Alex CampbellI saw Phil mentioned in the school newsletter. I decided to go ahead because Phil was not based at school. I thought his level of teaching would be higher which is what I wanted. I have had lessons for four years, including Skype lessons. I had lessons previously but it didn't work. I tried the internet but that didn't help. It was very frustrating.

Taking lessons with Phil has meant I can now play really well. All aspects of his teaching are good, really good. The single thing that has helped me is the high standard in everything. He has shown me how to play the chords correctly, to read music, which is so important, and dynamics.

You should take of take lessons with Phil. If you are thinking about it just go ahead. I started with guitar. I have now added drums.

AJ KeysIf you are considering taking lessons with Phil but are not sure yet, can I say just do it. Lessons with Phil will help incredibly with your playing. You will notice a huge improvement.

I had been playing guitar for a couple of years. I knew about Phil because he was well known in the guitar circles as a prominent teacher and musician. I decided to begin lessons with Phil because I wanted to learn a different style of guitar and felt I couldn’t move much further with my teacher at that point. My previous teacher was classically based. I have had seven years of lessons with Phil.

During that time I have learned a great deal. Interestingly it felt like I wasn’t improving much but looking back I have improved in large amounts. Phil has taught me better rhythm, better reading of music, and better technique. As someone with a bit of natural rhythm he has helped me establish that and turn it into a really good base to build all my guitar playing from, as well as developing my own personal style of guitar and personality as a musician.

Phil is a tough and disciplined teacher. Phil is very precise with the skills and concepts on the instrument. There is comfort behind the frustration felt when learning and applying a new skill that Phil wants to see you be the best musician that you can be. Sometimes it can seem to take a long time to improve, however he is patient and articulate. In time you will notice huge improvements in your playing.

I would also note that you will only improve as much as you put in. Phil can only work with you in your lessons. Practice and dedication in your own time is up to you. Don’t leave it just up to Phil to test your skills, challenge yourself and also ask him if you need help learning a piece, either for your own enjoyment or for a particular reason.

Friends recommended me Phil Hartshorn 2 years ago when I was looking for a guitar teacher for my then 7 year old son, Hugh. Since then we have not looked back.

Phil has been fabulous; consistent, patient, supportive, inspiring, clear, communicative and fun. He has also been flexible in his approach, both in terms of his teaching practice, his ability to relate to his students, and his ability to provide stimulating lessons whether in person, or virtually, via Skype. As we have had various trips out of the country, this has been invaluable as Hugh's lessons have been able to continue despite our comings and goings. And with consistency comes progression, fulfillment and enjoyment.

Most recently lessons have changed from being solo to duo, combining levels and pupils and opening up the social component and interplay. Apart from being fun and motivating, it brings music to life and connects like minded young musicians. Hugh says the lessons have gotten even better!

I think Phil is highly professional, dedicated and inspiring. He is a great teacher.

Phil rocks!

MyaWe decided to take lessons with Phil because he was very keen about all aspects of guitar. Mya has been doing lessons with Phil since 2010. Phil is Mya’s first guitar teacher. She has consistently developed several aspects of guitar including reading music. Her confidence has grown with her ability. “I couldn’t play at all, and not confident. Now I am onto Book 1 from Berklee University” If there is one single thing Phil helped me the most with it would be learning the notes.

If you are considering taking lessons with Phil but are not sure yet, I know that Phil is a great teacher and makes you feel very comfortable with learning new things. He is very enthusiastic with his work and he makes sure you enjoy what you are learning.

Nicholas Evans

I was referred to Phil by another teacher. Taking lessons with Phil has meant I can now play, more than I ever thought I could. I have had lessons for four years.

It is hard to say what one single thing Phil has helped me with because all of his teaching is so good. I would like to say that there are not a lot of guitar teachers around like him. If it wasn't for Phil I would not have continued. I recommend Phil to anyone who wants to learn to play.

Our family’s experience having Phil as a music teacher has been outstanding.  Phil has clearly given a lot of thought to his teaching methodology, and we have been pretty amazed at how quickly Jack has been able to pick up drumming over the last year.  The focus on building a solid foundation (e.g. proper technique and learning to read music) has given Jack the ability to really gauge his progress and gives him a good sense of achievement.  Jack really enjoys going to music lessons each week, and we highly recommend Phil as a music teacher!

