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I’ve been taking lessons with Tom for some time now, and I must say it’s fantastic. Each lesson starts with a cup of tea and is tailored to meet my needs (while I didn’t even know my needs, to begin with). In addition to that, Tom made me realize playing the guitar isn’t just about studying tabs and soloing like a wannabe Hendrix using the minor pentatonic scale. There are so many other aspects which I’ve learned from him. The biggest one being the ability to actually listen to the song before blasting over it like a madman. Now I try to listen to the songs and fill in the gaps with notes/feel/rhythm which fit the song. And last, but certainly not least, each and every lesson was a lot of fun!
If you’re looking for a chill music (not just guitar) teacher/coach/guru, Tom is your guy!



Two years ago I contacted Tom because I was hopelessly stuck trying to play the guitar. This has been a great move. Tom really knows music, knows the instrument and knows how to explain. Lessons are really fun. You choose the direction you want to go musically, Tom provides ways to get there. All this in your own pace. You learn while playing what you like. Even though there is still so much to learn and much need to practice, after every lesson you feel like you did a great job and improved yourself drastically. Besides the musical part, another important aspect that makes the lessons really nice is the fact that Tom is a great person to hang out with. I can really recommend Tom as a teacher



Tom is a great teacher. He creates lessons that are diverse, inspiring, sometimes technically and theoretically challenging for my chunky chops and small brain, and that are tailored to my goals and tastes. He is not afraid to stray from what was planned if, in the course of a lesson, we discover something that we are enjoying and we are still making progress. This relaxed demeanour and flexible approach to lessons means they are a lot of fun. 
Crucially, because of Tom's own musicality, making music and the process of self expression, which is at the very heart of music, is always fundamental to his teaching.



Ik heb een aantal ukelele-lessen gevolgd. Tom is zeer deskundig, een goeie leraar en ook nog eens een zeer geschikte kerel. Aanrader!



Tom's guitar lessons are in no way standard, compared to other teachers I've had. I'm working with Tom for a couple of years now and for me, it's a great match. His approach is unique, and he tries to fit his lessons to the level of the player. We don't practice songs per se, but all kind of techniques that for some reason comes together after some time.
According to those around me, it has improved my playing significantly. I even learned to approach music differently and to enjoy improvising things on the guitar. Not just replicating others (on YouTube), but making things my own. I'm not a novice player, not a pro either, but I'm sure that Tom's lessons can improve people on any level, as long as you are prepared to practice ;-)



Ik kwam zo’n anderhalf jaar geleden bij Tom Downer terecht voor lessen op de Ukulele. Hij vroeg mij direct waar mijn interesses lagen. Dat vond ik heel prettig want ik had nogal wat noten op mijn zang. Ik wilde nl. erg graag samen leren spelen en in een band spelen. Dat terwijl ik net een paar maanden de Ukulele had.

Hij heeft mij grandioos geholpen. Daar waar theorie nodig was legde hij me dat heel begrijpelijk uit en daar waar de praktijk nodig was namen we op wat hij voordeed en kon ik thuis nog alles precies nakijken en naspelen. Elke vraag werd beantwoord met duidelijke voorbeelden en opties. 

En ik speelde binnen 2 maanden in een bandje. Hij stimuleerde me ook, omdat ik ook graag gitaar wilde leren spelen, om de stap te wagen. Dit deed ik en binnen een paar weken stapte ik over op de gitaar. Zonder zijn geloven in mijn gitaar spel had ik het nooit aangedurfd die stap te nemen.

Tom is een heel goede leraar, met veel geduld en een groot muzikaal gevoel en inzicht. Een echte aanrader om daar op les te gaan!!



I've always wanted to play guitar, was bought a lesson with Tom and have not looked back. That was a couple of years ago and whilst I now know enough to be able to teach myself enough to carry on improving I carry on with lessons because they are great fun, help me improve and make sure I play regularly.

The lessons are really enjoyable and I learn the songs/riffs that I want to play. Tom gives me other songs to try too but ones he thinks I'd enjoy or which help me improve. I'm not so great at practicing but Tom is always patient and understanding and never gives me a hard time. I like it when he plays along with me when I play what I've learnt - it avoids me feeling embarrassed and sounds great!

I've enjoyed learning some music theory along the way but its been me asking for the info rather than Tom forcing it on me. Other friends of mine have given up with their music teachers because they've been forced to do stuff that bores them or music they don't want to play. My advice is give Tom a try, if he can teach me who has no music background at all, then he can teach anyone!



Tom is een van de weinige of misschien wel de enige clawhammer banjoleraar in Noord-Nederland.  Hij was mijn eerste banjoleraar, misschien is coach wel een beter woord. Hij  legt de vinger perfect op je tekortkomingen en zoekt daar oefeningen bij, Ik vind dat een prettige werkwijze. Achtergronden en een beetje muziektheorie komen gaandeweg aan bod. Op een rustige en betrokken manier. Tom kijkt niet op een paar minuten, lessen lopen vaak uit en als rechtgeaarde engelsman kijkt Tom ook niet op een paar liter thee…



Looking for a good bass guitar tutor in the Reading area for my son we found Tom Downer and after a few hours of lessons we realised Tom is an extremely personable guy with a very strong passion for music and for teaching others no matter what their age, skill level or musical genre of interest, Tom quickly determines the right teaching approach appropriate for the individual and their aims. As a bass player myself from some 30 plus years ago I decided to take up playing again and due to the acclaim my son gave Tom I had some refresher and more theoretical lessons with him to get back into the groove of playing and I must just emphasise how much fun and interest Tom made each lesson. We would both highly recommend Tom as a professional but highly approachable music teacher to anyone wishing to take up playing the various stringed instruments Tom is expert in.

