Question: My dream is to play guitar as good as you, and others such as John Petrucci and Matt Heaffy. I also want to play guitar all over the world. I'm not really good yet, but I already see progress with your online guitar lessons. What was your mindset like when you were practicing to improve your guitar skills and get to where you are today? I ask you this because this is one of my main weaknesses (I have already checked out your articles about this topic, but would like more advice from you) I know that I won't get to your level in a couple of years, but I'm ready to spend all the time needed to make my dream come true. Thanks.
Tom Hess's Answer: When I was just starting to learn how to get good at guitar, I made a lot of mistakes by trying to teach myself and jumping from studying with one guitar teacher to another without any clear strategy for reaching my goals. Most of my substantial progress towards becoming a better guitar player started to happen when I did several things:
1. I started to believe in myself and my potential to become a great musician.
2. I found several truly exceptional guitar teachers whom I worked with for a long time to learn what I needed to be able to become a better guitar player and reach my musical goals.
3. I practiced everything my teachers taught me until I got the results I wanted.
I have shared some of my personal experiences of learning to play guitar in these articles:
All of that said, there was one thing that I always had within myself that was critical to my becoming the guitarist and musician I am today. This was a strong emotional need and desire to express myself through music. Looking back now, I realize that I always had this "need" within me, long before I even realized that I had it and certainly WAY before I knew anything about how to become a better guitar player like I wanted to be.
When it comes to becoming a great musician and guitar player, this quality (desire) is the one thing that someone either has or doesn't have. Likewise, it is this same quality that is often misinterpreted as "natural talent".
If someone has this level of desire and need within themselves to become a musician, then EVERYTHING else can be taught and learned. If, however, this quality is lacking, then not even the best guitar teacher in the world can help such a person.
From studying the evaluation form you submitted to me and from our communication back and forth it is clear to me that you do have a strong desire to play music within you. So as we continue to work together in lessons, I have total confidence that you will continue moving towards your guitar playing goals.
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