Breakthrough Guitar Lessons Student Feedback
On this page, you can see, hear and read the feedback from a few of Tom's students about their progress from Breakthrough Guitar Lessons. Watch the videos below, and scroll down the page to read additional student stories.
“I am grateful to Tom Hess for guiding me towards becoming the guitarist I always wanted to be!”
Mike Philippov | Florida, USA
“If you follow through, the results will be off the charts, more than you could ever anticipate!”
James Maxwell | Michigan, USA
“Tom Hess helped me tremendously, I can do things on the guitar that I could have never dreamed of 5 years ago!”
Ty Morgan | Arizona, USA
“It’s hard to compare Tom Hess to any other guitar teacher out there. His knowledge & technique are unbelievable!”
Zack Uidl | Illinois, USA
“Tom Hess is truly a master at what he does! The lessons I have received are excellent in content!”
Tevis Maloney | Arizona, USA
“When I met Tom Hess and started lessons with him, he opened up a whole new world of what guitar playing can be!”
Magnus Gautestad | Norway
“Tom Hess very quickly and consistently got me really massive results as a guitar player!”
Leo Smith | Iowa, USA
“I see more results in 18 months in a lot of areas of my playing than in the past 20 years!”
Simon Candy | Australia
“Taking lessons with Tom Hess, you’re guaranteed to get results if you implement what he says.”
Jake Willmot | England
“My guitar playing has improved so much… to another level that I didn’t know I could reach!”
Jackson Slate | Indiana, USA
“It was just an amazing experience from lesson 1… It’s mind-blowing!”
Jago Blacksky | Kansas, USA
“One word… RESULTS!”
Freek Vanden Broucke | Belgium
“You get FAR more information than the monetary value you pay for this… It’s phenomenal!”
Ben Armstrong | England
“The progress I made is ridiculous! The lessons I got from Tom Hess are FAR superior to anything else on the web!”
Shreyas Kodasara | Maryland, USA
“Tom Hess has this special something that a master teacher has!”
David Schramm | California, USA
“I’ve seen other students basically changing their lives, and I wanted to be part of it! It’s fantastic!”
Tommaso Zillio | Canada
“I have to say it was the best things I ever could have done. There’s nothing better than online guitar lessons with Tom Hess!”
Rovan Deon | New Jersey, USA
“As soon as I found Tom Hess… it put my progress on light speed and I’m really pleased with the lessons.”
Jeff Moore | New York, USA
“My guitar playing has improved in EVERY way since I started taking lessons with Tom Hess.”
Mark Turko | Connecticut, USA
“I started taking lessons, I improved massively ever since and it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my music skills!”
Niklas Eskilsson | Sweden
“I started out learning by myself, and as many others, I got stuck and I had a few issues I wanted to get by. When I met Tom Hess, and talked with him and started lessons with him, he opened up a whole new world of possibilities of what guitar playing can be. I feel very very very grateful that I found lessons from Tom because I then did what worked from the very beginning.”
Many guitarists I see have played way longer than I did and have built up so many bad habits. With Tom, from the very start, there were clear instructions of how to practice correctly so you build up the ability for high speed or whatever you want from the very beginning and you don't waste time doing inefficient things.
Magnus Gautestad, Norway
“The amount of knowledge and practical, straight-to-the-point instruction that I've gotten from Tom's lessons, it's just such a wealth of useable stuff that Tom will cram into every lesson.”
What I found to be really great was the fairly extensive application. You fill out a questionnaire and he really does do a great job of assessing where you are, what your personal goals are and I do feel like every single item I get as part of a lesson is exactly focused on where I want to be as a player. It's almost overwhelming where I feel like I can't keep up with this stuff but it's so good! So I go through it at my pace and find ways to use everything, which is great!
Jesse Froebel, Texas, USA
“Before I started online guitar lessons with Tom, I was basically stagnant in my playing, I kind of reached a pinnacle, and I started looking for what's next, what's bigger and better. Tom has helped me tremendously, I know I can do things on the guitar that I could have never dreamed of 5 years ago.”
The biggest change that has happened since taking lessons with Tom is playing like a true musician & kind of separating myself from all the wannabes. Tom's lessons are easy-to-understand, very in-depth and tailored to what YOU want to learn versus private teachers who are often using their students as guinea pigs trying to figure out how to teach. Tom knows what he's doing! He's an ordinary guy, but he's doing extraordinary things.
Ty Morgan, Arizona, USA
“It is hard to compare Tom and his teaching to any other guitar teacher out there. His knowledge and technique are unbelievable. It is ridiculous to see how much better of a musician I have become.”
My technique and speed have drastically improved and my knowledge of music theory and other related things have grown to levels that I would never have been able to reach without his help. Tom's teaching methods are so incredible and helpful. His great playing inspires me to work harder at all the musical areas I am studying.
Zack Uidl, Professional Guitarist, Composer and Guitar Teacher, Illinois, USA
“My experience with Tom has been outstanding, he has been the best teacher I had. Tom had exactly the kind of information that I needed to break a barrier in my playing.”
I’ve improved quite a bit, the initial problem that I was most frustrated with was that I had reached a peak on my speed and Tom has really helped me blow the lid off of that. I’ve now probably doubled my practical playing speed and I’m very pleased with the results.
I feel a lot more confident with my guitar playing, I can do things that I couldn’t have done before the guitar lessons online with Tom.
Chad Crawford, South Carolina, USA
Click on these pictures to check out cool videos of my students playing in the final round of my recent music playing contests.
