Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tomorrow never comes. Start your guitar practice now.

Lets be honest here. When we procrastinate promising ourselves that we will start guitar tomorrow the odds are we will just find another excuse tomorrow. We are all busy these days and time is our most precious commodity. Well so we tell ourselves. If time is so precious why does the average household watch more than 6 hours of TV a day? How is it possible for so many people to clock up ridiculous amounts of time on playing video games or to post hundreds of times per week in Facebook. Is time really the issue? 

I don't think so.
As a guitar teacher time or lack of it has been the number one reason students use when they don't do enough practice. I would often catch kids out by asking them to raise their hand if they saw that funny episode this week of The Simpsons where Homer does.... Is it a coincidence that those hands tend to belong to the same kids who didn't have enough time to practice. Now adults are no better. In fact children learn from the adults around them. Think about how many times a day you say that you don't have enough hours in the day. What's worse is you probably believe it. Learning guitar is not difficult.  It just requires a simple strategy and here it is.

Strategy for guitar success.
1. Reserve a time each day (same time) to practice.
2. Find a teacher and book in for weekly lessons. (A teacher will increase your chances of success).
3. Follow your teacher's instructions and spend 30 minutes doing quality practice each day.
That's it!

No more excuses.
Stop making the excuses and just do it. It really is that simple. The great thing about guitar is it gets easier the longer you do it. I don't just mean playing guitar but the habit of practice. The key is be consistent. Don't miss a day's practice and it will become part of your everyday within a few months.

David J. Hart


For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why we need guitar heroes

It's easy to be cynical of idol worshipping. When we see the inside of a teenager's bedroom covered wall to wall with posters of their favorite pop/rock stars we laugh and think its silly or a complete waste of time and money and in some cases may even seem obsessive. Some people spend their last dollar on a concert ticket or a new song or memorabilia from their idol. I recall seeing the most expensive guitar ever sold was not the best guitar ever made but was in fact Jimi Hendrix's. No doubt purchased by a fan. Some people will lined up for days sleeping on the street to get front row seats at a concert. At times it does border on crazy but there is definitely a positive side to idol worshipping.

We all need heroes

Many successful musicians are themselves the result of idol worshipping. My own passion for guitar started from idolizing bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, AC/DC and Pink Floyd. In fact I think having such music idols is one of the key ingredients to long term success. As guitarists our heroes keep us going through the tough times. There were certainly many times early on I thought it was all too hard but it only took a small dose of one of my heroes in the form of a record, video or live concert to get me back on track.

Finding your hero

Our heroes play a vital role and should never be underestimated. In nearly every in depth interview I have seen with successful musicians they quote someone as being their idol. For The Beatles it was Elvis, for Eric Clapton, Angus Young, Keith Richards it was Chuck Berry and on it goes. So if you ever question your reason for playing guitar you might want to look at who your heroes are. If the motivation to practice is low you may need to ramp it up a little by seeking out a hero or two.

David J Hart

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The benefits of Music - The Swiss Study.

The benefits of learning music are well documented. Children who learn music often do better in many subjects such as maths and languages but also in other areas.

In Switzerland they conducted a study where 1200 children in more than 50 classes proved scientifically that playing music does improve a child's reading and verbal skills through improving concentration, memory and self expression. The control group who replaced three curriculum classes (math, science, language) for 3 music classes per week were found to improve their speech and reading skills with greater ease compared to other students.

 For more examples on this topic checkout the Kidspot article.

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Is taking a break from Guitar a good idea?

I will be the first to say that taking holidays are great and are arguably an important part of life. Holidays are essentially about taking a break from your everyday life to recharge. Holidays give our bodies and brains a chance to consolidate and can even act like markers that indicate the start and end points. Stepping out of the picture also allows us to see things from a different perspective. Our bodies require around 7 to 9 hours a day of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to poor concentration, a lowered immune system and in extreme cases death. Holidays and breaks should be viewed in a similar light. To work constantly and never take breaks may actually be counterproductive and even damaging to your health.

So what about guitar?

If you practice guitar 6 hours a day 7 days a week a break is advisable but my guess is most students reading this blog do a lot less. Taking a break from guitar if you are not a serious professional with a heavy schedule is really unnecessary. School children I find will get to December and declare 'Schools out' and suddenly everything and anything that seems like study gets shelved for 2 months including the guitar.  Over the years I have received many calls from parents in early December wishing me a happy holiday and announcing they will give me a call in February to re-enroll their child for guitar lessons.
This is a big mistake. As I said above I believe holidays to be important but 2 months is akin to giving up especially for the beginner student.

Long breaks dramatically increase your chances of giving up

The hardest time for guitar students is the first 6 to 12 months. Over 50% of students who stop lessons for more than a few weeks will never return to lessons. Even when a student returns after 2 months the feeling that their fingers can no longer perform the same tasks as the previous year is often enough for the student to throw in the towel. No one likes to go backwards. Imagine for a minute that you were building your own home and it was about half finished when you decided to take a few months off. On your return two months later you found nothing but the foundations. We humans don't like going over old ground. Seeing all our hard work diminished often leads us to seriously contemplate giving up. 

Talk to your teacher

If you will be away for any period of time I strongly advise talking to your teacher about how to work around your holiday. If you are going to be traveling and taking a guitar is impossible than its time to use your imagination. In fact in one study they compared two group of beginner students learning piano. The first group did their practice as you would expect on a piano. The second group just imagined a piano and went through the exercises in their head. They found that at the end of the experiment both groups had similar levels of development. What this study set out to prove was that the brain cannot tell the difference between the imagined stimuli and real stimuli. This means that if you spent 30 minutes a day going through your practice in your head it will keep you moving forward and at the very least will reduce the negative effects of a long break.

