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Question for you guitar teachers

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,681
I am not a teacher, but I have been playing for 46 years. I have a fairly good grip on putting some soul into anything I play. But I have a much younger close friend that has asked me to show him some stuff. The problem as I see it, is that he never took lessons, and just started from the git-go watching vids online, and learning his favorite EVH solos. He is pretty damn good at the tapping. I don't tap at all. But he is severely lacking in finesse and the soul factor when he does anything else.

Several months ago, I managed to get him interested in rhythm guitar. Before, he only wanted to play the solos. I pointed out how cool Eddie's comping was, and got him interested. Then I tried to back him back about 100 lessons and learn some basics. He got a lot better at it. But without getting all of the proper inflections, etc., he sounds like **** compared to his tapping.

I think the older guys just busted my balls until I got it right, when I was 12-14 years old. Busting his balls doesn't work. He just gets frustrated, and even walked out on me once.

He wants me to just let him figure it out, but he's never gonna do it alone, as far as I can see. So I try to reason with him. I ask for his input on how I can give him my experience without pissing him off. I am close to just saying the hell with it. If he won't listen and learn, then I don't know what to do. But he has such potential if he'd get rid of the cocky attitude.

He'll say something like, "well, you can't play Eruption." I don't really want to. So I have said to him a few times, that if we were to have a guitar duel, I'd just kick his ass all over the place. Play Eruption. Now play something else NOT by EVH.

This guy is 29 years old. And I love him dearly. He's only been playing for 3-4 years. I think I might have finally nailed Day Tripper when I had been playing that long (he can't play it, but knows the notes). LOL I have soul and feeling when I play. He has none. Yes, he nailed Eruption pretty damn good. But when he tries to go into "You Really Got Me," he sucks.

I guess when my balls were being busted, I was 12-14, playing with 18+ year olds. I am way older than those guys were older than me. He and I used to play a little game called "Stump Scott," where he'd name a classic song and see if I could whip it out. No problem as long as I have heard the song. If I hadn't he'd call it up on his phone, and I'd figure it out right there. He was impressed. But now he has a hard time listening to me.

So, how do you real teachers get the student to just STFU and listen, and do what you say? He can do whatever he wants with it once he learns it. But he's frustrated. I recall that from when I was a teen. I can't imagine having not played at all until age 24. At 24, I had been on the road for six years!

I want to help him be what I hear him telling me he wants to be. I even made him play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star once. Hell, that's where I started. He actually sort of got into the concept of playing a melody.

To me, he went to the final lesson, and skipped everything before. So he has no foundation to build on to really play a whole song. He can do the SOLO to whatever EVH song, but he can't play the rest of the song, go into the solo, then back to comping. I try to show him what he's doing wrong. It's mostly not the notes/chords. It is the nuance of the song he's missing. I told him that once he gets these notes online, to play it to the damn CD, and he might be able to get it. But he just watched vids, remembers the song *somewhat* in his head, and never tries to play it with the CD. I am lazy, and I wish I'd have had the internet growing up to be able to see what to play. But I'd have always taken back to the recording to learn the feeling, plus make sure what the vids show are correct. That are not all correct.

Any words of wisdom? I know what I know musically. I am tired of pissing him off. Yes, he's a bit of a baby about it. I just grew a pair and did the best I could until those older guys STFU and were happy I played for them. I found it fun and right of passage (first dues paying). But I was really young. He's a grown man, which may be a different mindset to deal with. Unless someone has a better idea for me, I'll just try to be patient, and still bust his balls when I think it's needed.

A better idea will be considered, and probably tried. He could be really damn good. If he learned what I have to offer, he could actually play for a living if he wanted to. NOBODY is gonna pay him just do EVH solos, no matter well he does them. HELP!
 
Last edited:

KRosser

Member
Messages
14,149
I've been doing this a long time. You can't get into a pissing contest with students, and there are some that will try to start one when their pride gets up in a twist.

I simply tell them at that point, "OK, you came to me. If there's nothing else I can answer, then I guess we're done"
 
M

Member 995

Honestly, it doesn't sound like you have a relationship that will be conducive to being teacher/student.
 

Teal_66

Member
Messages
3,310
I haven't been playing as long as you have, but I also have a friend who's wanted to learn some stuff - and I showed him. He was cool about it.

