Friday, November 27, 2009

Give up your day job and become a pro guitarist

Many guitar students are asking about their career prospects as a professional guitarist. I think most would agree that a career as a guitarist is difficult and highly risky. But in my experience this is an out dated perception of real world of guitar. The idea that guitar is not a serious career option probably comes from the fact that most would see it simply as a hobby. The reality is many hobbies turn into industries. Sometimes massive industries. Walt Disney's hobby of drawing cartoons is one great example. Bill Gates turned his hobby of computer programming into a global industry as did Steve Jobs with Apple Mac. Guitar manufactures for example like Fender and Gibson would hardly call guitar making a hobby these days.

The real challenge we face is changing the long held perception that a career as a guitarist is risky and only for a handful of very fortunate rock stars. The fact is the career guitarist has several options other then rock stardom. Currently there is a lack of higher education facilities for guitarists seeking a career simply due to the lack of acceptance that there is a huge music industry that now depends on guitarists. Guitarists who wish to have a career are essentially small business operators yet most lack essential business skills. There is no point in having great guitar skills if you can't afford to buy new strings for your guitar when needed. A career guitarist does not need to be the world's best guitarist. They just need to learn some essential business skills.

Today education and leisure industries are booming industries and guitar fits into both. The opportunity for a career as a guitarist would rate much higher than any other instrument. I started over 20 years ago and have never looked back. Today I am living proof of a career guitarist. Guitar has been my main source of income since I was in high school.

G4 GUITAR is now moving to the next stage. Many of our own students are now beginning to show real signs of promise. We want to assist and support these guitarists who want to pursue a career as a guitarist by giving them access to essential business training and ongoing support. As a result we have created a new program. For more information please visit the G4 GUITAR NETWORK page.

We live in exciting times and have a real chance of change in our industry. By working together we can help increase the pace of change and ensure those guitarists who choose a life of guitar can do so with confidence.

Hope that helps.

David Hart - Program Director


Visit the G4GUITAR METHOD Website

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How long does it take to learn guitar?

When you begin guitar the whole process of learning can seem very mysterious. The most common question I get from beginner guitar students is 'How long will it take to learn?' This is a reasonable question. When I get on a plane to fly somewhere my first question is 'How long will it take?' The difference with the plane trip is it is passive. I don't need to do anything. I will arrive at the same time as the pilot. The pilot determines my time of arrival. In the case of learning guitar the student largely determines the time of arrival and the teacher is more like a navigator ensuring you stay on course.

The first determining factor in a student's time of arrival is knowing the destination. The student must have a clear goal or outcome in mind. The best way to do this is to write down a list of songs you hope to one day play. At G4 GUITAR we call this the ULTIMATE SONG LIST. You can get a free copy from our downloads by joining our free online course. Just visit our website at

The next determining factor is speed. In my early years of teaching I found overwhelming number of students learning guitar were not really sure about why they were really learning guitar. Without a clear reason there is nothing driving you to practice. I began asking questions like 'Why did you originally decide to take up guitar?' Here is a list of responses I recall;
  1. I was inspired by a great concert, guitarist or song
  2. A friend is learning
  3. My parents wanted me to learn an instrument
  4. A sibling was once learning but gave up so there was a guitar in the house
  5. I needed a hobby other than watching TV
  6. Want to inspire my children to play music
  7. Seemed like the cool thing to do
  8. The game 'Guitar Hero' inspired me
  9. Was watching Youtube and came across some easy lessons
  10. I was given the guitar as a gift so I thought I'd better learn
Now as you can see most of the reasons are not exactly compelling. I personally do not see guitar as a passive hobby. A passive hobby to me means movie watching or stamp collecting. Guitar requires daily practice and a certain level of discipline. If your motivation to learn is because you needed a hobby other than watching TV then you are unlikely to have the drive that will push you to consistently practice an hour or more a day.

The first stage of learning guitar can be fun and exciting as you put some basic chords together but then comes the first hurdle. It may be a chord or a picking pattern that just seems impossible. It is at this point that many give up or worse yet they just shy away from the hurdles and stick with what they know. For many this the F chord or bar chords or reading music.

The trick is to take the hurdles head on. When I was 14 years old I remember having to play on stage for the first time in front of my whole school. I was so terrified that for weeks I was trying to plan how I was going to get out of it. Problem was the teacher was knew it and made sure there was no way I was going to back out. So about a week before I resolved myself to the fact that I was not going to escape what seemed like a fate worse than death. I took the hurdle head on and practice for hours everyday. On the night I had to perform I was still extremely nervous but also quietly confident.

To be continued...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


G4 GUITAR now has a FACEBOOK FAN PAGE so please come and join us.

Its a great place to ask questions or make any comments regarding guitar.

