Welcome

Here's a little background info:

I've been playing guitar for 30 years!!! 
... I guess I'm getting older. 

     Since elementary school, I've been interested in playing the guitar.  Like many of my peers, I was inspired by my first Kiss albums... Ace Frehley being my first guitar hero.  My love for continued to develop as I discovered the music of Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Eric Clapton and many others.   
     Fast forward to today: I am a full-time guitar & ukulele  instructor/business owner, bandleader, sideman, clinician, music teacher and whatever else I need to do to stay on top of the whole ball of wax.    I'm  doing something I've always dreamed of doing as it is truly a labor of love.  Furthermore, my past history of working in the mental health field has allowed me to teach students with a variety of emotional and developmental needs (i.e., autism, anxiety issues, attention-deficit related issues, etc.) through music.  
     To learn more about what I'm up to and have done please visit the other pages on this site.  You can also message me. 

Education: 

     MS Ed in Counselor Education (School-based) from Saint Bonaventure University, 2000. 

     BA in Human Relations from the University of Pittsburgh, 1994.  

* I am a firm believer in background checks for individuals working in any capacity.  Therefore, all of my child clearances are current and available for your review. 

I've been playing guitar for 30 years!!! 
... I guess I'm getting older. 

     Since elementary school, I've been interested in playing the guitar.  Like many of my peers, I was inspired by my first Kiss albums... Ace Frehley being my first guitar hero.  My love for continued to develop as I discovered the music of Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Eric Clapton and many others.   
     Fast forward to today: I am a full-time guitar & ukulele  instructor/business owner, bandleader, sideman, clinician, music teacher and whatever else I need to do to stay on top of the whole ball of wax.    I'm  doing something I've always dreamed of doing as it is truly a labor of love.  Furthermore, my past history of working in the mental health field has allowed me to teach students with a variety of emotional and developmental needs (i.e., autism, anxiety issues, attention-deficit related issues, etc.) through music.  
     To learn more about what I'm up to and have done please visit the other pages on this site.  You can also message me. 

Education: 

     MS Ed in Counselor Education (School-based) from Saint Bonaventure University, 2000. 

     BA in Human Relations from the University of Pittsburgh, 1994.  

* I am a firm believer in background checks for individuals working in any capacity.  Therefore, all of my child clearances are current and available for your review.

Watch Jim teach a guitar lesson on DIRTY DOG LIVE!!!

Watch Jim teach a guitar lesson on DIRTY DOG LIVE!!!

BIG BIG BIG NEWS: SIGN UP FOR UKULELE LESSONS AT RETRO TUITION PRICES!!!!

 
Contact  us for more info/registration.


Welcome to my website!
 

Lessons Info 

I teach guitar lessons in both Bradford, PA & I am also available for online lessons via SKYPE (james.ronan1971).   You can contact me to schedule by visiting the CONTACT page. 

 Interested in hiring me for a performance?  I perform as a solo guitarist (An Evening with Jim Ronan), in a duo (Acoustic Brew), various trio formations and for children-oriented events (Mister Jim & the Juice Box Heroes).  For more information please visit the CONTACT page.

Video from First Night Bradford.  Click the image to view.

Video from First Night Bradford. Click the image to view.

A Tuesday Night in Meadville 

Photo Credit: Lisa Bower

I'm a lucky guy: I have a beautiful wife & kids, strong support system with friends & family, a career that a I absolutely love and some great experiences with said career.  That being said, I had an experience recently that I never thought I would have: Being on TV show.  My doubt of said experience was first documented in my high school yearbook as a few of my classmates wrote that I would be on TV someday.  In particular, I remember my old friend (same age...) Bill Pantuso stating that I would be on TV.  Well Bill...you were right!!!!  

On June 23rd I packed up my gear, family and bandmate Brett P and headed to Meadville to record an episode of Dirty Dog Live!  You're probably wondering how I got that gig?  I give credit to another good friend of mine/musical colleague Jeff Fetterman giving me a glowing recommendation.  With the grace of social media, Jeff tagged my name in a post directing me to see that Dirty Dog Live needed someone to teach a guitar lesson to children and have it recorded.  Following some dialogue with Lisa Bower and the glowing recommendation from Jeff Fetterman I got the gig.  

So... here's the episode for your viewing pleasure.  I hope you enjoy it!!!

Dirty Dog Live Ep. #73

I'm Back!!! 