Keep practicing 

I strongly urge you to keep up the practice and the lessons through out the year and only take short breaks if necessary. Guitar unlike work or school rarely needs a holiday except if you are a working guitarist or student who practices 4 or more hours a day. For the rest breaks of more than 2 weeks are unnecessary.

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Friday, November 30, 2012

Should you look at your fingers when playing guitar?

The answer is both yes and no. The goal is to be able to play guitar without looking at your hands. Relying on your eyes to guide you will put you at a significant advantage which I will explain. The only time you will want to look at your hands is when you are first learning to ensure your technique is correct. Look at your hands as you place them on the neck or learn to pick or strum. Work at repeating without looking each time to see how you went and then correcting. You can try practicing in front of a mirror and then try videoing yourself to analyze and correct. So why is your goal is to play without looking? Firstly on the guitar you are coordinating between two hands and relying on your eyes will slow you down. Every chord change and every note would require you to be checking each hand. The second reason you want to feel and listen to what you are playing and that is best done using your ears not your eyes. The third reason is that hopefully your goal is to play with other musicians and for an audience. You therefore want to keep your eyes available for making eye contact with your band members and your audience. A good way to learn to play guitar without looking at your eyes is to get your teacher to guide you. Eg. Try playing a chord without looking at your fingers and get your teacher to give you feedback as you go. The will help you to develop your mind's eye.

David J Hart

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Voice guitarist Michael Dolce shares his own musical journey

Michael Dolce is one of Australia's busiest session guitarists who is currently part of the 'The Voice' band while also touring with top selling artist Delta Goodrem. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Michael on his current tour with Delta last week and we did a video interview back stage. Some great insights from Michael and I made sure the interview was focused on a guitar student perspective. Check it out.

David J. Hart
For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A star is born. Really? I think they are made.

When we think of very talented musicians it is easy to assume they were somehow born with such talents. This theory has little if any evidence but there is plenty of evidence that being born into the right family is a major factor.

Without a doubt Delta Goodrem would be among Australia's top selling artists and I believe holds the record for the highest selling debut album and is a current judge on the top rating TV show The Voice. Well yesterday Delta turned up to Cairns for a promo performance and the guitarist Michael Dolce (also the resident guitarist on the voice) happens to be a friend so I arranged with Michael to do an interview back stage. During the interview Michael revealed that his father was a big early influence on him showing an interest in guitar. Michael's father had a keen interest in music and guitar which resulted in Michael picking up a guitar from a young age.

When Delta arrived backstage I noticed she was accompanied by her mother. Delta even made some references to her mother during the performance and it soon became apparent that Delta's mother was very supportive. I personally don't know the full story but I would guess for Delta to possess the incredible singing, piano and song writing talents at such an early age that her mother played a major role. Delta did start lessons very early and my guess is her mother knew how to recognize good teachers who would be able to coach Delta to become a great all round musician.

The moral to this story is simple. Great musicians are made not born. As parents we can help ignite a musical passion in our children from an early age simply by taking an interest and finding good teachers. School gives children a taste of music but it falls seriously short of any real influence. I understand music lessons may not be affordable for every parent but for those who can it's worth exploring. If you take an active role as a parent the odds are very good that your child will grow to love learning and exploring music. Musical talent is a gift parents can give their children and one that I thank my parents for.

David J Hart

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Friday, November 23, 2012

Do you wish you had more time to practice guitar?

Well here is some simple advice. Do it anyway. Stop using the excuse of time. We are all busy these days and yes time is our most precious commodity. Well so we believe. If time is so precious why does the average American household watch more than 6 hours of TV a day? How is it possible for so many people to clock up ridiculous amounts of time on playing video games or to post hundreds of times per week on Facebook? Is time really the issue? As a guitar teacher time or lack of it has been the number one reason students use when they don't do enough practice. I would often catch kids out by asking them to raise their hand if they saw that funny episode this of The Simpsons where Homer does.... Is it a coincidence that those hands tend to belong to the same kids who didn't have enough time to practice. Now adults are no better. In fact children learn from the adults around them. Think about how many times a day you say that you don't have time or are too busy or say that you are in a rush. What's worse is you probably believe it. Learning guitar is not difficult. Spend 30 minutes or more a day doing the exercises laid out in the G4 Guitar Method and it will happen. Avoid making the excuse that you have no time for guitar practice and just do it. It really is that simple. Am I wrong?

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What are modes on guitar?

Modes are really quite simple but can also be confusing. In simple terms its like this. In music there are 7 alphabetic letters. A to G. In the key of C the notes are C, D, E, F, G, A & B. The C major scale consists of these 7 notes. A mode is simply the starting point. If you play from C to C (in the key of C) its considered to be the first mode known as Ionian. There are 7 modes because there are 7 different notes or starting points.  Here are the names of the 7 modes along with examples that would match with the key of C.

1. Ionian C - C2. Dorian D - D3. Phrygian E - E4. Lydian F - F5. Mixolydian G - G6. Aeolian A - A7. Locrian B - B

Let's look at an example. The 6th mode Aeolian is also commonly known as the natural minor scale. The notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A. Try playing on guitar and listen to how it sounds.

 For a full explanation please check out the G4 GUITAR Theory Book by emailing

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Discover your unique guitar voice

When we think of the great guitar players like Hendrix, Page, Santana, Gilmore, Van Halen we know they have a unique sound. In each case they played the guitar in their own way. They weren't trying to be the next whoever. Sure they had guitar influences but they followed their own compass. I believe in developing your guitar skills through training but not to be a so called parrot unless that's what you want. Playing a Van Halen solo or a Hendrix solo note for note might impress me for 2 minutes but it doesn't move me. I want to hear your guitar voice. This is hard for many people to do because we feel exposed. We know people approve of Hendrix but will they like my sound? The trick is not to worry about it. Just be yourself and keep developing your skills and eventually you will find your sound and if you perform often enough you will also find your audience. This for many musicians is the biggest challenge. Great skill combined with a unique creative approach is what creates a Hendrix. And perhaps a degree of self confidence.
David J. Hart
For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Friday, November 2, 2012

The guitar dip.