Additional Student Feedback
When I showed up for my first lesson with Tom, I never really thought an average person could accomplish their dreams of writing and playing music for a living. It would be an understatement to say that my life has been changed. Not only has Tom instilled in my playing a high level of technique but more importantly an understanding that music involves so much more than insane chops. The things I now consider the intangibles: vibrato, phrasing, aural skills and everything that has to do with composition, things I had never thought about before I met Tom, are what really make music emotional and a form of self expression. Tom has open my mind, eyes, and ears to help me explore concepts such as counterpoint, voice leading, and odd meters which now allow me to use technique as a tool to create music I only could have dreamed about making. Most importantly he has shown me that hard work, not natural talent, will always guarantee the accomplishment of my dreams and goals. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to learn from one of the true masters the guitar has ever had. Thanks.
- Tim Gibson (Wisconsin, United States)
It is hard to compare Tom and his teaching to any other guitar teacher out there. His knowledge and technique are unbelievable. I have been taking private lesson with him for a little over a year and it is ridiculous to see how much better of a musician I have become. My technique and speed have drastically improved and my knowledge of music theory and other related things have grown to levels that I would never have been able to reach without his help. I am making great steps in reaching my goals, both as a musician and in my music career goals. Tom's teaching methods are so incredible and helpful. His great playing inspires me to work harder at all the musical areas I am studying.
- Zack Uidl (Illinois, United States)
Tom, you are the one and only reason that I am the musician that I am today. My lessons with you throughout the years were such a huge part of my life and no other teacher could ever have come close to your expertise. My career as a professional musician/teacher is due to all of your help and guidance from the years that I have known you. I appreciate all of the time you have spent with me advancing my career long after our private lessons ended. I cannot thank you enough.
- Chris Kalkbrenner (Illinois, United States)
Tom Hess is the reason I pursued a music career. I took lessons from him all throughout high school, and he has become a very important mentor for me. He not only improved my playing immensely, but he helped me to realize that music is what I want to make my living with. I pursued a degree from Berklee College of Music because of him. After graduation, he offered me the incredible opportunity to play bass in the HESS band. I have learned a great deal from him even years afterwards.
- Mark Carozza (Illinois, United States)
Beginning my studies with Tom was without a doubt one of the greatest and most wise decisions I have ever made for my guitar playing. When I began my lessons my knowledge of music theory was lacking and I had no idea how to improvise solos or understood what it meant to compose truly expressive music. After studying with Tom (mostly via correspondence), I am currently enrolled in advanced music theory classes at a renown musical university. I also have greater skills to compose music than ever before. My playing ability is also greater than ever, and continues to grow with correct practice. But most importantly, I am very confident now that I will eventually reach all of my musical goals (which include becoming a virtuoso guitarist and music composer) Tom's sincere desire to help his students reach their goals, is one of the main things which makes him the great teacher he is. I feel very fortunate to have a mentor like Tom, and I look forward to learning from him in the years to come.
- Mike Philippov (Indiana, United States)
I started taking lessons from Tom Hess around 1996. I was self taught up until then. It was under Tom¹s tutelage that I learned what it meant to be a true guitarist/musician. Because of Tom I learned how to exceed my own expectations. I owe my musical ability first to God and then to Tom Hess.
- Marco Ferrara (Alabama, United States)
I have studied with Tom Hess for 2 years . He has become a great asset in my musical Career . From listening to my tunes, offering unbiased critique, teaching me about composition and how to express my self thru the guitar and music . I would recommended Tom to anyone seriously wanting to become a great player.
- Mario Amengual (Florida, United States)
Correspondence lessons with Tom have been the best thing I've done since I last took guitar lessons many years ago. I had struggled on my own to find direction, but Tom's lessons have really focused me and I feel like I am definitely on the right track to becoming a great guitarist. One of the best parts about the lessons is that they don't just cover guitar technique; in addition, they delve into songwriting and composition, many aspects of music theory, and ear training, just to name a few. Tom's lessons aren't just about becoming a better guitar player, they're about becoming a better musician.
- Gabe Zentner
Tom's intuition is uncanny. He knows what you need to do to improve. I had signed up for these lessons not knowing what to expect and from the very first lesson that I received and to this day, Tom knows my weaknesses and addresses those. I know that I have massively improved since.
- Tony Bradbury (Vancouver, Canada)
- Riff Sorce (Illinois, United States)
Tom's lessons helped me to make big advances in my playing. Tom has some great information and methods that have helped my playing significantly. The skills I've developed have made it easier for me to make music and work with other musicians. Thanks!
- Dave Cardwell (United States)
Tom Hess is truly a master at what he does! The lessons I have received are excellent in content. Musically I am seeing a progression in Techniques that had taken months and months on my own with very little forward progress. Now I am moving forward and becoming more and more confident in my playing and attitude. A HUGE IMPACT! I can't leave out the articles. Great stuff and very inspirational! Thanks Krzysztof, Dan and Alexander and THANK YOU for the lessons Tom! If you are serious about music, invest in yourself and study with Tom Hess.
- Tevis Maloney (Arizona, United States)
I was introduced to Mr. Hess through one of my friends who studied with him through correspondence lessons ( and still does ). I thought I would give it a try because I am always open to learn as much as possible. I was not expected to be blown away with how down to earth Mr. Hess is though. A lot of these students will talk of how their guitar playing and composing has increased, and of course mine has increased dramatically; I am at a point I thought never possible a year ago. However, every time I have met with Mr. Hess in person ( 3 times ) it has not only changed me as a musician, but as a person. I used to be a pessimistic closed minded individual with little knowledge on music and how to express my true self. However, Mr. Hess taught me the ropes, forever changing my outlook on music and life. Without Mr. Hess's guidance I would NOT be here at argueably the best music school in the country, IU. I consider Mr. Hess not only a great instructor, but also my friend. Listen to this guy and your life will change!!! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to learn from you bro.