Seems to me that your friend really doesn't want to learn, and is happy where he is at. Either that, or he doesn't want to put the time into it that is needed?

I guess the only advice I can give is that music should never be frustrating in a bad way - it should be fun and enjoyable. I would simply stop trying teach someone that isn't receptive, but combative (not worth it to either of you). Just play really well when you are with him, and hopefully, he hears it, and somehow accepts it, and tries to find his way to it. If not, no big deal. Just be friends.
 

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,681
I've been doing this a long time. You can't get into a pissing contest with students, and there are some that will try to start one when their pride gets up in a twist.

I simply tell them at that point, "OK, you came to me. If there's nothing else I can answer, then I guess we're done"
I'm close to this. It's fun when I see his eyes light up like mine did when I finally discovered something I had been trying to do.

Honestly, it doesn't sound like you have a relationship that will be conducive to being teacher/student.
That is a distinct possibility. I have, on several occasions, suggested he get formal lessons. I'd be better with a player that had more basics than he has. He has not pursued this avenue at all. He did have another buddy try to show him stuff. AFAIK that didn't work out, and he's not been back.

I haven't been playing as long as you have, but I also have a friend who's wanted to learn some stuff - and I showed him. He was cool about it.

Seems to me that your friend really doesn't want to learn, and is happy where he is at. Either that, or he doesn't want to put the time into it that is needed?

I guess the only advice I can give is that music should never be frustrating in a bad way - it should be fun and enjoyable. I would simply stop trying teach someone that isn't receptive, but combative (not worth it to either of you). Just play really well when you are with him, and hopefully, he hears it, and somehow accepts it, and tries to find his way to it. If not, no big deal. Just be friends.
But he does want to play like that. It almost seems to me that it is because I can, and he can't. He can do Eruption, but I can't. I don't give a ****. I don't play that stuff anyway. But I DO have a solid foundation in the basics.

Despite his actions, from what he tells me, this is what he wants to learn. Is it possible that he is now "programed" to only learn from a vid? I am not a vid. I am interactive. I'll bust his balls if I feel it's needed. He hates it when I stop him when he f's up (to show him his mistake). He wants to just continue without my help. But it seems to me, stopping someone AT their mistake, is how to correct it. Otherwise, you are bitching about something that (to the student) happened 12 measures ago or whatever. Those older guys stopped me on the spot, and forced me to get it right before we moved on. That's all I know. If you f up, we stop and do it again. When you got it right, we move on to the next passage of the song. When you got all of it right, we put the whole damn song together as a performance.

I guess it sucks to be me.
 

Teal_66

Member
Messages
3,310
Despite his actions, from what he tells me, this is what he wants to learn. Is it possible that he is now "programed" to only learn from a vid? I am not a vid. I am interactive. I'll bust his balls if I feel it's needed. He hates it when I stop him when he f's up (to show him his mistake). He wants to just continue without my help.
I think that your friend should maybe try another teacher. Not because you aren't a good teacher, but because you guys are friends, he is too comfortable - and in some weird way, it sounds like a competition rather than a learning situation. If he is with a teacher that can identify his situation without you in the room, that would probably be a good thing.

For what it's worth - I started piano lessons about a month ago. My teacher is an older German woman. She is militant, but absolutely excellent. It's all business. She is hyper-focused on what matters. She knows. I don't. The right teacher is a big deal. As I moved through the baby steps, my brain hurt - but she knows exactly where to take me - and why.

Also - I doubt that Robben Ford can play Eruption, or even wants to. :eek:
 

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,681
I think that your friend should maybe try another teacher. Not because you aren't a good teacher, but because you guys are friends, he is too comfortable - and in some weird way, it sounds like a competition rather than a learning situation. If he is with a teacher that can identify his situation without you in the room, that would probably be a good thing.
Read the above. I have tried to get him to actually PAY for lessons. Sometimes, paying for it makes all the difference. He's not going for it, and I cannot afford to pay for him. In 1966 lesson were $2.50 an hour. I'd pay that for him. LOL

For what it's worth - I started piano lessons about a month ago. My teacher is an older German woman. She is militant, but absolutely excellent. It's all business. She is hyper-focused on what matters. She knows. I don't. The right teacher is a big deal. As I moved through the baby steps, my brain hurt - but she knows exactly where to take me - and why.

