Applied String Lessons

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Daniel Amburn: Guitar Specialist

Daniel Amburn has been teaching guitar for over 15 years, working with students from ages 5 to 75. Daniel started playing the guitar at a young age. Once he knew the basic chords and could play a few songs, he began learning professionally. He found a great teacher, who taught him how to develop his ear properly, as well as how to read and write music. Daniel still believes that these are some of the most important skills a guitar player can have. He teaches these skills to all of his students and emphasizes their importance diligently.

The first thing Daniel does when meeting a new student is determine the student's skill level, what the student can play, and what techniques could build on that. For a student who has never played before, Daniel will explain the physics of the instrument. Why a string makes a particular sound, what makes that sound higher or lower in pitch and why that is; then how to use that to write or imitate a particular melody, as well as how to mark all of the notes on a musical staff, as well as tablature. Slightly more advanced students will learn basic chords, strumming and picking techniques, as well as power chords using familiar songs based on which artists they like. After this the student will learn how to play and write basic lead licks and melodies over a chord progression. At this point the student is ready to start learning more advanced lead techniques and practicing scales at faster tempos.

Daniel's ready to plunge into seriously exploring music theory and composition. How to write a full length song and how to explore all of the different possibilities concerning timing, song structure, and how all of the different elements of a song are composed together to create a harmony between it's elements. Once a student has mastered all of this, he or she is ready to begin learning very advanced techniques such as tapping, arpeggios, harmonics, and tremolo picking that is coordinated with fretboard fingering.

Daniel's goal is to get his students playing at the level they want at the right pace for them. In order to do this he teaches them according to what they want to learn, while pushing them to play smarter and learn more. If a student wishes to learn a particular song, he is always willing to learn it and teach it to them. Daniel believes that one of the most important things about playing music is to have fun. For this reason he always tries to make sessions exciting and uses positive encouragement to instill confidence and a love of music in his students.  When Daniel's not teaching, he's working to improve his skills and always writing new music for local Houston rock band Inconspicuous.

Houston Metro

Drew Cryer: Harp/Piano/Ukulele Specialist

Drew Cryer earned a Bachelor's Degree in Harp Performance from New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Ann Hobson-Pilot (former harpist of Boston Symphony Orchestra) and played with the prestigious New England Conservatory's Philharmonia, under the direction of Hugh Wolff.  She has also studied with John Heiss, Tanya Kalmanovitch and Efstratios Minakakis.

Sugarland Area

Kelli Houston: Orchestral Specialist

Kelli Houston earned her Bachelors of Music and Masters of Arts in Music Education from Stephen  F. Austin State University in 2009 and 2011. During her time there she studied with Evgeni Raychev. She is currently an Orchestra Teacher in the River Oaks area, and also teaches privately in this area. She has been teaching in schools for 7 years, and privately for 5 years. She has been playing the cello since the age of 10, and loves to instill her love of music in her students. She looks forward to working with you!

River Oaks/Memorial Metro

Raymiah Jackson: Orchestral Specialist

Applied String Lessons was founded by Ray Jackson. A native Texan, Mr. Jackson received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Fine Arts in Music Education from Stephen F. Austin State University. He has spent over 10 years teaching in public schools, primarily in low income areas, earning various UIL and other contest achievements with students during his career.  In 2008, he became the youngest, and first African-American Orchestra Director in the state of Texas to receive UIL Sweepstakes Ratings for his school.  Mr. Jackson studied violin/viola under the training of Dr. Isidor Saslav, but now enjoys playing bass for community events and local performances. As a young musician, he received an opportunity to perform with his former orchestra teacher Ken Lattimore, who is now a member of the Country and Western group Sons of the Pioneers. Mr. Jackson has performed with the Marshall Symphony, Orchestra of the Pines, the SFA Chamber Orchestra and the Mu Xi Chapter Men’s Chorus of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, his fraternity. His students have been featured performers at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Annual Muscle Walk, Downtown Houston’s House of Blues, the 2014 KIPP Gala, and with Mark Wood (co-founder of world famous Trans-Siberian Orchestra). As a long time advocate for the arts, Mr. Jackson believes that a zip code should not limit a person's dreams. Anyone can learn an instrument. Come and play with us!

Humble/Spring/Houston Areas

Kevin Lopez: Keyboard Specialist

Kevin Lopez has performed in front of audiences ranging from 100 to 1500 spectators.  His styles and musical preferences include contemporary, classical, gospel piano, and a hint of jazz. Mr. Lopez aspires to inspire others to learn more about the amazing keyboard/piano.

The Woodlands/Spring Area

John Norvell: Guitar Specialist

Singer/songwriter John Norvell has been playing guitar for over 30 years.  Involved in music most of his life, he started with trombone before moving on to play acoustic/electric guitar, mandolin & harmonica.  He reads music, plays by ear, sings while accompanying himself on solo and group gigs.  His styles include Texas Country, classic country, folk, acoustic/electric blues, traditional, Americana.  His influences are many:  Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jerry Garcia, Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Johnny Cash, Towns Van Zant, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot…the list goes on!  While teaching professionally for approximately 7 years, John gets right into song material with the student.

John believes in persistence and hard work will bring the results with the right approach.  According to Mr. Norvell, the most important thing about music is three-fold: enjoy learning & playing; don't try to copycat every player.  Learn to develop your own style; and lastly play with other musicians as much as you can.

Conroe/Willis & Spring/The Woodlands Areas

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