- Kyle Hicks (California, United States)
I have been studying with Tom for just over a year now. That year I have had significant changes in my life. First off, I was fresh out of highschool. I was inspired by recordings of Tom, and by another one of his students guitar playing capabilities. I have always been into writing music, and as I started with Tom, our focus pretty much became just that. "Just that" included introducing me to theory, more in depth composition, priceless advice on how to handle the business end things, and over all a broader range of music appreciation. I look to Tom as the Teachers Holy Trinity; the teacher, the mentor, and the friend. Tom has helped me put together many of the pieces in my jigsaw puzzle of a music career, and still continues to today. Thanks Tom!
- Alex Boccia (Illinois, United States)
Just wanted to drop you a line and tell you how much I enjoyed the pedagogy lesson. It got here yesterday and I have reread it a couple of times. I have several "How To Teach Guitar" e-books, all of which contained some good ideas, and you still managed to touch on some things that these other books didn't cover. I'm really looking forward to Part 2 in April. I can see myself studying with you for a long time to come! You are The Man! I have no doubt that with your guidance, I can reach my teaching goals. I also want to write an instructional book someday. Something that teaches simple modal application for people who have been playing strictly pentatonic scales.
I have spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours scouring the web for materials to help me to improve my teaching. Even with the huge collection of books that I have, your very first guitar pedagogy lesson contained ideas that I hadn't thought of and weren't covered anywhere else. I have no doubt that with your guidance I can elevate my teaching to the next level and reach my goal of quitting my day job and becoming a full time guitar teacher. My biggest regret is that I didn't start correspondence lessons with you sooner.
- Paul Tauterouff (New York, United States)
Although I have only been on your correspondance program for a month (2 lessons) the progress I have made in that time is more than was made in the last year of trying to teach myself. I am a far better guitarist and it feels great! I look forward to seeing how far your lessons, and my sustained practice sessions, can take me.
- Andrew Greenhalgh (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Well Tom, I have to say I'm really impressed so far with my correspondence course. The last few months studying your music lessons have had an enormous effect on my attitude towards music and the guitar (I'm sure you get comments like this a lot, but it's true!). YOU've inspired me to pursue a career in the music business as a professional musician.
- Justin Armstrong (Canada)
Tom, I stumbled upon one of your articles while surfing on the net, and I was hit by the fact that not only there were no licks inside, but you were covering a vital topic: perseverance. I had perseverance, but didn't know what to practice! Then I discovered that you gave correspondence lessons. I was dubious at first (you know, correspondence lessons... it is really possible to learn?), but your kind answers before I enrolled persuaded me. After 3 months I see that this was probably the single best decision in my guitar playing. What still strike me is how much you were able to understand of me by the few things I told you... at the end of the first month I was thinking that I needed some exercise specific for the right hand, but you were faster than me and included it in the following lesson BEFORE I told you! Ditto for the exercise on hands syncronization. Also, you made me realize how important is ear training in becoming a musician and not only a "guitar player". In only 3 months my skills on the guitar have improved enormously, my playing is cleaner and on time, I feel more confident. At the beginning I wasn't sure that I could eventually reach my goals... but after seeing the improvements I am not doubting any more! Thanks, Tom, and keep doing the good work!!
- Tommaso Zillio (Italy)
Tom Hess’ correspondence lessons are amazing. I really feel a lot of support from the lessons and the forum. Tom really wants you to exceed, and as a world class virtuoso he knows exactly what the next step for is you. He keeps on pushing you to greater levels, lesson after lesson. Before I started lessons with Tom I was an intermediate player, now I can really feel how I will totally dominate as a guitar player and an upcoming force in the music industry. Thanks a lot, Tom!
- Antony Reynaert (West-Vlaanderen, Belguim)
To me, one of the hardest parts about learning to play the guitar is that I'd much rather just play the guitar instead of sitting around and practicing. Fortunately Tom's lessons not only include the physical techniques required to play the guitar well, but he also understands the mental road blocks that we all put up for ourselves when trying to learn. In his lessons he includes articles and examples from his own personal experience as a student and as a professional, to help us get past these hurdles. Another invaluable resource that Tom offers is his Students Forum on the website. It is one of the most friendly and helpful forums, of any type, that I've run across. Unlike random searching on the web, you can find answer to questions that are lesson specific and give you a greater understanding of the material you're trying to learn. Overall I would highly recommend Tom as a guitar teacher.
- Mike Thomas (Georgia, United States)
Reading Tom's article on the myths of becoming a professional musician solidified my decision to pursue my passion for music as a career. I was a one-year-old self-taught guitarist back then, and I knew I needed a better way to reach my playing goals. Since Tom offered affordable correspondence lessons, I seriously considered studying with him, and signed up for the program. After about a month of reading through https://tomhess.net, I finally COMPLETELY surrendered all what I thought playing and practicing guitar is about to Tom, and made my first payment to him.
It has now been 6 months since I began studying with Tom Hess, and as I look back, I smile in disbelief at how primitive my past approaches to guitar playing and practice really were ... and that I would have still been practicing with the self-defeating habits that I developed within the first year of teaching myself guitar. Though I'll always have room to improve, I CANNOT BELIEVE how the quality of my practicing has risen in half a year!