Also - I doubt that Robben Ford can play Eruption, or even wants to. :eek:
I agree with all of this. I am trying to be that teacher. I am militant as well, but he is not responding to that technique.

If I got him into Robben, he might understand a little more, but he's into EVH as much as I was into the Beatles as an 8 year old. I learned they weren't everything. A huge part for me, but I moved on to other players....MANY other players.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,138
So, how do you real teachers get the student to just STFU and listen, and do what you say? !
Well, firstly, I think it has to be framed as a formal lesson, and there has to be a level of respect.

If someone comes to you and says, I want you to teach me what you know, then isn't willing to do the work, then you need to say "I can't teach you anymore".

I don't teach anymore, but when I did, students were paying for lessons with me and they came in and were respectful. I had a few...

Had a lady come in who tuned the guitar to an open chord and played one finger barres open, 5th, and 7th for I IV and V chords - she'd seen Dolly Parton do it, and figured (I suppose) that if it was good enough for Dolly Parton it was good enough for her. She didn't see the need to do anything else. I immediately brought up a song with a minor chord in it and said "what are you going to do now" and her response was, well, I just won't play that song. Come to think of it, there are probably enough songs with only 3 chords in them - even in Country music alone that she'd have enough to play the rest of her life. And that's all she was interested in.

In fact, it was her husband who brought her in becuase he was trying to convince (via second, outside opinion I suppose) her that she needed to have some other skill sets, possibly because she lacked Dolly Parton's other, shall we say, "assets".

I had the kid who though he was hot stuff because he was basically the best player at his school - which was his whole world at 14 or 15. But I told him he was sloppy (he was) and we needed to work on cleaning up his playing. He didn't believe be. But he was interested in Composition and Classical Guitar, and I had the skill set to help him with that. He brought me a video of his senor recital from High School and said, "yeah, you're right, I can hear how "choppy" my playing is".

So it took the video, and playing "clean" on Classical, one of his own pieces, to see how using a lot of distortion to cover up bad technique wouldn't work for what is interests now were.

In your situation, it sounds like you've tried to find other areas of interest (with varying degrees of success) but it sounds like from what you've said he really just either doesn't respect you, or doesn't understand how to show that kind of respect - communication and "framing" issue. Sounds like it's time for a serious talk. Either that or he just truly doesn't care about what you have to offer him. In that case, move on.

Good luck,
Steve
 

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,681
Sad thought. But I am not ready to give up yet. I never had the chance to pay it forward from the older guys that helped me. I think he has a lot of potential. It may come down to a potential vs. patience thing for me. If he wasn't 30 YO, and so big, I'd just slap him around. LOL But he's a big guy, and he's no longer a little kid. I wish he was a little kid. I think I could get his attention better if he was.

More thoughts are helpful. Making me think about it.

I have some determination. But I am too old to screw around if I am not taken seriously.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,138
LOL But he's a big guy, and he's no longer a little kid. I wish he was a little kid.
Here's something that helped me out with a lot of my older students.

I would tell them that, there's the old saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". I'd tell them that I didn't believe that. I believed the problem was that "old dogs already know enough tricks, so why would they bother learning new ones".

Think about it. It's true. Older people are often in stable jobs, can balance their checkbooks, fix their car, cook dinner, raise children etc.

An analogy would be, why would they learn Quantum Mechanics when they have enough math to get buy with their everyday tasks.

Essentially, everyone learns what they need to know to get by, then, they don't really need anything else, unless it helps them get something they want.

So I would tell students that part of the reason this is true is because adults, knowing how to do all this stuff they can already do, have a much more difficult time putting themselves back into the position of being a "learner". They CAN learn new tricks if they pretend that they're a "new dog". They have to be willing to put themselves into that position.

This guy is slightly worse becuase a lot of the "old tricks" he already knows are not driving, raising kids, etc., but playing these things like he already can. So he's going to have to be willing to pretend to be a kid again - learning guitar - forgetting the fact that he already knows all these old tricks and be willing to learn some new ones. Your job is more difficult because he also sees those tricks he already knows as valuable and the new tricks you're trying to teach him as tricks he doesn't need.

So your task is two-fold: 1 get him to accept this position of a "new learner", and 2, get him to WANT to and see the merit in putting himself in that position.