In Seth Godin's book 'The Dip' he describes how the journey to success in just about anything begins with with high hopes but as time passes we go into a dip. As we enter the dip it becomes mentally and sometimes physically challenging to persevere but those few who get through the dip rise to success. The dip theory describes the typical guitar student perfectly. They begin by buying a guitar and the accessories, perhaps a few books, an online guitar course and even booking in for lessons with a guitar teacher. All up the average beginner guitar student will have laid out around $1000 toward learning guitar. The problem is less than 10% will be playing a year laterl but the good news is you can beat the odds. Here is what I discovered from almost 30 years of guitar teaching. Students who stick it out for at least 6 months have about a 50% chance of becoming a long term guitar player but those can hang in there for 12 months have around a 90% chance. These are approximate numbers but the trend is obvious. The longer you stick with it the better your odds are at achieving success. This means it really only takes one year to become a guitarist. It may actually take you years to become the kind of guitar player you dream about but if you get through that first year there is a chance one day you will get there. What I will add is that after that first year it becomes less about the destination and much more about the journey. My advice to the beginner guitar student is simple. Commit for one full year. Find a teacher and pay for a full year of lessons. Mark on your calendar the anniversary and commit to practicing every day until that date. If you can't do this you are better off not starting at all. You will waste valuable time and money. Learning guitar is not something you try to see if you like it. There will be plenty of days you don't like it and will want skip practice or will want to quit. Making a one year commitment is being fair on yourself. If one year is the point of no return why not drop the excuses and just do it. Let me know how you go.

David J. Hart

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why is Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven the greatest song ever?

At no other point in history that I am aware was there a song that drove so many people to learn to play music than when Led Zeppelin released Stairway to Heaven. Sure a song like 'Smoke on the Water' has probably been played more times but it's a simple riff played mostly by those who take up guitar for 5 minutes.

If learning to play Stairway in the 70's and 80's was a disease we had a serious epidemic on our hands. Stairway was so popular that musical instrument shops had signs posted saying 'NO STAIRWAY'. No doubt the store employees were irritated by the nonstop stream of guitar amateurs performing their half learnt renditions. There was even a whole album made with different versions of Stairway. At its height Stairway was basically considered a benchmark for guitarists. Those who could play Stairway could hold their heads high.

So what was it about this song that caused so many including myself to seriously take up guitar. To this day I cannot really say but perhaps its the seductive guitar intro. It sounds very simple because the tempo is slow and every note is clear but for a beginner bar chords are near impossible. When I first began learning Stairway at age 14 I was a complete beginner. Stairway seemed easy enough to my ear but yet remained out of my range of abilities for sometime. It was the fruit that seemed within reach but was actually higher than my arm could stretch.

It would take me a full 2 years before I was able to really play Stairway but here is the thing. I am quite convinced that it was my pursuit of Stairway that kept me going and ultimately led me to a lifetime of guitar. It really was a stairway to Heaven.

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Why measuring your practice makes all the difference.

Whenever a new student would begin lessons I would spend a portion of the first lesson asking them to fill in a daily practice log. Now most were happy to go along with my request but not all. Some students would feel it unnecessary, pointless or even over the top. Comments like "Guitar is just a hobby" or "Don't worry, I will be practicing" were standard from those students not wishing to participate. The problem unfortunately was that over the years my research showed that it was those exact students who were most likely to quit or complain that they didn't have enough time. Studies have shown that we humans tend to over state our ability to get things done. I remember reading how the Sydney Opera House went many times over budget and took years longer than expected to complete. Another example is most people think they are of above average intelligence, are better than average drivers and even believe we will liver longer than most of our friends. The fact is we can't all be above average. Now guitar is no different. 

You only think you are practicing everyday 
When learning guitar we tend to over estimate the amount of practice we really do. For example a student might commit to practicing 30 mins a day. After 3 months they assume they have done 90x 30 mins being 45 hours. That would be enough focused practice to play some basic Beatles songs. The reality though is that the student will likely have missed a few days each week and in some cases missed a complete week and end up practicing half as much as they realise. We see this all the time with people trying to get fit or perhaps save money. They don't track the exercise or money spent so are left scratching their heads. The reason the practice log is so powerful is because it challenges the student to be honest. If at the end of every practice session you log in your practice times you will not be able to mislead yourself. It's a daily reality check. 

But wait...
The practice log has additional psychological benefits as I discovered. When we measure we feel compelled to improve on our previous scores. So if you did 900 mins practice in your first month you will naturally aim to do better the next month. If your practice drops in the next month you will almost feel obligated to make up the lost time in the following month. I found that students became a lot more consisted once I introduced the practice log and student dropouts reduced dramatically. It only takes a few seconds at the end of each practice yet it makes a dramatic difference to most students. Log your practice because your efforts deserved to be recorded. Acknowledging your efforts builds confidence.

David J. Hart

For a structured proven method of learning guitar visit

Friday, October 12, 2012

How good are you on guitar?

Many students ask this question and with good reason. Learning guitar is a journey and although the learning never stops there is usually a destination of some description in mind. When I was a teen my first destination was Stairway to Heaven. Along the way new destinations will arise but for most of us guitarists there is a song or riff or sole we desire to be able to play. 

