Learn something new

Sequim Gazette

Elaine Gardner-Morales is the newest teacher at the Olympic Music school. She teaches guitar, bass guitar and vocal jazz.

Before staring a guitar lesson, Elaine Gardner-Morales asks what the person wants to accomplish.

“What is it you want to learn to play?  What are your goals?  What do you like to listen to?”

“The most important thing is to have fun. Focus on the things that bring you pleasure with the guitar. You can have a little ability with it and have fun or you can develop a lot of ability with it and have more fun.”

Gardner-Morales then asks the student to demonstrate anything she knows about the guitar. She slowly builds on those abilities to help the student begin to have fun. She names of the parts of the guitar and of the strings. Then she can give directions more easily.

“People learn by trying and practice. No one learns by just hearing about it.”  Practice she says is the most important part of learning.

Gardner-Morales has taught music for 35 years. She has expertise in choral conducting, composition, music theory, vocal jazz, guitar, bass, and piano. She moved here from Texas about 9 months ago because on a previous visit to the northwest she was captivated by the beauty. She holds a masters in music and taught at the college level for more than 20 years before retiring.

Among her other accomplishments, Gardner-Morales has written 17 pieces of music, recently adding two more for two of Rebecca Redshaw’s plays which will  be preformed at Olympic Theatre Arts in March and April.

During a lesson, Gardner-Morales finds how the student learns best, either seeing or hearing or touch or a combination of those. So lessons are focused on the students needs and abilities. After finding that the student knows a cord or two, Gardner-Morales moves on to strumming. Hit the bass note with a thumb and strum up and down three times with the other fingers. This means finding the bass note for every cord. After some stumbling, the student finds a rhythm with Gardner-Morales praising the effort.

The lesson ends with a reminder to practice several times a day for about 20 minutes each time.
Then Gardner-Morales’ two dogs get into the act. Her Old English Sheepdog cross loves to bark but sits quietly when Gardner-Morales plays. The Husky cross on the other hand loves to sing and howls happily as Gardner-Morales plays. They add a fitting end to an unforgettable guitar lesson.

Reach Dana Casey at

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