John started playing guitar around 25 years ago, after holding an old Washburn acoustic that enamored him. Not long after, his dad made an electric guitar (a Fender Strat replica) and gave it to him on October 28, 1995, his 15th birthday. Inspired by guitar luminaries Phil Keaggy, Steve Morse and Eric Johnson, John continued playing both acoustic and electric guitars with increasing verve and determination.
John’s head enlarged with thoughts of his growing abilities (this in late high school), but it was around this time when he was introduced to a true master: Lexington, KY’s guitar phenomenon, Ben Lacy. Thoroughly humbled and excited, John studied under Ben right away. The overarching lesson he learned through these studies was that our hands and fingers can do much more on the guitar than we ever thought possible.
In the late 90s, John began playing regularly in various ensembles: his church’s worship team, the funk/worship band Fox News, the nose-raising funk trio, Funk Buffet, the experimental power duo, VanFutch, and many others. Along the way he’s also played at many (many!) weddings, funerals, coffee shops, bar and grilles, and even a field-packed festival or two.
Skip to 2004, when John posted ads for guitar lessons around the University of Kentucky campus. It became clear during this season that he had a knack for teaching, and he’s been teaching guitar lessons ever since.
In 2008 he married Julie, the love of his life. Julie herself was a musician and taught voice and piano. That same year they took teaching to the next level and opened up their own private teaching studio, Noteworthy Music. The studio immediately took off, and in just a few short months they were having to put students on a waiting list. To this day, there’s an average of about 20 students who take private, one-on-one lessons from John every week.
Online Guitar Instructor
In 2016 a good friend pitched the idea of starting a website for teaching guitar lessons online, and while there were already a few online sites that did this well, there was a potential demographic that didn’t seem to have a home. Many online sites tended to overwhelm the potential student with too many options, and required them to make too many choices. To boot, there didn’t seem to be a well-developed curriculum that was family friendly and ideal for individuals as well as homeschools, private schools and co-ops, etc.
Out of this conviction First Frets was birthed – an online experience that simplifies and clarifies everything, is perfect for individuals and/or families, and develops the beginner guitar player into the complete guitarist. Most students want a simple, single, clear path that takes them confidently from one step to the next. John’s hope is that First Frets can achieve this with the same success that he’s had in his own private studio.
The journey has begun!