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Todd Kimball

Guitar, Ukulele, and Mandolin Instructor.

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Todd Kimball has been playing guitar and mandolin for 31 years and is proficient in a variety of styles. He has played in theater groups, jazz quintets as well as big bands, blues bands, rock bands, country bands, and bluegrass bands. He has played in San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Woodland Bluegrass Fest, Santa Cruz Bluegrass Fest, Hollister Bluegrass Fest, Brookdale Lodge, and many more! He studied jazz improvisation and arranging with Ray Brown at Cabrillo College and has studied with some of the bay areas finest jazz guitarists including Mimi Fox and Jimmy Bruno at the Berkeley Jazz School in Berkeley, CA. He has performed jazz for countless private parties, weddings, and jazz clubs. He offers a wealth of knowledge in the areas of music theory, arranging for solo guitar, bluegrass mandolin, flatpicking, fingerpicking, jazz guitar, and rock and roll styles. Todd encourages all his students to learn to read music and also works on music theory, ear training and arranging pieces. He caters the lessons to the students musical needs as to make it enjoyable and satisfying for each individual.

Todd’s Teaching Philosophy

Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember.   When my family moved to a new town my siblings and I were delighted to discover the High school offered five guitar classes.  Beginning, intermediate, advanced, intermediate classical guitar and classical guitar ensemble.  It was in this environment I learned how to read music, learn some basic music theory and explore many different styles of guitar playing from our inspiring teacher Homer Smith.  After Mr Smith moved to Seattle I began private lessons with a local jazz guitarist named Kirk Sand.  Kirk taught me to see the guitar in more “pianistic” way by learning how to arrange songs for solo instrument guitar.  His method was taught to him by the great Jazz guitarist Tony Rizzi and this is the method I use when I teach jazz guitar.  Since my time with Kirk Sand I have gone on to study with Ray Brown at Cabrillo College,  Mimi Fox and Jimmy Bruno at the Berkeley Jazz School in Berkeley California and lots of bandstand experience. Jazz is the music I love to play the most but there have been many other styles I have spent considerable time with. I was a dedicated bluegrass guitar player for ten years ( where I also learned the Mandolin ) and before that I played Blues, Ragtime, and the guitar styles of Mississippi John Hurt,  Doc Watson,  John Fahey, and Leo Kottke. Over the last five years I’ve been teaching Ukulele and applying everything I’ve learned on guitar to the mighty Uke!

I’m a general practitioner when it comes to taking lessons with me. I accept students from all age groups and levels. I believe the student should be playing the kind of music they like to listen to, so lessons with me are based on the musical preference and goals of the student.  I have taught Classic Rock ( lead and rhythm guitar for such bands as ACDC, Led Zep…Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd,  Johnny Winter, Jimmy Hendrix,  Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few ).  I teach classical guitar even though I’m not a classical guitarist per se but I have a firm grasp on proper technique( from my High School Days with Homer ) and once the student progresses to a more advanced level I refer them on to a classical specialist.  I teach all of the delta blues fingerpicking styles and all of my students regardless of there interests learn to read standard musical notation. Busy adults are given a choice of coarse but I strongly urge the school age kids to become familiar with music reading.  I also stress ear training but not in the traditional music theory class method where students learn to identify intervals and cadences.  I teach my students to listen to the songs they want to learn to play and I guide them in learning how to figure those songs out by ear by listening to the original recording.  I role model the technique for doing this in the lesson once the student has progressed to a more advanced level.   Getting to the level where the student can figure out their own songs starts at about six months if they practice everyday.  There are many programs and gizmos out there to help students learn tunes but in my opinion there is no substitute for sitting down with the recording; guitar, Uke or Mando in hand and trying to figure out the chords.  This is a necessary skill and rewards the student with a sense of deep satisfaction and a whole lotta fun!  I have taught FBI agents, Policeman, Ceo’s, Fireman, lots of electrical engineers,  kids of all ages and abilities (including some with autism and other challenges). Music is like a National Park; its for everyone and everyone can learn to enjoy it.

Thanks for taking the time to read all this.  Cheers! -Todd

Call 408-320-6484 to set up a trial lesson with Todd today!

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