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"We got our son his first guitar for Christmas when he was 15. I was hesitant. He had just quit playing trumpet because it was boring. I was worried that the guitar and amp might also become boring because practicing would be required.


To Brett's great fortune, he started taking lessons with Paulie. Guitar has never been boring. Paulie gave him tools to explore new music and always encouraged him to play whatever he liked and even things he never considered. Paulie let Brett take the lead and set his own pace for learning which is fortunate for us because I'm sure he would have quit in a month if he was expected to play out of a book or fill out a practice chart. Our quiet, introverted kid started playing publicly-- first Paulie's lesson recital then open mic night at the teen center, youth group coffee house, and even the county fair.

Paulie taught Brett more than just chords and fingering. He taught him music theory to understand how it works and give him the opportunity to make his own music. He taught him how to share the knowledge and passion he has for guitar. Paulie guided Brett along the path to become a SDML Guitar instructor. SDML is a great way to learn guitar and Paulie is a fantastic teacher and mentor."

Tom & Kelly

Grayslake, IL

"About six years ago my wife gave me guitar lessons as a birthday present. I had not taken lessons -- nor really played actively -- for years, but flash-forward to today, and I've played stages from Memphis to Charleston, SC to Cincinnati, and a lot of places in between. Seriously, the SDML system works, and it can help a beginner set a good foundation for enjoyable and confident playing, and it can take someone with prior knowledge to some pretty big stages. Excellent instructors and outstanding results."


Georgetown, KY

"My children have started taking classes with Mr. Paulie and LOVE the classes. While they are only beginning, the pace of the class seems just right for their skill levels. Above all, the teacher is relatable, fun, and doesn't pressure students. He is happy to work with the students at their level of skill and pace.


Each student in group class receives the personalized attention of a private lesson with all the comfort of being able to observe and practice in a group setting. Can't recommend SDML highly enough."


Shelbyville, KY

"My son, Matthew, took guitar lessons with Paulie in Illinois during his fifth grade year. There are several characteristics of Paulie’s teaching style that we appreciated.

Lessons were highly student-directed and Paulie not only adjusted the music that was taught to Matthew’s preferences, but took the time to answer any and all technical/theoretical questions from a curious kid.

Matthew also never felt pressure relative to his performance. Our goal as a family was for him to learn an enjoyable hobby and to have fun with it, not to groom a future rock star. Paulie understood this and never lectured about practice habits; playing the guitar should be fun!

As a parent who tries to foster independence in her kids, I particularly appreciated that the learning process was managed between the teacher and the student and not the teacher and the parent. Paulie never ended a lesson by telling me all of the things I should make sure my child was doing between lessons. This allowed Matthew to take ownership of his learning and more thoroughly enjoy the experience because it was his and his alone.


He continues to take lessons with an SDML certified teacher now that Paulie is no longer teaching in our area, but if you have the opportunity to take lessons with him in Lexington, don’t pass it up!"


Grayslake, IL

"I highly recommend the SDML Academy. Learning guitar has been an amazing experience. Paulie is an incredible teacher. He always keeps it fun and is able to break down music theory into an understandable format. He mixes the right amount of theory and fun guitar pieces while still learning songs of choice. I have been taking lessons for a year and a half and am still learning something new each week.


I have been continuing my lessons with Dan. He is able to answer any of my questions and is expanding on my techniques. I am impressed and having fun.


The SDML teachers rock!"


Grayslake, IL

"My first guitar lessons ever were with David at the Beaumont Y. He's a very laid back and knowledgeable guy, and sincerely dedicated to his student's growth. If you listen and do your homework, you will take off as a guitar player.

Later on, I took lessons from Paulie Felice at the Doo Wop shop. Paulie is relentless; in a good way. He naturally instills confidence in his students with his contagious passion for music and learning. He lets you learn at your own pace and can adjust his style to any particular learner, but expects you to expect a lot from yourself, as is the case with any effective teacher.

All in all, there can't be a better place to begin or continue learning guitar than SDML."


Lexington, KY

"SDML is BY FAR the best guitar instruction on the planet. I've played guitar for 27 years and when I watched how this method of teaching worked my jaw hit the floor. With other instructors my daughter would make slow improvements but once Paulie started teaching her each lesson brought massive improvements. If you want to learn guitar Paulie is the teacher you need!!!!"


Gurnee, IL

"I had been, frankly, wasting money for several years on online bought classes, and in person teachers. I certainly did NOT make the kind of progress I wanted.


That all changed with my first SDML teacher Paulie. I made more gain in my playing AND understanding in the relatively short time under Paulie, than ALL the few years of 'instruction' that preceded it, combined. This, even with my personal time constraints of being a full-time, working single father of 2. And, that started right off the bat. It was a constant series of 'ah ha' moments, from day 1.


If you REALLY want to learn to play guitar, and not just learn and memorize scales, chords or songs, then do yourself a favor and get SDML instruction."


