Friday, 29 January 2010

Tom Hess: Teaching Guitar: How To Fix Bad Habits And Solve Problems Your Guitar Students Have

Teaching Guitar: How To Fix Bad Habits And Solve Problems Your Guitar Students Have

By Tom Hess

Although there are many different ways you can help your students become better guitar players and musicians, we can group almost everything you do into 3 main categories:
  1. Inspiring and motivating your students – teaching guitar well is often more about inspiring your guitar students than teaching a new scale, chord or song.
  2. Teaching them ‘new things’ to play/practice – Most guitar teachers understand this basic concept, but often struggle to know exactly how much ‘new content’ is too little or too much for each guitar student. Most teachers ‘overwhelm’ their students with simply too much material in a short amount of time.
  3. Helping them to solve their playing/musical problems – The best way to improve your guitar teaching is to understand exactly how to help any student overcome any problem. 
Each of these areas has its own challenges, but for most guitar teachers it is the last category (helping students solve guitar playing/musical problems) that can be the most difficult to ‘consistently’ do well.

When teaching guitar to solve problems and bad habits, the first thing to do is get clear on the process:
A. Identify the true cause of the problem. Remember that ‘symptoms' of problems and 'causes' of problems are often totally different things. A misdiagnosed problem (just like a misdiagnosed medical problem) can make things worse than doing nothing at all.

B. Find proven solutions to overcome this problem. Yes, this seems like an obvious point, but often guitar teachers ‘guess’ or use the trial and error approach to teaching guitar. Surround yourself with other experienced guitar teachers. Ask them for their advice on your specific challenge, doing so may save you and your student a lot of time and frustration.

C. Communicate the causes and your solution to your student’s problem. Again, this may seem like common sense, but fact is, most teachers do not fully explain the cause and solutions to the problems students have, they sort of skip this part and move directly into implementing the solution. The reason why communicating the cause and solution to your student is so important is that, without the student truly knowing what these things are, they often won’t truly practice your solution diligently at home.

D. Implement the solution (training). To be the most effective, you need to do more than ‘teach what to do’, you need to ‘train' them to do it. The ‘teaching part’ can usually be done quickly, but it is the ‘training’ that takes the time. Think more like a sports trainer and less like a school teacher as you implement solutions while teaching guitar (more on this below).

E. Hold their hand. You do not need to treat all your students like children (unless they are children), but when teaching guitar, it is important that you monitor your students' motivation level and help them to keep it high. A mediocre guitar teacher who keeps his/her students highly motivated will almost always get much bigger results than a great ‘technical’ teacher who does little or nothing to keep students inspired and motivated – yet this is an area most guitar teachers don’t do consistently well in – because they underestimate its importance.
Because students typically have multiple problems in their playing (inconsistent articulation, weak sense of timing, excess body tension, inefficient hand movement, excess string noise, just to name a few common ones), and because there are typically multiple causes to each of those problems, the hardest part about teaching guitar (as it relates to solving students’ playing problems and breaking bad habits) is knowing the best ‘order’ to deal with the causes of a student’s problems. Timing is critical and so is the order.

Many (well intentioned) guitar teachers make the mistake of trying to use ‘linear logic’ to help students break bad habits and overcome challenges. There are many problems with this, the main one is we don’t teach machines, we are teaching ‘people’. Everything we do, and ‘when’ we do it, has a positive or negative impact in the mind of our students. In theory it might make perfect sense for a guitar teacher to make the student deal with the most basic problems first. That seems logical right? Well, those that follow this all the time will have a hard time keeping students long enough to help them become the guitar players they wish to be.

Contrary to what many guitar teachers believe, fixing the most fundamental problems your students have in the beginning (or trying to break too many bad habits at once) does more harm than good for most guitar students. Yes, problems and bad habits must be dealt with in order for your students to reach their maximum potential, but too much of this at the same time may kill the will for your students to endure the natural frustration that comes with learning to play guitar.

Each student is different and you need to get a sense of how much tolerance the student sitting in front of you can handle in the present moment. If you overestimate this, the result is likely going to lead to massive amounts of frustration for your student and he/she may give up lessons and playing guitar completely.

How long does it usually take your beginning guitar students (as an example) to sit or stand with ‘perfectly correct’ posture, use perfect left and right hand positions, use the correct picking motions and articulation etc. etc. when playing and practicing? Sure you can teach this in a minute or two, but how long will it take that student to instinctively do this ALL THE TIME on his/her own without you reminding them? (for most students, it takes a long time).