Maybe take him out to a club or open mic and have him sit in and have some other people give him a taste of reality.

Sure, some people will shut down, but other people may triple their desire to learn just to spite the nay-sayers and prove them wrong. I know when a kid I looked up to told me I would never be able to play what he just played (the opening to Roundabout) I went home and learned it that night. But I was INTERESTED in that - generating that interest is hard, and it does take a lot of perseverance and experimentation to find the sparks that will ignite his "soul" playing.

Good Luck,
Steve
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,923
I had a student come to me, who was several years older than me. He had been in jail and was receiving 'vocational training' from me. He was the most respectful guy. He went on to do a fair amount of studio work, and even played the Montreux jazz fest.
Students like that make up for the others that feel entitled to something and don't want to put in the work.
 

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,681
Good suggestions, folks. I might ask him to join in the discussion, unless y'all think that's not wise.

Two sides to every story & all. I only know how I feel about it. But I do want to help this guy attain his goals. I think I know better what he needs than he does, at this point. However, I think if he can set aside his pride, he really knows I am right. Or at least he knows I am not just out to bust his balls. I'd be happier if he got all of the **** I try to show him. I can bust his balls on plenty of other stuff. LOL
 

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,681
I had a student come to me, who was several years older than me. He had been in jail and was receiving 'vocational training' from me. He was the most respectful guy. He went on to do a fair amount of studio work, and even played the Montreux jazz fest.
Students like that make up for the others that feel entitled to something and don't want to put in the work.
IMHO, this guy has the ability to be a stellar player, if he'll give in and go back to START. If I had $200 I'd give it to him to do so. He really could be a great player. I just need to figure out how to get him to learn from me. After me, he can learn a LOT more from others, too. I am not trying to be his guru. I am just trying to put him on a path that has meaning.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,923
Good suggestions, folks. I might ask him to join in the discussion, unless y'all think that's not wise.

Two sides to every story & all. I only know how I feel about it. But I do want to help this guy attain his goals. I think I know better what he needs than he does, at this point. However, I think if he can set aside his pride, he really knows I am right. Or at least he knows I am not just out to bust his balls. I'd be happier if he got all of the **** I try to show him. I can bust his balls on plenty of other stuff. LOL
Dude just needs to play well with others.
 

otaypanky

Play it like you mean it ~
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,042
I'm not a teacher but would like to offer my thoughts after having read through your OP and the responses. It sounds like you fellows are in competition.
What stood out to me initially is that in your original post you wrote "Several months ago, I managed to get him interested in rhythm guitar." It doesn't sound like he came to you to learn something that's unique to your playing or is something that you are proficient at that is something he wishes he could do. Rather you brought to his attention what you feel is a weakness in his abilities. So I think from the get go he may have been on the defensive and as a result somewhat closed minded.
If he had come to you initially I bet you would be helping him round out his skills, but at this point as someone else already described it, it's a pissing contest. Let him go tap himself silly until the time comes that he WANTS to learn some of your tips and tricks.
 

sl33py

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
218
I teach now and then.

You say he asked you to 'show him some stuff'. How about (for now) only showing him the stuff he specifically asks about? Everyone gets bored of ONLY tapping etc, but you can't force him out of the 'play fast' period of his hobby.

I know what you're saying about how he doesn't know the important stuff, the foundations. The best way I've found to get students interested in that stuff is to demonstrate (through the music they like) where that information is used. For example, a 15yo student of mine whose been playing less than a year understands the concept of a 'five'/tension chord and the 'one'/home chord, because he wanted to know about writing songs.

Without putting the USE of a concept/chord/scale into practise, or hooking it up with an example, most of us have trouble learning and assimilating new ideas.

Does he want to write songs? or riffs? He'll need to learn chords, major and minor scales...
Does he want to play faster? He'll be able to play faster if he can 'look ahead' on the fretboard (ie. learn scales again)
Does he want to play with more 'soul' like you do? etc...

As others have said, I don't think paying for it or not has any bearing on the matter: An eager student will learn, whether they're paying or not, just as a student whose not inspired or eager won't learn even if they are paying!

