Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How do I become a professional guitarist?

I often get asked what it takes to become a professional guitarist. I would begin by asking what your goal is as there are many options. Do you want to be a recording artist, a studio guitarist, a touring guitarist, a teacher, a composer and so on?

Guitar as a career can be very seductive. A career as a guitarist can seem like the dream life. Lets take the guitar hero idea. The fantasy of many young aspiring guitarists is that rock stars have a life full of excitement. Travel, adoring fans, fame and fortune. While this is indeed sometimes the case many of these young guitarists overlook the sacrifices that come as part of the deal. A life on the road may seem exciting at first but it should be understood that it is often hard work. I spent more than a decade playing the live circuit in it was no holiday. A typical day meant practicing in the morning, preparing for the gig at around lunch time, driving sometimes for hours to get to the venue, setting up the gear and doing sound checks prior to the venue opening its doors (before 6pm), doing the gig through till midnight or later, packing up and then driving home in the early hours of the morning. Most days were 12 or more hours.


If you do a tour you can expect an enormous amount of travel which is very tiring as you are sitting in buses, planes, trains or cars for many hours at a time on an almost daily basis. Don’t forget that as you become more successful you are constantly in the spotlight and much of your privacy is lost. I am not trying to put you off here but rather preparing you for it.

Becoming a pro-guitarist

The bottom line is you are a product and you need to develop and market your product. In other words you must be offering something that people want and you need to find your audience. Lets explore this in more detail.

Your skills - Developing means refining both your skills and your sound. Its important to keep improving the quality of your playing because it gives you more confidence and more options. Why limit yourself? In the G4 GUITAR METHOD we help students develop the 7 essential skills because these 7 skills are the basis to almost everything you will need as a professional guitarist.

Your sound - At the end of the day if you want to stand out you need a uniquely identifiable sound. When we think of Hendrix, Angus Young (AC/DC), Van Halen we instantly recognise their sound. Developing your sound means being the best you! Every player has role models and influences so don't be afraid to take your ideas from those who you admire but just remember to be aware of your own sound. We don't need another Hendrix. Jamming with lots of different players is also a good way to improve your own sound as each player adds a few ideas to the mix.

Marketing yourself - Try to audition and play live as much as possible. At first anything will do but as the demand for your services increase you need to be more selective about your gigs. Having a clear career goal helps you to navigate in the right direction so try to write down goals.

Teaching - I have always believed teaching is a great option because it is a way of giving back. If you do decide to teach avoid doing just for the money. If you don't actually enjoy teaching then don't do it. You are better off working in a supermarket. Apart from the fact that teaching is very satisfying your students often become your biggest and most loyal fans. They along with many of their friends will turn up to your gigs.

Hope that helps to get you started but feel free to email me any questions to

David Hart - Program Director


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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Buying a guitar (for beginners)

Buying your first guitar is not so scary. In fact its probably easier than buying your second because there are only a few things you need to consider. Here are the most important considerations ehrn choosing;

Type: A classic guitar with nylon strings is the best option for a beginner unless you are fixed on playing an electric from the outset. Electrics tend to be heavy for children but are fine for teens to adults. Steel string acoustics may be a bit hard on the fingers and hands for a beginner but if you think you are up to it you can give it a go.

Size: The guitar should be the right size for your age. Here is a guide. 1/4 size 3 to 5 years, 1/2 size - 4 to 6 years, 3/4 size 6 to 12 years and full size 11 years and over. The overlaps are really about your physical size. The guitar just needs to feel right.

Brand: If you go to a reputable music shop they will generally only deal in reliable guitars but just make sure you get a 12 month warranty. Almost all guitars are now made in China and many brands come out of the same factories.

Price: This is really up to you but there is no need to spend more than a few hundred dollars on your first guitar.

Advice: Being your first guitar you will probably not know a $200 guitar from a $2000 one. Its best to take a friend who plays so they can give it a test. At worst ask the shop for a 7 day return option so you can get your teacher to take a look.

There are quite a few website that offer more in depth information and here is an example if you would like to learn more.



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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why environment matters

If you want to play guitar or music or would like your child to play you need to consider your environment. Anyone can become a great musician given the right environment. Let us say you are an adult and you decide to take up guitar. You work 5 days a week, have an active social life along with a gym membership and a few other interests. You know you can spare 30 minutes a day to learn guitar so you book in your lessons but after a month you feel no real progress. Your motivation is waning and practice only seems to be happening on every 2nd or 3rd day. What is the problem here?

Design your environment

It would be easy to simply say you don't have time or the motivation but in a word the problem is your ENVIRONMENT. Your environment is not set up for learning guitar. Everything in your life is competing for your time and is actually demotivating you in your efforts to become an accomplished guitar player. Guitar practice quickly becomes a negative experience because you know you having pressing emails, phone messages, social commitments, work to be done and a gym membership that needs to be used. Your environment is literally working against you.

