How To Practice Guitar: Interview And Review With Tom Hess

Author: Ed Cupler

Would you like to know how to get more out of the time you spend practicing guitar? Although guitar players spend a great deal of time practicing to get better; they often face a lot of frustration when they do not see the results they want as fast as they want them. The reason this occurs is because most guitar players do not really understand what to practice on guitar or how to effectively practice it.

That said, if you are looking to get better at guitar; your best bet is to ask advice from a true pro who has been helping guitar players reach their musical goals for years. That’s why I recently contacted Tom Hess, guitarist in Rhapsody Of Fire and guitar teacher to hundreds of students around the world. After exchanging e-mails, I decided it would be a good idea to arrange an interview with him where he could discuss and share his ideas on the topic of guitar practice.

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As you read the rest of this article, you will find Tom Hess’ personal review of excerpts of various e-mails containing common guitar practice questions that I had given to him to check out. I believe you can learn a lot about how to improve your ability to get better results from your guitar practice by reading through his advice and comments. Check out Tom Hess’s review of common guitar practice questions below:

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #1:

“I’d really like to begin improving my shred guitar playing. I’ve recently bookmarked a bunch of websites…found a lot of tabs and lessons…and asked friends for advice on the best videos to check out (got a couple coming in the mail right now). However, I feel a bit overwhelmed. Where can I find materials to practice that will help me quickly become a fast and clean guitarist?”

Tom’s review and thoughts:
If you feel like you are taking on too much material at once, you should definitely not overload yourself with even more. You already have a lot of materials, instead try focusing on a finding a better way to organize your guitar practice time. This is actually just as important as the materials themselves. If you can effectively organize your guitar practice in a manner that focuses on getting you to achieve your highest musical goals in the shortest time possible; you will be much more likely to actually do it! Keep your priorities in mind, and structure your guitar practice time around them accordingly.

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #2:

“I never seem to get much done in my guitar practice because I always end up playing around with the same old guitar riffs or scales that I can already play well. What is the best way to become more focused while I practice?”

Tom’s review and thoughts:
This is a very common occurrence for many guitar players. The truth is, practicing guitar takes a lot of dedication, and can sometimes be frustrating. While practicing things on guitar that are difficult, it is easy for your mind to wander and seek gratification from the things you can already play well. This makes you feel better about yourself, so that you don’t feel so frustrated about not being able to play something new. This is very natural, and there is nothing wrong with it… However, if you really want to become a great guitarist, you will need to become 100% dedicated to your musical goals! This means that you must tell yourself ahead of time that you WILL stay focused because your desire for your goals is higher than your desire to distract yourself with stuff you can already play well. That said, remember this: the deeper and more passionate your desire is to achieve your goal, the easier it will be to resist the temptation to play around on guitar during the time you have dedicated to serious guitar practice.

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #3:

“I have a wife, kids and a full time job. Although I love playing guitar and want to improve…I have little time to work at it. What can I do to get better in guitar given my current time limitations?”

Tom’s review and thoughts:
If you want to get the most out of your guitar practice with only a limited amount of time, you will need to practice things that have the biggest overall impact on your playing. For example, if you have a choice between practicing a single string two handed tapping lick and exercises to help you combine scales together with directional picking; you would want to choose the scale/picking exercises because they will help your guitar playing in many different areas at once. By applying this simple strategy in all of your guitar practice time, you will be able to achieve a great deal of progress even though you have only a limited amount of time to work with.

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #4:

“I’ve never been able to put together a good set of exercises for my guitar practice. What should I work on to get better and become a good player?”

Tom’s review and thoughts:
You cannot really understand what you ‘should’ practice on guitar until you determine your own personal guitar playing goals. Once you have taken the time to clearly understand your ‘specific’ goals for guitar, it is then up to you to figure out what skills you must master to reach them. As a guitar teacher who has helped hundreds of guitarists reach higher levels in their guitar playing, I can tell you that this is absolutely crucial to your development and progress. Without first knowing exactly how your guitar practice will help you become a good player, you will never truly be able to become ‘good’ (because you have not even defined what ‘good’ is!). Before I start guitar lessons with any of my students, I make sure to ask them what their guitar playing goals are first so that I can create an effective strategy to help them. With this in mind, the quickest way you can become a great guitarist is to find a teacher who understands exactly what it takes to get you from where you are now as a guitarist to where you want to be.

I appreciate your guitar practice insights Tom.

No problem, any time Ryan.

To the guitar players who read this article, you have surely learned many good ideas for ways to improve your guitar practice. I encourage you to get the most of what you have learned by putting it into practice right now!

Find out more on the topic of effectively practicing guitar by checking out Tom Hess’ guitar practice generator site.

About the author:

Ryan Buckner is a professional guitarist, songwriter and guitar teacher from Oklahoma City. He has written many guitar related columns and articles for guitar websites and online magazines since 2006.

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