Gordon Tibbits - Owner/Instructor
Hi! My name is Gordon Tibbits, and I would like to tell you a little more about me and what I offer to students at Friendly Frets Guitar Instruction. I am a musician and educator whose curiosity motivates me to take a deep dive into learning all I can about music and helping others. I specialize in providing individual instruction on the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, and ukulele. As an educator, I find joy and a sense of purpose in my work. My goal is to create positive music experiences for my students that help them realize their musical potential and find their own voice.
My ongoing mission at Friendly Frets is to consistently provide empathetic, person-oriented instruction that is aimed towards empowering each student’s growth, vision, and musical participation within their local community. I strongly believe this outcome is best accomplished when students feel understood and their experience of learning music is kept fun, flexible, and closely aligned with their chosen interests and goals.
The students I teach range from age 7 – adult. I feel quite comfortable working with beginning students who have no prior experience on the guitar, bass, or ukulele. I also have experience working with intermediate and advanced level students. For all of my students, regardless of their level, I spend time getting to know them by learning about their prior experiences with music – both positive and negative. I also want to learn as much as I can about what types of music they listen to and want to learn on their chosen instrument.
Over the years the majority of my students have consisted primarily of kids, tween, and teens. However, I am working with more adult students recently and attribute this to my age and being a proud member of generation X. Many of my adult students have approached lessons with an interest in revisiting and re-connecting with their engagement with music in years past. But there are others who are learning to play their chosen instrument as a completely new interest area and now have the time to do so.
Additionally, I welcome and enjoy working with students who possess unique neurodivergent superpowers that can present challenges to them fitting neatly into conventional community and school settings. Yet, these same superpowers are the catalyst engaging positive energies that motivating them to engage with music and creative pursuits. Music for them (as with myself) becomes a safe space and springboard for finding and developing their distinct voice and ideas that are integral to the well being of our local communities. I feel this can be attributed this to my personal experience with neurodivergence as well as growing up with a sibling and family members with physical and intellectual disabilities.
My story as a music instructor began way back in 1987 when teaching students out of my home while also pursuing my own music education in college and through private lessons. I eventually transitioned to teaching lessons at local music stores in Shoreline WA and eventually in Upstate New York where I taught lessons and managed the entire lesson department at local music store.
In 2003 I returned to the Seattle area and completed further studies in the social sciences because of my interest in wanting to better understand and help people. Eventually, I went on to teach private music lessons and group classes at a local university, a private school, and homeschool resource centers in the Edmonds and Seattle school districts. I established Friendly Frets Guitar Instruction in the Spring 2019 and continue to offer private lessons in-person and online.
Additionally, I have also been a performing musician in wide variety of bands and musical settings. I have performed music wearing a tuxedo for weddings, costumes in musical theater productions, and even lederhosen in a polka band. I also provide solo jazz guitar as an accompanist for vocalists or as background music for local events. Outside of music I am busy in my role as a family caregiver. I enjoy running, biking, lifting weights, walking the neighborhood with my wife, hiking, reading, practicing music, learning new things, and keeping up with my adult children and their pets.
My Passions and Interests
- I enjoy learning new concepts, skills, perspectives, and ideas that may greatly contrast what I understand about music and the universe. Additionally, I enjoy being a sleuth and figuring out songs and musical passages and being able to extrapolate big picture music theory concepts from them and share that with my students.
- Helping, supporting, and caring for people is a very strong undercurrent and theme in my efforts as a music educator. I find meaning when I can share what I am learning about music with my students or simply be a supportive presence to them as they engage in the work and struggle of developing their musical skills.
- I value collaborating with my students as equals in the shared work of identifying goals and problems, and formulating creative strategies that will move them forward towards cultivating their musicianship.
- I find meaning from engaging in the activity of creativity in varied personal and artistic expressions. This also includes trying to think outside the box when students and I work together to address problems, challenges, and concerns that come with the landscape of learning.
- Being physically active and moving does wonders for my well-being. I enjoy running, biking, walking, hiking, practicing music, and engaging my 5 senses to experience new and different environments.
My Core Values and beliefs
- I believe that music is a powerful yet safe medium that can transform and enrich our lives and serve as a safe space while we engage in the work of growth and being human. I enjoy observing the positive impact it has on my students while I take a back seat role of being a tour guide, coach, and facilitator for my students.
- I care deeply about pursing musical skill and excellence but I care more about people. The process and approach towards achieving that excellence must resonate with my students and give full consideration to their needs and learning preferences.
- I want students who study with me to take away encouraging and positive experiences that affirm their best qualities and superpowers. As a result, they will feel safe within the medium of music and likely to continue playing their chosen instrument long after our time together.
- I tend to prioritize physical activity and engagement of our senses when learning about music on our chosen instrument. For this reason I try to have my students play their instruments as much as possible during our lessons so they can experience and internalize music concepts and skills in real-time.
- From my experience, learning a new instrument or skill often puts us in a vulnerable space. So, I believe that effective growth is best supported within a safe, inclusive, and welcoming learning environment. It is my intention to actively ensure that my lesson studio is a welcoming place for my students and families to feel valued, listened to, and respected.
- I feel much better about the quality of my work when there is organization and clarity within my teaching practice. I’ve set up organizational structures in order to support the flow of lessons and give students a clear idea of what they should focus on between lessons. I also try to leave enough room remain flexible and modify those structures in order to best support my students.