Is it ‘ok’ to let your students continue to play and practice guitar when you KNOW many basic things are wrong and that they WILL form bad habits by allowing them to go on in this way?

Most guitar teachers would say, ‘no, it’s not ok’ and then proceed to immediately try to correct all of them as soon as possible… other guitar teachers simply don’t notice or don’t care enough to address these things. They figure as long as students keep coming back to guitar lessons, everything is good.

The best approach for teaching guitar is neither. To be clear, your top priority should be to keep your student coming back for as many lessons as possible - not simply because you make more money that way, but because, if a student gives up lessons, you can do nothing to help him/her. Obviously, you must deal with problems and bad habits though (to not do this would be the same as only feeding kids candy and never real food).

When teaching guitar to solve a problem, avoid dealing with the ‘entire’ problem and all its causes at once. Begin with the one thing you can do for your student that will be easiest for him/her to correct. This will help to build confidence that he/she can begin to overcome the problem and that doing so wasn’t extremely hard to start with. Pay attention to how much of this you think they can handle right now. If it looks good, then give them the next thing to fix.

Although some guitar playing problems and bad habits can be really big issues to deal with, try not to make the entire lesson only about solving problems. Most guitar students need to get a sense of forward progress and even though solving problems is forward progress, they can’t always see that themselves even after you explain it to them, so give them something else that is fulfilling for them to play and practice. (a little sugar with the medicine helps it go down easier)
Test your guitar teaching skills.
Tom Hess is a professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors musicians from around the world. Learn more about how to teach guitar. Visit to get 15 free guitar teaching tips.

Marshall Harrison: Presto-digitation an evening with the Texas technocrat

Decent Take on Giant Steps by Marshall Harrison

Marshall Harrison - Giant Steps - Slightly "Swingier" take

Einstein and his glorious theory of Relativity rescued Newton's mathematical description of the Universe when certain physical situations left it helpless so too does Swybryd picking rescue the intrepid sweep picker when conditions force him into the hinterland of picking. See Marshall Harrison demonstrate swybryd picking more fully on the upcoming Digital Nations release: "Presto-digitation" coming to itunes.

SWYBRYD Picking on the Shecter with Marshall Harrison of TEXAS

Marshall Harrison plays Frederic Freakin Chopin's Winter Wind Etude 11 op 25

Marshall Harrison plays Arkady Volodos' transcription of Mozart's Rondo alla Turka

Alexandre Therrien: Upcoming Album Song Excerpts

Alexandre Therrien - Flamenco Fusion - Upcoming Album Song Excerpt 1

Alexandre Therrien - Flamenco Fusion - Upcoming Album Song Excerpt 2

Gerald Gradwohl: Live at Posthof 2010 01 29

Gerald Gradwohl Trio - Live at Posthof 2010 01 29 - 01. Tunnel Elevator

Gerald Gradwohl Trio - Live at Posthof 2010 01 29 - 02. Blues for Ben

Orianthi: re release debut album

Santa Monica, California, January 21, 2010 - The same day This Is It, the Michael Jackson film that showcased Orianthi’s incredible guitar skills to the world, is released on dvd, Orianthi’s debut album Believe will be re-released to include a bonus track, "Find It," exclusively on iTunes. Additionally, her hit single "According To You" will be the free ringtone download of the week on iTunes! The dvd, bonus track, re-release of Believe and ringtone will be available exclusively on iTunes January 26th. 
After a whirlwind few months following the release of Believe and This Is It, Orianthi isn't about to slow down any time soon. With her debut single "According To You" about to crack the top 10 at top 40 radio (its currently sitting at #11 on the chart), and her album sitting at #1 on the Billboard New Artist chart, she performed the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week. 
This week also marked the premiere of Orianthi's new music video for "Highly Strung," a blistering guitar duet between she and legendary guitarist Steve Vai, a long-time friend and mentor to the 24-year-old Australian. In the video, which premiered on AOL, the two phenoms will face each other in a guitar show-down of epic proportions. Click here for video. 
Finally, for fans in the Los Angeles area, Orianthi will be hosting a free all-ages concert and CD signing at the Hard Rock Cafe outside Universal Studios on Friday, February 5th at 8:30 pm. Space is limited, so plan ahead for this unique opportunity! Visit the Hard Rock website for more details. 
At 24 years old, Orianthi has already experienced what most aspiring musicians only dream of. She's opened for her hero (Steve Vai), backed an Idol (Carrie Underwood), traded solos with a legend (Carlos Santana) and shared the stage with the King of Pop (Michael Jackson). After a performance with Carrie Underwood on stage at the 2009 Grammy Awards the blogosphere was buzzing with news of this little-known guitar prodigy. It prompted Michael Jackson to call with an offer for her to be his guitarist for his dates at the O2 Arena in London. When offered the gig in Michael Jackson’s live band, Orianthi joined a prestigious line of guitar players including Eddie Van Halen, Santana, Slash, Steve Stevens, Jennifer Batten and Larry Carlton.

