“Listen to Everyone, Idolize No One”

As I’ve touched on before, I’m an extremely big fan of weightlifting and strength training. I tend to read a lot of information about it from various sites on the web. Today I was reading an article titled My 8 Ah Ha Moments and stumbled upon the phrase in the title. In the strength training world that means that “everything works” and you shouldn’t always use one coach’s style of training.

Listen to Everyone

We should get lot of opinions. Masterclasses are an outstanding opportunity to do this. You spend about 20-30 minutes on stage with a great performer and they give you tips on a piece you’re working on. Musicality tips about the piece itself can often only apply to the piece you’ve played, however technical tips can be taken and expanded to everything. In the same way, taking lessons with different teachers can be great. There’s a lot of great guitar players out there. Just take a look at the GFA competition winners, they’re scattered everywhere and most teach! Listen to everyone, try everyone’s ideas out and keep what works best. This goes for interpretation too. Listening to a piece played by your favorite performer and copying their interpretation is a great way to start. From there you can make your own decisions or listen to multiple recordings and compare.

Idolize No One

But all this comes with a caveat. No single person is absolutely right! For technical advice or schools of thought that means absorbing it all, and keeping what works. For interpretation that means you have to balance your musical sense with what’s on the page. If you like the way Russell plays a certain passage, steal it! and do it that way yourself. I had a professor during undergrad who was a crazy-good jazz trumpet player. In jazz, you hear a lick you like, learning in all keys (and a couple different fingerings), then force it into a tune. You literally “steal” the lick, and make it your own; as my professor said, “Imitation leads to innovation.”

The big point is that as guitarists, we shouldn’t close our minds to anything because everything works. Listen to everyone! take what you can, and use the best parts. But beware falling into the trap of being a guitarist of one school of thought or idolizing a single player.

Posted on in Musical Interpretation and Musicianship


  • Logan Moon

    I agree and i dont. I listen to everything. But i defiantly do have major influences. The major thing is that you dont idolize one single person, but find all the guitarists who play the way you dream of. For me thats: Dimebag, SVR, Buckethead, Slash, Angus Young, Brad Paisly, Keith Urban, Jango. Rage Kage

    My idols span the musical genres. And thats because they all do something that is inspiring in my eyes.

  • John

    Idolize the ideal.
    It’ll never fail you, and keep you going.
    Well hopefully.