Goldfinger with her "Got Guitar" plate

     Hi everyone.  I've had a few people asked if this blog is no more.  The answer is no...I just took a break.  I felt like I was forcing out posts, which I didn't want to do, so I wasn't feeling to creative with it.  Anyways, I'm back... just not on a weekly basis.

"Toby" a Tobias Standard IV Bass

     I have a couple of things going on since my last post.  Most notable is that Guitar Lessons with Jim Ronan is now offering beginner bass guitar lessons.  Many of you may not know but I played some bass in high school and ended up switching to guitar out of necessity.  I just started recording my practice hours as I want to see how long it takes me to get to the recommended 10,000 hours (I calculate that I have roughly 9, 999 hours & 20 minutes to go).  If you are one of those people that think that bass is easier than guitar....SHAME ON YOU!!!  It's refreshing for me to be back at square one again as I notice that playing bass feels more like...work.  As a guitar instructor, it helps me understand what my students experience.

     In two weeks I'm traveling to Erie to record an episode of Dirty Dog Live.  For those of you not familiar with this show they have subscribers in 5 states (NY, PA, Ohio, Maryland & Deleware... I think) and invite local musicians & bands as guests.  So, I'm the featured guest on one of their episodes.  The taping is open to the public if anyone is interested in attending.  Please email me if you plan to attend.

     Speaking of Guitar Lessons with Jim Ronan... NEW LOGO!!!  I was hesitant about making any logo changes (surprise there) but Mary Fair really came up with a great idea.  The new logo is already on our Facebook page for viewing.  I'm hoping that this will inspire me to look at some new ideas for swag and marketing.  Regardless, I'm sending out a big THANK YOU to Mary for sharing her talent & coming up with a KICK ASS LOGO (that's the best way to describe it).

     Hope to see you out there in live music land sometime soon.  As always, visit Clean Slate's website and stay alert for Facebook events for those opportunities.  Visit my website for information on guitar lessons, beginner bass lessons and other happenings.  As always don't forget to "Play Guitar...Play Guitar Often" ... or bass!!!

My Favorite Holiday 

     So many holidays to choose from including the major holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter) to the manufactured holidays (Grandparents Day, Administrative Assistants Week, Sweetest Day).  I can live with them or without.  My favorite holiday is not on the calendar and can happen sporadically.  My favorite holiday is.... NEW GEAR DAY!!!!

     New Gear Day is the holiday that celebrates the new purchase of musical equipment.  It can be celebrated if the gear is for you or someone else.  It can be absolutely new gear or gear that is purchased used.  You can even go as far as celebrating when you sell your gear because you've freed up space and cap room to buy more gear!!!!  Personally, I like all scenarios to celebrate NEW GEAR DAY!!!

My dog Penelope is just as curious!
 
     I am inspired to write this post because I am celebrating New Gear Day (as of this post is being generated).  At 11:40am on March 19, 2015, I heard the pitter patter of the Fed Ex man's feet on my porch.  I didn't need to look at the calendar to know he'd be coming today... I had the tracking number.  As he walked up my stairs I could feel my heartbeat increasing and a surge of adrenaline almost sending me through the front door.  The Fed Ex guy and I have done this dance before as he often responds to my gleeful appearance with "what did you buy now?"  I am a happy to oblige him with an answer each time as I think it makes his day.  Quickly we end the conversation and I rush back into the house to gently open the box.  In this particular instance (and most others) there is a box inside the box!  I try to keep both boxes in functional shape as you never know if you'll need them again.  Once they're opened I extract my new gear from the boxes.  Plug it, plug in cables, the pedalboard and BOOM!!!!!!!!  My new purchase is working!!!!

The box within the box
 
     As I mentioned, you can celebrate the purchases of others.  Typically, I get to join in on the excitement of a student bringing in a new guitar.  To them, I refer to "NEW GUITAR DAY" instead of the previous NEW GEAR DAY as a sub-holiday.  It's beautiful to watch the look in their eyes when they open a foreign case and out comes the new acquisition.  Since most new guitar owners are early on in their learning I will play their guitar to show them the possibilities down the road for them: It's the least you can do.  Sometimes this leads to new strings added to the new guitar which really raises the excitement level.  For me it's exciting to see that look on their faces as they're proud to show you what they have.  Also, it's a very fragile moment as they look to you for approval of their new instrument, so be careful. 
    
The Vox out of the box.... it's the one in the middle. 
       I hope at some point soon you have a happy NEW GEAR DAY!!!  This is not a holiday specific to musicians but can be for anything.  So, remember how special that purchase was as it probably made you very happy!!!



Off this weekend... 

