"I had struggled for years with the idea of learning to play some jazz guitar. I had worked through various chapters of Mickey Baker’s books, and Allan Holdsworth videos and come to the conclusion that without a real teacher I would get nowhere. Fast. I contacted the local university to ask if they had students or staff who wanted to do some teaching. Crickets.
One day a video of Esmond appeared on my Facebook feed, and we started chatting. I explained that I’d be happy if I could play the first four bars of the blues tune in the video. He explained that that’s a part of what he teaches. I pointed out that I am in the US and he’s in Wales. He pointed out that these days Skype is quite reliable.
He started teaching me, and I quickly realized how little I know, but he’s incredibly patient and extraordinarily knowledgeable . As well as being a very talented player he’s a bloody good teacher, with a knack for simplifying complex concepts.
Regardless of your ability, if you have ever thought of jazz guitar tuition give Esmond a call, I am very glad that I did. Oh, and he knows some great jokes!"
"Esmond, you are a grand inspiration. Thank you"
You are UK's best-kept secret and one of the true Great Jazz Guitarists. When I hear you play, I hear 100% pure, unaltered, honest, organic, no B.S., inventive, hard-swinging, soul-stirring, jaw-dropping jazz guitar. Your playing represents an outstanding summation of the very best of jazz guitar, and then some! Just the best there is in my humble opinion. Just as I have been privileged and honored to admire, scrutinize and enjoy your solo playing during 4 fantastic days of master-class, I will be proud to keep at my endeavors under your learned and friendly guidance. If being one of the foremost jazz players on this planet did not suffice, you also manage to be an incredibly efficient and enlightening instructor. This class at your Academy has been a holistic experience. It has been great and I am already looking forward to my next visit! Grand merci, mon ami Esmond et à très bientôt à Gresford ou Paris! (I have to find a way to have you come and play in the City of Lights!)
My very best wishes,
This is the best material I have ever received.
As a lad in Liverpool, I enjoyed radio programmes such as Saturday Skiffle Club Guitar Club and Bluse In The Night. Occasional programmes featured Geofrey Sisley, Jack Toogood and the Diz Disley String Quartet. However the move to North Wales and starting work meant that evening classes in chemistry took priority so I never managed any formal lessons.
Since retirement, I now have time and spurred on by seeing guitarists at a local jazz club and my brother-in-law being rhythm guitarist in a group, I looked to Esmond Selwyn to teach me guitar playing. I have since had 12 lessons. It was the best move I have made. He is a fabulous guitar player and a patient tutor enabling me to do things on a guitar that I never thought possible. I cannot recommend him highly enough.
Many thanks Esmond.
Student Phill Clark says...
“I’ve been studying with Esmond for 20 years and playing does not come easily to me; on a scale of 1–10 for musical ability (in particular timing and co-ordination) I’m at -5.
Esmond’s patience, attention to technical detail, insights and sheer greatness are unsurpassed and likewise his encouragement and talent as a teacher. He’s far too modest and unassuming.”
Student David Hamilton says...
“Hello folks. Just reporting back on some studying I have been doing with Esmond Selwyn .
The study alternated between face to face lessons and Skype. Here are some of the things I found out. If you're into any of the classic era jazz guitarists, ie Tal Farlow, George van Eps - Esmond can help. He has got a real understanding of these guys' styles having both studied with them and known them personally.
He also has studied Sheets of Sound, era Coltrane and can impart some wisdom about this music and how it lies on the guitar. He has a deep understanding of the music of Bill Evans and again can impart how this lies on guitar.
Esmond, as well as being a great player is also a great teacher. As well as telling you what to practice to play jazz, he gave me a deep lesson on how to actually improvise in the moment.
But be warned, Esmond is 'zero tolerance' with any bags of tricks that you may already have. He will listen to it, then set about teaching you new stuff to move you on to the next level. It can be tough. So, if you want to move on to the next level, Esmond may not necessarily give you what you think you want, but he will definitely give you what you need.”
Star Student Tony Williams says...
"To be able to study again with the Jazz Master has been a dream come true and has affected every aspect of my daily life, not just the guitar.
