Bernie Coveney – a special kind of guitar teacher

Bernie is a professional guitar player who shows his students how to let their music out so others can hear it.

He views his approach as a matter of teaching students how to play songs, not to rotely practice music. For example, in the first lesson he generally asks students what song they want to play. When the student identifies it, Bernie says, "Good! That’s what we are going to learn!"

Bernie’s approach to teaching the guitar produces extraordinary results. He taught one young boy a few Major 7 chords and showed him how to string verses together in his first lesson. The boy went home and by the time he came back for his second lesson, he had composed a song for his mother using the chords he had been taught. The boy’s mother was in tears!

Bernie has learned that students want to play a song. They don’t want to learn musical notation, theory, etc., they want to play. This is true for all of his students from the youngest to the oldest. Bernie gears his lesson to the student so the student is on a winning track from the very beginning.

As he puts it, he gets the student to the point where the music comes out and he just gets out of their way.

Bernie’s simple explanation does not tell the full story. Bernie is a gentle and spiritual person who has a high level of awareness. He is very sensitive to the needs of his students and is very much aware when they are having difficulty or when they need to try their wings. If you have ever had the privilege of talking with Bernie, you know what I mean.

He tries to get his students to open their ears and identify what is happening in a song and to create their own notes from the very beginning. Bernie will take a tune and encourage a student to explore new ways to place a note and to play with time.

Some of Bernie’s students have PhDs degrees in music. They come to Bernie because they have all the musical theory, but they cannot play. They can read music, but they have never learned to perform without sheet music in front of them. Bernie teaches his students how to play.

I think that Bernie is the ideal teacher to rehabilitate failed purposes in music. How many budding musicians despair of endless practice sessions of scales and chords and quit instead of playing the songs that inspired them to take up music in the first place?

Bernie’s approach to teaching cuts to the chase immediately. If the student is willing to practice, he is working with tools that let him play songs from the very first lesson.

Bernie has years of experience writing and performing music and he rehearses for many hours every day. He can be heard several nights a week at different venues in Floyd, VA, playing original compositions, gypsy/jazz, bluegrass, blues, country and a little bit of rock ‘n roll. He likes playing with people who stimulate him and says that Floyd has a lot of musicians who do that. There is an environment here that is good for the arts.

For guitar lessons or for a musical engagement, you can contact Bernie at (540) 651-4690 or email him at He does not have a website or a blog yet, but I am working on him to start one, because he has a lot of knowledge to share and more people should know about him.

If you have a lot of music bottled  up inside you, you need to talk to Bernie Coveney. He just might be able to help you. After interviewing him for this article, I wanted to start playing music again, something I haven’t thought about for years.

Bernie has that effect on people.  πŸ™‚

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