HughPhil Hartshorn is a great guitar teacher. He's friendly, funny and encouraging!!!

He is also very good at making people understand the situation. So don't worry about thinking that your kid comes home and tells you "I don't know what Phil was talking about". Because that won't happen.

The difference between Phil and other teachers is that he doesn't just teach me to play. He has taught me to learn: the most important skill you can learn, and a skill I now put into many other aspects of my life.

The best advice for someone starting lessons I think would be: know yourself what you want to get out of your lessons; come in with open mind and a will to learn; and remember practice will get you wherever it is you want to get to. But most importantly enjoy yourself because that's what music is all about at the end of the day.

We saw Phil's ad in the local newspaper. After talking to him, Mum thought Phil knew his stuff. I began to really enjoy the lessons. I've now had lessons for over three years. I was a complete beginner and now I feel I'm pretty good. The single most important thing Phil has taught me is to keep the beat. It's not music unless it has a beat. The next important thing is reading the notes.


I would like to mention that Phil is good at teaching the chords: the best way of changing, and how to make them sound good. He also says don't stop playing when a mistake is made. Keep going, keep the beat.


I would say to someone who is not sure about taking lessons that Phil is a really good teacher, you'll improve a lot, and any instrument you learn with Phil you'll find fun and enjoyable.

What have you got most out of the lessons?

Phil gave me a chart to follow and fill in when practicing. This was easy to follow and made sure my practice sessions were not "time wasters". Phil has a passion for his music which is an inspiration and a motivation. Anyone with a love of music and a possible desire to make music a bigger part of their life will be inspired by his attitude and experience.

What would you advise to someone coming into lessons?

Go with an open mind. Make a commitment to practice every day and make a time to do this in a diary or planner. Talk to Phil about how you feel. If you are struggling with something then tell him. Or if you are losing motivation talk to him about it. 


What have I got most out the lessons?

  • Goals - the weekly lessons force me to focus and persist with one piece or exercise to perfect a fundamental technique contained within the exercise.  Without the structure provided by the lessons I could easily jump from one thing to another as most people tend to do when some technique seems too hard or as some other song or lick grabs your fancy.  

  • Recognition of weak areas, bad habits and work to correct them - poor timing, not counting the beats, etc.  All things that the instructor picks up and and stresses MUST be fixed to progress to a higher level of playing.  Again, without the pressure from a goal-oriented lesson structure, these problems tend to persist by going unnoticed (or just being in denial!)

  • Sight reading music - the break from tablature to sight reading music has also helped tremendously with finding notes on the fretboard, and with knowing which notes you are playing.  These latter two concepts sound like the same thing, but are quite the opposite if you think about it.  But both enhance your understanding of the musical structure of a song. Prior to sight reading, I was skilled up on playing all positions of pentatonic scales, but only with the ‘patterns’, and not much attention to what notes I was actually playing.

What would I advise someone coming into lessons?

  • Place value on learning the fundamentals - correct rhythm, counting the beats, sight reading music for instance, as opposed to expecting the instructor to simply show you how to play a favourite song or lick.  You can do that on your own after you’ve put in your lesson time. You’ll find that other ‘fun’ stuff will actually come easier as you get a solid fundamental grounding under you.

  • Don’t expect miracles overnight - in fact, I’m expecting a miracle to NEVER happen!  I’ll just plug along forever, getting only as good as lots of practice allows me.   

What have you got most out of the lessons?

Our daughter has loved learning the guitar with Phil for the last 3 years, he is extremely patient with her and has taught her to read music, which many teachers don't do.  This has given her a great foundation for any other instrument she might like to take up as well as helping with her singing. 

What would you advise to someone coming into lessons?

Practice, practice, practice, and make sure you have the correct sized instrument!

What have I gained the most out of the lessons?

I have had the chance to learn theory though the Art of The Drummer book and I have been able to put it into practice when drumming to modern songs both of which have been fun and helpful. Phil’s insistency on counting and practice has really helped me learn fast which means I am now a consistently improving drummer with both speed and skill. 

