Guitar Lessons NH
Music Teacher in New Hampshire


Here is another selection of simple songs that guitar players can perform that incorporate traditional melodies.  The songs are slightly more difficult than the original examples found in this blog, so if you’re just starting on guitar, you might check that out first.  You can download example below with audio attached at this link:


Brain Stew by Green Day has become a rock standard for the beginning guitarist.  Here’s a detailed tutorial to get you started on this recent classic.  Take it a step further by performing this song with power chords instead following the instructions provided and don’t forget to tune the music up a 1/2 step if you’re going to play along with a track from your collection.  Next lesson….. How to smash your gear!


The movie Crossroads was a major influential hit that encouraged a large contingent of the American youth to try their skills on the guitar.  As I took up the challenge, I hoped to eventually live an extravagant lifestyle with earnings directly related to my rock star career choice.  This dream never came true, but I have managed to make music a love of my life.  The list below profiles various groups that I’ve worked with, and describes our successes and/or lack thereof.  The hope is, maybe there are some lessons to be learned from the experiences – and of course….. some “tasty” tunes brah.

Pudding in a Cloud (1988-1990) – Worcester, MA
For success to have become evident with this band, we would have needed interstellar circumstances of luck.  Basically, we were a bunch of high school budz who liked to skateboard and play music (classic rock and loud jams).  Our talents were limited; to a point that our bassist (Dan) knew virtually nothing about the instrument, but he could make the floor shake, and that was enough for us.  Our low standards and absolute disorganization ensured us zero accomplishments.

Red House (1991-1993) – Boulder, CO

This was the perfect example of a band filled with college dropouts and unmotivated semi-wanna-be-pro musicians.  We held smoke filled jams everyday/night, for hours on end, with absolutely no direction.  Even with a series of local and international music business connections, this band was not going anywhere.  We eventually recruited a singer-songwriter (Mark) and he gave us some focus, but it was too little too late.
Red House

Jamminils (1998) – Cape Cod, MA

This was my first extensive recording project done an a basic Tascam Portastudio with programmed drum parts, multi-tracking, bounces, and EQ’ed mixdowns.  The musical styles were scatterbrained and so wasn’t much of the musicianship.

Woodshedding Years (1998-2004) – Various

The Jamminils recording project helped me realize that my skills needed serious improvement.  I started practicing for countless hours everyday.  No booze/drugs, no girls, no television or distractions in any way.  It was not uncommon for me to practice 6hrs-8hrs each day, even if that meant less sleep!

We Are One (1999) – Santa Cruz, CA
One of the most enlightening experiences of my life was a trip to Jamaica in 1995.  My time with this band in 1999 really reminded me of how important it was for me to revisit the music and culture of the island.  Ultimately though, this band was not going to see success, as it was made up of hired guns.  With that, when it came time to collect our night’s pay, the bandleader (Maurice) would tell everyone that no money could be distributed because our expenses were higher than our pay.  What was being considered an expense was often repairs on his gear (not ours) or fees for recording studio time that we never attended (he owed people for past sessions).  Most bandmembers quit after a few gigs, so our lineup was constantly changing.  I didn’t care too much about non-payments, since I was deep in my woodshedding period, and I was just chalking the whole thing up for the experience, but the band was never going to move forward with a business model like that.

September (2000) – Boulder, CO
I blew up my four-track during this project and it took over six months to complete, so this was not a simple project – and that’s with the typical cop-out decision to record half the tracks as acoustic songs, which is always a time saver.  On this recording I started to gravitate towards jazz, blues, and reggae – so at least the music selection complimented itself.  At this point, the years of woodshedding started to show, as the recording has fewer blatant mistakes.

Northwood Reggae Project (2001) – Northwood, NH

This NH reggae band was the bandleader’s (Greg) attempt at formulating a secure line-up of musicians (instead of using hired guns from Jamaica) for the regular beachside summer series that he had hosted for decades.  I remember after two rehearsals the trombone player (….. different Greg) requested that I be removed from the band for personal reasons, even though I didn’t know him, so this one had a bizarre feel from the beginning (he was fired as a consequence of the suggestion).  Nonetheless, I eventually got fired for lack of skills, but I’m sure the backstory goes further than that, especially considering that everyone else openly admitted and displayed that they also had limited abilities:)

Free Treats (2002-2003) – Dover, NH
This band was about as scatterbrained as my first EP.  We played only original music.  We didn’t settle in on a particular genre, and we used multiple songwriters, so we played anything from Grunge to Rap to Bubble-Gum Love Songs.  It’s hard to market such randomness, which meant we played gigs at non-traditional venues, such as our first event at a movie theater lobby in Worcester, MA!  I quit this band because I felt that everyone didn’t want to formulate clear goals….. a big one being: let’s fire bandmembers who don’t show up for rehearsals.  Bandmember reliability is a recurring issue, and I take a hard stance on it, but this was my first break from a band in direct relation to the subject.