The solution

This is not easy but it is critical. Most successful people are the result of their environment whether they are aware of it or not. I  recommend you read a book called 'BOUNCE' which  explains the science behind this fact giving examples mostly in sport. If you truly want to succeed at guitar you need to set up your environment so your chances of success are high. When I was a teenager I did this firstly by surrounding myself with musical friends, committing to a band and later by becoming a guitar teacher.  I still had other activities competing for my time but guitar was obviously a high priority and family and friends knew it was my profession so respected the fact that I needed to practice.  

Its your environment that will make the biggest difference. If you are unmotivated or feel frustrated about your guitar progress than take a closer look at your environment. Consider how many of your friends share your passion, or try going to concerts more often, buying new music, taking lessons and so on.


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Monday, March 14, 2011

3 and 4 chord songs

On guitar most songs can be arranged in easy to play keys using a handful of chords. This doesn't mean the song will sound exactly like the original but in most cases it will do the job. In music there are 12 keys which are all identical except for the pitch. In other words any song can be played in 12 different keys. E.g. If a song uses the chords C and G this could be considered the 1st and the 5th in the key of C. If you use the chords D (1st) and A (5th) it would sound the same except it would be in the key of D and slightly higher.

Bands like The Beatles, ACDC, Rolling Stones, U2, Metallica, The Eagles, The Police, Queen, Green Day, Bob Dylan, Oasis and many more wrote the majority of their songs using only 3 or 4 chords.

The following is a link explains the 3 chord song concept.

Here are some examples of 3 and 4 chord guitar songs in easy to play guitar keys.

Knockin on Heaven's door. G, D, Am and C.
Let it be. C, G, Am, F.
Time of your life. G, C, D, Em.

Johnny B Goode. A, D, E.
You shook me all night long. G, C, D.
Yellow. G, D, C, Em.
Sweet Home Alabama. D, C, G.
Stand by me. G, Em, C, D.
Every breath you take. G, Em, C, D.

Wonderwall. Em, G, D, Asus.
Purple Haze. Em, G, A.

 You might also like the following blog:

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Please follow the link to subscribe to our free online course. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Were you born to be a guitarist?

Musical talent and genetics.

In recent years there have been some major breakthroughs in genetic science. As with many scientific advancements the media tends to latch on to 1% of the details while leaving out 99%. This in effect causes misunderstandings or exaggerated truths. Much of what we come to understand about the 1% can then lead us to draw false conclusions about the other 99%.  One such conclusion it seems is the idea that our genes largely predetermine who we are and who we will become. In other words many people come to conclude that we are either born with musical talent or not. This is basically the 1%. Some people end up believing that if they or their child don't magically produce beautiful music in their first few weeks or months or even years their genetics are simply not programmed for musical talent. This of course results in a belief that even trying is simply a waste of time.

Environment matters

Many scientists now understand that the biggest factor in determining a certain behaviour is environment. It is actually quite obvious when you look around you. E.g. People who are born and raised in Italy are far more likely to speak Italian because of one simple factor. Their environment. In Australia there are many descendants from Italy who were born in Australia but cannot speak more than a few words of Italian even though their ancestry may date back over 1000 years in Italy. Dr. Robert Sapolsky Professor of Neurological Sciences at Stanford University uses an example of an experiment where a gene in mice that was found to be associated with learning and memory so when removed caused the mice to learn at a slower rate but when you put those mice into a more stimulating environment they completely overcame the deficit. Genes actually respond to the environment. Your genes may indeed respond better than others initially but this for most of us makes next to no difference if put in the right environment and over time. Lets be realistic here. In 2 million years of human evolution even those handful of people who come from a long line of musicians could only date back a few hundred years based on the musical scales we use today.

David Hart - Program Director


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Advice on being a creative guitarist

In the book Flash foresight written by American futurist Daniel Burrus he advises that to succeed you should try looking in the opposite direction. When you look in the same direction as everyone else you see the same thing.  Going in a different direction often leads to new discoveries and sometimes amazing breakthroughs. Google are a good example. They did something very different in regards to their approach to search engines. While most early rivals focused on trying to make money Google stuck to improving its search capabilities and it paid off. This idea resonated with me because I can see how we have applied this principal to some degree to learning guitar but you can also apply the idea to your own guitar playing. Here are some examples we have used at G4 GUITAR.


When I think of private guitar teachers or any music teacher for that matter I think of individuals teaching in a room with one student. Guitar teachers are isolated creatures that rarely come together to collaborate or share ideas. Going opposite meant collaboration and this is what G4 is doing differently. We even have a name. The G4 GUITAR NETWORK and we have teachers across Australia and even in Canada. Our teachers talk to each other, share ideas and resources. We have meetings to discuss issues about our challenges or to share our successes as well as bouncing ideas. Quite simply we have expanded our knowledge.


