years (16 of which as a professional soloist), Joe studied the instrument with some of the UK's most respected teachers and performers, and has taken part in master classes with world-renowned artists including John Williams, David Russell, Vladimir Mikulka and Carlos Bonnell.
In 1999 he spent a year performing in the canary islands in duo Cross Culture, a classical guitar duo formed with friend and fellow guitarist, Cameron Angus. During this time the duo recorded their album, Crossing the Boundaries. (See the Shop page of this website for details and to hear an excerpt.)
In 2004 Joe was commissioned to write his first music book - a textbook/revision guide for the Scottish school music curriculum. The book, How to Pass Standard Grade Music, was well received by teachers and students, enjoying favourable reviews in the educational press and ultimately winning the Saltire Society academic book of the year award in 2005.
Since then he has gone on to write three more curriculum books, also published by Hodder Gibson, the most recent being How to Pass National 5 Music. (For details see the Shop page of this website.)
Between 1990 and 1999 Joe was also a reviewer of concerts, new music and CDs for the international magazine, Classical Guitar.
Your Music Mentor exists to provide a quality music service with online convenience to people of all levels of ability, regardless of their location.
It was also founded to respond to the needs of those who are not within range of a suitable teacher, or whose circumstances or particular requirements are such that traditional private tuition is not a viable option.
Your Music Mentor even functions as a friendly ‘drop-in’ resource for those who may only want a single consultation with a music professional - for example, to obtain a second opinion on a musical matter, seek technical advice on playing a particular piece, or to have some music transcribed.
Excerpt from Infinite Circles. Music and video editing by Joe McGowan.
Written for a workshop on minimalist composing techniques, this programmatic piece concerns the repetition of the circle in nature - from fundamental particles to planets, galaxies, perhaps even the universe itself - and the philosophical notion of its infinite recurrence in all existence.
If any (or many!) of the above appeal to you but you’re a little unsure of how you might best proceed, get in touch with Your Music Mentor now for some helpful advice. Contact
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Extra help with course work and exams for GCSE, A-level, National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher music
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(parental permission required for under 18’s)
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‘I just want to learn how to play a few chords and songs on the guitar, but I can’t find a music teacher near me who can help.’
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‘I don’t want to learn to play a musical instrument or enrol in a music course but I have always wanted to improve my knowledge of music. Just a general overview of music history and theory so that I am no longer ‘clueless’ about how it works and what makes classical music such an art form that I can’t fully appreciate at the moment.’
‘I have always found music theory daunting. It looks so complicated and I have had no success learning from books. I’d need a patient tutor who can walk me through it all who is also prepared to go at my pace.’
‘I can play two musical instruments by ear but have never learned to read music. I now feel this is restricting what I can play because there are some intricate tunes that I can’t work out by ear which would be accessible if I could read music. Can you teach me to read music and nothing else?’
‘Music notation looks so complicated, like maths! I’d love to learn this strange ‘language’ but to be honest I can’t be bothered having to slog through the learning process…I had enough of that at school. It’s a lot to ask but can you make it easy AND enjoyable for me to learn?’
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