Mark is currently Head of Guitar at the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music and Director of the youth ensemble NYGE UK.  From 2003-09 he was Course Director at IGF-Bath and has a wealth of experience teaching both children and adults, from beginners to degree level. He is a very committed teacher and regularly gives masterclasses at International Festivals and Conservatoires of Music.

If you would like any advice on your own playing or just have a general question that Mark can answer in a teaching capacity then please feel free to type in the box below.  If you are interested in studying with Mark privately then please contact him direct teaching@markashford.com.

Mark will respond as soon as possible.

14 thoughts on “Teaching

  1. Hi Mark, I want to learn some Bach and Sor but am at a loss as to which editions might be best. Can you offer any advice please?


  2. Hi Tom
    The most useful J.S.Bach edition if you are talking about the 4 suites is the Frank Koonce. There’s lots of useful information at the beginning, some facsimiles in the back and the works are nicely laid out. Although I don’t entirely agree with all the fingerings they are most helpful to get you started. For the works of Sor the Brian Jeffery editions (published by Tecla) are very reliable. He has had them re-engraved from the originals so they are much easier to read. Unfortunately there are no fingerings so you might prefer either Chanterelle or Mel Bays editions. I hope this helps.
    Good luck

  3. Hi Mark, I noticed recently that you were performing with a support on your guitar. Can you tell me the advantages of using one and where I might buy one? Cheers

  4. Hi Des. It’s called an ‘ergoplay’ and quite widely available so just type this into google. I started to use it as I got quite a bit of lower back pain when performing with a footstool. It does make you sit much more upright and relieves the tension in your back. Be warned it does take quite a bit of getting used to. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi Mark as you were talking about Bach I’ve been looking at the Koonce which seems to be be the best edition but have been trying to use (on the E minor lute suite) an F sharp tuning works great on the Allemande but with drop D as well on the prelude I run into a huge amount of indecision and wish to continue this way was wondering if you might have any suggestions?

  6. Hi Matt. I presume you mean the 3rd string tuned to F sharp? Great that it works so well for the Allemande. Does it not work well for the Prelude? I have never played this piece with the F sharp tuning (or indeed dropped D) but it seeems (particularly in the tricky Presto) that it might be most useful. To begin with of course it may be confusing but it’s great to experiment with these things and never think that it’s a waste of time. Let me know how you get on.

  7. Hello Mark,frist thing you are a great musician!Do you have any advice for the study 1 by Villa Lobos at the 6th bar for the 4th finger to play the G sharp , do you have a specific exercise for that?? Thanks.

  8. Hi Marco. Thanks for your message. Yes these are a couple of tricky bars in this piece. The problem is that you need to improve the stretch between the 3rd and 4th fingers. Why not start by some exercises to improve this.
    Exercise I.
    Simply play the 6th string in 7th position. 3rd finger on B then play C with the 4th. Then B with the 3rd followed by C sharp with the 4th. If this feels comfortable try B with the 3rd followed by D with the 4th (but don’t strain the finger). Now move down the fretboard in a similar way but don’t strain the hand, just go as far as feels comfortable.
    Exercise II.
    Staring in 7th position again put down the fingers needed for bar 5 in the Study. Play as a block chord then move the 4th finger up one fret and strike the chord. If this is still uncomfortable move further up the fretboard. If this feels very comfortable then slowly move down the fretboard repeating the exercise but please remember that you shouldn’t feel any pain at any stage.

    Hopefully over a period of time this will improve your stretch within this passage but it will take time so be patient.

    Hope this helps

  9. Hello Mark

    In July last year you commented that you were using the ‘ergoplay’ to relieve back pain. Are you still using it, did it work or was yet one more of those things we try in out search to overcome discomfort?

    Super playing!


  10. Hi Robert,
    Thanks for your message. I can honestly say that I won’t go back to using a footstool again. It did take a bit of getting used to (not surprising after 20 odd years of using a footstool), but after a little tinkering around feels incredibly natural. I now feel really hunched over the instrument if I try a footstool and very uncomfortable. I also have no back pain whatsoever as with both feet on the floor there is no pressure on the lower spine. Well worth a go!

  11. Hi mark, is electric guitar same with playing a wooden guitar? I love music and i learned playing guitars but i wanted to play an electric guitar. Is it different or not?

  12. Hi. No the tuning of the six strings of a classical guitar and electric guitar are exactly the same. Happy Learning! Mark

  13. Hi Mark my son has just started learning the classical guitar, he is eight years old. Does then conservatoire do private lesson for children. Does the conservatoire do adult lesson or would I have to join a course?

  14. Hello Mark

    Could you advise as to whether you or your colleagues offer music lessons. My 12 and 13 year old kids are going for grade 6 ABRSM and both would appreciate some quality input.



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