Aside from the lessons that I regularly get from him, Tom provides so much more value to me and all of his students. The private forum alone is worth the money with the quality of its members. Tom's passion and dedication to his students (just from my experience with him) is INCREDIBLE. Tom isn't just a guitar teacher to me ... he is my greatest mentor. I will probably never stop studying with him ... the guy is always 77 steps ahead of me! The money for the lessons is nothing compared to what I'm getting in return. The best way I'll ever pay the man back is by blasting past and beyond all of my major music goals in life, and letting him know about it.
Thank you, Tom!
-Mike Voyevodskiy (North Carolina, United States)
In 6 months Tom's lessons have exceeded my expectations. I am 20-+ year student of guitar and have been playing in weekend cover bands for over 10 years. I'm always on the look out for new learning material. I have taken lessons from 4 or 5 excellent teachers locally, face to face over the past 10-15 years. I've been fortunate to these teachers were very helpful with where I was at a point in time with my playing. I am also a big collector of instructional material, printed, audio, video, tab etc. I always have a small stack of learning material to supplement my band song list for my regular practice sessions.
Yes, I could have stayed comfortable in my playing, continued to learn at a certain pace and continued to play in my weekend cover band successfully a few times a month but 6 months ago I felt the time was right to try the correspondence format Tom advertised on his web site. Skeptical of mail order correspondent lessons, but looking for specific instruction on how to practice more effectively, and close in some gaps on fundamental skills, the format seemed low risk
Yes we've touched on some basic fundamentals that I knew (or thought I knew) but we've gone way beyond that as well. I am practicing with renewed enthusiasm, throwing new spark into my cover band songs, learning to balance learning new things, having fun playing and performing. The material I am receiving will always be there for me to refer back to. Each lesson seems to contain a variety of material well conceived to where I am in my playing and what I am hoping to accomplish.
The topics and technical areas of focus Tom provides are not for just now but for the future, such areas like aural skills, composition, songwriting, learning songs, advanced chords, scales etc. are things I had never thought to focus on. While I pride myself on improvising in a blues setting, both Tom's basic blues improve lessons and his Improvisation CD classes have been a huge benefit and I look forward to receiving each new installment
Tom uses his applicant questionnaire very effectively and has an uncanny ability of programming your subsequent lessons individually and personally for you. Finally, it's not just about the lessons from Tom. The community of other students he has built via the web site forum is an invaluable resource. Everyone is knowledgeable in their own right and many are teachers themselves.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the lessons from Tom and look forward to continuing to learn and grow my musical abilities.
- David DeWees (Ohio, United States)
Some time ago when I started to play guitar I didn't have a teacher, didn't have true knowledge, didn't have goals, didn't have direction where to move. I just collected information from many sources and soaked it up. Once I was surfing the Internet, grabbing musical info, and accidentally found Tom's article. At the same evening I emailed him and asked to teach me. I've been taking correspondence lessons for about one and a half year and during this time Tom totally changed my technique, my style of playing and my vision of music. Now I have serious guitar goals, I have the way to achieve them, I have really cool teacher and friend and I am happy with it. It is wonderful how just one email can change your life!
- Alexander Yuganov (Belarus)
In April of 2004 my daughter and I wanted to experience an activity or hobby that would bring us closer together. Not only has taking lessons with Tom brought us closer together, but we are sharing and experiencing the joy of playing guitar far beyond my greatest hope! Taking lessons from a Pro's Pro like Tom gives you the best practices and techniques for beginners when it can be so easy to quit. Tom has taught a lot of students over the years and knows how to reach into people and tap their awaiting expression and skill like he truly has with us. Although Tom's own skills are far beyond even most professional guitarists, he shows remarkable patience and reinforcement of your progress as you go. If you have kids that want to learn guitar or if you are an adult that has always felt you could be the next "Angus" or Kirk Hamett...or whoever.... Tom is the teacher you want. He provides more than just guitar lessons, he provides a real musical education
- Dave Blum (Illinois, United States)
Tom Hess is the man! He has taught me everything I've ever wanted to know about guitar, songwriting, and music in general over the last six years. He is an extremely intelligent person with a massive amount of knowledge in this field. I recommend Tom to anyone who wants to learn to play guitar and wants to improve his guitar playing skills.
- Daniel P. Weiler Jr. (Illinois, United States)
I have just finished up a six hour practice/study session with the materials you furnished, in addition to an hour or two per night since I got them a few days ago. Having taken private lessons from two other instructors and studied on my own for a number of years, in addition to performing live for about five years now, I think I can say with some authority that this is the course I have been looking for! While my previous instructors each had something to offer, what they did not provide is training in the underlying science and art behind music that will give me what I want - free command of the fretboard. I think your course is finally going to unlock that door for me.
The aural skills training is the best thing I have come across since I started messing around with the guitar as a child. This should be lesson one, day one of any music training, and yet I have not seen it anywhere else in my previous lessons or any of the books I have used. One thing I want to accomplish is to be able to listen to songs and figure them out quickly, rather than have to struggle through the endless tedium of memorizing tab transcriptions or playing a CD a hundred times trying to figure out all the parts. I think this aural skills training is going to greatly enhance my ability to pick apart songs and get them on the fretboard fast. This alone is worth the price of the first lesson set. As an added bonus, due to concentrated listening to my guitar with a clean tone I found that my intonation is off and one of my patch cords is causing noise. I also found that I get sharp as I get farther from the root, and I was able to spot this and correct it in just a couple of days with the exercises you provided. This could be a course by itself.
The Improv CD has already opened my eyes to some critical deficiencies in my current skill set. As an experienced live performer with a regular repertoire of mostly improv leads, I thought I had at least a pretty good handle on the basics. I can see I have been missing a lot and anticipate significant returns on the time and money in just a few months with this training.
