Frequently Asked Questions




Thanks for the possible opportunity to help you receive the best possible start in playing guitar, bass or drums. Since 2007 I have been committed to providing people with the highest quality of tuition available. My ongoing development, starting in 2001, as teacher and musician, is guided by tutors involved with the top music tertiary institutions in the country.

Their are many obstacles to becoming a strong musician. One of them is cost and the other one is the quality of the tuition. So I'm going to try and help you with that. Learning how to play music is expensive. There's a great saying which goes like this. “People go to a lot of trouble to find cheap lessons and then get a lot of trouble when they are found.” I'm going to try and help you out. I'll try to keep the cost down, but I'll make sure the quality is high. In short there is a complete programme of music which has been put together by the top music teachers in New Zealand. There is a direct link from beginner level, to gaining acceptance to the best music school in the country. Acceptance is based on audition and skill level only. This is a very rewarding and enjoyable journey. 


In these current times where value for money is an important element in any decision making is it essential to ensure that you or your child has a good start in playing music. Other teachers may be closer and cheaper but should those factors determine your decision?

The most important factor is whether you are investing in a good music teacher. How can you tell? Well you can ask a few questions.


Here are a few:

What are the standards of the teacher’s students?


What does the teacher do?


Should distance to travel be a factor when deciding on a music teacher?


Are lessons taught individually or in groups?


Is music notation taught at the very beginning of learning?


What kind of support will I have?


Is there a promise of playing in a band?


Is their an opportunity to perform?

 Please read on to gain answers to these questions.


What are the standards of the teacher’s current music students?

I’m happy to say that my students are very well represented in many aspects of the community. From end of year school music prizes, gaining excellence in music performance, gaining recognition in local and national music competitions, to participating in a number of community events ranging from musicals to rock and jazz bands. Reading music, not including tablature, from the very beginning enables the musician to participate in these events. 


What does the teacher do?

As is the case with all full time musicians there are many components to what I do.  I have played with many people in many settings: from original bands, classic hits professionals; stage shows; two big band jazz orchestras; and jazz/blues combos. I have played instrumental solo gigs, and recorded often. My ongoing development as teacher and musician is guided by tutors involved with the top music tertiary institutions in the country. 


Should distance to travel be a factor when deciding on a music teacher?

No. When I started learning I travelled great distances to find a good teacher. An alternative to travelling to a lesson is having the same individual lesson using the internet. The quality of the teacher is the most important factor. Not all teachers are the same. Unfortunately standards vary greatly. In fact it would be an advantage to the student if their computer literacy also developed while learning music. A great deal of music related work involves I.C.T. skills.


Are lessons taught individually or in groups?

Although groups may be a cheaper option initially and they may be available at a local school, they do not cater for individual learning needs. It is more cost effective to have quality individual lessons. I use two teaching spaces which means two individual lessons are run at the same time. This is great because you get to know someone else who is going through what it takes to learn music. In addition, when appropriate, there is the opportunity to not only jam with me but also the other person learning too.


Is music notation taught at the very beginning of learning or is it delayed by six months or longer?

A music student is at a distinct disadvantage if learning to read music is delayed. All music knowledge and technique comes from learning how to read music notation. It gives the student the ability to play the songs he/she would like to play.

Too much time and money is wasted as a result of lessons consisting of songs, chords and tablature reading only. Very little useful knowledge is taught in such lessons. Learning tabulature is not reading music.


What kind of support will I have?

 A successful music student is one who knows how to practice. It is the time between lessons which determines the level of success and pleasure the student gains from playing music. Learning how to practice is a skill in itself. To help you with this I have created a web site entitled, The Golden Pick and Sticks. This site is designed to reward the student while he/she is practicing. It reinforces the principles of practice which I will cover with the student during lessons.


Is there a promise of playing in a band?

 When students have reached a certain skill level in there reading and playing they will be encourgaed to play together. I currently have a number of bands who meet regularly.

It is widely recommended by music professionals that playing in bands should be avoided for the first number of years of playing. Too many music students lose their interest as a result of a negative experience from playing in a band when they are not ready.


Is their an opportunity to perform? 

Each person is different. Because someone plays and learns music, it doesn't mean they wish to perform. It is often a scary proposition to play with the other person learning in the other room. When a person is ready I suggest they begin to look for opportunities to play.


What do I need to buy?

I’ll tell you when and where to buy your books. They are not needed all at once. In addition I will be adding and expanding concepts found in the books with my own lessons.

You will need a tuner and metronome. For guitar and bass players I recommend the Boss TU80 combined Metronome/Tuner. It is good value and high quality.



 My curriculum is based upon various texts written by people who are highly regarded musicians. These texts are used by the top music teachers who produce the top music students.

The main texts for guitar are the Ernie Ball and Berklee (University) publications. Specialist Rock, Blues and Irish sources are used when the student is ready.

For drummers the series Art of the Drummer is the main source. It is supplemented be Berklee publications and Ted Reed’s Syncopation for the Modern Drummer.

For bass players Berklee and the highly regarded series by Ed Friedland is used. All three instruments use the Rockschool series from time to time.







Introducing Philip Hartshorn's D.S.M.

The Big Picture: Learning Guitar, Bass or Drums

Daniel Thompson

Phil is my first drumming teacher. “I couldn’t play before, but now I can, thanks to his great teaching! I have improved 100%. I really like the way Phil encourages me with my drumming. I love playing his electronic kits. I look forward to every lesson. I love playing and learning new songs. I like how kind and encouraging he is when I make a mistake.”

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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.

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Michael Morgan

If you are considering taking lessons with Phil but are not sure yet, can I say give it a go, no matter which method you use. After starting with face to face lessons, I was surprised how efficient the internet based lessons are and the ability to log in from anywhere you have a connection and device is great. Phil is a patient and proficient teacher and his methods provide challenge and reward as you master your chosen instrument.

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