"Are we there yet?"
Now as with any journey it doesn't take long before we start wondering how long it will take to arrive. In my early years of learning I would at times ask the question but no one really offered a reasonable answer. Most responses were vague at best. For example they might respond by saying "It's all about patience" or "Keep working hard and you'll get there". When my own students began asking me the same question I decided to go looking for a different answer. 

Takes 2 years of 30 minutes a day on average
I first decided that to measure I needed some kind of measuring stick so I created levels which included what I called the 7 essential skills. I than worked how long it would take the average student to complete each level. This gave me a very clear measurement of what the average student could expect based on the amount of time invested in practice, age and previous musical experience. I discovered that if a student was consistent with their practice it would take about 2 years to reach a level that most people would regard as competent.  

The first make or break year
I also discovered that students who stuck with guitar for at least a year had about a 90% chance of reaching the 2 year mark.  In other words students who could stay committed for a year were very unlikely to give up. In fact it was a sliding scale in the first year. I found that just by telling my students this fact from the start increased their chances of success. They now knew that their chances of success increased with every passing month. This gave them clarity and hope especially during those times when they began to doubt themselves. As they say, knowledge is power. 

David Hart

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Should your child enjoy their guitar lessons?

Some parents believe that first and foremost learning guitar should be enjoyable for their children. While enjoyment of music and practice are certainly important I think there is a common misunderstanding. So I want to  pointed out a slightly different angle on the importance of enjoyment when it comes to learning guitar.

Leading psychologist Martin Seligman (and others)  believe there are potential long term consequences to the idea of focusing too much on enjoyment. When we are led to believe everything must be enjoyable we stop trying anything that is even slightly uncomfortable but here is the problem. Almost anything that is worth achieving takes effort. No pain no gain as they say. Children need to understand that success comes from hard work and persistence and that they should not give up just because something is not enjoyable in the moment. We all know this instinctively but for some reason we want to protect our children from this important lesson. I know when I took up guitar as a child  I was often frustrated and felt like giving up. I did not enjoy much of the practice. I would happily have bypassed the practice if I could have but I really wanted to play guitar. I think there were definitely some critical points where without the support of certain people I would have given up.

My message to parents is to not get too hung up on whether your child enjoys every practice session. Instead talk to them about the reality. Explain that we achieve through persistence in giving up is not a good option. In fact it's rarely good option.  The best time to give up is before you even start that way you won't have wasted any time.  The bottom line is not whether or not you or your child enjoys the practice, it's whether or not you want to be the play guitar.

Finally let me direct you to a blog called 
How do I get my child to practice guitar without forcing them?

David Hart

Is learning guitar at school a good idea for your child?

Many parents receive a note from their child's school offering guitar lessons at their school. This will seem appealing because it's convenient and won't require them to be driving their child to and from lessons.  My personal observations show that students who learn outside of school almost always do better for a very good reason. A critical factor in a child's success on guitar is whether or not they have a parent assisting. Children need help with practice especially in the early months. What I call the critical make or break period. When parents are involved by being present at the lessons parents learn how to assist their child. Parents don't have to sit in on every lesson but they do need to interact with the teacher and understand their role. When children learn during school parents rarely have the opportunity to be involved so their child is left to their own devices and the result is that children who learn at school are more likely to give up. 

School is not the place to test the water
Some parents will try school lessons to see if their child takes to the guitar before enrolling them outside school but this is also a big mistake because parent involvement is most important in the early months. To really give your child the best chance of success on guitar I recommend booking in with a professional teacher who involves at least one parent from the very first lesson. When a teacher or situation does not allow parents to be involved its better to wait until you find a teacher who invites parent involvement because those early lessons usually decide the long term outcome. In my experience a child's success is dramatically increased with parent involvement in the early months especially. 

David Hart

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's your plan for learning guitar?

When it comes to learning a skill like guitar this is best achieved using a clear structured plan for a very simple reason. There are many different styles of music and of course many ways to play a guitar but the fundamentals are much the same. A clear structured plan is a way of learning that will reliably bring about a result and ensure the fundamentals are being developed. For beginners this is the best way to learn because having no plan is risky. Very risky. By starting with a clear structured plan and reaching lets say an early intermediate level you can then begin to focus on your favorite style. Often when experienced students enquire about lessons with me they are motivated by frustration. They feel like they are not getting anywhere. A structured method of learning solves this problem. If you are learning guitar without a plan I would recommend seeking one out. If you are a beginner it is best to start with a recognised method of learning. At the very least divide your time between a structured method of learning guitar and what I like to call random learning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Sorry but I didn't have time to practice"

When students apologise to me for not practicing I usually respond by saying that there is no need to apologise or even feel guilty. I know their decision not to practice was not intentional but simply an inability to prioritise. Students who struggle to find the time practice just need to adjust their priorities. Now despite what many students may tell themselves this doesn't mean giving up other important activities. It usually means giving up time killers like TV or pointless Internet time. If you don't watch TV and only ever turn on your computer to check important emails you might be the exception but considering that the average person spends 5 hours per day on a screen  its unlikely you are the rare exception. If you want to get results on guitar the only way I know how is through practice and that means putting it high enough on your list of priorities that it gets done. 

Lack of time is not the real problem.
In summary if you want to learn guitar time is really not a valid excuse. If you find yourself using this excuse try keeping a diary for a week noting down how you spend your time and see if you truly have no available time. Something I have found that works really well is to prioritise what's important to you and do those things first. As an example my health comes first so each morning at 6 AM I head out for a morning workout. This ensures I get something done each day so I don't get to the end of my day and realise I'm too tired or it's too late to exercise. Make your guitar a priority and put it before you turn on the TV or computer and I guarantee that after a few weeks it will become a habit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Guitar Player Mindset

Success on guitar has little to do with natural talent and everything to do with mindset. Mindset is perhaps the most important factor in terms of long term success on guitar. As they say 'You have to first BELIEVE to ACHIEVE. 