Drums, Guitars, Bass Lines, and Laid Back Rhymes (2004) – Portsmouth, NH

Considering that my backbeats were always programmed drum tracks, I started arranging music so it complimented the electronic nature of the sounds that were applied.  The music on this CD was funky and jazzy with some hip-hop lyrics and a splash of reggae.  It was still a bit disorienting, in terms of style, but I feel my performances were good, which is the most important thing.

J. Kell’s Band (2005-2007) – Portsmouth, NH

The J. Kell’s Band had a true family vibe with members hanging loose and playing music (as opposed to only being interested only in a paycheck or JUST the jams), yet they still took things seriously enough to gig and record.  The bandleader (Jesse) was great at convincing venues to hire us and he hustled to make sure crowds were attracted to our shows.  We played a mix of classic rock songs and originals – not my first choice, but it was worth the sacrifice to be absolved of management duties.  Unfortunately there was no orchestral director, which meant everyone (six+ bandmembers) played as loud and hard as possible until the ear bleeding volume levels made our sessions/concerts sound more like noise than music.  The drunk audiences never seem to care though, so I guess….. more power to us.  Toward the end, we started having bandmember attendance issues along with a multitude of problems indicative of substances, girls, other rock-n-roll distractions.  The band dissolved soon after doing a studio recording called “The Next Big Thing”.  Maybe it should have been titled “The Last Big Thing”.

Exeter Music Band (2006) – Exeter, NH

What happens when you bring a group of talented well rehearsed musicians who have limited commercial success together to play in a classic rock cover band?  Yes, I would have preferred to do modern material, but really….. am I going to convince the baby boomer hosts to play hip-hop covers by Outkast?  This was a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario, but it was a great learning experience.  I saw the best and worst in everyone, and closely watched the unofficial bandleader (Rich) do an incredible/amazing/outstanding job managing the riff-raff.  We only had a couple of concerts, and they went well.  For me, success was marked by a chance to spend some time with co-workers and friends, and less by the performance level of the overtly talented line-up.

Boom Lava (2006-Current) – Hampton Beach, NH

I was exposed to a lot of modern hip-hop, dub, funk, jazz, and reggae while living in Boulder, CO and Santa Cruz, CA.  The problem is, New Hampshire is like a musical time warp, with a large array of people wanting motorcycle friendly classic rock/metal etc.  I knew starting a band with a more internationally influenced vibe was not going to be an easy task, but I felt musically unfulfilled, and suspected this was the solution.  I didn’t look forward to the management duties, but in all truth, there is no other way.  We have had over thirty drummers rehearse with us, and five move thru the vacancy position (proving the theory: drummers are combustible).  I have had to hire and fire more people than I ever cared to.  Many have quit, none have died, but a few have been too stoned to make it onstage.  Our sound has changed as we continually move thru bandmembers, with anything from outer-space DJ’s to female lead vocals coming and going.  Nonetheless, I believe my ability to enjoy and manage this project has been a lasting and fulfilling one, so it has been worth the effort and time.

Wendy and Nils (2009) – Dover, NH

Christmas is a musical time of year, and I have released a few albums with that theme.  The one that features my wife (Wendy) is certainly my favorite, as her performing, and especially her voice, is absolutely beautiful.  I am not big on peer pressure, so I don’t often request that she contribute much to my musical projects, but when she does it’s magnificent.  It would be wonderful to hear her voice on more, but I’ll leave that to her own devices.  She’s always willing to perform if I ask her, so I look at her like she’s my secret gemstone – beautiful!

Greatest Singles (2010-Current)

Boom Lava is not going to tour New England or spend weeks in a studio getting everything perfect, so to placate my urge for recording quality music, I’ve turned to self-production.  Modern technology has made it possible to create incredible bodies of work, so this has been a very exciting avenue for releasing my art.  I title these releases “Greatest Singles” but I understand they are not great – very good would be a better description, given my skills, commitment level, and resources.

