The idea of learning to play guitar is that it will enrich your life with the sheer pleasure of finding a way to express yourself and connect with others on a uniquely human level. However, all too often, aspiring guitarists (as well as accomplished guitarists) get distracted by the technical mumbo jumbo and the mechanics involved, losing sight of the reason why they took up guitar in the first place – kind of like getting lost in learning a lot of vocabulary but forgetting what it is you’re trying to say.
John Henry Sheridan, whom we’re pleased to host on Lessons.com (You can see John Henry’s profile and our interview with him by), has written an article, which speaks eloquently to this phenomenon, and whether you’re a beginning guitar student, an advancing guitar player, or the parent of an aspiring guitarist, we invite you to read what John Henry has to say and hope that you keep in mind the fundamental reasons why learning to play guitar is such a compelling pursuit.
Having Fun is the Key
by John Henry Sheridan
When I first began playing guitar at age 11 back in 1992 I found it extremely difficult. My first guitar teacher taught me using traditional method books of the time. In retrospect I know that they were useful, but to an aspiring young rock star, pretty dull! I recall bringing a transcription of Megadeth’s “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying” to my teacher and he quickly dismissed it and we resumed playing “Blue Tail Fly”.
I quit guitar lessons and fueled my passion for guitar with several tablature transcription booksof my favorite heavy metal albums. One particularly inspirational series was called “EZ Guitar with Riffs Series”. These books allowed me to quickly play something quite similar to the riffs I was hearing on my favorite albums – only somewhat simplified. This was fun!!
After several years of teaching I realized how many of my students were quite similar to me inthat they just wanted to have fun and fast! I started to ask myself how I could enable even my youngest or least confident student to start having fun and enjoy playing the guitar as quickly as possible. It was then that I began teaching songs on a single string.
From 19 years of guitar playing experience now, I strongly believe that having fun is the key to both starting and continuing one’s journey on the guitar. For me, creating and sharing single string songs really works. Ultimately the question I believe we must ask ourselves is this: Am I really delivering the value that my student deserves from our lessons together? And the best answer in my opinion is a big smile and an enthusiastic attitude to learn the next thing.
John Henry Sheridan gives guitar lessons in Brooklyn and via Skype to beginner, intermediate, and advanced guitar students, who want to learn acoustic, electric, and classical guitar. On his guitar teacher page, which you can visit. John Henry offers this extremely appealing description of his guitar teaching approach: “I aim to create a synergy with the student so that we can each grow and expand through our lessons together. I respect that each individual has his or her own path and therefore try to create the direction of the lessons through mutual participation.”