Happy New Year! Wanted to start off by saying how thankful I am to have such a talented and diverse group of students. We opened our doors almost six months ago and could not have made it this far without your dedication and enthusiasm.

Learning to play an instrument is a journey and we are glad to take part in the adventure with you. There are lots of exciting things happening at the Shed so read on for all the details…

Thanks to everyone who performed and/or attended the recital. I was really pleased with how everything turned out and thought you all did a fantastic job! The next recital will be in late May, so it’s never to early to start thinking about the next piece you would like to perform. To see some more photos from the recital check out our Facebook album here. Also, if you would like to listen to a recording of the show (recital set and instructor set) you can login and download a copy from the download library.

Do you ever finding yourself listening to the same music over and over again? If the answer is yes, look no further. The year 2015 is coming to a close and it has been a great year for music. Some of my favorite artists have continued to forge new territory and grow creatively.

One of the great things about being a guitar teacher is that students can turn you on to some really great stuff. It’s time for me to pass some of that great stuff along as well as some of my own discoveries. This is not a “Best of 2015” list. Notice I chose the word “Favorite”….completely my opinion. The list is also not ranked, so feel free to shuffle. I’ve chosen one song from each album, but all of these albums are worth a listen. Enjoy!

You can listen to the playlist on Spotify here!



Fruition – Holehearted Fools

Chick Corea Trio – Trilogy

Lettuce – Crush

Chris Stapleton – Traveller

Infamous Stringdusters – Undercover

Warren Haynes – Ashes and Dust

John Moreland – High on Tulsa Heat

The Wood Brothers – Paradise

John Scofield – Past Present

Ryan Adams – 1989

Dave Rawlings Machine – Nashville Obsolete

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands

My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall

Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Let Me Get By – Tedeschi Trucks Band (2016)

I try to give all of my students the option of learning material that they enjoy. I have heard horror stories for years of people taking lessons and quitting because they were “forced to learn” repertoire that did not interest them. But what do you do if a student has no idea what they want to learn or has trouble communicating what their favorite songs are? If students can’t think of a song or don’t know where to start, I am always happy to pick out a tune that is appropriate with their skill level and capabilities. However, I prefer to give students the option of choosing material first. Not only does this make the student more motivated to practice, but it also exposes me to music that I might not otherwise discover.

Can’t I just look up tabs and chords on the internet? Yes. I encourage students to look up songs on the internet, but (like most things on the internet) to take them with a grain of salt. Play along with the song first. If you can’t figure it out and you’ve explored all of the options, then look up the song. Tabs are a great resource but they leave out one gaping hole. RHYTHM. Granted, sometimes tabs do notate rhythm but it can be clunky and difficult to read. This is where playing along with the song is essential. You get to feel and internalize what it is like to play IN TIME with the song. Want to take it one step further? Make your own chart of the song. Want to take it even further? Throw away your chart after you memorize it. You will still be able to visualize your chart in your head and it will be much easier to remember than a tab or chord chart you found on the internet. Tabs often contain errors with wrong notes, wrong key signatures, song forms etc. So chances are if something sounds wrong to you, it probably is wrong. That’s where the teacher comes in. When a student is struggling with a piece, we are here to help you get through that musical wall.

So do you just learn songs at Guitar Shed? The short answer is no. We do learn a lot of songs, but I always tell my students that I like to “teach through songs.” What does that mean? Each song is unique and I believe they can be used as vehicles to teach important concepts in context. The more songs a student learns, the more context they have to apply musical concepts. This also strengthens the interconnectivity of ideas and allows musicians to adapt to a variety of musical situations. My ideal lesson would be a perfect balance of repertoire and theory. Too much of either and you will fall off the musical tightrope.

So back to the original question. What songs DO you learn at Guitar Shed? Here’s a list of the artists that we are studying right now:

  • Albert King
  • B.B. King
  • Bach
  • Beethoven
  • Bob Dylan
  • Cat Stevens
  • CCR
  • Chopin
  • Daft Punk
  • Dawes
  • Dolly Parton
  • Doug Sahm
  • Eric Clapton
  • Eva Cassidy
  • Gershwin
  • Grateful Dead
  • Harold Arlen
  • Herbie Hancock
  • Horace Silver
  • Jason Isbell
  • Jerry Garcia
  • John Maye
  • John Moreland
  • John Prine
  • John Scofield
  • John Williams
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Neil Young
  • Oingo Boingo
  • Otis Redding
  • Pearl Jam
  • Pete Seeger
  • Peter, Bjorn and John
  • Phish
  • Pink Floyd
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Robert Plant and Alison Kraus
  • Rolling Stone
  • The Allman Brothers
  • The Beatles
  • The Eagles
  • The Magnetic Fields
  • The Rolling Stones

We are excited to be partnering with Savor Wine Boutique for this year’s Organic Wine and Food Fair in Kirkwood Station. Parker will be playing two solo acoustic sets of music from 1-5 pm. Read on for details and info on discounted tickets…

The 3rd annual Organic Wine & Food Fair returns to East Atlanta’s historic Kirkwood neighborhood on Sunday, October 25th from 1-5pm with a green pop-up market, local farmers, live entertainment featuring Guitar Shed and Calo Gitano Flamenco Academy,  and of course, samples of the very best artisan wine in the market- many of which are organic, sustainable, bio-dynamic, fair trade and vegan.