A structured method does not mean rigid. We want to give students a balance between the freedom to chose what they wish to play with some structure based on essential generic skills. Most teachers either operate with no method at all improvising from week to week or grab a standard guitar method off the shelf or if you are lucky the teacher has a library of resources they randomly pull out depending on your level or interest. At G4 we went opposite by creating our own method from the ground up and marrying it up with the official government music exams AMEB. The main difference with the G4 GUITAR METHOD is teachers are trained in how to apply it. When a teacher buys an off the shelf method the teacher receives no training and tends to interpret in their own way often leaving out sections. Most off the shelf methods are also 20 years or more old.

The future

Our next bold move will be to incorporate technology but not just for the sake of it. We will only introduce the technology that improves learning. Some teachers are going this way but overall teachers still operate like they did 50 years ago. The technology is here and many students have this technology at home (E.g. iPad) so get ready.  The G4 GUITAR METHOD is designed so it can also be taught to students online and we have a STUDENT SITE (please email me for the password) that will give students easy access to all the tools they need. Our goal is go opposite by providing the traditional teacher with online technology.


Be creative by thinking differently and start by looking in the opposite direction. You may be surprised what you discover.

David Hart - Program Director


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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Musicians wanted...

Want a career in music? Now is the time.

We all know the sound parental advice of get a steady job preferably with a reputable company doing routine work and you will do just fine. If you choose the arts you are probably headed for a life of poverty. Well I am happy to say that times are a changin' and changing fast. Now many of our most successful people are the artists. The arts have come of age and mostly due to the internet the creative artists are now in high demand.

Huge opportunity

This means a huge opportunity for the creative people such as musicians. Think of how many movies or TV shows use songs and how powerful they are at energizing an audience.  To become any kind of creative artist was a huge risk in days gone by but today there is a huge growing demand and mostly due to the fact that the Internet has suddenly brought almost every business onto a visual and audio platform. The best news of all is its only just begun. You ain't seen nothing yet. I predict there may even be a shortage of creative artists in the next decade.

Creative work is in growing demand

Almost every business now has a website and every website is now able to add a backing track or a jingle to make the website more appealing. A little more than a decade ago only those companies with a radio or TV ad budget had any need for a jingle and there was only room for a handful of jingle writers. In recent years many musicians have found work in the gaming industry but this is nothing compared to whats coming.

Recording equipment costs have plummeted

Recording equipment was once well out of the budget of the average musician. For most musicians their only real hope was to get a record deal.  In recent years with the speed of computers home recording is not only high quality but within the budget of almost anyone. What is available today was not even in my wildest dreams as a teenager. I can literally compose a whole album from start to finish with all the trimmings of a Beatles album for less than a few thousand dollars worth of recording equipment for what would have cost the Fab Four in today's money millions of dollars.

Free and easy distribution

What is probably the icing on the cake is the fact that music can now be easily distributed to anyone, anywhere. The cost and logistics of distributing one's music used to be a huge barrier for many artists. Even if you had the ability to write and record something worthy of an audience getting your music to your audience was difficult, expensive and highly risky. Not anymore. It's basically free.


I can confidently say that there has never been a better time to become a creative musician or any creative artist for that matter. You don't need a record deal anymore to succeed in music. Bands like Radiohead and The Eagles are just two examples of bands who no longer belong to record companies. If you want to write and play music for a living you just have to see the massive opportunity. Take the time to develop your musical skills and then begin writing music. When it develops into something of appeal go and sell it to the highest bidder. They will be waiting.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why babies are smarter...

The following video is about the ground breaking revolution in brain research on babies. We have reached a critical turning point in the understanding of how children learn and how the early months and years are critical. In this video Patricia Kuhl points shows how babies learn a language and how as we get older it becomes more difficult.

Learning language and learning music by many experts has been described as almost identical and in fact many refer to music as a language. After all many of the elements are same. So we can only assume that babies who are exposed to music in the same way as language would gain a huge advantage. If as a baby your parents played jazz around the house the odds are you would have an ear for jazz. If your parents actually played music than we would assume the effect was even greater.

Many great musicians are the children of musicians. Among some of my own influences are Eddie Van Halen (whose middle name is actually Lodewijk which is derived from Ludwig Beethoven as Eddie's father was a successful clarinetist), Tommy Emmanuel whose mother was a lap steel guitarist, Santana whose father was a violinist and Mozart who was the son of one of Europe's leading music teachers. So if you are a parent or planning to be a parent than I am sure you will find this video fascinating.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Understanding the G4 GUITAR METHOD

The question of what is the G4 GUITAR METHOD is among the most common we receive. I think a better question is what does the student need to know to ensure success. So here goes. 