Allen Hinds: interview Baked Potato , Dec 08 2009

Interview with Allen Hinds EP Booster at the Baked Potato , Dec 08 2009

Paul Gilbert: musikmesse 2009

Paul Gilbert & Friends at Musikmesse 2009

News: Shred This Too nears 250 video submissions.

As the Shred this Too competition reaches the climax we're just 2 videos away from 250 video submissions! So again thanks to all... It's really interesting to note the number of guitar video competitions in the all time video submissions! Well done all of you!! We're still 50 videos away from Rob Chappers Meyones competition!

News: rotosound... Double Decker, the Cadbury of Rotos string sets

Press Release – January 2010

Rotosounds launch Double Decker Rotos string sets

Rotosound’s best selling R9 and R10 Rotos nickel on steel guitar strings are now available in superb value twin set packaging. Called ‘Double Deckers’ the new packs of Rotos offer greater value for money and are up to 20% cheaper than buying two single sets.

Rotos are used by many of the world’s top artists and range from Guthrie Govan to Franz Ferdinand; they are the first choice guitar strings for amateurs and professionals alike. With a brilliance in tone, Rotos are made using the finest quality nickel on steel and manufactured with the strictest of quality control to ensure consistency, strength and durability.

The new double decker packs are coded R9-2 and R10-2 and reduce packaging by approx 70% compared to buying two separate packs. They will be available in the shops from March 2010.

For further information on the new sets and other Rotosound products see

Steve Skull: great name for shred this competition!

Shred This Too - Steve Skull Vid 1.avi

Todd Duane: DON't WAKE THE KIDS!

The kids are sleeping upstairs. Amp is cranked (Bass is off) but the Master on back (Stock option) is on 1 or 1 1/2. (Very low but can still go lower).
Or as some would say; "Barely on". ;)

Wizard Vintage Classic "Bedroom level"

Cameron modded Marshall 50 watt Plexi reissue

Alex Berserker: Red Dawg guitar competition

Hello Everyone!! This is my video entry for the Red Dawg Guitar News Contest.

I Mainly Did this video For Promoting The Page And My Band,This is Live Raw Footage Of A Live Presentation of Berserker!! There is Some Trippy Weird Stuff In Here.

Yes The track Is Mine,,I will Put a download link soon

More Videos Comming Really Soon! Hard Rocking Shred Guitar And Psy Madness!!

Alex Berserker - Red Dawg Guitar News Video

Dave Weiner: swamp ash tapping

Two-Hand Tapping - "Major Tapping": Riff Of The Week® - 1/20/10 (S5:E10)

Timo Tolkki: Barcelona tour date

On March 27 Timo Tolkki pass by Barcelona as part of his tour with the band Revolution Renaissance. Leveraging its passage through the city, will hold a Masterclass three hours in which he who come can enjoy this virtuoso guitarist, known for being Stratovarius leader for many years.

The clinic and concert will take place in room Mephisto (Masterclass and concert 19:00 to 20:00 from 23:00), prices are as follows:

Concert, Masterclass and T-shirt: 35 €
Concert and Masterclass: 30 €
Concert: 15 €
The tickets may be purchased through TicketMaster

