This past week I have had the pleasure of teaching a wonderfully gifted young guitar player who I had the pleasure of teaching last summer for the first time. I have to say, that one of the great pleasures for me is seeing a guitarist who has such promise grow and mature into an even better player step by step. Of course, since I have had a year lay-off since seeing him last, it feel more like “leaps and bounds” rather than “step by step”, but I can still feel and hear the “process” that has brought him to this point of virtuosity. There is obviously a lot of hard work behind this evolutionary development I am witnessing, but I can see that because his ear is so strong and finely tuned, his own particular learning has been a smooth development.
It also reminds me and echoes to me about my own development as a player, and I can clearly recall how my own “evolution” was so natural, as well as rewarding. Of course, some folks showed me things along the way, but as I can see in my student’s playing, it was really his ear and keen sense of experimentation that brought him t this place in his abilities. A very disciplined practice regimen and just a pure joy for the act of playing and learning together make an all-powerful combination….one that is hard to deny when it comes to really making one improve. I can surely say that if you feel you have this kind of promise, that you take it seriously, and always dedicate as much time as possible to improving your craft. The more fun you have doing it, the better you will truly become, and please never lose sight of the fact that it must be fun!
Another fact that I have discovered from teaching a gifted student is that I can learn as much as he or she is learning from me too! After all, we all have our own unique “take” on things, and it still amazes me how many varied approaches there can be on the guitar. This student for example, has a very classical “over the top” approach to the fretboard which is totally the opposite of my angled, “blues/rock” approach. My style is more developed for bending and vibrato, with the thumb often curled over the top of the fingerboard, while in his approach, you almost never see the thumb. The thing is though; I just can’t see how he is so able to also do my techniques using his approach! But somehow, with his hand strength and dexterity, he’s able to make it work, and can apply it to his library of unique knowledge!
So I guess what I’m really trying to say is that you must respect your own unique abilities, and remember that you are your own best student, especially when it comes to watching and respecting your own unique development. If one day, such as I do, you start to teach others, you will truly be happy to see and encourage this same kind of positive development in your students! Best of luck!