© 2016 by Gabor Szarvas

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Student testimonials

   I’ve been taking weekly guitar lessons with Gabor for 3 ½ years, and have grown tremendously under his tutelage.  I am an adult learner in my late 40s with a full time job.  Before our first lesson, I had never held a guitar before, couldn’t read music, and was terrified to perform in public.  Because of his patient encouragement, I am now well on my way to sight-reading music, and was recently able to perform in public for the first time!  Gabor’s style is organic and sensitive, adapting to my needs over time.   His personality is playful and witty, with a low-pressure approach.  He picks music that inspires me and helps me to see that classical guitar should be something I play for my whole life, not only the next several years.

   I found Gabor by searching the internet for “classical guitar teachers in Madison.”  Before I even met him, he helped me find a guitar.  He went to a local instrument shop and played three instruments I was considering, sending me detailed comments about each instrument with his recommendation on which one to buy.  I was so impressed that someone would take the time to do that before meeting a student,  I immediately signed up for a lesson.  I am also grateful I took his advice and bought the guitar he recommended.  When I picked it up, the shopkeeper said, “That’s a special teacher.  He must have played those instruments for an hour.”

   Another quality I admire about him is his integrity.  Whether it is being truthful about weaknesses in my playing or ensuring I get every minute I’ve paid for in a lesson, his character shines through.  Honesty at this level is rare.  I remember asking him if I could pay for a lesson I needed to reschedule and he said “No, I can’t accept your money. That’s not my cancellation policy right now.  If I do something for one student, I do it for all my students.”

   In addition to providing lessons, Gabor also encourages his students to meet for group gatherings where we play for one another, and offers us opportunities to play in public in different venues.  As his student, I’ve met dozens of musicians and developed friendships with an entire musical community.  My relationship with this teacher has produced more than songs on a beautiful instrument.  It has opened up my heart to music.

   If you are fortunate enough to have found this website, I hope you make an appointment to meet with Gabor.   You’ll be happy you did.

-Stephanie C.

   If you ever thought you wanted to learn to play guitar or you wanted to take your skill level to the next step, Gabor should be your instructor!  It is rare to find someone who has extraordinary technical skills, artistic passion along with an awesome temperament and tool box for teaching.

   As a beginner I have been taking lessons with Gabor since summer of 2015.  In that time he has expanded my knowledge of music and instructed me on so many things:  scales, chords, tempo, artistic expression, technical placement/usage of the left and right hand, posture, nail care and performance strategies - all within the context of compositions largely of my choosing.   Gabor is patient, creative and supportive.  

   Finding the right instructor makes all the difference.  If you are thinking of taking classes, make sure you check this guy out.

-Lori H.

Gabor is a wonderful teacher. He's patient and encouraging and always positive. He works with you where you're at and doesn't rush you, but he pushes you to excel. He's got great musical knowledge and experience. The thing I like the most is how he emphasizes good, relaxed, tension-free technique which allows us to play well for a long time to come.

-Eric P.

I really enjoy taking lessons with Gabor. He is very patient while we explore the world of classical playing. Gabor is an excellent player as well as a great teacher!

-Richard W.

  I studied with Gabor for only about six months, and then a medical problem prevented me from getting to lessons. I really enjoyed his classes.

   I had been playing folk guitar (steel string) for many years - without any lessons - and possibly the most important thing I learned was to approach the guitar in a more orderly way.  Having clear exercises to build skills helped me slow down and approach the instrument in a more technical way, which I needed.

   Gabor's style is perceptive, adaptable, and easy going, yet also careful and encouraging.  He teaches to the student, rather than a predetermined lesson plan, which makes all his classes seem custom-made.  He sees just what the student needs to work on most and gently but clearly points out how to make improvements.  Maybe the most wonderful aspect of his approach is that he never treats the work like an exercise - even the exercises.  For him, it's all music, and he helps the student draw the music out of even the simplest series of notes.

 I have to admit I thought I knew something about playing guitar.  Gabor was able to point out where I needed to learn, or to unlearn something, without ever seeming superior or irritated.  That's one of the things I enjoyed most about studying with him.  I couldn't get away with shortcuts or anything else, and yet I always felt I was treated with great respect.

   Gabor makes lessons about the student, not about himself.  So I'd guess the most important thing for him is to see his students’ progress in the ways they need to, and not according to some preconceived plan.

   I would absolutely recommend Gabor as a guitar teacher.  Maybe even a singing teacher, too, since he has such a fine, rich voice.

-David B.

I took classes with Gabor for a little over one year. He’s an excellent teacher to begin with as he really gives you a solid base to build off of, effortlessly working you from the basics of plucking a string up to playing complex classical melodies at a pace that is both controlled and reasonable, and yet surprisingly fast. Gabor has a zen like composure and is very relaxing and easy to work with. He gives you the tools to be able to break even the most complicated melodies down into their component parts, to make practicing them manageable and easy. On top of all else, Gabor instills a deep appreciation of sound in his students. Whether it’s an elaborate baroque melody or simply the sound of an open string filling the room, you will learn to appreciate the unique acoustic quality of the classic guitar. I was really sad to finish up class with Gabor, but I feel that in a relatively short period of time I went from knowing nothing about the guitar to being confident in my ability to pick apart what ever song I want and learn it fully.

 

-Andrew Kiefaber, 2016

Other guitarists about Gabor

   Gabor is an experienced, successful teacher.  He really cares about his students, and I have seen several of them progress significantly.  As a teacher, Gabor is patient and encouraging, and he knows how to bring about positive results with his students.  He is professional and deeply knowledgeable, yet completely approachable.  That he has built such a strong community of students is inspiring.  And on top of that, he is an important presence in the wider Madison guitar community, as not only a teacher, but also a superb performer, and an active member of the Madison Classical Guitar Society.  I strongly encourage classical guitarists of any level in the Madison area to take lessons with Gabor! 

 

-Dr. Miles McConnell, DMA

Instructor of Guitar, UW-Platteville, Clarke University, Loras College, and Monroe Street Arts Center

   Gabor is a patient and incredibly effective teacher.  He uses his experience and mastery as a performer to guide those he teaches toward making constructive progress in an organic way that feels effortless and rewarding.  His students never fail to impress.

   Having worked with Gabor myself, I can say that I made more progress in a half-hour with him than in a week of practicing on my own.  He has a knack for identifying the root cause of problems, then breaking the problems down into focused solutions, all while never losing sight of the expressive artistry the music demands.

 

-Tom Nauman
BA music performance, Classical Guitar

Vice President of Madison Classical Guitar Society
Director of Publications, Musicnotes, Inc.

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