The typical beginner guitar student will QUIT!

The typical scenario goes like this. You get inspired, buy a guitar and start lessons.  First lesson goes well as you are excited and enthusiastic about becoming a guitar player. You practices 10 minutes each day or until your fingers are sore. Second lesson goes okay but the level of enthusiasm has dropped ever so slightly By week 5 the honeymoon is over and it now feels like a chore. Many students concludes they are just not cut out to play guitar and besides life is too short to be wasting time practicing guitar.

Solution: Don't be typical.

The best way to avoid the above scenario is to avoid being the typical beginner guitar student who quits due to a lack of motivation. Instead of allowing yourself to lose enthusiasm for guitar practice why not increase it instead. You can't be passive when it comes to motivation. You need to be actively looking for ways to not only stay motivated but to increase your motivation. Motivating yourself is actually a mindset. Its the mindset that says "I control how I feel." You can allow yourself to be tossed around like a boat with no sail on a turbulent ocean or you can take charge. Success on guitar starts with mindset and your mindset is a choice.  Anyone can learn to play guitar but the ones who actually end up playing guitar are the ones who developed the right mindset.

For ideas on how to motivate yourself check the following blog.

Visit our website at

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What's your 5 year guitar plan?

You can become an amazing guitar player in 5 years if you have a plan. The odds are you have no 5 year plan for your guitar. Once we have clarity about where we want to be in 5 years from now we are more likely to take the right action today. Students without a 5 year plan are more likely to become impatient. For example if you decide to learn guitar your motivation might be to play a handful of your current favorite songs. If you start learning guitar just to learn those songs you are likely to spend all your practice time working on those songs. The problem is you need to develop a solid foundation before learning most songs. Your skills are just not ready to be learning most songs so you are likely to get frustrated and give up. Secondly the songs you like now are likely to change. In 5 years do you really only want to be playing a handful of songs that you will very likely be tired of anyway? Wouldn't you rather possess the skills to learn new songs quickly? With the later in mind you will mostly work on skill development today and the songs will come when you have the skills. You are also going to focus on the skills that matter most to you. What you do today should count toward your 5 year goal not your 5 week goal.

To receive a free guitar download visit:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Online guitar lessons are here

We now live in a time where guitar lessons will take a radical shift. Up until the last few years learning with a guitar teacher online was impossible. The technology required for a fast clear connection via webcam is only now coming online. In the next few years we will see a big leap forward in quality which means learning guitar online with a teacher will equal the experience we get when sitting in the same room. The difference is the online experience will offer convenience and choice. You will be able to find your ideal teacher anywhere in the world. Of course there will still be advantages to a local teacher such as networking you with other students and the local music scene but what I see is a combination. I see it like school where students can have a few different teachers who will teach them different subjects. E.g. A chord specialist or a shred specialist or a jazz master and so on. We are about to enter a very exciting time so I hope you are ready. It would be great to hear your thoughts on the subject too.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Focus on doing quality practice and the progress will come.

The whole purpose of learning guitar is to progress but the irony is that the more we focus on progress the more frustrated we often become. There is actually a very good reason for this. We don't really have control over progress. We hear all the time that we can achieve this or that if we put in the effort or have the faith. Now while it is true that putting in the effort is the only way to progress on guitar there is no guarantee that effort alone will produce a result. This is why we become frustrated and disappointed. We may even be making progress but perhaps it's too slow or not what we were hoping for. So what is the solution? Focus on what you can control and what you can control is the quality and quantity of your practice. When we focus our attention in this way each practice session in itself feels rewarding. You should of course track your progress but just don't get hung up on it. Focus on effort which you can control now rather than results which take time and are somewhat unpredictable.

Written by David Hart

Thursday, August 30, 2012

5 misconceptions about learning guitar. No. 5

Children can't start learning guitar before age 7 years. This is common misconception with no factual basis. You only have to look at an instrument like violin which in my opinion is more difficult and starting at age 2 years is almost the accepted norm. Children can start whenever they can hold a small guitar or perhaps ukelele to start.
Guitars are expensive. I am still surprised by the number of people who say they want to learn guitar but they can't afford to buy one. You can buy a basic guitar for about the same price as dinner for two at most restaurants.

Author: David Hart

Monday, August 20, 2012

5 misconceptions about learning guitar. No. 4.

Starting guitar as an adult is too late. Many people assume that if they didn't start guitar lessons as a child they have missed the boat. While it is true that growing bodies and brains have advantages the reality is learning guitar successfully can be done at any age if you are physically capable and commit to daily practice. Very few people who take up guitar ever commit to daily practice of more than 30 minutes a day. 2 years of daily practice of an hour a day will likely land you in the top 1% of guitar players no matter what age you start. If you then back this up with guitar lessons and regular jamming you will be playing your favorite songs in no time. I have found that age tends to bring about more realistic expectations. Perhaps it's the result of life experience but my older adult students don't expect results as quickly as my younger students. So if you want to learn guitar just commit to the practice and be patient and forget about whether you are too old. It truly is about the journey.

David J. Hart

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

5 misconceptions about learning guitar. No. 2.

People with short fingers don't make good guitar players. I distinctly remember as a teen people commenting on the size of Jimi Hendrix's hands. To a naive beginner with average fingers playing Hendrix style guitar seemed impossible. This affected me so much so that I didn't even bother with Hendrix at the time and just put him in the too hard basket. At 17 I met my teacher who was a small guy with small hands yet played guitar better than anyone I had ever seen. I soon came to recognize many examples of guitarists with small or even disadvantaged hands who were awesome guitar players. Django Reinhardt is considered one of the greatest guitar players of all time and he only had two and half fingers to work with. Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath also lost a finger in an accident. I can assure you that small hands or short fingers have little to do with your ability to play great guitar.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5 misconceptions about learning guitar. No.1.