Cocheco Street Jazz (2014-Current) – Dover, NH

While researching my guitar teacher (Joe) from the 1980’s, I came across an interview with him made by a colleague at WPI.  He expresses some hesitation about the future of jazz.  I was reminded about my love for jazz music and decided to start this band.  For a variety of reasons, my management duties are limited, which means I can concentrate more on the music, which is wonderful.  Good music, good people, and good jazz!

If you want to dig a bit deeper into the musical archives, you can download all of my personal recordings at this link:


As seen in my buyer’s guide, there are many things to consider when purchasing musical equipment.  The logic that quality gear will result in better sound is not entirely unflawed.  PRACTICE will lead to good sound.  I live by example, as you can see from my instruments in the photos below.

Nils Seagull S6 with Gorilla Glue Repair.jpg

Keep in mind, I am not materialistic and I have crafted my art to represent that.  If I was working in a band that played formal functions, then appearance would be a more important factor, and I would concede to the proper stage presence.

Nils Crusberg - Les Paul Studio - Guitar - Small - Edited


As a full time private music instructor, I see at least fifty students each week.  Honestly, the vast majority of my students have virtually no interest in becoming involved with music on a professional level.  Most of them do it for personal enjoyment.  My students spend a lot of their time doing schoolwork and other extracurricular activities, such as sports; therefore they do NOT spend countless hours everyday practicing music, and conclusively they are not high achievers (AKA crazy insane guitarists!?@&*^%)

Guitarist Knuts - Edited

The article below outlines how kids are often overtaxed with commitments.  It describes how society has catered to this lifestyle and has propelled beliefs into our youth of outstanding achievement, even when it’s not true.  It also addresses how that affects kids as they move into the world of adulthood.  It’s a very good read!

In any case, I try to keep a levelheaded approach to this.  Often, students just use the 1/2hr we have together each week to unwind.  They learn a little guitar along with some basics of music, we hang loose, and they move on.  If I happen to have a student who puts in the extra-commitment, I will certainly challenge him/her, but if they are not looking to become outstanding, then I lower my expectations to match their goals.  Easy enough:)


I recently came across an article on the subject of finding a music teacher.  I’ve always kept that topic as the front page of, but the opinions provided by the artists below offer extra insight.  This is a quick read, but worth some thought if you’re considering a lessons program.


SmkI took private guitar lessons during the late 1980’s.  My experience as a student had me in an entirely different environment than the one I currently teach in.  Guitar Tablature had not fully been an accepted form of notation (although it is arguably the most accurate), educational resources were not as readily available as they are today, teaching methods were often dry and uninteresting.  The location where I learned guitar was drastically different.  Instead of a first class studio overlooking a tidal estuary, as a I currently reside, I was attending lessons in a section of a city that was vaguely crime ridden and located just a 1/2 block away from an adult movie theater in a room that was filled with cigarette smoke as common custom encouraged the habit in basically every situation.


My field of study with the guitar focused on jazz music, so I learned a limited amount of rock songs.  I spent the majority of my time reviewing a large variety of jazz concepts and technical skills, both conceptually and in real life situations.  I applied my learned knowledge to jazz standards.  Below, I’ve provided to the general public scanned versions of all the material that I used in my private lessons program, for either study or interest.’Angelo_-_Lesson_Plans.pdf


As noted in prior blogs, I’ve made all of my guitar teaching lesson plans available at no cost to other interested parties.  One thing I haven’t done is provide the general public with instructional videos that might help with learning the instrument.  The youtube video linked below is my first attempt to create an educational video on playing guitar.  If you are an absolute beginner, I would suggest the song that is profiled in this video “The Movie Soundtrack for JAWS” as your first attempt to learn something on guitar.  As you can see, I left myself lots of room for improvement, but the content is accurate, and hopefully aspiring players find it useful.  Rock On!!!!


