Darrel Ackerman


Darrel Ackerman has taught guitar at Gryphon for more than 10 years. In that time, he has helped hundreds of students (both children and adults) achieve their musical goals through a program of instruction designed to get those with little or no musical experience playing songs they love within weeks of their first lesson.

Teaching approach

Darrel teaches a wide variety of acoustic and electric guitar styles, including contemporary and classic rock, blues, folk, pop and country. Darrel’s students learn to read music (both tablature and standard notation) and understand the fundamentals of music theory.

His approach with beginning students is to build a solid foundation in right-hand rhythm and a strong chord vocabulary. Most students start working on songs by the second lesson. Once proficiency in the basics of strumming is attained, guitarists can explore flatpicking and fingerstyle techniques. The material covered during lessons is tailored to the interests of the student. If desired, singing and song-writing can also be covered. For more advanced students, specific genres are examined in greater detail, and guitarists also learn transcription, soloing and improvisation.

Professional background

Darrel has been teaching guitar for more than 15 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music from San Jose State University, studying jazz and a wide variety of non-Western music traditions, including North African, Indian and Latin American. He was mentored in jazz guitar by fellow Gryphon teacher Rick Vandivier and in vocal performance by Elana Sharkova. He has also taken master classes with John Jorgenson and John Stowell.

Darrel is passionate about many diverse musical styles, from ’70s British progressive rock to Brazilian jazz. Some of his favorite musicians are Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Paul Simon, Robert Fripp, Joao Gilberto, J.J. Johnson, Peter Gabriel, Habib Koite and Neil Young.

Darrel has served in the role of guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader in numerous Bay Area groups, including Wit’s End and One-Eyed Cat (with percussionist and guitarist Tammy Acosta). He can currently be seen performing around the south bay with singer Heidi Park.

email: darrelackerman@yahoo.com