FAQs

Here we’ve tried to answer as many of the regular questions as possible. Browse through or use the filter below. If there’s something you’re not sure about please contact us. The questions break down into three categories: online courses, residential courses and all courses/general.

Online Courses - How can I make my audio and video as good as it can be in a lesson?

This is a vast subject but for now let's look at three things (more on this in another posted answer):

Zoom settings in the app

Zoom was designed for voice dialogue and is set to cut out cats screaming, dogs howling, etc. Your guitar, as far as Zoom is concerned, is that cat or dog. It will compress the sound dynamically.

Find the 'keep natural sound' switch in the advanced audio settings. You can actually pin this option to your screen and switch it on and off as you require.

 

Connecting your mic and guitar to the internet

The best advice is to use an audio interface which connects to your computer (around £100). Both your mic and guitar output go into it (assuming your guitar has a pick-up). You can get a reasonable sound through your actual mic for the guitar but it will need to be close it. Consider an external mic connected to your machine.

 

Your room

Your image on screen is dependent on the quality of your camera (clean the lense) and having it not too far away from you. Check the image on the Zoom screen to see if both you and the guitar are positioned correctly. Don't have bright lights (artificial or natural) at your back. Do have good lighting directly in front of you.

Online Courses - How do I use Zoom?

It's very intuitive. There are three basic controls to understand.

Mic

Click the button to toggle between being muted and unmuted (a red line through the icon means that you're on mute)

Video

Click the button to toggle between being on video and not (a red line through the icon means that you're not one screen)

Simply select the camera that you're happy with. I would avoid the other controls - the background one means that you have to stay reasonably static else parts of your body and guitar disappear intermittently on screen.

Viewing window

You can toggle between two modes: Gallery - this is where you'll see everyone on screen at the same time (at least as many as your device can manage - you might have to scoll to another page). If the tutor is in a small window then you can use the 'Pin' function which is found in the top right of the window and the tutor will be pinned to you screen.

Speaker - this means that anyone who is making a noice (deliberate or not) will appear as a large window. It's best practice stay muted unless we're in the Q&A or you want to ask a question.

Online Courses - How do I join a lesson?

You'll be emailed a Zoom link. Click on it about 10 mins before the schedule start of the lesson. You'll go into a Waiting Room until the session starts.

Online Courses - What gear and set-up do I need in order to attend an online course?

We use Zoom for all our online lessons. If you already use Zoom then the immediate answer is that you're ready to join now.

If you don't have Zoom then you can download the app for your particular device from Zoom. It's always best to choose a device with a large screen e.g. laptop, tablet but a good sized phone will do the trick.

The main issue is usually broadband speed and quality. It's always worth running a speed check on the up and down speeds. Look for both being over 1.5Mbps but the bigger the number, the better. Maybe something like 6 up and 25 down.

If you can already watch and listen to a YouTube video then you can join in straight away.

If you have made a Skype call or equivalent then your mic also works and so you'll be able to join in and ask questions.

You will need a camera if you want the tutor to be able to see what you're playing and offer advice. You can use your in-built one or connect a USB camera to your device.

Best advice - check that it all works before you attend your first Zoom lesson. There are two ways:

  1. Start the app and prss the orange, New meeting button. Join with with audio and video.
  2. Go to Zoom Test and start a meeting.

Check your mic and speakers using the test facility in the mic pull-down list. If you have more that one camera you can also check slect your preferred camera.

All courses - Will I receive any instructions following a booking?

Yes.

We always send out a full set of Joining Instructions (directions, what to do on arrival, booking and payment summary, some Dos and Don'ts, etc.). In addition we'll provide PDFs as a checklist for what to bring as well as some suggested practice/revision (if required)

All courses - How do I book and pay for a course?

This is all explained on the Bookings and Payment page. It's a straightforward process.