You need a certain amount of natural talent to play guitar. After more than 25 years of teaching guitar I can confidently say that natural talent is seriously over rated and more often than not is mistaken for early music exposure. In other words those children who are labelled with natural talent actually come from families where at least one parent plays or at least understands music. Mozart for example is often described as a prodigy as if to infer that he was born with a special gift when in fact his father Leopold was himself an exceptional musician and a leading music teacher in Europe at the time. Mozart's sister Marianne was also an outstanding harpsichord player and she may well have ended up as famous as her brother except for the fact that females were expected to marry so her music career came to an end. Even if natural talent does exist I doubt that it would make much difference after several thousands of hours of practice. The amount required to become a professional musician.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Learning guitar using a system

Guitar teachers tend to fall into two camps. Those who teach using a system an those who do not. I belong to those who use a system of teaching guitar but it wasn't always the case. For over a decade I would teach each student by asking them what they were interested in and then filling the gaps. This definitely works but takes experience but for the most part it pales in comparison to using a system. The reason. System of teaching guitar is so effective is much the same as any system. The idea of any system is to have a reliable series of steps that when taken gives a consistent result. The beauty of a system is it can be improved upon. Once I started teaching via a system I began to see consistent results from my students and each small improvement to the system meant an improvement in student results. You might then ask why teachers would operate without system. In short it's because creating and developing a system takes time. Time that most teachers do not have. I took 2 years off to create and design my system initially and even then it was only half completed. It then took another year of actually teaching and tweaking to get it right. I am still making small improvements but only as required.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why are you just dreaming about guitar?

What astounds me are the millions of people who watch shows like The Voice or Idol wishing they too could be up there. Its as though the people standing on stage playing guitar and singing are from a different planet and totally out of reach for everyone else. I think chasing fame is one thing and a passion and love for music another. The people we see on stage whether it be on a TV show or say a pop idol are just like us. They have the same dreams, fears and hopes but I am confident that 90% of them do what they do for the music first and the fame second. If it was just about fame they wouldn't invest so much time into their music. They could be a Paris Hilton and just make a career out of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. If fame is your game spending 8 to 12 hours a day practicing music, stage performance, preparing for tours etc is probably not your best use of time. Even the most criticised artists like say Justin Bieber started with the music. He may of upset a lot of people because many more talented singers and musicians struggle to get noticed but he still started with the music. This brings me back to my point. If you admire great guitarists or singers and wish you could do it than just do it. Forget about the fame and do the music. If fame comes great but if not you still got the best part of the deal. The music is where the real joy is and anyone can do it. Chasing fame is a sport where some win but most lose. Everyone who plays music wins.

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How to practice guitar like the pros.

It makes sense that if you want to play like a pro you need to be practicing like one but how exactly do they practice? This complexed question can't be answer easily but I can offer some insights. Pro players are first and foremost consistent. They are unlikely to miss a day of practice. They might miss many things but guitar practice won't be one of them. So begin by being consistent with your practice. Pros also focus heavily on mastering techniques. They don't jump from one thing to another. When they start something new they will either decide quickly to abandon it or will commit to seeing it through. Pro guitar players don't want to waste time so they make decisions early. My third tip is to study with a pro. The best way I know to become a pro player is to get a pro to coach you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Is your teacher more of a friend than an effective teacher?

Many students build up a strong friendship with their guitar teacher but instinctively know that the teacher is not really effective. It could be that the teacher spends more time maintaining the friendship than planning lessons and tracking progress. This is not uncommon because planning lessons and tracking progress usually require a lot more work. A great guitar teacher focuses on results first and friendships second. This doesn't mean they are unfriendly. It just means they don't use friendship as a substitute for effective teaching. You are paying for the lessons so you want to make sure you are getting what you are paying for. If you are paying for a friend then you can ignore the above

Friday, August 3, 2012

Start or join a guitar community

If you are truly wanting to ramp up your guitar skills I can think of no better way than being part of guitar or better still a music community. There are numerous options such as placing notices at music shops or looking on Facebook for other guitar players in your area. My preferred option is to find a local guitar teacher, take some lessons and then ask if they can hook you up with some like-minded guitar students. Another option is to contact a drum teacher or a bass guitar teacher or a singing teacher to see if they can connect you to anyone looking for a guitarist. Don't be too picking. It's all about making friends and gaining experience along the way.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Keep your guitar dreams alive

Successful marketers know that to keep you buying their products they have to constantly advertise. Think of how many KFC ads or bank ads you are likely to see in a week. You probably don't even realize but they are everywhere from TV to radio to billboards. It's no wonder so many people eat KFC and bank with the major banks. Well you should do the same. You can run your own marketing campaign on yourself. Make a collage of album covers, inspiring photos and guitar memorabilia. Stick them on your walls and make screen savers. This will inspire you by constantly reminding you why you learn guitar. Life is busy and it's easy to get caught up in the day to day while your dreams and aspirations slowly get buried and forgotten. You need to keep your dreams alive through constant reminders of why you learn guitar.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guitar is not rocket science

I must admit that when I started learning guitar it may as well have been rocket science. It completely baffled me and it seemed every time I had a question answered it led to 5 new questions. I had no clue why certain chords were used in combination or what modes were or how any of it related to my favorite songs. I became intensely curious about music theory and would spend hours everyday reading in the hope of unlocking its secrets. Within a few months it started to make sense. There was of course still much to learn and one could spend a lifetime studying music theory but my motivation to learn music was not based on understanding music from a theoretical perspective. I wanted to play and my initial hunger for music theory was simply about understanding how most popular songs were constructed and those few months of focused study gave me a good solid grounding. I strongly encourage you to learn music theory and can assure you that essential theory is not difficult. A good teacher could teach you most of what you really need to know within a few months.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

3 habits of my best guitar students.