Esmond is a unique, amazing talent and somehow almost through osmosis manages to pass on years of observations and revelations in mere days; Since seeing Esmond again I feel reborn I have many ideas, lines and concepts to work on and practice. However the biggest difference is my re-found enthusiasm and creativity for jazz in general and solo guitar in particular. I am learning standards again and feel I have lots to contribute to this ultimate art form, a feeling I'm sure to pass on to my guitar students in some small way."
Student Giacomo Ganassini says...
"I have been taking jazz guitar lessons with Esmond Selwyn for two years now. Esmond is an outstanding musician, and has devoted his life to the study of all aspects of the jazz guitar. His technique, which is very distinctive, amazed me from day one, and keeps inspiring me each time I see of hear him play.
Apart from being an accomplished guitarist, Esmond has the rare virtue of being a great teacher as well. His approach to the instrument is a very constructive, demystifying one: bit by bit we have been breaking up each aspect of my playing, to build up on a consolidated technique, from the way I hold the guitar to increasing smoothness and speed, to my understanding of harmony.
Currently, we are working very much on single line ideas to expand my phrasing vocabulary: all this work is very challenging and always interesting, as the exercises he provides me with are very varied.
Esmond has a great patience and always allowed me the time I need to interiorise the musical concepts we explored together. With good sense of humour, he can recognise and encourage the improvements I make on the guitar, yet still focus on the weaknesses. This is another key aspect of my learning, as it allowed me to keep going and not lose motivation despite the difficulty of the subject, or even the various commitments of life that get in between my practising.
I would strongly recommend Esmond as a jazz guitar teacher to all levels."
Star Student Ross Lardener says...
"Studying with Esmond in my formative years gave me a truly solid knowledge base on the guitar, especially in mapping the whole instrument in 12 keys, also an extremely sound technical basis for playing jazz guitar.
His chordal knowledge is in a class of its own and continues to evolve and constantly expand.
His methods are clear and learning from him was and is always a joy."
Star Student Richard Herdman says...
"I have studied with Esmond for over 10 years and now have my own business teaching guitar in London.
With over 60 students every week I can safely say that my time with Esmond has paid off.
I also gig regularly - including a stint playing solo jazz guitar in Pizza Express for over a year. Solo guitar is a demanding art and my sessions at the Gresford Academy developed both repertoire and technical facility. Even now Esmond introduces a wealth of new ideas to tunes I have played for years, generating interest and ideas which I would never have developed myself.
Esmond's ideas can be applied to all areas of guitar playing from classical to rock. His approach to plectrum technique delivers a fluency which I've never seen equalled and a command of the fretboard allowing for any musical situation to be addressed.
In short, if you are a serious student of the guitar there is no better place which to study."
ESMOND SELWYN’S GRESFORD ACADEMY – STUDENT HONOURS LIST
The following students have distinguished themselves by showing the greatest focus, application and commendable personal attainment in pursuit of their jazz guitar studies with me:
Full time student and recently featured at festivals. Tom’s playing has improved beyond recognition in little more than 1 year of full time study. His chord solo playing and single line dexterity are now of a very high order. He is destined to make a name and will be a player to look out for.
Phill’s knowledge and co-ordination skills have improved considerably and he is never afraid to go for it and improvise!
A fine example to others.
Has applied himself commendably to difficult and challenging
work with single line technique and chord solo work and has made very fine progress with his regular attendance and application in little more than 1 year.
Has transcribed the works of George van Eps and Johnny Smith
with great precision. Richard’s playing is of the highest order all round and he is a fine example of serious and unwavering study
with me. Richard has been on this School’s books since 1996.
Full time professional and instructor Tony has studied at this School since 1990. A fine reader, all round stylist Tony’s single line and jazz chordal concepts have steadily improved beyond belief! His outstanding performance impressed many when featured at one of my gigs at last year’s Marlborough Jazz Festival. His happy and enthusiastic nature remain unaltered
and he is quite undaunted by the very advanced and challenging
work constantly set for him!
Master Student Ross started his studies with me in the early 80’s!
He is now a totally fantastic stylist with a voice of his own and single-line and chordal mastery at his fingertips. Don’t pay too much heed to all the hype that accrues to this new wave of so-called “wonders” and “discoveries” out there – Ross can slaughter them all - make no mistake!
A full commendation is hereby awarded to senior student Richard Herdman for his excellent and scholarly work in transcribing George Van Eps "Lap Piano"