Thanks to

Travis Montgomery: Threat Signal Euro tour dates

3 - Sub 89 - Reading, UK
4 - Mr. C's - Poole, UK
5 - Millennium Music Hall - Cardiff, UK
6 - Club Revolution - Peterborough, UK
7 - Rescue Rooms - Nottingham, UK
8 - The Corporation - Sheffield, UK
9 - Moho Live - Manchester, UK
11 - Ivory Blacks - Glasgow, UK
12 - Spring & Airbrake - Belfast, UK
13 - Academy2 - Dublin, Ireland
14 - Central Station - Wrexham, UK
15 - The Asylum - Birmingham, UK
16 - The Underworld - London, UK
17 - Talking Heads - Southampton, UK
19 - Trix - Antwerp, Belgium
20 - Groene Engel - Oss, The Netherlands
21 - Romein - Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
22 - Patronaat - Haarlem, The Netherlands
23 - Helling - Utrecht, The Netherlands
24 - Underground - Cologne, Germany
25 - Logo - Hamburg, Germany
26 - Kansas City - Odense, Denmark
27 - Nachtleben - Frankfurt, Germany
29 - Flex - Vienna, Austria
30 - Club Vaudeville - Lindau, Germany
31 - Universum - Stuttgart, Germany

1 - Salzhaus - Winterthur, Switzerland
2 - Coupole/Gaskessel - Bienne/Biel, Switzerland
3 - Rock Planet - Pinarella di Cervia, Italy
5 - Le Marché Gare - Lyon, France
6 - La Laiterie - Strasbourg, France
7 - Trabendo - Paris, France

Vinnie Moore UFO Euro tour dates

16 - Athens, Greece - Fuzz Live Music Club
17 - Thessaloniki, Greece - Block 33
22 - Workington, England - Carnegie Theatre
23 - Middlesbrough, England - Town Hall
24 - Edinburgh, Scotland - Picture House
25 - Inverness, Scotland - Ironworks
27 - Sheffield, England - Academy
28 - Leamington Spa, England - The Assembly
29 - Cardiff, Wales - Millennium Music Hall

1 - Charleroi, Belgium - Le Coliseum
2 - Zoetermeer, Holland - Boerderij
4 - Paris, France - La Trabendo

Bagus Nugroho: just a little shred!

Just Little Shred

Bob Zabek: back again... bar time blow out!

hi there, we had some fun in that bar a couple of days ago and my brother steve captured it on video
unfortunately the entire thing sounds kinda distorted but if you listen closely maybe you´ll discover something beyond this decent wall of punky noise that appeals to you ;-)
thx and regards

Bob Zabek - In-Between 2010_part1.wmv

Bob Zabek - In-Between 2010_part2.wmv

News: ipad... Hitler incandescent with rage...

Hitler responds to the iPad

Marco De Cave: too funky!

marco de cave yamaha six string theory guitar competition.wmv

Matias T Rengel: tapping

Matias T Rengel:
Hey! This is my second video for the Yamaha Six String Theory Competition. They required a non stop camera, and i had this on YouTube but with several camera cuts, so, i had to do a new take. I'm sorry this is a repeated song in my channel, I just needed to enter to this competition and they had certain requirements, so I had to upload new takes. Promise something good for next week!

Yamaha Six String Theory - Our Great Future by Matias T Rengel

Will Mourão: excessive bar abuse shred this too!

Severe bar abuse from Will Mourão who is from Brazil.

Will Mourão:
Having some fun with the wammy bar and shredding a little bit =D Hope you enjoy it.

Jay Espinosa: jay back dogg... shred this too

Jay Espinosa:
My take on this awesome competition. Finally had some time to do this.
Not really shred but I had fun \m/ Just trying to be CRAZY on this one LoL
Please Subscribe/Rate/Comment.
Good Luck!
Thanks lauriemonk for putting this together!

Marco Sfogli's SHRED THIS TOO!!! [ jayblackdogg entry ]

Tiago Pinto: Marco Sfogli's shred this too

Tiago Pinto
Hello everybody, I hope you really enjoy my entry. It was manly for fun, I didn't mean to win something, but no problem if it happen, LOL!!


Cheers from Brazil!

TIAGO PINTO - Marco Sfogli's "shred this too!" COMPETITION!!!

Richard Daudé: guitar lessons online... coming soon

The title says it all... Richard Daudé says:
preparing his first guitar lessons online! ;-)
... I'll let you know when I spot them.

News: wordpress free guitar theme

open source Guitar Theme for Wordpress blogs:
Hey everyone,

I recently got a theme custom designed for my wordpress blog not long ago, because I wasn't really happy with any of the freely available designs. I've since decided to give it away for free to anybody else who might be interested in using it.

I'm releasing the theme as Open Source, under the GPL v3. If any of you aren't sure what that means, it basically means it's free to distribute and modify, and you can use it for any purpose. The only strings attached is that if you do change the theme and decide to distribute the changes then you also have to release it under the GPL.