1. Consistent guitar practice. My best students show consistency in almost every aspect of their practice. They usually practice at the same time, in the same place for the same length of time each day.

2. Followed instructions. My best students would rarely stray from the course. Sticking to the course meant they made faster progress which resulted in more confidence in their playing.

3. Rarely missed a lesson. My top students not only had excellent attendance rates but were also consistently on time.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How hard is it to learn guitar?

Guitar teachers often get stuck on this question because there is no simple answer. Beginner guitar students likely have their mind set on some kind of general goal. For me it was being able to play Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Queen, Kiss and others. When I began I had no idea what was involved. I just imagined guitar was like a puzzle that you just had to solve and once solved was easy. I was partially right but what I did not realize was how much fine motor skill development was involved with learning guitar to the level for which I aspired. I think if I had been told that guitar would take thousands of hours of repetitive exercises I might have thought twice. It was like I was expecting to climb to the top of a small hill but instead found myself ascending Mt Everest. Now I don't want to scare you off from learning guitar because it's not all about reaching the summit. Every level offers a better view than the previous one so it's really about how high you want to go. How hard depends on how high.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are your kids watching too much TV? Guitar might be the answer.

According to an article I recently read a TV station aired over 200 junk food ads during the Saturday morning children's shows. Junk food is now big business and it's literally poisoning our children. This is not about to change and if anything the junk food companies are getting more aggressive. They know that parents aren't really watching as TV tends to act like a baby sitter while they get house work done. I would like to suggest a solution that certainly worked for me. When I started learning both drums and guitar at age 14 I soon found myself less and less interested in TV. The lure of guitar became so strong that I would spend hours in my room working on some aspect of guitar. Little did I realize that guitar was actually taking away what would have been TV time. Children I believe watch TV out of boredom. When they have other interests they will naturally spend less time watching TV. Guitar is not the only option of course but it's a great place to start.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why guitar jams are more than just fun

As a teen I was totally unaware of the benefits of jamming. To me a jam was just fun. Sure there were good and bad jams but overall they generally left me feeling good. A jam was a chance to crank up the volume and feel like a rock star. Simple riffs backed with a bass player, drummer and second guitarist suddenly sounded amazing. But the real benefits of such jams wouldn't truly reveal themselves until later. When we jam we connect with other musicians which opens us up to new possibilities. This in turn connects us to other musicians. As our network grows so do the opportunities. Hendrix is a classic example. Jimi would jam with everyone and anyone in the hope that he would learn something new. He was hungry for anything that was new.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 ways to motivate yourself to practice guitar.

1. Get a Guitar stand. Keep your guitar out on a stand not in it's case. Just seeing your guitar will increase your motivation to practice guitar.

2. Create a song list. Find those guitar songs that motivate you and put them into a list and listen to them before your scheduled practice time.

3. Find a guitar buddy. When someone else shares our interests we naturally become more motivated.

4. Read a guitarist's bio. When we look behind the scenes of a successful guitarist we usually find someone who was once just like us. It's a big motivator.

5. Teach someone else guitar. Once I decided to teach guitar I realized I needed to practice what I was preaching. This certainly gave me motivation to practice.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

3 classic mistakes made by beginner guitar students

1. They try to do too much. One of my pet hates is when I hear someone refer to a guitarist as being able to play everything. Firstly no guitarist can play everything but more importantly it's irrelevant. I just want to know if they can something well. Quantity comes a distant second to quality.

2. They fail to develop good technique. In a rush to be the world's next guitar sensation many beginner guitar students try to side step technique going straight to their favorite songs. This always comes back to haunt as they struggle to get past an early intermediate level due to poor technique. If you are serious about guitar slow down and get this one right. You will be glad you did.

3. They focus on the wrong things. This is a common trap. A good example is picking. Guitar students will be trying to learn let's say a new riff and most of their focus is on the fretting hand almost completing ignoring their picking. It should be the other way around. 70% of their attention should be focused on the picking.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

How did Eddie Van Halen get so good on guitar?

The obvious answer of course is practice but Eddie was not your typical guitar student. Where most guitar students do 30 minutes to an hour a day Eddie was more like 6 hours a day. The Van Halen brothers were fortunate because their father Jan was a trained musician who played clarinet, sax and piano. As children both Eddie and brother Alex were forced to do piano lessons which obviously paid off but at the first opportunity they switch to guitar and drums. Eddie actually started out as the drummer and Alex the guitarist but apparently Alex turned out to be a better drummer than Eddie. When Eddie made the switch to guitar he became an obsessed with practice. Van Halen hit the major music scene in the late 70's. I was a teen at the time and the first time I heard Van Halen's Eruption I had no idea what he was doing. At the time I was still very much a beginner guitar player and Van Halen was like some kind guitar playing alien. It became apparent to me some years later that Eddie was simply the result of thousands of hours of serious guitar practice.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Your child not practicing guitar? 5 things NOT to do

1. Do not stop their guitar lessons. Some parents will use this tactic out of frustration but the result is nobody wins. Talk to their guitar teacher and if they are unable to help then find a new guitar teacher.

2. Do not yell at them. Some parents resort to screaming at their children but its never a good strategy because it more often than not brings about a negative association to learning guitar.

3. Do not leave it up to them. Children learn best when they have support. Young children especially will rarely want to practice guitar if it means being sent to their room by themselves. If a parent sits with them and gets involved in a positive way you will see a far better result.

4. Do not just accept it. If your child is to succeed on guitar practice is essential so you need to be persistent in finding a solution. If you have tried everything then email me at briefly explaining your situation.