Last summer... Jack joined us for a couple of tunes.



         The weekend is almost here!!!  Time to get ready for the next gig...NOT!!!  Not to mention any venues but, due to a cancellation, we're off this weekend.  So, a change in plans: Catch up on some laundry, clean the house, do something with my wife & kids: Sleeping downstairs with Jack, taking Madison to see Cinderella (girls day out, that is) & haircuts for the boys are already scheduled.  

       So what happens to guitar playing?  Don't worry... I'll make sure that it happens.  Typically, I won't get as much playing in as we'll try to get out of the house for some of the weekend.  Also, minimal regimented practice will happen as I don't need to review any songs for gigs.  Lately, I'm on this Noah's Ark kick (having two of everything) so I'll review my list of essentials for gig gear and stalk eBay for some discount items (already found a backup power cable for my amp & an Amp Blender is on on the way today).  One big project that I'll do is changing strings.  This isn't major, but the robot guitars force me to read the manual again. 

With that, I'm keeping this entry short today.  I look forward to seeing you next weekend out supporting local live entertainment.  In particular, seeing Clean Slate in action!!!

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We Have the Technology 


     

     This week I'd like to make some shameless plugs for my use of technology.  In particular, my YouTube page!!!!  Therefore, you won't have much to read for this post.  So, let's get started...

     I looked back to the beginning of my YouTube page for an early lesson post.  This is what I found:


     I have to admit that I'm not completely comfortable with posting videos because I'm concerned about the perception of the viewer.  If you've read some social media comments on YouTube & other sites you know that people can be cruel.  Being a one man operation it would be better for me to just let the camera roll and edit.  However, this works best for me. 

Here's a video of me doing some Eric Clapton with Cream:


    No shock to the reader with this statement: I get a little distracted.  It's fun to watch these videos, but I notice that I'm thinking these thoughts: How many times have I worn those clothes, Guess I need a haircut, Hmmm... no beard (or beard) and Look at my face during the freeze frame.  I do get a good laugh out of those things. 

One final video of me jamming:


     I hope you enjoy this post.  If you're interested in seeing more videos visit my YouTube page.  If you wouldn't mind subscribing I would appreciate it.   Please visit me online at jimronan.com and on social media. Don't forget to "Play Guitar... Play Guitar Often."

Game Day Prep!!! 


     It's the day of a gig. The excitement of getting to entertain others via playing the guitar is at a fevered pitch.  Soon I'll be able to join my comrades in arms & demonstrate the results of hours and hours of practice.  It is truly a physical & mental workout... my version of sky diving.... the gig!!!

     There are so many intangibles leading up to that moment when I announce "Ladies & Gentleman, Hobos & Tramps, Cross-Eyed Mosquitos & Red Fire Ants" that I can't prepare for:  Being tired, illness, equipment trouble, few people in the audience, etc.  Regardless, it all goes away when the first power chord drops.

     For me, prep is an all day process (If my bandmates are reading this they're shaking their heads): Eating three meals so that I have enough energy to get me to the after gig snack, drinking tea with lemon to clear out any junk that sinus problems & asthma may hinder, and getting at least an hour of practice in so that my hands don't completely feel like rocks before the gig.  I guess that I can be pretty high maintenance after all!

CLEAN SLATE- Brett P. on bass, JP on drums...oh, I'm on guitar...

 MORNING GUV'NOR

     I don't have much equipment to take to a typical gig, but I make sure that it's working.  The big thing for me is charging batteries.  My pedalboard runs on a lithium ion powered pedal that keeps most everything powered.  Fiona & Ginger Quicksilver, my robot guitars, can take up to twenty minutes to fully charge. After they're charged, I play them similar to a quarterback rotation in the NFL: Fiona getting the majority of the reps and "GQ" getting some work just in case.  This worked out because the most recent gig required me to put "GQ" in play thanks to loud ambient noise & the retuning process. Just like Forrest Gump's response to a famous t-shirt..."It happens." 
   
A previous incarnation of the "Big Boy Board"
 GOOD AFTERNOON

    Two hours before it's time for Goldfinger (my van) to depart it's time to play my version of Tetris: Pack the Van!  I try to make things as compact as possible making sure that my Vox amp is safely surrounded and doesn't move (an attempt to protect the guts of the amp).  Guitars DO NOT enter the vehicle until it's time to roll.  Other equipment includes the not-so-big banner, mic stand, guitar stands, miscellaneous box, monitor, pedalboard and amp.  My jacket (see above) stays in the van at all times.  This past week I almost forgot one of the most important mojo inspiring pieces of equipment: Ace Frehley action figure.  This resulted in a new tradition of Ace riding shotgun in the van to & from the gig.