Grayslake, IL

"I have tried to learn to play guitar several times throughout my life and never got very far with it. David's style of teaching has gotten me so much farther than any other teacher or method I have tried. I highly recommend David and SDML to anyone of any age that wants to play the guitar."


Lexington KY

"Paulie is an excellent teacher with the patience to handle even the challenging students. My daughter took guitar lessons for 2-years. Abbi has ADHD and it's often difficult for her to focus. Paulie recognized her difficult days and made the necessary changes in her program.

Thanks, hoping she can move forward in music again real soon!"


Lindenhurst, IL

"I was a student under Paulie at SDML, and I was very pleased with my experience. They take the intimidation away from learning guitar and encourage you to really get into playing from the beginning. Paulie had a very 'learn by doing' approach rather than memorizing stuff from a boring book.


Everyone was extremely friendly and encouraging. I would highly recommend SDML Academy of Guitar to anyone."


Lexington, KY

"I am sad Paulie has returned to Kentucky, but thankful for his methods of instruction I received while here in the Chicagoland area. Thanks brotha! Your explanations and progressions of lessons helped me so much in understanding the 'WHY' I was doing things as well as the 'HOWS'.


I believe I advanced at a much faster pace with Paulie than any previous instructor, and Paulie challenged me even further. Thanks again Paulie, and PEACE!"


Grayslake, IL

"Paulie was awesome. My 15 year old son had lessons with him (when he was up here in Illinois). My son learned a lot, looked forward to every lesson. Paulie brought a musician's art, knowledge and enjoyment to every lesson.


We miss him dearly."


Grayslake, IL

"I learned about Paulie from my daughter. My granddaughter was taking lessons from him and I could see how much she had learned in such a short time. My time with Paulie was not that long. It was due to my lack of effort and being busy with other things that did not allow me enough time to practice.


I did find Paulie to be a wonderful teacher and frankly I thought his time would have been spent better teaching someone who was more committed than I was at that time. I strongly recommend Paulie Felice to anyone who is interested in learning to play or improve their guitar skills."


Lexington, KY

"I think this is a great program and Paulie is an excellent instructor. My son loves working with Paulie. He especially likes the recitals were he gets to showcase is personal talents."


Lake Villa, IL

"As a person learning guitar a little later in life, I can't imagine a better method or a better teacher than Paulie.

Paulie understood what I wanted to accomplish and made my learning easy and fun. The SDML method makes it easy to learn guitar and I was playing strum songs in no time.

If you want to learn guitar I highly endorse not only the SDML method, but Paulie as your teacher.

And by the way, you still have to play daily (Paulie does not like the word practice)."


Libertyville, IL

"I highly recommend Paulie for guitar lessons. I really enjoyed my Wednesday night time with him. Paulie's a great teacher and the SDML approach focused on getting me to play guitar quickly. Paulie explained both technique and philosophy in easy to understand language.


I was only able to take lessons for six months (had to stop for personal reasons). But I learned enough during that time that I am able to learn songs by myself and continue to play and improve. I couldn't have been happier with Paulie and SDML and recommend both to those who are interested in learning to play."


Grayslake, IL

"Paulie Felice gave acoustic guitar lessons to my 12 year old son. He had never played before and Paulie gave him a good foundation to move onto other instruments as well as continuing to develop his acoustic skills."


Lexington, KY

"Now, I know that five-star reviews always seem to be biased and inaccurate, but there are certain efforts, accomplishments, and achievements by others around you in your life that deserve no less than a perfect score or an absolutely positive review. Skinny Devil Music Lab Academy of Guitar is one of those - a grassroots effort that began in the land of Bluegrass.

The man at the helm of this Grand effort is David McLean. Now, I am not one who dwells too much on the origins and meanings of names, but I think that the reason why this movement and organization has been called Skinny Devil is because David McLean is skinny and I suppose his smiles and grins sometimes resemble that of the Devil?! Haha... Just kidding... I never had the opportunity to see David around very often but from the few times that I had the opportunity to benefit from his lessons and his words I was quite impressed with his dedication to passing on his musical knowledge to others especially the youth and and contributing to the solidification of the foundations of music in Kentucky and other areas around the United States.

Of course, as it is the case with all grand efforts, David is not the only person who is making great contributions to the cause. There are many involved. Of the others, I know Paulie Felice, J.D. Wright, D.J. Crowe (not an actual DJ but a great musician nonetheless), Taylor Hughes (a sizzling hot up-and-coming country singer; America better watch out!), and Wallace Marshall (the man who always seems like he is the one who is about to reinvent the harmonica. That's how good he is with it!).

Paulie Felice and J.D. Wright were my guitar instructors. Both of them were awesome, but your first love is always the most special and that for me was Paulie Felice!!... lol. Anyway... Paulie taught me the basics of playing the guitar. What was most interesting for me about Paulie was his youthful attitude, positivity, and that loud hair of his that he so skillfully ties into a ponytail behind his head most of the time but lets loose during performances. I was 36 years old when I joined Paulie's classes and just like any other person who starts to learn a musical instrument later in life I had not much confidence. But Paulie's positivity and dedication always suppressed my uncertainty and lack of confidence and motivated me to keep going.

