Guitar Lessons

Private Lessons

I began teaching guitar professionally at the age of 20, which gives me many decades of experience in the one-on-one guitar lesson format. Most often I am able to fairly quickly ascertain what a new student knows and needs, after which we are able to focus on achieving his/her goals in an efficient and enjoyable fashion. And I take requests - sometimes under advisement!

Mark jams at Dream Guitars in North Carolina with fellow Grammy-Award winner Al Petteway.

Available Formats

In-person lessons are always best, but modern technology allows for "virtual in-person" online lessons from nearly anywhere in the world (see below). If you are in the Pacific NW, you are welcome in my studios in West Linn or Portland. If the travel distance is too great for regular visits, online services like SKYPE, FaceTime and GoToMeeting are very workable formats. I am also happy to teach privately when I am on the road. Check my calendar to see if I am in your area. Students are welcome on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or intermittent basis.

For Beginners

My degree in music allows me to teach the "classical" approach, but I prefer to use the "folky/pop" approach for beginners. That is, we strum chords and play familiar songs until a good sense of time, rhythm and song structure are developed; and the ability to change chords smoothly and accurately is well underway. At that point, we can develop more strumming techniques, and begin a fingerpicking program.

For Intermediates

Most of my students are intermediates, or "developing" intermediates, and want to fingerpick in the fashion of the masters. I have written numerous teaching manuals on the subject, and augment all of this material with other currently unpublished material that I have developed over the years. I use clearly defined teaching programs, but I customize each according to the interests and abilities of the student.

For the More Advanced

I am always thrilled to work with high-level students. I have studied with countless masters over the years (some in person, but most by lifting tunes and licks off their recordings!), and am happy to pass along approaches, outlooks and techniques that I have absorbed and developed. I enjoy teaching people how to listen critically, how to arrange, compose and improvise, and generally how to become better musicians as well as guitar players.


I have had several great teachers myself over the years who provided me with considerable insight and inspiration. I strive to be a teacher like that for students who study with me!

Online Lessons

0Mark Hanson is not only a gifted guitarist and arranger, but a great one-on-one guitar instructor, having begun his teaching career in 1972. Mark currently uses the free online audio/video service Skype to connect via computer with students around the world! You can also have a lesson - or series of lessons - with Mark. Here's how:

  1. First, download Skype for free to your Mac or PC. Most recent laptops and desktops have the necessary camera and microphone built in, but if not, Skype sells those at a quite reasonable price ($50 or so). Amazon and many other outlets sell these items also.
  2. Second, contact Mark to set up a lesson. If you need coaching on Skype before the lesson, Mark will connect with you a few days before the lesson to walk you through the process (it's quite easy!).
  3. Third, at the appointed time, Mark calls you on Skype, and away you go. Have your guitar in your lap, your computer camera and microphone aimed at you, and be ready with your questions and requests. Mark can help players at all levels - beginning to advanced - with hand position, relaxation, tone production, musicality, interpretation, music theory, fretboard visualization, fingerpicking, strumming, arranging, improvisation, slide guitar, alternate tunings, and tons of other topics. Lessons are customized to each individual student. Mark also makes available to his Skype students his private-students-only repertoire - about 1,500 titles!

Group Lessons

I have been teaching since the age of 20, and have considerable experience teaching group classes. I taught group lessons for years in the California Community College system, for a period of time at Stanford, and for decades at various guitar stores and schools around the country. I have even given workshops in Germany auf Deutsch (but I have a larger vocabulary in English!!). In my workshops I try to balance demonstration, explanation, and student participation. The workshops are hands-on, so bring your guitar!

To check for upcoming workshops, see my calendar or sign up for my newsletter.

Stores and Schools

These days I often teach a workshop or two (or four!) at a guitar store or in a community school in or near a town where I am performing. As I stated above, the format is a balance of demonstration, explanation, and student participation. If you know of a school or store - or a house/home owner, for that matter! - that you think would consider hosting me, please contact us at 503-699-1814 or by e-mail. A list of recent workshop locations is listed below.

Online Workshops

I have started to offer workshops online by the videoconference platform Zoom. Check my calendar for upcoming dates and topics!

Workshop Topics

I have well over two dozen workshop topics that I have developed - each with a unique repertoire. This allows me to continue to visit the same locales annually without boring anyone! A sample list is included here. For a more complete list, please contact us.