1. Choose a course

2. Select if you're going to attend as a residential or non-residential or maybe with a sharing with a partner.

3. Make the initial payment - use our secure online credit/debit card facility. The Deposit is usually around 50% of the Full Fee but if the booking is made close to the course date then the Full Fee should be paid.

All courses - Can I buy a Voucher for myself?

All is explained at our Gift Vouchers page.

Residential Courses - Can I get to the venue by public transport?

The venues are listed on this site with links to their websites.

There's lots of information about how to get to them (airports, trains, taxis, etc.) along with what's on in the area.

Any problems - drop us an email.

All courses - I want to buy a course as a gift for someone?

All is explained at our Gift Vouchers page.

Residential Courses - What happens if I need to make amendments or additions to a Booking?

When you book a course you generally just pay a Deposit and so any changes/additions to the booking can be dealt with as part of the Balance payment.

All late changes can usually be accommodated but it's always best to tell us about them first prior to turning up on the course e.g. spouse wants to come along, stay an extra night, book a taxi, etc.

All courses - What happens if I have to cancel?

Cancellations do happen and it's all about timing.

Officially any Deposit is non-refundable but if the notice is long (say 6 weeks in advance) then we may have time to fill the place; in which case we'll refund the Deposit.

Depending on circumstance we might be able to roll some of the Deposit over to another course.

You can treat our courses as holidays and so we always recommend that you check if your travel/holiday insurance covers such eventualities - it has worked in the past on those rare occasions for those who have had to cancel last minute.

Residential Courses - Can I come along as a non-resident?

Yes - non-residential is fine. When booking just select the non-residential option.

It's worth noting that, for our standard weekend courses, we jam on the Friday night and undertake some project work on the Saturday; both are great fun and fantastic learning experience, not to be missed if possible.

Email us if you need more information on these.

All courses - How do I refer a friend or colleague?

To refer someone to Guitar Weekends, simply write to us using the Contact Us form or drop us an email.

If you're inviting someone to come on a course with you then put down the appropriate number coming along on the course and names - follow the booking instructions.

Residential Courses - how do I know what to bring along a course?

We send out full Joining Instructions prior to a course and part of this details what you should bring along. It's a comprehensive checklist. Contact us if you have any buring questions.

Residential Courses - Can I borrow a guitar or some other equipment?

Yes - we can lend acoustic, electric guitars and bass guitars and amps.

We usually ask for everyone to come as self-sufficient as possible (guitar stands, mains extension cables, spare batteries, strings, picks, etc.) but these can be provided if we know in advance.

This gear is usually borrowed by players who travel by plane or public transport when they can't carry too much.

Residential Courses - Do you cater for different diets?

Each venue has its own menu and they cater for all kinds of dietary needs. Best to tell us when you book and we'll pass it on to them before your arrival. It's always a good idea to check yourself when you're at the venue to make doubley sure.

Residential Courses - Are there any suitable rooms for the disabled?

Most venues have rooms for the disabled but it's best to let us know at the outset so that we can confirm. A full list of players coming along with any specific requirements is given to each venue prior to their arrival. We aim to make the start-up as smooth as possible. Make sure you tell us when you book.

All courses - Player levels and suitable courses - a guide

It’s difficult to define a player’s level and which courses are suitable but here's what we offer as simple guidelines (they're cumulative):

 

BEGINNER

Played for less than a couple of months. Either totally new and knows nothing about the guitar or maybe knows the shape of one or two chords but can’t play them properly.

Suitable course(s): Beginners

 

BEGINNER+

Played for a year or so. Maybe has a simple tune/song or two under your belt. Knows chords only but difficulty changing while strumming. Knows the string names and possibly the notes on the low E string.

Suitable course(s): Beginners, Strugglers

 

INTERMEDIATE

Played for, say, five years. Built up a small repertoire of songs. Can play and change between all basic open chords relatively smoothly. Tackled the Blues and maybe the minor pentatonic scale. Knows the notes on the low E, and maybe, A strings. Attempted basic barre chords. Might have started elementary jamming in a guitar club or even done an open mic night slot. Struggles following others in jam situations for both chords and improvisation. Has a basic understanding of how chords are built.