Jammin'!!!

FIVE MINUTES, MR. RONAN

     Setting up is a nice peaceful time to collect your thoughts and make sure everything is in its proper space.  This time can also include some friendly ribbing of each other and/or getting a small meal (you prepare for this depending on the location). You also have some time to mingle with patrons, pass out business cards & get your beverage of choice.  Whatever is going in your world is about to take a backseat to your duty to ROCK!!!

Visit our website
POST GIG

   Pack up, get paid & go home.  Hopefully, the drive is a safe one.  Personally, I like the drive & a little talk radio.  Put the gear back in the guitar cave upon arrival home & relax.  The circle is now complete, that is, until the next gig.

    I hope you enjoy my thoughts on game day prep.  I've went through this process MANY TIMES.  Please visit me online at jimronan.com and on social media.  Also, visit Clean Slate online to see us live. If you would like to comment please do so on this blog or click here.

I've Sat in Both Seats.... 


A little practice time...

     I like to think I'm both the teacher and the student: Not always one individual role, but, sometimes both.  When I'm teaching guitar lessons I'd estimate 98% of my role is the teacher conveying the grand knowledge that's been bestowed upon me (Okay, that's a little grandiose...you get the point!).  However, there's a smidge (2%ish?) that takes a childlike approach as the learner.  Regardless of the fictitious numbers I believe that becoming a better teacher involves ongoing learning.

THE TEACHER...
    
   When I first started teaching guitar, I put quite a bit of pressure on myself to be perfect (Which is probably a symptom of my past life as a Mental Health Counselor...long story).  Also, I was building a clientele and wanted a reputation as a top notch instructor. Fragile times, eh? Once I got over that pressure I could function much better/more relaxed.  I learned that being "perfect" was not a realistic goal for me: I want my students to be able to connect with me on a morehumanistic level...mistakes included.

     Recently, I read an interview with Derek Trucks in which he discussed music being something that shouldn't be about arrogance or knowledge of it being exclusive to any one group.  When it comes to teaching it should be about skill transfer as opposed to showing off what you know.  A good teacher can"show off" his skills in a manner that inspires...not intimidates.  I believe, as experienced musicians, that it's our job to share what we've learned.

Showtime!!!
THE STUDENT...

     To be a better instructor you must ALWAYS remember what it's like to be the student.  I remember how nervous I was when I picked up a guitar around someone with more skill (It still happens...a good thing to remember) and was taken to school.  However, it was good for me to experience this and remember what it feels like to be the student.  It's a reminder to be collaborative when reaching goals and promoting the student's strengths.  Also, put the lesson in perspective so the student can understand the objective (i.e., play examples @ the student's pace, teach interesting lessons and don't EVER be afraid of mistakes as they lead to learning).

     Over the last few years I've taken lessons from some top notch instructors including a top ten world class guitarist (as dubbed by Guitar Player Magazine) Dickey Betts's axeman and a Broadway guitarist.  Also, I spend quite a bit of time searching YouTube and other sources to learn. The motivation behind this?  It's simple...ongoing development of skills.  I advertise that I teach students ages 5 to 150 because I emphasize lifelong learning and to hold on to the curiosity that brought you to, not only guitar, but what you have a passion for.

KWS
Nearly front row watching Kenny Wayne Shepherd play the blues...

     I hope you enjoy my thoughts on the teacher and student.  I'm lucky to be both as I've met some exceptional students and instructors who I can also call friends.  Please visit me online at jimronan.com and on social media.  If you would like to comment please do so on this blog or click here.

Naming Guitars 

Gibson guitar...Fender shirt...Wasn't expecting pictures that day...


     Welcome back!!!  I really enjoyed drafting the first entry so much that I figured why not post a second?  Regardless, I'll be discussing my thoughts on naming guitars and why my guitars have the names they have.

     Over the years I've known guitar players that have named their guitars and others that think it's just plain stupid to name an instrument.  Regardless, I'm one of the "namers."  My reasoning? I have a few of them:

   1. Owning a guitar can be a rewarding relationship.  Unlike most human relationships, you immediately get the appropriate feedback for what you've put into it (i.e., if you play mad, you get mad sounding music in return.  Other feelings... same result).