I have started the recordings for the remainder of the lessons. I can't believe how much material you have provided in just one set of lessons. This is enough to keep me busy for several months with my old practice routine. Obviously I will be putting in some more time than before, but it will be well worth the sacrifice I'm sure. I am also thankful that you included some materials on arpeggios, as this is an area I have not really pursued but have been wanting to for a long time. There is so much here I'm almost afraid it may be too much for me to handle, but I'm going to give it a hard try.
It is obvious you have put a lot of thought and care into this course and I appreciate it. I know enough about music to know a real guitar course when I see one, and so far this is the best I have seen short of taking a college program. I wish I had found something like this ten or fifteen years ago.
BTW, the bonus Guitars at an Exhibition CD is unbelievable, I have it cranked up right now and expect the police to be here any minute! If I can ever play like some of these students of yours it will be more than worth the money for the course.
I'm looking forward to the next package in a few weeks and hope to be ready for it. Thanks again, for the course and for answering my e-mail questions.
- J. C. Crawford (South Carolina, United States)
Tom Hess is a great teacher, it's worth to take lessons with him! I've learned a lot from his teachings and methods. It has definitely corrected my perspectives on practicing and other things. Thanks a lot, teacher!
- Davis Lee Chee Yih (Malaysia)
Before I started studying with Tom Hess I was completely self taught. I had played along with songs and learned things everywhere I could for about 5 years. I got to a point where I thought I was pretty good, I could play well enough to impress any of my friends and everybody in my circle of friends thought of me as the guitar player guy. Over a period of time though, the more I got serious about playing guitar (and I was already pretty serious, so I thought!) the more I started to realize something in the back of my mind. I started to realize that I had reached a point in my playing where I was not getting better. After that I realized that I did not know HOW to get better and take my playing to the next level. This is the thing. Many people when coming to the same realization that I did would just assume they did not have what it takes, and move on to something easier. This is no way to get any worthy results out of any aspect of your life. So with this fact, I figured I should FIND OUT how to get better. I knew about Tom Hess from reading many of his excellent articles, and knew exactly who I needed to turn to. Now that I have been studying with him, I have already begun making amazing progress faster than I realized was possible. And it would not be possible if I did not have a very experienced teacher like Tom to make lesson plans for me and put me on the quickest path to helping me put my goals into reality. Its just like Tom said to me in the very first email I ever sent him, STOP TALKING AND START DOING, BROTHER.
- Brock Callahan (United States)
I first heard of Tom Hess when I was on a guitar training website and stumbled upon an article he had written about Perseverance. As it turns out it was exactly what I needed to hear. I had tried many times to improve my guitar playing on my own but lacked the focus and perseverance Tom mentioned because I had no plan, I had no one to help direct me. Of course I just thought I did not have what it took to become a good guitar player so was almost ready to quit. Although reluctant at first with the idea of correspondence lessons, I decided I had nothing to lose so I signed up. It was the right decision! The past several months I have seen an improvement in many areas of my playing thanks to Tom's lessons. As a matter of fact I have improved more in a few months with his help than I have over the past several years on my own. The area I have seen the most improvement in however is improvisation. If someone had told me that I would be able to improvise a solo after only a few lessons I would have laughed at them in disbelief - I could not believe it was possible for me. Well, not only was it possible, it has happened!! Thanks Tom. I look forward to attaining several other goals and milestones with your help.
- Maurice Richard (Nova Scotia, Canada)
We've worked together for the last 6 months now and I have to say that I'm very happy with the instruction you've provided. No way would I have progressed as quickly as I have had I tackled it all on my own.
You provide the right materials for me to practice and the materials on how to practice to achieve my goals. In addition, you're always only an email away. Though you undoubtedly get hundreds of emails a day, you always reply in a timely manner (within 2 days). This is certainly a much better situation than it was when I was taking more traditional lessons as a kid where I could only correspond with the teacher once a week during our lesson.
Your teaching methods, along with my own organizational abilities and dedication to practice, is helping me to become a better guitar player now than I ever was when I was younger (and I was really good then). I give you credit for the lessons.... I'll take credit for the hard work. ;-)
After being away from the guitar and music for so many years to pursue the "adult" goals in life, you've helped me to rediscover what a joy it is to play the guitar again. It fills a big void in the soul that corporate/family life just doesn't provide. Thanks!
- Keith Boruff (New York, United States)
I have always loved playing the guitar but wanted to play more than just published sheet music. Tom has helped me to understand and apply music theory to my playing, helping me to think of where the music can go instead of waiting to be shown what to do. Tom also helped me to improve my playing technique by showing me better ways to play certain phrases. I still have a long way to go, but with his help I am enjoying playing music and not just notes.
- Mark Schultz (Illinois, United States)
I'm a husband and father of 2 & I've been playing guitar for 28 years. Even though I am a pretty good player and believe I have a good sense of melody and feel, I am not where I want to be as a player or musician. Being self taught learning proper technique and other skills was hit and miss. Learning these skills from a good teacher is critical to becoming an excellent guitarist and especially to do so in a much shorter amount of time. I had grown tired of remaining on a plateau with my playing and in March, 2004 I decided to start taking lessons.
I found a local teacher with incredible credentials. University degree's, classically trained, Master Class student, session guitarist with legendary musicians, articles written about his virtuosity and the playing ability to back it all up.
He was one bad dude!
I took a total of 10 lesson's with this instructor and stopped when my father became very ill. During this time I reflected on all the time I had spent taking these lessons, driving to the lesson's and back home, practicing the lesson material and the hundreds of dollars I spent taking them. I was a bit disappointed with what I got out compared to what I put in.
