Guitar lessons with Jeff Wiggins don't come from a book. They aren't even limited to the instrument itself.
At The Way of Guitar Lesson Studio, located inside his Auburn home, Wiggins has been teaching students blues, rock and metal guitar for 10 years. But he doesn't approach each student the same way. Wiggins hears what they want and senses what they need out of their lessons, he said, then spends as many as 12 hours a day developing them and helping his students track their progress.
"I find ways to take the music they love and show them the things they're going to need to learn to be able to play that style of music," he said Wednesday.
If guitar sounds like a full-time job for Wiggins, that's because it is.
A Berklee-certified guitarist, Wiggins has been playing the instrument for 20 years. For 14 of them, he was a member of local hard rock band Stone Soul Foundation. And for the last few, he said, teaching guitar has taken up most of his time. That's partly because, as a member of the Elite Guitar Teachers Inner Circle, he also continues learning the most effective ways to teach it.
But his experience in a rock band allows Wiggins to teach his students more than just their way around a fretboard. He also covers songwriting, helping students record demos at his studio, as well as industry topics like booking shows, copyrighting compositions and creating press kits. Some of those topics come together at another part of Way of Guitar's curriculum: its concerts.
The next takes place Sunday at Auburn Public Theater. Wiggins and several of his 20 students — who range from 9 to almost 60 years old — will be joined by local musicians Gabe Infantino, Eric Mohan, Sean Muldoon and Shane Stillman for an afternoon show that supports The Salvation Army. The latter two musicians were Wiggins' bandmates in Stone Soul Foundation.
The students selected the music they'll perform Sunday, Wiggins said, so the songs range from The Animals and Peter, Paul and Mary to Ozzy Osborne and Green Day. Student work will also be performed, including a set of acoustic versions of songs by local band Murder in Rue Morgue, whose guitarist, Dan Ouimette, is a student of Way of Guitar. Wiggins also produced the band's last EP.
"My playing has amplified (tenfold) in a short period of time," Ouimette said in a testimonial on the Way of Guitar website." I now find myself full of ideas for soloing, jamming and songwriting."
Wiggins said his studio holds concerts about every eight to 10 months, which means they can take on different seasonal themes. At one Christmas concert, he and his students combined rock versions of classic holiday songs with Christmas versions of popular rock songs, such as a version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" they rewrote and called "Enter Santa Man."
"We just have fun," he said.
WATCH: The Way of Guitar Lesson Studio students and musicians perform "Long Way" by AC/DC