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Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009
Teaching the world to play guitar
Gareth Hargreaves
Gareth Hargreaves teaches the world to play guitar from his garage

A musician is proving a big hit teaching the guitar in Australia while working from a garage in Colwyn Bay.

Gareth Hargreaves has graced the covers of guitar magazines and won awards on the other side of the planet, but remains relatively unknown at home.

But he's determined to make a success closer to home with the online guitar course he created while out of work.

"People recognise my name in Australia, but my next door neighbours still ask what I do," said Gareth.

An audio-visual designer by trade, Gareth went to Spain after the dot com bubble burst and learnt to play flamenco.

"When I got home, I couldn't get a job," he said. "But I'd been writing this guitar course for years and decided to put it in an electronic format."

First selling it for £2 on Ebay, Gareth quickly improved the product, launched his own website and let the word spread.

"Bizarrely, I've got a big following in Australia and I've won a few awards there," said Gareth.

I noticed kids didn't realise their parents were working hard and finding it difficult to pay for lessons
Gareth Hargreaves

"I put it down to distance learning. There are places out there where it's difficult for people to get to a teacher. Then once one person finds out about it, it grows. I don't understand how - if I did, I'd do it here, too!"

The responsibility for marketing his product at home and abroad is down to Gareth, like everything else in his one-man business.

From his Old Colwyn garage, now converted into a studio-come-office, he's in charge of the graphics, programming, photography - even accounts.

"I get a real sense of pride in it," said Gareth. "But I have to do things I don't like. I'm not really a natural salesman. I'd rather just write the music."

Does he think his two-year online course can substitute being taught in person?

"There are massive advantages to having a physically-present teacher," admitted Gareth. "But my whole course is the same price as one guitar lesson.

"When I was a one-to-one teacher I noticed that maybe the kids didn't realise their parents were working hard and finding it difficult to pay for the lessons. I realise that even more now I've got kids.

"So this course makes learning the guitar accessible to people who can't afford lots of lessons."

But it does demand self-discipline, he warns: "You have to be more driven, because 99.9% of the work is done by the person who's learning."

Nirvana

He's also a great believer in teaching all genres of guitar music. Not doing that would be like "learning to drive without being shown how to use a roundabout," said Gareth. "You couldn't do it properly.

"So I teach a technique, and then pick a tune from whatever kind of music uses that technique most - classical, metal, whatever style.

"If it's a simple D chord, the Beatles are great. Nirvana always used the fifth chord; it's what gave them their sound."

The only casualty of Gareth's growing business is his gigging career, which has come to an end. But he has another sideline recording dance music under the pseudonym Sad Fantasy.

"After years of trying to keep up with the best guitarists in the world, I do find it interesting to write music that's totally different, using the keyboards instead," he said.

He also plays viola and violin, but has no plans to write courses for these instruments.

"No, I'm sticking to the guitar," said Gareth. "It keeps me really busy. It's really surreal that my course gone round the world; only in the world of the internet can that happen."




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