Suitable course(s):  Strugglers, Improvers, Introductory level to most genres.

 

INTERMEDIATE+

Played for, say, 10+ years. Built up a good repertoire of songs in different genres. Can play and change between all open chords and all essential barre chords smoothly. Moved into more patterns for the pentatonic and major scales, associated arpeggios and touched on modes. Good knowledge of the fretboard. Very competent improviser when jamming. Can move between keys reasonably easily. Probably comfortable with plectrum and/or fingers alike. Fairly confident  performing. Got some practical basic theory under your belt. Played in a club or even a band.

Suitable course(s): Improvers, introductory or intermediate level of most genres.

 

ADVANCED

Played for, say, 15+ years. Strong, diverse repertoire and able to perform them with ease. Knows the whole fretboard. Extensive kit bag of chords, scales, arpeggios, modes, etc. and can play and change between all chords smoothly using multiple rhythms. Got a pretty good understanding of underlying theory. Possible played in a band and has no problems at Jam sessions.

Courses: Any (probably not Beginners!)

 

Residential Courses - What if I’m late getting there or I have to leave early?

Life and work often get in the way of leisure - there's absolutely no problem being late but it's best if you can let us know as much in advance as possible. The start of a course is about settling in and you'll find an already established group but you'll fit in very quickly. If you know you're likely to be late then it's best to let us know so that we can order some dinner for you.

Similarly, the end of the course is often about revision of what's been covered on the course and usually involves some jamming out; leaving early is fine - either first thing on the last day or at coffee break. Again, let us know in advance and we can make sure you leave with all the relevant information.

Mostly Residential Courses - I’m nervous and haven’t played in front of others before

Over the years we’ve seen that virtually  everyone settles in within the first hour. We keep things relaxed the whole weekend and the beginning is simply about getting the group to play together. Most guitarists are inherently self-critical and usually know a lot more than they think (even though they might not know the correct terminology). In any case, our courses cater for different skill and knowledge levels; in fact, from a teaching perspective, it’s great to have some diversity here.

All we ask is that you have a go and see what what happens - you'll be amazed!

Residential Courses - Can I bring a non-playing spouse/partner? Can I bring my family?

Yes - spouses/partners are very welcome on all our courses; they'll join us at breakfast and dinner and can pop in during the day to listen in. They can even join in during the evening proceedings and contribute to any jamming sessions. When booking you can choose the Sharing Couple option and everything is included in that price.

Children are also welcome but it's worth checking directly with the venue on this. Remember that our courses create noise, hopefully nice noise, and you should check where the family rooms are in relation to the Function Room.

Residential Courses - What actually happens on a residential course?

A regular course runs over a weekend from late Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime.

The course is aimed at hobbyists. Under the guidance of a professional tutor/player, students learn guitar techniques, musical know-how as applied to the guitar and repertoire.

We try hard to create a supportive and relaxed environment for a teaching weekend with teaching exercises based on classic tunes and pretty much non-stop group playing.

Yes, we want players to learn but it’s also about socialising and having some fun.

We have ton of stuff to go through but we pace it to match the overall level of the group. We’d rather players went home with three things absolutely nailed rather than a glimmer of ten!

The daytime is teaching time through group playing. Friday evening is more about settling in, jamming and getting to know each other. On Saturday evening we do some projects – this is totally optional but it’s exciting, hard work but very rewarding.

We like players to leave the course with a useful pack of notes under their arms, more confidence to tackle pieces of music, knowledge of how to practise and play better, exposure to some new avenues to explore themselves and more friends to get together and play with.

We also make available materials used on the course to everyone and follow-up on any outstanding questions.

In the words of one of our weekenders “tired but inspired”.