Donate 3 or more pantry items to the Hosea Feed the Hungry food drive for your chance to win amazing door prizes including Savor Wine Boutique’s “Party Like a Wine Star!” package valid for an in-store tasting party for 20 guests valued at $500.

Tickets are $20 in advance and include a souvenir wine glass and event program to the first 300 guests.
Residents may use discount code GUITAR for $5 OFF thru October 15.
For more information visit www.OWFF2015.eventbrite.com. 

OWFF Flyer

I love when students walk in for a lesson who have never played guitar before. Usually, they have a mix of wonder, confusion, excitement and apprehension. Some of them have wanted to play guitar for a long time and some are transitioning over from another instrument. Whatever the case, learning the guitar can be a daunting task.

Unlike, the piano (and I chose piano because it is a chordal instrument), the guitar doesn’t immediately sound “good.” This is always the first thing that I go over in my lessons (and something that is continually revisited….even with advanced students). “Let’s get a good sound on that string”…..almost all students can discriminate between a good sound (clear, ringing) and a bad sound (muted, buzzing) on an open string. The next challenge is keeping that “good” sound when playing fretted notes and eventually chords. When you press any key on a piano, it’s going to sound “good” without any extra effort. On the guitar, finger placement and pressure are two of the main factors in initially getting a good sound. Students are often amazed at how tough it can be for this first step to occur.

The challenge is to guide students so that they quickly progress on their instrument without losing interest or giving up. Fortunately, as long as you are picking up the guitar outside of lessons, things move FAST. Then it is my job to guide students on the path that best suits their individual goals.

I have two vivid memories from when I first picked up a guitar. One of them was in elementary school and a friend brought in a guitar (probably for show and tell). He couldn’t play much, but he showed me how to slide my fingers along the strings and make the COOLEST sound. I was hooked. The second memory was from when I was allowed some alone time with an acoustic guitar a few years later. First order of business was to turn all of those knobs at the end of the guitar. I wasn’t concerned with how it sounded, but I was interested in how the instrument worked. For the record… it sounded terrible. But again, I was curious and wanted to know more. Fast forward 20 years and I am still curious and I still want to know more. The beauty of playing an instrument is that there is always more to learn and the journey never ends. Most people can get to a point where they feel accomplished on the guitar, but the real work comes in later…Derek Trucks said it best in an interview from earlier this year:

“You think you know it and understand it early on, but it is something you find over time. The more you play and the more situations you’re in, you’re fine-tuning it. You’re sanding it and making it finer. But then there’s what’s next. The first 80 to even 90 percent of getting really good as a player, it happens quick. That first chunk is something a lot of people get to as they get good. But it’s the later 10 percent and five percent…not that it ever stops going, but when you keep going you get into really tiny margins that separate good players from great players and great players from next-level players. That’s what you’re working on. It’s the super subtle things. People may not know them, but they do feel them.”

In the meantime, I’m going to keep working on that last 10%…

We opened our doors here at Guitar Shed about a month ago, but have “officially” been open one week. The Grand Opening Party last week was a huge success and it was great to see so many old and new friends in the store. A couple of thank yous are in order….

Thanks to everyone who came out and showed their support at the party, you are a lively bunch. Thanks to Michael Chesin from the Elegant Bachelors for providing an acoustic sonic backdrop for the party. Thanks to our raffle sponsors, Iron Root Studio, Trophy Room Barbershop and Savor Wine Boutique. Thanks to our talented (and beautiful) photographers Christina Zummo and Cindy Wnek. Thanks to my mom for providing some delicious munchies. And last, but not least thanks to our hostesses Natalie Winston and my fiancee Emily Kramer for putting everything together. Emily and I have been hard at work bringing her interior design vision to life and we hope we have created a comfortable and creative atmosphere for all of the musicians that walk through our doors. I also want to thank all of the students at Guitar Shed and our piano instructor Christopher Case. Without you all, none of this would be possible. Keep on shedding!

Click here to see some more pictures from the Grand Opening.