Jan & Liam


Als je iets wilt leren over muziek, dan ben je op de juiste plek. Je leert niet alleen de techniek van het spelen, maar ook de structuur en achtergrond van de muziek. Je begrijpt het pas als je het doorhebt. Hij past zich goed aan bij je tempo, in mijn geval langzaam, en zoekt naar de manier waarop je het beste leert. Ik speel nu twee jaar de banjo en ondanks het feit dat ik langzaam leer blijven de lessen interessant genoeg om toch vooruitgang te boeken. Belangrijk om te weten is dat de motivatie uit jezelf moet komen, hij is meer coach dan leraar. Motiverend is dat hij de juist aanpak en leerstrategie aanpast bij de persoon. Kortom, leuk, leerzaam en interessant.



I have been taking lessons from Tom for some eighteen months now. I am, musically, a late bloomer – what you might call a born-again musician – and I largely have Tom to thank for the progress I have made with both five-string banjo and, lately, guitar.

Tom has an approach to teaching that is both challenging and relaxing. He pushes you, but only when he feels you are ready to be pushed, and always tries to make the whole thing a fun experience. The hour we have together always seems to go too quickly, even when my fingers are hurting!

No one can teach you to be a musician - we all have to find our own path on that journey – but Tom is great traveling companion, who always keeps you heading in the right direction, with the occasional interesting diversion…



Tom has taught me to adapt my knowledge of the classical guitar to learning the mandolin while making it an enjoyable process and giving me the freedom to chose what directions to take my playing in. His own interest in music is contagious and has inspired me to take a real interest in the instrument and genres that I have not had with other instruments I have learned. He explains things in a way that I can relate to and always has a backup plan if I still don’t understand. Musical theory has finally started to make sense and finally stopped being tedious!



At the silly age of 75 I bought a cheap ukulele and started to learn from advertised books and rummaging through the internet. Made slow progress so looked around for a tutor. The nearest one I found was Tom Downer in Reading and started going to lessons. 
Tom sorted out my bad habits and showed me the error of my ways, patiently living with my choice of music, some of which he had heard of and some not - because of their being from the thirties, forties and fifties. Much better progress now being made and really enjoying it. He has even got me trying (with limited success) Glenn Miller's In The Mood! 
All in all I reckon Tom is a very competent tutor and I am very happy to carry on my lessons with him. 



It has been nearly two years since I started banjo lessons with you and thought it high time I thanked you for your continued efforts in raising my standard of playing. As you may remember, I started with no knowledge of reading or playing music, and now play regularly at jamming sessions. I am always amazed at your ability to explain things in different ways until I grasp the point, never showing signs of exasperation. Indeed, when I have been 'down' and feeling like giving up you have dusted me off and moved on with renewed enthusiasm. 

Once again, thank you.



I came to the banjo with no real appreciation or history of involvement in music other than I listened to it. 
I decided that I wanted to learn the Banjo and approached Tom to help me.
I really was coming to music from absolutely zero at quite a mature age and Tom very cleverly matched my aspirations regarding what I wanted from the experience with a well thought out strategy to get me on the road to being able to make some music.
Tom's teaching style is tailored to suit the pupils skill, progression and capability and makes the experience fun and interesting.
Tom also has great patience.
 Finally anyone wanting to take up the Banjo should look no further than Tom Downer.



Tom is a highly skilled guitarist and gifted teacher. With patience and understanding he let my own playing develop at a comfortable pace, and his informal and flexible teaching style helped put me at ease. No matter what kind of music you're into, Tom makes lessons memorable and fun!



I am delighted how my 12 yr old son has progressed so rapidly since starting his ukulele lessons with you. He doesn’t get bored and really enjoys his lessons. He is confident and keen to practice. 

The lessons are fun with Tom, as he teaches me how to play the music I listen to on the ukulele.

Judy & Will


Great banjo teacher, knows what he's talking about, has lots of patience especially with beginners like myself. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!



I commenced lessons in February 2011, I had no musical experience what so ever and was all fingers and thumbs, now after 6 months I can actually produce a tune, which others and I can recognise, although I still have lots to learn. 
I do not feel that I could have got to this level if I had not had the guiding expertise of an experienced professional musician.



I have engaged the services of Tom as an acoustic guitar teacher this summer following seeing an advert on a music industry website for Reading. I have so far been impressed with his teaching skills, knowledge and tailoring of the sessions to my needs. I am also impressed with his listening skills understanding my aims and objectives both for how far I seek to go with acoustic guitar and for each of the hour-long lessons. I think I will be engaging the services of Tom for the foreseeable future.



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