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 and starting at as young an age as possible. He currently does not take new students over the age of 11, though students are welcome start as young as 4 and to stay with lessons through high school. Parents are involved in the lessons and given tools to help with the learning process at home. You and your child will be given clear, consistent and achievable learning goals each week, building on the learning successes of the previous lesson.
Many students who learn with Nathan stick with guitar lessons for many years, often starting at age 5 or younger and continuing through high-school, making music an important part of their lives into adulthood. His goal as a teacher is to see students develop confidence with their instrument, patiently guiding them through important technical skills and knowledge, while supporting them in following their own musical curiosity.
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 Events section.
Benefits of the Garden City Guitar Program approach to learning guitar:
Nathan Zavalney believes that every child can learn to make music. He has dedicated his professional life for the past 24 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. He has been the director of the program for the past 22 years. Nathan is a registered Suzuki Guitar instructor, 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).