The G4 GUITAR METHOD is a basically a format that puts the essential skills into categories. There are 7 skills plus songs. Each level comes with a checklist and the goal for each student is to complete the skills on each checklist within 6 to 9 months. 

Less time writing, more time learning.

The G4 GUITAR METHOD was designed for both private and group learning. Having checklists ensures no skill is overlooked while also reducing the time spent writing things down. When I see teachers spending half the lesson writing notes for students I see valuable lesson time lost. Teachers write notes so students basically know what to practice but with the G4 GUITAR METHOD when a student goes home and wonders they should be practicing all they need to do is look at their checklist. If a box is not ticked they need to practice this skill. If they don't understand what is required they should skip it and work on what they do understand. For example if a student is not sure how to play a particular arpeggio they should work on another skill or song. If the only boxes not ticked are skills they do not understand its time to ask the teacher. If they are still confused than its time to speak to me.

Consistency across all levels 
The checklists are laid out in a consistent format so once a student understands level 1 they can then easily understand level 2 and so on. The first level is the hardest because this is where students learn to understand the format of the G4 GUITAR METHOD. Probably the biggest benefit of all is the fact that parents can also monitor their child's progress from week to week.
Parent involvement can make the difference

For parents I recommend you keep an eye on your child's checklist from week to week while also consulting the teacher on their progress, strengths and weaknesses. Parent involvement makes all the difference. It is important to note that 30 minutes a week is only enough to guide students. Unlike school where students attend 30+ hours a week 30 minutes is only enough time to explain what needs to be done. The real work is done at home and parents are really the deciding factor. 

Its only a tool

Remember that the G4 GUITAR METHOD is only a tool and like any tool its how you use it. Like the guitar itself if used incorrectly you can't expect a desirable result but when used correctly you will create something amazing and often inspiring.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me directly at 

Kind regards,

David Hart - Program Director


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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why positive motivation is essential to learning guitar

Who is in the driver's seat?

Motivation is like driving a car but who is actually doing the driving? Your positive or negative motivation?  Positive motivation could be hearing a great song and rushing out to buy it on iTunes whereas negative motivation might be paying off your credit card to avoid a late payment. For most of us the negative motivations run our lives or are in the driver's seat so to speak. The trick is to put your positive motivations into the driver's seat especially if you want to succeed on guitar. The driver gets to make the final decision so if you want to achieve your goals it makes sense to make sure your positive motivations are in control.

Don't go to extremes

This of course doesn't mean we just neglect our negative motivations because that would of course be extreme and a recipe for disaster. It just means we make a plan that ensures everything gets done and both sides are being attended to and most importantly your desire to play guitar doesn't get sidelined. The 2 BIGGEST reasons students stop their lessons (and by our estimates around 85% give up guitar completely) is they say they either have no TIME or no MONEY or both. In other words the negative motivations force them to give up their passion. This in effect is going to the extreme on the negative side.  Bills must be paid of course but if all your time is spent worrying about paying bills and there is no time for music (your passion) something is seriously wrong. Its time to reassess. When I put my positive motivators in the driver's seat I am always questioning whether my current strategy is including my guitar because if there is no guitar its a losing strategy.

Increase you positive motivation

The negative motivations will come without any effort (like a back seat driver constantly telling you how to drive) but the positive motivations require effort.  No amount of instruction, 'How to' books or magic guitar methods will help you if you lack positive motivation. In almost any long term endeavor especially one where results can take years it's important to incorporate a motivational strategy otherwise you will soon be finding yourself questioning whether it's worth the trouble. Despite the fact that staying motivated is so simple I like anyone can and do at times lose focus when neglecting this area.

The teen exercise

Whenever I lose track of what is important (and we all do at times) I go back to what mattered to me as a teenager. During our teenage years we take over the driver's seat from our parents. Most of us literally get our driver's license at this point and this really is a great metaphor for our lives in general. A car spells freedom. We are no longer riding in the back seat begging our parents to go where we want to go.  We are free to go anywhere we wish but over time our back seat driver takes over and we soon forget where we are going and become swamped by the negative motivators. Of course priorities change but the teenage years can still give us clues to what makes us happy and what really matters. As we come into the so called real world and get a real job and take on real responsibilities we push our passions aside. I am not suggesting we detach ourselves from reality but a little balance would be nice.


Create a positive motivation plan. Get a calendar (Google's is free and easy to use) and create a positive motivational calendar where you ensure you plan events like buying a new song or two, going to a concert, watching a DVD or even updating your motivational play list on your iPod. Regular planned doses of positive motivation works. If you are a skeptic try it for a month and see what happens.  Good luck.

Kind regards,

David Hart - Program Director


Visit the G4GUITAR METHOD Website