What would I advise someone coming into lessons?

I would advise them to be patient as most beneficial things take time and to practice a lot because talent will only take you so far and there is no limit to how good you can be.

I usually have lessons on Skype with Phil as we are based in different places. I have found this a really good way of getting to classes as I have no traveling time! Also I have lessons right through the year with no term breaks and this helps my learning.

What have you got most out of the lessons?

The satisfaction of finally learning to play the guitar I have owned for 20 years! I know I am being taught good technique and habits from the very start so I will keep progressing. Being able to play my first song was a real personal thrill!

What would you advise to someone coming into lessons?

Patience and persistence! You will be learning to read music, learn notes and chords, and all to a beat! As an older beginner (mid 50's) this has been harder than I expected but also a rewarding challenge. Setting up an area with music stand and footrest for my regular practice helped. I have learned much about my own learning abilities and motivations, and Phil has been a patient and encouraging mentor. Making music is a gift no matter your age - go for it!

Thank you for all your hard work with Jaime.  We have really appreciated it and the most rewarding thing is how well she can read music and her playing.

I envisage she will be back to see you sometime in the future for some more as brush ups!  She has an excellent grounding now and loves to play the guitar.

Thank you so much


What have you got most out of the lessons?

I've got a whole lot out of lessons with Phil over the years, but I think the single most valuable thing is feedback (not the Jimi Hendrix variety... although that's fun too). Over the years he’s pointed out countless technique “blind-spots” that would have otherwise gone on to become the sort of bad habits that are just about impossible to shake off a few years later. Don't get me wrong, my technique is a long way from perfect... but it's a lot closer than it would have been without Phil

What would you advise to someone coming into lessons?

Be curious! Don't just passively be taught - actively learn. Ask as many intelligent questions as you can and when you run out, ask the dumb ones too. The lessons where I've just focused on playing the notes have been fun... but the lessons where I've tried to figure out why those particular notes, why that fingering, why in that position and what else would work instead, are the ones that have been the most useful in the long run.


My two boys have been learning drums and guitar with Phil for almost two years. They thoroughly enjoy their lessons. Phil is extremely patient with them, and they feel that his expectations are realistic as regards to practice time required. 

They are enjoying the instruments and the music. Each started with different instruments, which they weren't passionate about, and then changed to the drums and guitar. I think that taking time to choose the right instrument as well as the right teacher is important.


Wil has been attending guitar lessons for over 12 months now.  During this time his joy of playing has increased, and even when he doesn't get all his recommended practice in, he still comes home from his lessons excited about what he has learnt today.  I'm really impressed with how much he is learning from Phil. It is vital to be committed to the lessons as they run through the holidays, but this consistency is rewarded with continual progress. When is our first recital Phil?


Our child really enjoys the lessons with Phil. We find that Phil is a very punctual, fair and thorough teacher. If you are looking for a teacher who gives a great grounding in music while teaching the chosen instrument and you are ready to put in the time and effort to practice in-between lessons the rewards are very satisfying. Our family are happy to see and hear the continued love and dedication of our child playing an instrument and hope it continues into the future.


Thank you so much for an excellent year - particularly the Golden Pick and Sticks - you put in so much work and effort and I'm sure it's difficult to see the immediate benefits! My son played in the school band at the final assembly and did a great job. He really was the heartbeat of the band - held them all together and they were looking to him to do that. He loves drumming and I think he's developing a life long passion that will always deliver him fun and pleasure. So thank you!

The Big Picture: Learning Guitar, Bass or Drums

Hugh Rudd

Phil Hartshorn is a great guitar teacher. He's friendly, funny and encouraging!!!

He is also very good at making people understand the situation. So don't worry about thinking that your kid comes home and tells you "I don't know what Phil was talking about". Because that won't happen.

Read More

AJ Keys

AJ KeysIf you are considering taking lessons with Phil but are not sure yet, can I say just do it. Lessons with Phil will help incredibly with your playing. You will notice a huge improvement.

Read More


Dunedin School Of Music Location