If any of you are interested in the theme I've set up a little site for it at which you can take a look at, and if you think there's a chance that any of your readers might be interested in what's there then feel free to link to it too.

If there is enough interest in the site then I will be get more themes made up, with different layouts and featuring jazz boxes, shredder guitars, telecasters etc.

Hedras Ramos:Esperanza Galera interview

Esperanza Galera, interviews Hedras Ramos for cutawayguitarmagazine:
Now I am 17 years old and have more ideas than when I was 13 or 15, so I hope that this second disc has a high level of harmony and composition. There are issues that have a strong emotional content, even songs heavy on technique and very progressive. There are also some special guests including guitarists can highlight as Varajic Muris, Bosnia and Guitar Idol finalist and Jan Cyrka England owner.
full interview

It should be noted that Hedras Ramos also had a very successful NAMM 2010 visit playing on the Halo guitar stand. Instrument: Halo Morbus Hedras Ramos signature 6-string, Halo Morbus 7-string Guitar. Hedras also picked up an endorsement from Seymour Duncan and use these pickups: Pickups: SH-6, SH-2n, SH-4, SFX-10

Fabrizio Chiruzzi: infusion!

The new composition of Riccardo Dalli Cardillo realized all'UMC of Palermo.

Riccardo Dalli Cardillo: Rhodes electric piano, piano, synth, arrangements.
Joseph Arnetta: Drums and percussion.
Antonio Di Martino: Bass guitar.
Fabrizio Chiruzzi: electric guitar.
Sergio Munafò: electric guitar.
Christian Nasta: production, recording, mixing, editing and mastering.
Monica Salamone: Shooting video.
Thanks to Fabrizio Chiruzzi which recorded the guitar in his studio and gave us great material to work with and the images of his performace for this video.
Special thanks to Ennio Valerio Lo Presti and Romeo for the friendship and esteem demonstrated.
This amateur video is made with the sole purpose of having a memory of the completion of infusion. Not want to be a video professional.
Have fun all.
Christian Nast.

Infusion [HQ]

Adrian Vandenberg: Aristides Aluminium guitar

Aristides Black, Aluminium Guitar

Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton: win o2 arena tickets


As if seeing one bona-fida guitar great wouldn't be incentive enough to head to London's O2 Arena, TWO of the world's best ever six-stringers are teaming up for one of the most mouthwatering collaborations of the year

On the heels of a stunning collaboration in Tokyo, Japan last February Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton will perform a show at the London O2 Arena on Sunday 14 February

The shows will see the duo both share the stage and perform separately in what must be one of the most anticipated live shows of 2010.

To win a pair of tickets to see Clapton & Beck at the O2 on 14 February simply fill in the form below and you'll go into a prize draw.

Milan Polak: string skipping + tapping

Milan Polak Lick #10 - Dorian string skipping + tapping

Milan Polak Lick #9 - whole tone scale 4 notes/string string skipping

Gannin Arnold: Blues and Beyond NAMM plus

The Chicken cover, Bugera amps demo NAMM 2010

Gannin Arnold and the BUGERA BC30-212

Gannin Arnold Blues and Beyond Lesson.m4v

Allen Hinds,Gannin Arnold: Xotic Guitars and Bugera amps NAMM

Gannin Arnold and Allen Hinds performing together at NAMM 2010 for Xotic Guitars and Bugera amps in the Bugera booth. Video by Jeffrey A. Rivera. Produced by

Allen Hinds and Gannin Arnold pt.2 performing at NAMM 2010 for Xotic Guitars and Bugera amps

Gannin Arnold and Allen Hinds for Xotic Guitars and Bugera amps

Matias Kupiainen, Jens Johansson: Stratovarius Live at Toulouse

Concert Stratovarius @ Toulouse 13/01/10 - 06 Winter Skies

The whole series of 13 videos.

Matias Kupiainen: Concert Stratovarius @ Toulouse

Tim Miller: a night in Barcelona

Tim Miller guitar solo with Janek Gwizdala, Jojo Mayer, Oli Rockberger, Audun Waage in Barcelona

Matias Kupiainen, Jens Johansson: Stratovarius Live at Budapest

Stratovarius Live at Budapest, Hungary (2010.01.26.) - Winter Skies

Stratovarius Live at Budapest, Hungary (2010.01.26.) - Bass & Guitar Solos