I mostly find it's a game of showing how the stuff they want to learn relates to the stuff they NEED to know. I can spend 25 minutes of a lesson explaining a technical aspect, but it's the last 5 minutes where I show where/when/why it's used that really solidifies the technique, and gives them the bit of theory/soul/whatever they're missing... that's where they get their money/time's worth!
 

flavaham

Member
Messages
1,866
Well, I'm no teacher, but I will say this: You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. It might just be that he doesn't actually want to learn this stuff.

There could be a few different reasons for this also. Perhaps he's absolutely where he wants to be with his playing. Not likely, but maybe.

More likely, he's turned off by the learning process. He's comfortable hiding behind the chops he's learned from mimicking EVH so he figures he's good enough.

More likely still, he finds this material boring and of little use. Perhaps there is a bit of ego getting in the way? "Why should I play that when I can play this??" kind of stuff.

Honestly, I think the best thing for him would be to play with other people. Get into a band situation where he has to learn songs start to finish. When he realizes that there's more to a song than a solo he'll have to figure it out one way or another.

At some point the light bulb will go off for him. It has to. For now, I'd say let him figure some stuff out on his own. When he realizes the size of the wall that he's run into, he'll welcome this stuff.
 

blueworm

Member
Messages
3,219
I'm not a teacher either but from all that I've read in this thread about that guy there's one thing that completely eludes me: what are this guy's goals as a guitar player ? I'm not saying this offensively but I believe that if both him and you (as a teacher) are completely unclear about what he wants to achieve as a musician then that might be a difficult situation to assess.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,416
IMHO, this guy has the ability to be a stellar player, if he'll give in and go back to START. If I had $200 I'd give it to him to do so. He really could be a great player. I just need to figure out how to get him to learn from me. After me, he can learn a LOT more from others, too. I am not trying to be his guru. I am just trying to put him on a path that has meaning.
stevel mentioned how seeing a video of himself opened the eyes of one of his difficult students.
Has your guy seen or heard recordings of himself playing? Ideally, playing things he thinks he's quite good at, but you can hear he isn't.

Especially it he's learned so far from videos, that should give him some insight into areas for improvement.
Re the tapping, Eruption, etc, he's obviously managed to teach himself pretty well so far. OK, he doesn't have what you call "feel" - but that's a subtle thing that many of us don't become aware of as an issue for years. If he can't hear "feel", why should he care?
Or does he actually realise something is missing from his playing?

IOW, the way in is via him realising he has problems that maybe he wasn't aware of before - that he can't hear while he's playing, but should be clear when he hears/sees a recording of himself.

The issue of pay is also important. OK, you're not a pro teacher, but you do have valuable info. If he gets your advice for free, he's not going to attach much value to it. Then again, if he does pay, he's going to feel he wants value for money - maybe that's going to irritate him even more if he doesn't feel he's getting the right answers.

If you want to keep it on a free-and-friendly basis - ie informal - it's got to be in small increments. One tip at a time. Show him video of himself playing; ask him if he thinks anything needs improvement. If not, fine (even if you think it does).
If he can hear mistakes, or clumsiness anywhere, that's what to zero in on. Does he just need to slow down? Focus on one phrase or one bar where he trips up? You have to pass the responsibility to him somehow. You can't make him better, only he can. He just has to want to.

I don't think your own experience will cut much ice - I sympathise because it's similar to mine, but life is different today. If we'd had videos, DVDs and the internet in the 1960s, you can bet we'd have used them. And then some old jazz guy would have tutted at the results.... ;)
IMO, we were lucky to have been forced to do it the hard way - with hindsight, it worked (we learned things in the right order, with the right priorities), but that wasn't why we did it that way. We had no choice.
There are a lot more easy choices for beginners today (a confusion of choice), and it's not a lot of use us moaning about that.

For you to be of benefit to him, he has to see that you can offer a bridge, a path from where he is to where he wants to be. It can start with one little thing, one first step on that path, for free; but after that he should be willing to pay you - for your time and your experience. But you still have to be focussed on what will work for him, and not what worked for you back in the day.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,923
I'm not a teacher either but from all that I've read in this thread about that guy there's one thing that completely eludes me: what are this guy's goals as a guitar player ? I'm not saying this offensively but I believe that if both him and you (as a teacher) are completely unclear about what he wants to achieve as a musician then that might be a difficult situation to assess.
Sounds like his goal is to impress at GC on Sat morning. I think he's ready.
 






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