That's what the people at the SDML Academy of Guitar are all about. Rest assured that they will use their musical experience and their dedication to teaching music to help you learn no matter what your age or background. It is too bad that I am no longer in the United States to benefit from such awesome artists and teachers. But if you are in the United States especially in Kentucky and you want to learn music look these guys up first!"

Ali Farhang-Tarjoman

Tehran, Iran

"Okay so. . In the spring of 2012 after being convinced my son's interest in his electric guitar wasn't a passing phase I started looking into finding the best affordable guitar instruction in Lexington. That translated into a group guitar series of lessons for beginners. Logan's goal then was to be able to learn in order to accompany himself because he was primarily interested in voice.


I was blown away at how quickly he was able to play and sing. A whole new world opened up and I think it has been life changing for him. David is incredibly talented as a musician and is just the coolest guy. He connects so easily with his students and I just don't think Logan would have wanted to continue lessons without it being someone like Dave. I believe he may have done 2 series of group lessons and then he has been with him in private lessons ever since. Best investment I have made. Playing and performing is something my Son will be able to enjoy and treasure all of his life. What a gift! Thank you David! I highly recommend him to everyone. We are lucky to have him. :-)"

Dana S.

Lexington, KY

"He's been teaching my 'short-attention-span' 8 yr old son for several months now... David's teaching skills are incredibly 'patient' and more focused on 'teaching' his students how to 'play' music that they enjoy. No my son isn't playing for any headlining bands right now, but he's gradually 'getting' it! I just appreciate him taking the time to 'teach' and it's obvious David really loves what he does!!"

Mistidawn C.

Lexington, KY

"Top-tier guitar lessons! If you're looking to improve your playing, David will help you get there. His approach to the instrument is logical, nonsensical and tangible to the point that you'll wish you started lessons sooner. Take it from a student who's now also a teacher: don't wait, make the call and start improving your playing today."

Chris S.


"Great producer, full of great ideas, easy to work with and very relaxed. Very business minded and knows what he is doing. I would highly recommended working with Mr. McLean."

Billy T.

Lexington, KY

"My daughter has been taking guitar lessons from David for over 5 years and has had an incredible experience. He is gifted as a teacher and relates to his students as individuals. His musical talent is inspiring and he freely shares his passion with his students and it shows. David is prompt and professional. He is well connected with musicians and venues and is able to connect his students with performance opportunities. My daughters love of music has only grown and been nurtured since working with David. We couldn't have asked for a better teacher and musical mentor!"

Beth P.

Lexington, KY

"I took guitar lessons from David for about 9 months beginning in 2013. My experience with him was absolutely wonderful. I appreciated his impeccable professionalism -- never once did he miss a lesson or was late. In terms of knowledge and ability, I've never personally known anyone more knowledgeable about the guitar than him nor that could play "better" in such a variety of styles and technique. He's a master at theory, and more importantly is able to relate that to his students in ways immediately useful to whatever their goals are.


He clearly has decades of industry experience in a variety of performance and production roles as his many anecdotes attest and I feel this gives him a broad perspective about the music industry in general which helps him relate to such a diverse student body. On top of all that he's one of the most genuine, caring and nicest people I've ever known.


When I came to him I had been playing casually for a couple years and was kind of in just old ruts. He really helped me figure out where I was and develop a path for development moving forward. Best money I ever spent on guitar, other than buying my guitar."

Russell H.

Lexington, KY

"I studied at a beginners level. Dave tought me all of the basics of different chord voicings and vibrato styles, etc. I thought that it was what everyone learned. Later, I found out that most guys teach simple chords and one way to play everything. NOT DAVE."

Tim P.

Lexington, KY

"David is a terrific teacher. I was an intermediate guitar player and took some lessons for a year. I got so much out if them. I'm currently playing with a working band. I would recommend David to anyone interested in improving their playing."

Paul M.

Lexington, KY

"Hired David and his duo Alien Blue for our first two KY BBQ Festivals, as we were wanting something different...okay, much different than the usual fare. Let's just say they *delivered*. From the soundbooth, it was a real kick watching patrons' jaws drop as they were caught completely off-guard. They'll be part of our music rotation as a result. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on David's musical outreach, as you never know when one of his proteges will come along and knock you for a loop."

Pat M.


"I produced two small but well-received shows at which David played, with Alien Blue. From the first notes it was apparent that he had not just the technical prowess but the personality and warmth to really connect with the crowd. The set list was varied and always interesting, the playing passionate and the vocals solid and full of heart. (And, it was a great compliment to him that so many other guitarists, many excellent musicians in their own right, came out to support him and maybe watch his hands closely enough to steal a few riffs.) I only wish we had had bigger crowds for him, as he deserves the chance to be heard."

David M.


"The best of the best! I wouldn't be able to strum a single chord without the outstanding instruction of Paulie Felice & David McLean."

Melissa D.

Lexington, KY

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