5. Do not buy into their excuses. Children have plenty of free time so claiming they have no time for guitar practice is rarely if ever true. What they are probably saying is they don't feel like practicing and that's something that needs to be discussed.

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Guitar is easy...

Many people have the false idea that guitar is difficult. I also felt the same when I first begun to learn. Guitar to me seemed impossible. I recall seeing Tommy Emmanuel and couldn't believe that human fingers could move so quickly with such precision. But Tommy of course is no ordinary guitarist. Wanting to be like Tommy would be near impossible for most of us and few beginners especially are aiming that high. To be reasonably proficient is not such a daunting task. It just takes a few years of committed daily practice. The difficult part is having the discipline to practice everyday for two years. If you can do it then guitar is easy.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why do so many people want to play guitar?

Today there seems to be a guitar phenomenon. Is there a more popular musical instrument in the world? Guitar is so popular that even the game Guitar Hero has out sold every other game on the shelf. They now have Air Guitar competitions and its serious business. Where are they coming from? Why do so many people want to play guitar.

I can only give you an educated guess at best. I strongly believe the guitar has become fashion. So often now I see images of guitars in the media. Look at almost any advertisement aimed at a teenager and 8 of 10 times there will be a guitar in the background. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift are popular girl sensation and unlike say Britney, Kylie or Madonna of the previous generation they perform with a guitar. Guitar is part of her image. This guitar image can be seen everywhere and guitar equals cool. Anyone who is anyone plays guitar right? So in short guitar has become a fashion accessory and as far as I am concerned its much more attractive than any other accessory.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Predicting behaviour and how it affects guitar learning.

It turns out we are better at predicting the behaviour of other people than predicting our own behaviour. According to various experts when we see others we consider environmental influences but when we assess ourselves we don't take the circumstances into account as much. We like to believe that the influences of others does not affect us as much as it affects others. We like to believe that we are fully in control of our decisions. 

I know you better than you do
Emily Balcetis (Assistant Professor New York University) and David Dunning (Professor Cornell University) conducted a series of studies to show the difference between predicting our own behaviour and that of others. In short their was a significant difference between the two. This means that if predicting your own behaviour is less reliable than asking others for advice we should be seeking more advice. If for example I was to teach you guitar I am quite confident that I will be a better predictor of your future behaviour than you. Let me explain why.

"I want it now!"
I have spent 25 years working with thousands of guitar students. I have studied their behaviour and I have learned to recognise the predictable signs of students who are about to quit or who will likely want to quit at some point in the future. In fact it only takes one or two conversations for me to determine what kind of behaviour you are likely to display in the coming week. For example students who call up to inquire about lessons with one question 'Can I start today?' have about a 50% chance of quitting within a month or two. This is because they are impatient. The reason they wanted to start lessons today is because by later that same day that want to be a guitar master. When this doesn't happen they move on to something else.

Why my students rarely quit
The good news is that even the impatient can be saved if the teacher knows what to look for and how to respond. I rarely lose students in the critical first year and there are two reason for this. No.1 is I look for those early signs and address them immediately. In other words I never book in a student on the same day. I also ask the question "How long do you think it will take to learn guitar?" to set them straight before we even start. No.2 is I require students to keep a daily practice log. This is like a health chart and keeps aware of how consistent you are about your practice.

Test the theory for yourself
All in all when it comes to making a behavioural change in life you will always do better with a coach than without one. If you doubt this why not try it. Decide on two goals that will take at least 6 months to achieve (E.g. run a marathon and learn guitar) and do one with a coach and one with out and see what the result is after 6 months. 

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Who needs a guitar teacher when you've got Youtube?"

I recently spoke to a guy who said he was a self professed cynic when it came to guitar teachers. He claimed that there was nothing a guitar teacher could teach him that wasn't somewhere on the Internet for free. He claimed anything and everything you would ever want to know about guitar is probably on the net somewhere. While I understood what he was saying I pointed out that there was one very distinct and critical element missing. 

The Internet doesn't care
The net can't see your mistakes or really understand what your next best step should be. The net supplies information but offers no feedback. While the net may save you a few dollars the cost of a good teachers is made up in time. If you work your time is money and if it takes you one hour a day of surfing the net to find what you need (assuming it is what you really need) thats 5+ hours a week in lost time. Surely that's more expensive than a weekly guitar lesson.

"It's too hard!" 
Any great coach knows that information accounts for about 10% of success. The rest is psychology.  The net for all it's knowledge doesn't understand your emotions and how this plays a major role in you ultimate success. More than 90% of beginner guitar students will give up within 12 months and the reasons are related to the mind. Typically students who fail to follow through will say they didn't have time or it just wasn't for them or it was boring. The truth is we give up our goals when we are not seeing  results as quickly as we would like. We become disillusioned and lose faith and when we rely on the net to be our teacher we are unlikely to get that much needed pep talk.

I am yet to meet someone who can't spare 30 minutes a day to practice guitar. If the average person spends 5 hours a day either surfing the net or watching TV or Youtube they can surely find 30 minutes a day to practice guitar. A good teacher will hold you accountable. They will be waiting for you each week to check whether or not you have put in the time and will be asking why not if the practice is not done. We all do better when we have someone checking up on us. 

If you are a serious find a good teacher
Those who don't value a good coach I find are those who aren't truly serious about achieving their goals. When we are committed to our success we do whatever it takes. Many claim that they cannot afford a guitar teacher but this is rarely true. The cost of a lesson is well within the budgets of most people today. If you are genuinely not able to afford guitar lessons perhaps you can speak to a guitar teacher about working for your lessons. Remember guitar teachers are in business so maybe you can exchange some of your time for their time. There is always a way.

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