Here are a few songs that have very simple melodies. I find the arrangements work great when teaching younger students. The songs are easy…. they give students confidence and a sense of accomplishment.  You can download example below with audio attached at this link:


I usually hesitate to acquire the latest technological gadgets. The reason for my delayed response is often financial, but I am also the type of person who avoids unnecessary “improvements”. Things that work don’t need replacements! I am still using Windows XP on most of my personal computers (except of course my Apple). On my website, I have limited audio recommendations to software items that support the XP operating system:

In 2011, a few of my family members gave me an iPad as a gift. At first I was very hesitant, as I like to have full control of the behavior of my computer systems. iOS has lots of limitations in that regard. I managed to put that personal requirement aside, and I embraced the iPad for it’s full potential. The iPad and it’s relatives provide musicians with incredible resources at an affordable price. Here is a list of music apps that I use regularly, and I highly recommend to students and other musicians who want to use their devices to enhance their learning experience.

Instrument Tuner
A good tuner for both band instruments and guitar is Pano Tuner. It is FREE and it responds very well to the sound in the room. Many tuners respond to overtones and give false readings, but this one doesn’t have that problem.

Pano Tuner

Change Tempo and Pitch

Slowing down music and changing the pitch of what you are hearing is an essential learning tool for any instrumentalist. Slow Down Music Player (SDMP) is my favorite, but JamUp XT is a close second with extra features for guitarists such as recording capabilities, amp simulation, and sample loading. Both items are FREE, but the display for SDMP is only iPhone/iPod Touch compatible, so it lacks resolution. JamUp XT attempts to up-sell the consumer, but the nag screens and are limited and the free version is quite functional.

Slow Down Music Player

JamUp XT


All musicians should regularly practice with a metronome. There are tons of excellent FREE apps in this department, but one of my favorites is Pro Metronome. It supports odd time signatures and you can change the sound of the click. It can be a hassle because it offers “hidden” up-sells for more wacky options like odd subdivisions,  and visual enhancements, but once you figure out the limitations, it’s easy to avoid those features.

Pro Metronome

Drum Machines

Metronomes can be a monotonous way to improve rhythm skills, so I highly recommend practicing with a drum beat/machine. I have not found a free app that provides a large variety of patterns where the user can control the speeds/tempos, but I have discovered a couple of FREE apps that provide a limited number of drum examples for a musician to play along with, albeit with caveats. Drum Beats has fifty patterns to choose from but it displays flashing advertisements if your device is connected to the outside world and its display has limited resolution in order to keep it compatible with the iPhone/iPod touch. The Sample Player has modern drum/instrumental loops, but no “simple” beats are available, thus making the tracks sound a bit cluttered. Groove Bank provides the musician with a good selection of beats and it offers a large variety of tempos, but the user must sort thru “locked” examples to avoid being up-sold. bleep!Box Player is designed like a traditional drum machine/sequencer (it’s not just a loop player). It gives you editable pre-programmed examples, but the free version does not allow you to save edits, so if you wanted to practice with a basic beat, you would have to do a quick edit every time you open the product.

Drum Beats
Drum Beats Sample Player
Groove Bank
Groove Bank
Box Player!box-player/id331518681?mt=8
Bleep Player

Music Production/Recording Studio

All the apps listed above, in one form or another, are necessary tools for any musician who is aspiring for improvement. Notice they are all free. The one app whose value far outweighs its cost is Garageband. If anything, the recording studio app made by Apple has too many features.  The interface is as intuitive as a piece of software this complicated can be. Excellent sounding tracks can be produced with this app, and for $5 it’s the deal of a lifetime. Unfortunately, Apple recently changed its pricing scheme on this product and made the app free with a $5 charge to unlock all of its features. In-App-Purchase requirements are always less desirable because they prevent the purchaser from installing the full featured version of the app on multiple devices.

Garageband New


There are many other recording and music production apps that are outstanding. A few that I have had positive experiences with are: Synthstation, Djay, Fruit Loops Studio, Thumbjam, Music Studio, Groove Maker, Studio Track, MultiTrack, Tabletop, AudioShare, Wavepad, Traktor DJ, and iSequence. One important app that makes it possible to run multiple production apps together in tandem/unison is Audiobus.

Keep in mind, the apps listed above are current products in good standing as of late 2013, but that can change quickly. App developers often make updates to their software….. for better or for worse. It is important to have the ability to revert to a previous version of an app in order to avoid bad updates. To do this, you must plan in advance. Backup your apps by copying the contents of your “Mobile Applications” folder to a separate location. This folder is usually located in the “My Music/iTunes…..iTunes Media” of a computer with a Windows based operating system. A process of deleting the new version of the app and then dragging a copy of the original version of the app into the iTunes library is required to complete the process. Look online for tutorials on the subject, as this is only a quick description of how it works.