Here are some reasons to join us;

*Ask questions & get advice the G4 GUITAR METHOD
*Communicate directly with the G4 GUITAR team
*Buy or sell your guitar
*Connect with other students in your area
*Form a band with local musicians

*Chat about your favourite guitarists or bands
*Advertise your next guitar performances
*Free lesson giveaways and special offers
*Stay in the loop as to what is happening in your local scene
*Share a Youtube video or watch other students and teachers
*Suggest a topic of interest to you

The page has just been created to connect guitar students, teachers, parents or anyone interested in guitar so come and join us and remember to become a fan.

Kind regards,

David Hart - Program Director


Visit the G4GUITAR METHOD Website


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bird composition

The following is an example of how Jarbas Agnelli took birds on a wire and turned them into a composition. Inspiration is all around.

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

How does your birthday affect the way you learn?

Why is that some people look for a coach or teacher where others prefer to try and self teach? Is one way better than the other? Are there not great examples of people who have taught themselves?

Many people think that a teacher is simply someone who passes on knowledge. In today's information age knowledge is free. Everything you could probably ever want to know is available on the internet for the cost of a computer and internet connection. So why bother with a teacher? Why would you waste your money?

One strong argument is accountability. We humans are terrible at making ourselves accountable. Look at the evidence. More than 50% of the population believe that they are overweight. Why? Because they cannot make themselves accountable for what they eat. 90% of people will retire with almost no money in the bank. Why? Because they fail to make themselves financially accountable.

Lets flip the coin and look at successful sports people or teams. How many Olympic athletes coached themselves to a gold medal? Probably zero. How many professional sports teams self coach? In fact these days when teams lose the first person to be blamed is usually the coach. When I was a kid we would point the finger at the players. In business they found that the more money a company spent on training the more likely the company was to succeed. If you are looking at buying shares in a company just look at their budget allocation to training.

So how about learning something like guitar? (My specialty by the way) Guitar is one those areas where 99% of people who own a guitar either play at a standard that we would prefer not to have to listen to or simply can't play at all. It is no coincidence that playing guitar is probably the most self taught skill I can think of. It would certainly rank in the top 1%. So why given the overwhelming amount of evidence that having a coach, teacher, mentor would anyone try and teach themselves? The answer may surprise you.

I recently read a book called Outliners by Malcolm Gladwell. He points out how that in Canada the champion hockey teams seem to have a disproportionate number of players who were born in the first half of the year. They found that it was related to the fact that when you were young and born in January compared to say December you were bigger, stronger and smarter. You could be up to a year older. When one child is 5 years old and another 4 years old the 5yo is going to have the advantage. This equates to the older child getting more attention and even being labeled as gifted. The younger child gets the opposite treatment. I looked at the Australian Rugby League squad and sure enough 66% were born in the first half of the year.

So how does this effect guitar players? Well this is where it gets very interesting. If you are in school and in the younger group you are going to be slower. The older kids are able to understand the work more easily where as you begin to fall behind and lose confidence. This loss of confidence is in any activity that essentially puts you up against other kids in your year at school. So this includes sports of course. As you lose confidence in school work and sports you seek out activities that are not pitching you up against other students. By the time you are 8 or 9 years old and the gap on age difference is relatively small but its too late. The damage is done. You bowed out of school work and sports some years earlier and have adopted a self belief that school and sport are simply not for you. This is exaggerated by the fact that the older kids have been getting much of the attention often resulting in extra attention from teachers, coaches and family.

The younger kids now seek out something that they can do that is separate from school or at least something that is not associated with competing against the older kids in their year. This leads them to the guitar for many reasons. I recently did a survey of all the guitarists I knew and found an amazing 87% were born in the second half of their respective school years. This is no coincidence. But how does this all explain the desire to self teach?

My theory is younger students generally lose faith in the system due to their early experiences. This is for the most part subconscious. No one likes to feel like a loser but what chance do you have when most of the kids in your class are older, smarter and stronger than you. The odds are stacked against you. It would only be if you were somehow exceptional that you would move to the head of the class. To you the teacher/classroom experience is a losing game. You prefer to play your own game. You learn to find what works for you. You learn to become independent and self sufficient. You learned to self teach but unfortunately self teaching is not a smart move because there is no accountability, no outside perspective and no proven strategy. You are reinventing the wheel.

Would you teach yourself to fly, parachute or perform heart surgery? Of course not because their is no room for mistakes so why waste time teaching yourself guitar? It just doesn't make sense. Why not avoid all the mistakes and learn from a trained professional teacher? Even if your decision to self teach is motivated by the desire to save money the time wasted teaching yourself could be spent working a few extra hours a week.

Conclusion: There are examples of people who coach themselves to greatness but there are also examples of people who got rich gambling. Teaching yourself requires taking a big risk. I personally believe that every dollar I have invested in teachers has always paid off even if not obvious at the time. Even a poor teacher has helped me to learn more about what I am looking for in a teacher.

Kind regards,

David Hart - Program Director

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