  • Alternating Bass Fingerpicking (Travis Picking from bottom to top!)
  • Fingerstyle Arranging
  • Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
  • Triad Power - Fretboard Visualization Made Easy (or Easier!)
  • Make the Uke Sing!
  • Celtic Guitar and DADGAD
  • Jazz Chords Made Easy
  • Chord Substitutions and How to Use Them
  • Christmas Guitar

Recent Workshop Locations

The following is a list of venues where I have taught group lessons in the past few years:

  • Boulevard Music - Culver City, California
  • Chicago Old Town School of Folk Music - Chicago, Illinois
  • Chicago Music Exchange - Chicago, Illinois
  • Community Conservatory - Doylestown, Pennsylvania
  • Dusty Strings - Seattle, Washington
  • Gryphon Stringed Instruments - Palo Alto, California
  • Minnesota Guitar Society - St. Paul, Minnesota
  • McCabe's Guitar Shop - Santa Monica, California
  • The Music Emporium- Lexington, Massachusetts
  • The Music Workshop - Berwyn, Pennsylvania
  • Swannanoa Gathering - Asheville, North Carolina
  • Union Music - Worcester, Massachusetts

Guitar Seminar (On Hiatus)

Accent on Music Guitar Seminar participants.

For many years, Greta Pedersen and I hosted the Accent On Music Fingerstyle Guitar Seminar in Portland, Oregon. I hire two of my high-level cohorts (for instance, Tommy Emmanuel, Laurence Juber, and Ed Gerhard have taught with me) to join me for a four-day intensive seminar. We have a maximum of 35 students, so everyone gets close attention. The Guitar Seminars are currently on hiatus.

16 thoughts on “Guitar Lessons

    1. Thanks for reaching out, Terry. Mark isn’t planning an AOM Guitar Seminar in 2019, but they may start up again in future years. You can subscribe for email updates below so you’ll know if and when they happen!

  1. I am interested in rediscovering guitar. Several years ago I took lessons in finger style and can still conjure up chords. The right hand, not so much. I live pretty close to NE Broadway Portland Music. Please let me know how to proceed in getting signed up.

  2. Miss you guys. The lessons changed my life and gave me something to lean on when you need to.
    Thanks so much.

  3. I tried buying The Water is Wide off your website which only sells it through Purple Platform. I tried but only encountered a blank screen. I went directly to their website through Google search and had the same result. Do you offer this sheet music any place else?

    Brad Howe

    1. Hi Brad, thanks for asking! The Water is Wide is out of print in hard copy and is only available now through Platform Purple. The website is loading for me, so I would suggest refreshing the page, trying to access it on a different internet browser (like FireFox or Chrome), or if neither of those works, reaching out to Platform Purple’s customer support directly. Thanks for your interest and good luck—let us know how it goes!

    1. Hi, Earl. I currently charge $90/hr for one-hour online private lessons. I also teach in shorter increments for less. What specifically are you ineterested in? I’m happy to help, and am well practiced at customizing my approach to the individual student’s needs and wishes.
      Here are two quotes from attendees of my fingerstyle improvisation workshop on Oct 10:
      1) Thanks for workshop, you are a gifted and wonderful teacher. K.W. NYC
      2) Thank you so much for the fabulous fingerstyle improvisation workshop. You’ve given me a tremendous amount to think about and to practice.
      It was great to be able to put a face to the author of my favorite series of guitar books. I discovered The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking more or less by accident fifteen years ago. (I had no idea what Travis picking was, and probably wouldn’t have purchased it if I had). It turned out to be a major turning point in my guitar playing. In that time, your books have been the only piece of guitar instruction that has directly resulted in a significant improvement in my playing. They are a treasure. A.C.

  4. Hi,

    My name is Nick Johnson and am 83 years young. I would like to learn slack key, but have really no guitar experience. I live in Vancouver so West Lynn is not too far away. Is there a chance you would take on this difficult student?

    1. Hi, Nick. So sorry my response is so long delayed. I won’t take you on as a private student, but my Grammy-winning cohort Doug Smith, who lives in Vancouver, could very well help you. His phone number is‭ (503) 544-3548‬. His email address
      Good luck! Mark

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