I tried on my own to create a course of study and purchased a few "Lesson's" from a web based guitar instruction site that focused on a particular subject such as "Modes"& "Improvising" and downloaded other material on technique & theory. These ended up collecting dust for the most part because there was no structure to my study. No focus.
Frustration was really setting in.
I really wanted to reach my potential but I had no idea how to get there. Especially with my busy schedule. I new there was a good chance that I could be wasting a lot of valuable time by not learning and practicing things I really should be for my personal skill level to achieve my goals. I was driving blind.
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto your web site while searching the internet to answers some questions I had regarding theory and technique. I took a close look at what your teaching philosophy is, what some of your other students had to say about you, what your credentials are and I listened to how well you actually play. I was reluctant to trust another amazing guitarist with my hard earned dollars and time. Not to mention taking lessons from a few hundred miles away through correspondence!
I listened to how well your students on your web site played, how well you played, asked you questions over and over again and finally decided to go for it.
When I received my first lesson I was surprised how organized it was and how much material was actually there. I read it 3 times and prepared my practice environment and materials as instructed in the lesson and began practicing. I wanted to be certain I was practicing the material correctly so I sent you several e-mails asking you to verify that I was correct with certain techniques and fingers, etc. and I was very impressed with how quickly you responded and with such detail and patience. You took the time to answer my questions even though the answers were not only in the material but also in a very organized "FAQ" area on your web site!
It's been almost 3 weeks now since I received lesson #1 and I can honestly say that I have learned more in this single lesson than I did in the 10 private, one on one lessons with my previous teacher! He was an incredible player but his teaching skills were nowhere near yours!
I am very, very impressed! Finally a claim that means what it says!
Since I completed your evaluation, you have a total understanding of where I am currently at regarding my entire skill set and my goals and you have provided me with the roadmap to get there. No more driving blind!!
I know this may sound like an infomercial but I just wanted you to know how impressed I am and how happy I am with your lessons. Please feel free to share this with anyone. I can't recommend you enough!
Take care Tom and I'm looking forward to lesson #2!
- Jeff Vivrette (Michigan, United States)
Thank you for everything you have done for me during my time in your country. I return to my home in 4 days. I am very happy I know you and I came to study music from you. The experiences of our lessons has changed my life forever in the very great way! When I began your lessons, I thought it will be good and I wanted to achieve some simple things. You gave me the gift to believe about that I thought was impossible. I thank you again for your amazing teaching. You are much more than the great teacher. You are the master and my mentor. In my country, teachers teach only, but they do not care so much about my musical happiness as you. Forever I do not forget about you. I am happy to begin correspondence lesson with you when I am home and ready to begin again!
-Ovidiu Bihoi (Romania)
John came home today after his lesson and was gleaming with excitement. He told us about your conversation with him regarding his desire to pursue a career in music. John has never been this motivated about anything in his life! We owe a lot to you for doing so much for our son. Beyond all of things you have taught him, he really looks up to you. We are happy that he has chosen a very positive role model versus so many bad ones he could have chosen. My wife and I are grateful for you showing John his true potential, we always knew he had it in him, but he needed to know it for himself. He never really paid any attention to us when we encouraged him (he was only glad we kept paying for all the lessons!), but he listens to all that you say about these things.
- Mike Ryan (Illinois, United States)
Nice job you did on the rock tracks CD, I've wanted something like this for a long time! I love the lessons we are doing with the CD too, what a huge learning aid they are! I can't wait to record myself improvising and send it to you again.
- David Bradley (Scotland)
.... The second lesson was awesome!! Thank you. I have gained a lot since I started taking lessons from you. My accuracy, speed, and all around playing has shot through the roof. As soon as I get a recorder, I will send you a copy of me playing. Take care!
- Jeremy Blank (Wisconsin, United States)
....I still take lessons from Hess. I think I started back in 2002. I have never actually met him yet, but I will when he will play in Quebec City this June. He was cool enough to arrange backstage passes for me and my girlfriend. As a teacher, he's massive! Really knows his shit and really really knows how to explain it all to me! I'm a way better player now because of him. The Opus 2 record is out of this world. totally massive!....
- John Rondeau (Quebec, Canada)
I owe it all to you Tom. I NEVER could have gotten this far without you! Thanks a trillion!
- Steven Campbell (New York, United States)
Hiya Tom, Your lessons are outstanding. Karen loves to practice her guitar now and she is thrilled about her improved song writing skills. She called me from Florida and told me to schedule more lessons with you for when she returns from her gigs down south.
- Phil D. for Karen D. (Illinois, United States)
You're badass man! i can totally shred now all over this damn neck and know what the hell I'm doing now too. Thanks man for opening up new doors for me!!!!!!!!!! See you next week. later, Marty
- Marty Panstler (Illinois, United States)
Francesco told me all about you remember? He is also a great player! The newest set of lesson you made for me are very challenging but I think they are exactly what I needed to work on at this time. So I feel my skill is really growing now! it is very exciting because now i can play the way I always only wished about 6 months ago! It is very cool! Thank you Hess!!!
- Stefano Boschetti (Italy)
I've been a student, follower and fan of Tom Hess for more than 8 years now. When I met Tom, I was just a kid in high school with a dream to be real professional musician. I now teach and play guitar professionally. Tom has helped me in so many ways, it would take forever to say it all. I learned a lot more from Tom than good guitar playing. I learned how to become a pro. He not only taught me what to do and how to do it, he went way out of his way (many times) to help me get better gigs and other musical opportunities. He didn't have to do any of that, he wasn't getting paid to do it, he just did it! Even though I don't live near him anymore I am his student even now via distance learning correspondence lessons.
