I am a fully DBS checked guitar teacher in the South London area with over 10 years of teaching experience and a 1st class Bmus degree in Popular Music Performance from the Guitar Institute/London College of Music.

I have been playing guitar since I was ten years old and have been performing in and around London for the last eight years in various different projects. I have recorded and performed with many different artists (including Tommy Ludgate, Sarah Grace, Sarah Williams Wight, Shaun Baxter, Dave Marks, Bernie Shaw and more) and have worked with various different producers (including Grammy Award winning producer Hugh Padgham, Tom Kelly, Dave Marks and more) on albums that are available to download on iTunes and in one case reached number 8 on the iTunes blues chart in October 2008. I have also twice appeared on BBC radio live sessions. 

I also compose music for a very successful music library: http://www.cutemusic.net & http://www.redigloomusic.com/index.html

Through being initially self taught to subsequent formal academic training at university, I am able to relate to and aid students who find themselves wanting to improve their theoretical understanding of the guitar as well as those wishing to learn on a more informal basis.

I have a wealth of teaching experience having taught hundreds of students from ages 4 – 71 both through Cherry Pie Music School, the Academy of Music & Sound, Secondary School one to one tuition, and private tuition. I use exercises designed both by myself and from my academic studies to aid students in achieving their goals and I am very keen on helping students advance as musicians. I also have experience preparing students for both ABRSM, Trinity Guildhall and Rockschool exams. All lessons are tailored to the student’s specific technical and theoretical needs, although I am equally comfortable teaching from a syllabus.

This is what my students have to say about my teaching. Please fill in the form at the bottom of the page if you are interested in arranging a lesson.

Caroline Douglas-Pennant

James has been teaching my daughter,Ines,the guitar for a year, she is nine years old. I am very impressed with James, he is reliable and  always arrives on time. He is very well prepared for the lesson and Ines looks forward to seeing him. He is consistently friendly and fun, Ines feels relaxed and confident  with him and enjoys the lessons hugely which I think is a great tribute to a teacher! He  also gives me excellent feedback after each lesson which I like. I can't recommend him more highly, I have four girls and have known lots of music  teachers and James is definetely one of the best we have had. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any more information.

Chris Spooner:

‘I've worked with James for 2 years, I was a complete beginner when I started. Playing guitar was a mid life crisis, a longstanding childhood failure to be a rock god! James started me off by asking what songs/music I liked, we spent time on strumming patterns and reading rhythm. We spent time on blues, bending, picking accuracy, string muting and working our way through RHCP 'Blood Sex Sugar Magic'. James has perfect technique, he's been there, just where I am, only he did it years ago. You get the best out of James by asking questions, the more you ask the more you learn, if the answer isn't clear he can give you numerous examples until it is. Don't be afraid to ask. We once spent 4 weeks on 8 bars of a RHCP tune that I just couldn't get right, I was 80% there and ready to move on but nope, during a fast melody my note duration and clarity was out. Am I glad we did, it improved my fretting hand muting, my picking and my fretting hand looks more like a pro and less like dancing spider fingers! I feel I achieved and it makes me want to continue my study. Having regular lessons with James stops me giving up, time is precious, practice is the main ingredient, breaking things down to bite sized chunks of practice helps me fit my desire to be competent with my available time. Bonus is James is a cool guy who cares about teaching students who want to learn. Highly recommended!'

Parry Ray – Singer/Songwriter
I am a singer/songwriter and play the piano. I met James Stelling about 5 months ago and was keen to learn the guitar in order to accompany myself whilst performing and to use as another tool for composition. James' greatest skills lie in his completely "can do" attitude - no song, chord progression or strumming pattern is too difficult. He is able to work very quickly at what you are finding hard and find a way of breaking it down to make it achievable, surprisingly quickly. James very quickly understands what you are trying to achieve, your strengths and weaknesses and builds on improving your level of playing and musical knowledge on the guitar. He is constantly enthusiastic and supportive. James has that intangible quality that only really great teachers have, which is after a lesson you can't wait to practise what you've learned and are already inspired for next week's lesson. And even though sometimes you will hate him as he makes everything seems so effortless. An hours session flies by as though it was twenty minutes.

Mirren Malcome Neale:
'James is by far the best guitar teacher I've ever come across. I have had weekly lessons for 2 years and I have never had a lesson which hasn't been useful, inspiring and enjoyable. Thanks to James my guitar playing has improved immensely and I have learned songs I never thought I'd be able to play. I'm now even considering making a career out of guitar! James is a brilliant guitarist who is comfortable playing in many styles, has endless tips and tricks on how to improve your playing and has an extensive knowledge of theory. On top of that he is a friendly, funny and patient guy, who is more than happy to teach students who are willing to learn. Would definitely recommend James to anyone looking to improve on guitar.'

Kevin Potter:
‘I’ve had two years of lessons from James and they are always pitched at the right level in terms of my ability, my interest and my ultimate goal. My job means I need flexibility in scheduling and James has always accommodated my requirements – he has also been extremely reliable and conscientious. First and foremost James is a very talented musician and it’s been a pleasure to spend time with him, learn something new and also hear him play from time to time!’

Lionel Papillion:
'I took weekly lessons with James for 18 months, focusing on music theory and blues improvisation. James made me focus on understanding music theory and fretboard layout instead of making me learn songs by heart, and it has been paying off ever since. Thanks to James' lessons, I have been confident enough to play at blues jams and also perform at open mics. James has also helped me learn various techniques from my favourite artists (Stevie Ray Vaughan-style shuffle, John Mayer-style percussive fingerpicking, etc). I haven't managed to find something he couldn't play and teach clearly. The only reason I had to stop the lessons was because I moved out of the area. I would strongly recommend James as a guitar teacher for anyone serious about long-term progress and understanding of the instrument.'

Harry Brasier:
'After playing guitar for many years I got to a point where I found it difficult to go any further. I could play chords and make a song sound ok and do a bit of soloing over it too, but after that it was a dead end. James helped me to see further down the tunnel and a glimmer of light at the other end so to speak. He will pick up on your ability whatever your level and take you step by step to reach your goals. I have been extremely impressed at James’s ability and knowledge of theory as a guitar player. He has had to cover the same stuff over and over again with me because I find it all difficult to take in, but his passion and patience has always made me feel comfortable with him as my guitar guru! I would highly recommend James as a guitar tutor to anyone at any level, who wants improve their standard of playing.'

Foad Sayer:
‘James is a fantastic teacher, with a vast knowledge of music theory and great technique to match. He is experienced in various music styles and always has great tips on how to practice and become a better player.’

Melvin Rutter:
‘James is a fantastic guitar player and a great teacher. My guitar playing had been stuck at the same level for years but now being taught about theory as well as technique has really helped me improve.’

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