Grand Opening

As summer comes to a close, with it comes a renewal of energy, motivation and excitement. School has started back up in some neighborhoods earlier than expected and students everywhere are scrambling to dust out the cobwebs from their “dormant minds.” However, let me take this opportunity to mention that learning is constantly taking place even when grades and standardized tests are absent. There are no grades at Guitar Shed, but there is accountability. Students are pushed to perform at their highest level and encouraged to constantly be looking for opportunities to grow in new directions…. but how do we have accountability if there are no grades?

Fostering intrinsic motivation and showing students how rewarding playing their instrument can be holds both student and teacher accountable. If the teacher does not share the joy of playing music, how will they be able to motivate students to play at home?

Practicing a difficult passage by yourself (intrinsic) and finally nailing it can give students all the motivation they need to pick up their instrument. I strive to create situations where students can experience the satisfaction of playing music on their own. In a culture that is becoming increasingly dependent on extrinsic motivation (to the point that we pay for “likes” and “followers”) intrinsic motivation is all the more valuable. Who knows…. maybe your child’s lessons could even transfer to the desire to get better grades in school?

Guitar Shed is having a grand opening celebration on Friday, August 28 at their new studio located in Kirkwood. Acoustic music will be provided by Elegant Bachelors along with a raffle, hors d’oeuvres and libations from 8-11 pm. Click here to RSVP to the Facebook event.

Read below for the press release…

Atlanta native Parker Smith has announced the opening of a modern, innovative music lesson studio in the historic Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta, GA. Guitar Shed provides instruction on guitar, piano, bass and ukulele with plans to offer more instruments. 

Smith has long been a fixture in the local music scene and educational community. The 29-year-old musician/entrepreneur, who recently completed his Masters in Music at the University of Texas in Austin, decided to found Guitar Shed as a collaborative and educational space for musicians of all ages.

Shedding is musician slang for practicing but Smith puts a double emphasis on the word “Shed” as a “…comfortable low-key place to come and be yourself. There are no grades here and this is not a stuffy music school. Each student learns at their own pace.”

I have been a fan of Spotify since it was some far off Swedish musical myth in 2008. Almost 10 years later and it seems more and more that streaming music seems to be the way of the future these days. Despite Neil Young’s criticism of sound quality and my roughly 1/2 cent that I get from royalties from each play on my albums, it’s still my primary source of listening to music. Tidal, Neil Young’s Pono, and Apple Music are all getting in on a piece of the pie, making everyone up their game. The other day I got the following notification from one of my favorite artists, Jason Isbell.

“With Something More Than Free coming out next Friday, July 17, here are some of Jason’s favorite songs created in his hometown of Muscle Shoals, AL. Listen to the singles “24 Frames” and “Something More Than Free” on Spotify now.

What’s better than having every song at your fingertips and being able to share them instantly with whomever you want?…. Having your favorite artists share their favorite songs with you! Listening to this playlist you realize why everyone from The Rolling Stones to Etta James wanted to record at Muscle Shoals. For those of you who think that Muscle Shoals is some type of clam, do yourself a favor and watch the 2013 documentary of the same name. There certainly was magic in those walls and equipment.

In addition to the well known classics, “Still Crazy After All These Years”, “Wild Horses”, “Hey Jude” (featuring Duane Allman on guitar)…. Isbell included some deeper cuts that I hadn’t heard before (selections from Percy Sledge and Aretha Franklin). And you can’t leave out “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers. From the first note, that songs plasters a smile across my face that doesn’t leave for 3 minutes. Every instrument and part is full of feeling and in the right place. I listened to Jason Isbell’s album last week on NPR’s first listen and I ensure you he is in the right place too. Keep an eye out for this album that drops tomorrow, July 17 and this triple threat guitar player/singer/songwriter. Looks like he’s playing a new festival in Piedmont Park on October 18th in Atlanta. Might want to put that one on the calendar.



I am very excited to announce that we will be opening in August in Atlanta! This has been in the works for a while and I can’t wait to share the new space with all of you. Guitar Shed will be located in the historic Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta (est. 1899). The official start date is August 1, but I am pre-enrolling students for lessons now. REGISTER HERE to guarantee a lesson time. The address is:

1610 Hosea L Williams Dr NE (Suite E)
Atlanta, GA. 30317


Kirkwood is centrally located and bordered by the neighborhoods of Candler Park, Lake Claire, Edgewood, Oakhurst and East Lake. The neighborhood has a rich history and the studio is directly across the street from Coan Park. Below are some pictures of the space, but I will be posting some more pictures once we move in and get things up and running. Stay tuned for more information about the grand opening party!

IMG_5230 (1)

First look at the space


Interior view from the lobby


Exterior view from the lobby


View of the back room


Coan Park is directly across the street!


Mural across the street