- David P. (Minnesota, United States)
Finding you for my teacher was the best thing for my guitar playing. Lessons with you are my greatest investment.
- Johan Haland (Norway)
If you haven't heard about this already, This is a great program! It is worth every dollar. I'm a lot closer to achieving my musical dreams now because of my correspondence lessons with Tom Hess.
- Cyril Guers (Southern France)
...I got so sick of great guitar players that can't teach! Many of them don't really know what they are doing and others may know it themselves, but can't find a way to make me understand it! It was so frustrating. Your logical structure and easy to understand approach is invaluable. But the coolest part is, if i don't understand something, all I have to do is ask and you explain it in a new way and then i get it! You don't know how long I've been searching for this.
Jared Foster (Oregon, United States)
Your correspondence lessons are absolutely the best! Thanks for all your help.
- Laurence Goh (Singapore)
I did all what you taught about recruiting more students and it worked! I now have 45 students a week! Its the greatest feeling in the world (OKAY, maybe its only the second greatest) to be able to quit my old job and finally, after all these years, be the professional musician and teacher that I am now! I mean, whoa man, life is awesome! If it wasn't for you dude, I would probably still be working at that dead end loser job back in Iowa making like $8 and hour taking lessons from some dude that aint all that great anyway. Now I make more than 4 times that much cash with my freaken guitar teaching cool students!! Life is good bro, life is good!!! U DA MAN Tom.
- Derrik Sands (California, United States)
Thanks for the great lesson Tom! I can't wait for the next one, I'm practicing more than ever now, you really have me motivated now!
- Mike Borden (Ohio, United States)
...of course Tom is a great teacher, that much is obvious. It's all that happens behind the scenes, which some people may not be aware of, that is of the most value. He helped me get my first guitar teaching job and I know he has done this for some of his other students too. He even gave me (and another student of his) the excellent opportunity to go on tour with him in Europe last summer!
- Rick Vargus (Illinois, United States)
I met Hess during a really bad time in my life. After playing guitar seriously for 7 years, I was ready to give up on music altogether. That was when I first heard about Hess. His articles "Why aren't you a better guitarist", "Musical frustration" and others opened my eyes again. I became one of his correspondence students in 2003. I've turned my life around (both music life and personal life) and I'm making a good living in music now with his guidance I have faithfully followed. I feel I owe him a lot.
- Alan Alvursha (California, United States)
As a guitarist I be positioned on basis the unimaginable tower be called Guitar experience. When I practice without assistance, I understand,what I never reach a level of neoclassical guitarists. At that time, Fortune meets me with virtuoso guitar player and teacher Tom Hess. Almost 1 year as I working with this outstanding teacher and musician and simply very good person. Of course, I rookie as yet, but I think what my progress it is obvious. Work with Tom Hess to be of benefit - now I begin to understand using musical theory on practice. Very important what I improve thanks to his lessons my aural and improvising skills. Also I continue to advance general technique of playing. I just to thank one's lucky stars for working Tom Hess with me.THANKS.
- Andrei Salnikov (Russia)
Fortune smiled on me, to you brought me. I grow each day from seed to tree, now I am with happiness because my music studies are broad. Only with translation of English do I have bigger challenges. Contents of your lessons are of my favorites I have seen for my life. Large Gratitude to you Mr. Hess!
- Gabriel Rodriguez (Chile)
Tom Hess has the ability to help you cut right through the fat and get to the heart of what you want accomplished. His knowledge reaches far into the many fields of, and related to, music. If there is something you want to learn, he already knows everything about it, and is more than happy to share all of it with you. With his help, I've been able to figure out why, and how, I want music in my life. His passion for the art is no less than an inspiration to be around, and his approaches to teaching are all his own, and all effective.
- Sam Hastings (Illinois, United States)
I didn't study with Tom for very long, but it didn't take much time for his teachings to effect my playing drastically. I had been learning guitar from a friend who I used to work with, who had played for some time. He helped my playing but then decided that he himself needed to accelerate his abilities. He referred me to Tom Hess, which is something I'm still grateful for. When I started with Tom I was still in the beginning stages and uncomfortable with the instrument. After studying his teachings on things like pedal point, picking hand discipline, and the use of a metronome my abilities sharpened intensely in a very short period. They developed so much that I was actually able to produce a song, which Tom edited and recorded for me. Tom Hess is an incredible musician and also a great guy. We spent many sessions talking about music and art, which is something I am very passionate about because its a dream of mine to be a professional tattoo artist. Tom didn't just teach me great things about music though. He shared with me books and motivational tapes that explain how to conduct yourself so that there is no way you can fail at anything in your life that you want to pursue. He shared with me ideas and philosophies that changed my life. When I was with Tom I had an unfortunate encounter with a loss in my family. Also, I am recently taking on another family members fight against cancer. Life hasn't dealt me the greatest hands lately but because of Tom I have the tools and techniques to overcome anything that life dishes out. He didn't just introduce music to me, he introduced to me a whole new way of living, for which I am grateful.
Thank you Tom, from the bottom of my heart thank you and god bless
- Tony DeMarco (Illinois, United States)
Out of all the programs and teachers that I have had, none have been as effective as Tom Hess' program! I at first was suspicious about correspondence lessons, but they with Tom's help, my guitar skills have propelled further than I could have every imagined. Tom actually works with you instead sending you an impersonal package of scales and charts. He's always willing to answer my questions and help me advance to the next level. This guy is the real deal!
- Adam Fein (Pennsylvania, United States)
I have been taking your correspondence lessons going on two months and just got my first lesson on improvising. I am most impressed with the structure the lessons are in and how much I am enjoying them. I practice for at least an hour every night and I have not gotten bored with any of the lessons. I emphasize this because when I get bored, I loose interest, and that has been my problem throughout the years playing.