   2. They're beautiful!!!!  Not just in appearance but sound and feel as well (okay... a little creepy but you get it 😕).

   3. It's a challenge to come up with the right name.  Keep in mind, I'm the guy that lobbied to name his oldest son Coltrane (which would've been cool).  I almost won the second time when we found out Alex would have a brother: "How about Eddie?"  almost worked until it slipped that I was referencing the Van Halen brothers 🎸🎸🎸

So, I have eight (8) guitars in the guitar cave: Two Fenders, Three Gibsons, Two Gretsch and a slide guitar (there's more to that story).

FENDER:  50th Anniversary Stratocaster and an American Special Telecaster aka- "Josie" and "Blondie."  Josie (Strat), not only a Steely Dan tune, but also a great name for a girl.  I never dated a girl named Josie so I guess that fantasy is fulfilled 🙌.  Blondie was my wife's idea as I was thinking "dead man walking" when she noticed I'd purchased yet another guitar.  I was so relieved when she asked about her name.
A little Tom Foolery with Josie
GIBSON:  2011 60's Tribute SG (Layla), 2014 SG Futura (Ginger Quicksilver) and a 2015 Les Paul Studio (Fiona). Layla was a gift from a friend that doesn't name his guitars.  Again, I just love the name 😍. Ginger Quicksilver has two references with one being champagne related and the other one from X-Men.  Fiona got her name because she looks like a Fiona to me.
Layla & Ginger

GRETSCH: 5120 Hollowbody (Gretschen) and a Jumbo Rancher Acoustic (Georgia).  Gretschen is a typical Gretsch name while Georgia's color is Savannah Sunrise.  Again, simple reasoning.

Gretschen

AND THEN... There's the slide guitar.  I won't even state the brand nor have I given this guitar a name.  I admit that it looks cool but hasn't been one I've bonded with.  It happens.  So, it sits there nameless for now.

So you want to name your guitar?  Make it a good one...

Welcome! 

      Welcome to "Plugged In."  I hope you enjoy what you read.  My goal for this blog is to help you stay connected with all things guitar.  In this entry I'd like to discuss an all encompassing topic that I find important and to keep you "plugged in" (really? 😕 lol) to all of the great gear that's out there: Subscriptions!!!!

      Yes, subscriptions!  They can come in many different forms such as catalogs, emails, bookmarking a website, videos...etc.  Regardless, there are many valuable sources out there that can help you stay up-to-date on available gear.  Personally, I do a little bit of each to get the info I need and STILL fall short of knowing about everything out their.

       Getting started.... Here's what I've done over the years:

MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS: I've had lots of subscriptions over the years to GUITAR WORLD, GUITAR PLAYER, GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIAN, PREMIERE GUITAR and others.  I've always been attracted to the colorful action photos of my favorite players with the hottest new guitars, amps & pedals (my holy trinity of great).  This is probably my longest standing method of gear info.  These days you can even get these magazines delivered electronically to save cupboard space!!!

CATALOGS: The big music stores typically send you a monthly hard copy version of the hottest gear available once a month.  I'm constantly getting catalogs from GUITAR CENTER, MUSICIAN'S FRIEND, SWEETWATER, SAM ASH and a few other non-mega music stores.  Also, my inbox gets flooded with holiday deals, weekly gear specials, "stupid deals of the day" and wherever else will get you to buy something.

SOCIAL MEDIA: I use FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE and TWITTER to follow various gear review groups, discussion forums and gear company does to get reviews from the pros and everyday Joes to find what they like & don't like.

CONCERTS: I've been lucky a couple of times to be able to talk to such artists as Johnny A., Devon Allan, Mike Zito and John Pizzarelli about their gear.  Also, I'm fortunate to live in a small community with some knowledgeable individuals that are fluent in speaking guitar gear.  Regardless, in vivo discussions of gear have a big influence in this area.

Now that you're armed with resources you're ready to search and review every piece of gear you find.  However, if you find something you're interested in you should take your time and not make any impulse purchases.  I admit, I've done it.  It's cost me a lot of money to find (and sometimes sell) the ultimate piece of equipment that will help me rule the guitar kingdom 🎸😈.  To help prevent me from making mistakes in buying gear I've tried to live by three gear buying rules:
   
     1. Have I done at least one month of research on this product?
     2. Can I pay for this product?
     3. Am I conflicted by a similar product that I'm interested in?


Keep in mind that it's fun to have gear... but your sound, what makes you sound great, starts with your fingers.  So, please live by a code when buying gear.

If you find a source I haven't mentioned please email me: dragonflygs@gmail.com

Until next time....stay PLUGGED IN!

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