Arlen Roth

It seems that these days there are more “young, hot” players than ever before, and it’s as if there is no limit to how young and how fast some of these remarkable kids have learned! I have always liked to take at least some of the credit, since I was the first to bring video lessons with “the greats” to the world some 30 years ago! In fact, I even signed certain artists who were so young that they had also been Hot Licks customers a few years earlier! Players such as Joe Bonamassa and Johnny Hiland among others were young phenoms who also had learned from Hot Licks videos before they became Hot Licks artists too!

I see many of these amazing youngsters come and go through my private teaching, and many seem as if they are being pushed rather hard by their parents. We obviously know the pitfalls with this kind of approach, but it’s hard to really do anything about it, especially when parents are so proud of their kids, and always want them to amaze everyone with how good they are, while being so young! The problem is that there is only so much work and success to go around for these kinds of kids, and one day they will suddenly find themselves to be just another 25 year-old guitarist with average abilities, and very little opportunity, in a very competitive field!

I suppose the most important thing is for any young and great guitarist t continue to grow and to always expand their knowledge as well as their technique and overall skill. I was lucky in that although I was very young and very good, I immediately went professional, moved to Woodstock when I was 18, and proceeded to right away get work, such as real touring and studio sessions. Nothing will have you learning the “right stuff” faster than that act of “survival!” For me it always was survival, to get up in front of that audience or to put on those headphones in the studio, but I always carried a belief in myself, a confidence, and most of all, the knowledge and appreciation of the fact that I was still learning my craft. That is probably the most humbling of all things, and as I continued to get great reactions from fans and peers alike, I knew I “was doing something right!” This always encouraged me to go on, and to always be proud to show my abilities to anyone who’d have me!

The problem with a lot of the young hot players today, is they expect their careers to immediately “take off”, and many get trapped into one form of music, such as being the “new, 12 year-old Blues great”, or a “shredder” who goes from 0-60 in 2.3 seconds! It’s entertaining for a while, but it ends up falling flat if the given player doesn’t continue to grow, both as a player, and as a person! So heed my words, and remember that you can never be too good, and you never know it all!