I am very much looking forward to continue with the correspondence and improvising lessons and for you to help me reach both my short term and long term goals. Thanks Tom!!
- John Bryant (California, United States)
First let me say I am very pleased with your lessons. The tips on organization are worth the price alone. That is one of my big problems. I feel that just by getting organized I am maximizing the time I have to practice and getting great results using the rest of the lesson content.
- Val Rios (Washington, United States)
I received the second Improvisation Training Class CD yesterday. Listened to it on the way to work today and wow! You are batting 1000. I have never been so excited about playing. Thank you.
- Rick Franklin (Texas, United States)
After 8 weeks, I can definitely say that the value of a good teacher can never be overstated!! I think you've packed more into those 8 weeks than all my previous teachers combined. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year brings. I did not know how much I was missing by studying on my own or with less capable teachers. I'm 100% satisfied with the way things are progressing. The articles are great motivators, always reminding me that the next breakthrough is just around the corner and not to get frustrated, and to always stay focused because my goals are within reach. It's good to know that all the great musicians have been through the same trials, self doubt, and frustration because it keeps you going knowing it can be done.
At first I was surprised at the amount of material in the lessons and was concerned I wouldn't be able to get through it all, but having a practice regimen has enabled me to keep pace and I've seen a substantial increase in my abilities both in theory and technique. Tom is a master instructor he knows what his students need and exactly when they need it to keep them constantly moving forward. If I hadn't started studying under Tom, I'd still be spending the next 20 years chasing my dreams. Instead, I'm on my way to playing the music I want to play, the way I want to play it.
- Fred Ferenczhalmy (Virginia, USA)
The lessons are going great. I think the most important thing that I am getting from your lessons is the mentoring, advice, motivation, plans/structure to reach my dreams. That stuff is priceless and extremely valuable.
- Samson Rowaro (Papua, New Guinea)
I feel a little strange at the beginning to get some correspondence course, but well, after reading your article I was convince. It's been three month now and I really can feel and hear the difference - rhythm, aural skill, theory knowledge, composition. Now, I understand what you mean with a good teacher and lot of motivation : I feel (no, I know!) I can reach my goal with your help. I hope one day I can get more often your lesson, it's really worth it. Thanks Tom, now I'm going back to work on my lesson!
- Sebastien Orban (Belgium)
Received the 14th lesson today, again all great stuff Tom. The Rhythm Guitar CD was awesome and I went through all of it once already. I was at Jonathan's house and we were talking about how his lesson with you are going too. We both spent about 15 minutes discussing how much we've progressed so much in the past 6-8 months with you. It was also the first time I was actually on your students forum [at Jonathan's house] I can't believe how much great stuff there is to learn just by reading all the great posts made there by some of your more advanced students. These guys must also be guitar teachers too, lots of really expert advice on there. I can see now your student's forum alone is more than worth the price of the lessons!
- Vlad Mears (Iowa, United States)
I have tried everything and am extremely motivated but you are the first person that has shown me the REAL possibilities instead of saying "grow up---here are some guitar acrobatics so go jerk off for a while". I appreciate that and am telling everyone about you. Even my wife, who is a music lover and my worst critic sees the difference in my playing in just one month. It comes from playing everyday and changes that I made, but without your help and encouragement, I would still be paddling away at nowhere.
- Daniel Faustmann (Wisconisn, United States)
AWESOME videos and superb playing! I want to thank you for doing these lessons so people like me can learn what they need to know from an experienced professional and not just a local teacher that, while they may be a good player, probably don't know how to teach! I would pretty much be lost without a good guide....and you're the best guide I could have asked for! Thank you again so much, anyway time to practice!
- Cody Abram (Oklahoma, United States)
I started taking correspondence lesson with Tom in January 2006. At the time, my playing had been stagnating and I was dealing with serious arthritis. I was quite frustrated and I felt I was going backwards. The songs I had been writing had all started to sound derivative of one another, and I couldn't seem to advance my playing. One year later, I can honestly say that those lessons represent one of the best investments in myself I ever made. Tom is not only an amazing player with a thorough knowledge of theory, he can communicate that knowledge in a way that makes it extremely easy to absorb. The lessons have been very well organized and the Improvisation Training Class has been absolutely invaluable. These materials are packed with literally hundreds of techniques I can use for extracting myself from compositional or improvisation ruts I might fall into in the future. I've learned numerous new ways of approaching the process of composition, and my playing has improved dramatically. I still struggle with the arthritis, but using the warm-up and practice methodology Tom taught me has helped me prove to myself that I CAN work through it and reach new goals.
- Ben Beasley (Maryland, United States)
For someone serious about music, there is no better, more efficient, or faster way to reach your goals than with Tom Hess. He's not only a master guitar player, he has mastered the art of teaching. He will help you identify your goals, decide what course of action to reach those goals, and if you put the effort in, you will have huge results. I've never had a teacher with a more fundamentally solid method than Tom Hess, in any class (any subject) or private guitar lessons. With enthusiasm for guitar, a ton of effort, and an awesome teacher like Tom, ANYONE can reach their musical goals.
- Ben Craig (Wisconsin, United States)
Thank you for another excellent lesson, it is even better than the previous ones! But mostly I want to write thanks to you for spending your time to answer my questions and for all your advice. Many of the advices are worth more than the cost of any lesson amount. And you advised without payment in your own free time - my German teachers never do it for the students! it will be a pleasure to finally meet you when you will tour again in Germany. I regret I did not know you when you were in concert last time here.
- Jan Mienert (Germany)