Top 10 GUITAR LESSONS MYTH #10 | I Must Play the Song Tabs Exactly | FALSE!
“Don’t worry about getting all the notes right. Make sure the people in nosebleed in the back of the stadium see you smile and wave at them.” — MICK JAGGER
So the trap you want to avoid in pop guitar lessons when you’re using tabs is to remember that this is not classical music! The paradigm is completely different! This is rock-and-roll; this is about putting your own signature on things so that people recognize what they’re hearing as you and feel something that is distinct that they can’t get anywhere else. This idea that you have to play the song note for note in order to cover it accurately and in a way that your audience enjoys is one of the most detrimental things to progressing and becoming your own artist. At my Atlanta studio, time and again in guitar lessons I watch players who are completely at a standstill or roadblock… staring at guitar tab trying to replicate it perfectly… watching other people online play it so called “perfectly.” but most of those perfect performances online are actually quite stiff. As soon is I decouple students from this and have them start to put their own spin on it within certain parameters of course so it sounds like the song, all of a sudden they start playing things that they never thought they could.
This is a secret weapon of cover band artist with massive song repertoire who are out there getting paid great money! One guitar player that I knew was in a cruise ship cover band and every night on the ship there was a different style of music: classic rock one night , reggae the next, funk the next, disco, Latin, I forget all the different kinds. But the punchline is the costumes changed, the genre music changed… but it was all the same guys are playing on his crew ship every night! And they had this massive song repertoire. You’re never going to get a gig like that if you’re sitting there trying to replicate the song exactly: chasing this perfection this “ghost” if you will and trying to impress people on YouTube that you got it exactly right. The players that are out there making money doing this for a living know there’s simply no time for that and the audience doesn’t require it. The only exception to this perhaps is a tribute band where people are paying to see you replicate a particular artist perfectly. Noticed that in a tribute band you’re doing only one artist: it’s just not practical to try to do this for lots and lots of different bands and cover songs.
So the most important thing to remember in guitar instruction is that when you try to play a tab exactly what’s usually going to happen is: even if you manage to accomplish this goal, it’s not going to sound like the artist that you’re trying to play. It’s going to sound like you taking your square peg and putting it in the round hole that is the other players tendencies.! You’re trying to make your neurophysiology play like them and that is simply not possible. So even if you nail all the notes right, you won’t be able to learn nearly as many songs doing that; you’ll be stuck in your room a lot longer trying to replicate this, all for audiences who usually don’t care and won’t pay you a dime extra for it! When Joe Satriani got the gig with Mick Jagger, he was out there playing stuff perfectly the first few nights. Mick comes up to him, put his arm around him and tells Joe “Don’t worry about getting all the notes right. Make sure the people in nosebleed in the back of the stadium see you smile and wave at them.” You don’t get bigger and more successful than Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and yet this is exactly why people are coming for a show. S.H.O.W. ! Capital letters. As a guitar teacher this is one of the most important things I try to convey to students, getting them away from the idea of taking tabs literally. They don’t care that you hit every note right: they want to feel something viscerally right in the chest and they want to see you connect with them. Your audience. Your fans.
GUITAR LESSONS MYTH #9 | I Must Learn Everything about Guitar | FALSE!
“On guitar, there will always be someone who is better, faster and more versatile than you. Get over it and write great songs.” — Dickey Betts.
“Become the best at being you.” — Doug Doppler
In guitar lessons, I often mention that David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Angus young, B.B. King and so many others never worried about their limitations: they focused on what they were great at and developed that exclusively. This idea that you’re going to learn everything there is to know about guitar and be able to play anything and be the best guitar player is as much of a fool’s chase as say, being the greatest doctor. What does that mean exactly? There are heart surgeons and brain surgeons and cancer specialists and so on. You have to pick the area that you want to focus on and it should be the areas that you enjoy. Also, what one guitar student may view as a liability or limitation, another player uses as an opportunity to develop a unique sound. Tony Iommi chopped off his fingertips in a sheet-metal accident so used metal thimbles and this became part of his sound in Black Sabbath.
Django Reinhardt also had an accident and only had two fingers on his fret hand but used them to great effect. The notion of becoming great at everything and learning everything reminds me of the scene in the movie “Collateral” with Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise. In the film, Tom Cruise is a hit man and Jamie Foxx is a cab driver who aspires to own his own limo service. When Tom Cruise asks him how long he’s been preparing to have this perfect riding experience where everything has to be just right before he can launch his business, Jamie Foxx replies “12 years” and in that time, all he has is a picture of a limo above his dashboard in his visor that he stares at. Trying to focus on everything in guitar instruction all but ensures that nothing or no single thing will be done well. To get where you want to go in fact just do the opposite: the best guitar teachers learn your strengths and spend your time there as opposed to trying to compensate for weaknesses and areas that are mediocre at best, uninteresting to you and require 10 fold the work.
Japanese philosophy extols the benefits of doing one thing incredibly well, using that as life’s wheel “axle” and letting the spokes extend out from there. Here is a parallel example from the technology industry by expert time manager Timothy Ferriss:
“Mike Maples is one of the angel investors I most respect in Silicon Valley. He says the startup that perfects their one feature and is the best at that is usually the startup that wins. It’s not the startup that’s an 8 out of 10 on 10 features. It is the startup that is 10 out of 10 on one feature” that just kills it. And you see it over and over again. They might have other features, but they absolutely kill it on one feature.
TOP 10 GUITAR LESSONS MYTH #8| You Either Have Talent or You Don’t | FALSE!
In guitar lessons I deal with the core assumption that can really impede your progress: “Well I wasn’t born with musical talent so I’m not sure how much of this I’m going to be able to do.” I don’t have the kind of talent that Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix or whoever has so I don’t know how well I’ll be able to play.” The myth of “talent” is a really interesting one because we all believe that you either have musical talent or you don’t: at some point I think all of us have thought that. But as more research actually shows, excellence and mastery of anything really has to do with the amount of time invested and the critical “tipping point” to borrow from Malcolm Gladwell is 10,000 hours invested.This has profound implications for guitar instruction .
Invest 10,000 hours into anything and suddenly you are an expert and the research quoted is really fascinating. They do studies on violinists and they look at the ones who were acceptable, and then the ones who were good enough to get the teaching job to work in academics, all the way up to the ones who were performing at the highest level and getting critical acclaim. And without exception, it was completely a function of how much practice each group invested. According to Gladwell’s book, there actually were no exceptions to this! In other words the person that may have had a natural proclivity or seemed to be more “talented” in fact just practiced a lot more than the other people in the other groups did. Another Book called “This is your brain on music” promotes the same thesis and this has a lot of implications for guitar students taking guitar lessons.
None other than distinguished actor Harrison Ford says that 90% of what he does his craftsmanship only 10% of his acting is actually “art” or creativity. This means really anyone can learn the skills and what separates “average” from “good” and “great” is simply a function of hours invested. In fact when I was in med school which I did some time ago for the first two years of it before deciding to change career course, we actually got to disscet the brain of a virtuoso violinist who had donated his body to science. And what the professors told us was the part of the motor cortex that controls the hand and was actually enlarged relative to the average person. So there is a neurophysiological change that goes on as we practice guitar: it develops those motor neuron connections in more sophisticated ways. So I really can’t stress enough to decouple yourself from the social conditioning once again that talent is what matters; it simply doesn’t and the quote from President Woodrow Wilson really speaks to that. If you only take one thing from your time with me learning guitar , if you remember nothing else from guitar lessons , I hope it’s not a scale or lick or your favorite song. I hope it will be this quote.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; un- rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.