Benefits of the Garden City Guitar Program approach to learning guitar:
Nathan teaches both private lessons and small group classes. The format choice will depend on the individual student's age and needs. Private lessons allow for tailoring the approach to the individual's learning style and pace. Small group lessons give participants the opportunity for peer musical interaction, while also receiving individual attention. The most important thing in Nathan's classes is playing music together, having fun exploring the guitar, and helping students have meaningful learning experiences.
The curriculum and teaching techniques Nathan uses have been developed specifically for working with youth, with a focus on teaching directly to each student's development level. Parents are involved in the lessons and given tools to help with the learning process at home. This includes an online class page that gives parents access to video, audio, and other interactive resources for the material your child is learning. You and your child will be given clear, consistent and achievable learning goals each week, building on the learning successes of the previous lesson.
Students are taught a classical/fingerstyle approach to guitar. This supports a student's development of high level fine motor control, and is a style that gives students flexible and expressive musical capabilities.
Students learn music in a variety of styles, with a focus on both ear training and developing music reading skills. Nathan's goal is for student's to be equally comfortable reading classical pieces, accompanying themselves singing, being the guitarist in a jazz combo, or playing in a band with friends.
Student recitals and concert events take place several times a year, giving your child the opportunity to perform in front of enthusiastic, supportive audiences. All performances are voluntary. In addition to recitals, student performance ensembles, group jam sessions, and other community music making and learning opportunities are available. To view upcoming performances, see our
Nathan understands the importance of motivation for a child's learning. Garden City Guitar Program has regular motivational contests and events that include exciting student prizes. Nathan's curriculum includes built in "levels" that culminate in graduation to the next level, providing ongoing incentive to put in effort, and marking the student's progress and achievements.
Garden City Guitar Program is designed to support students learning from childhood through teenage years, with guitar students often starting at age 4-7 and continuing through high-school, making music an important part of their lives into adulthood. Nathan's goal as a teacher is to see students develop confidence with their instrument, patiently guiding them through learning important technical skills and knowledge, while supporting them in following their own musical curiosity.
Nathan Zavalney believes that every child can learn to make music. He has dedicated his professional life for the past 23 years to teaching guitar to children and adolescents, working with well over 500 students in private and group lessons, as well as performance ensembles. Alongside his teaching, Nathan develops guitar instruction curriculum, and has trained and supervised more than a dozen teachers.
Nathan owned and directed the Missoula Childbloom Guitar Program for 22 years before founding Garden City Guitar Program in 2023. Nathan ended his license and affiliation with the national Childbloom Company in order to focus on offering his own unique and effective approach to teaching guitar to youth, one that is based on a more modern and comprehensive curriculum and the relational and developmental principles of Suzuki Music Education.
Nathan is a registered guitar instructor with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and has done ongoing teacher training in multiple modalities over the course of his professional guitar instruction career. He studied at the University of Montana School Of Music, along with private classical, jazz, and fingerstyle guitar instruction from Matthew Marsolek, Janet Feder, and Darrel Casey, and supervision under Suzuki trainer Joseph Pecoraro.
Nathan is a 4th generation Montanan. He grew up in Helena and has been a Missoula resident for the past 27 years. He loves hiking with his dog Jane and wife Ann, cooking, tending his koi pond, and exploring the backroads and trails of Western Montana (and beyond).