7 Important Life Lessons From a Guitar Teacher

In an effort to rekindle my desire to learn how to play guitar, I started searching for a guitar teacher. After doing some research on the web, I discovered a great article by Tom Hess on Choosing a Guitar Teacher.

I used his advice and visited several guitar teacher sites. However, I was mostly disappointed by the teachers I found. Most lacked guitar teaching credentials or any real passion for teaching.

I almost gave up until I came across a teacher named Phil Cavanagh. 

Phil is from New Zealand and has played guitar around the world. He teaches the musical styles I’m interested in and likes the artists that I like such as Prince.

I contacted Phil and we talked for over an hour about music, faith, and life.

Due to logistics, Phil and I weren’t able to develop a formal student/teacher relationship, but I learned more about guitar playing from our conversation than I have from all of the “How to Play Guitar” books I have read.

More importantly, he taught me several important life lessons.

Although some of his advice is specific to guitar playing, I think you can apply most of it to many aspects of your life.

7 Important Life Lessons From a Guitar Teacher

7 Important Life Lessons From a Guitar Teacher

Be Passionate

Any endeavor begins with passion. You must have a burning desire to play the guitar and learn all that you can about the instrument. Your passion will fuel your progress.

Learn All You Can from Everyone You Can 

Phil encourages his students to listen to different types of music, study different playing styles, and find out as much as you can from all resources.

He does acknowledge that the amount of information about guitar playing can be overwhelming to a novice. That’s why it’s important to have a good teacher who can help weed through all of that data.

Play for a Higher Purpose

Phil told me how he spent many years of his life performing in clubs and chasing high-profile gigs. After a while, these pursuits seemed meaningless to him and he started to lose his passion for his instrument.

When he joined a small worship band at his church and started playing for God, he found purpose in his music.

He is quick to state that he is not encouraging everyone to have a religious transformation.

Instead, he is advocating musicians to seek a reason to play beyond attaining fame and fortune.

Use Part of Your Practice Time to Create

Practicing scales and arpeggios will help your technical playing, but you need to flex your creative muscles if you want to be a solid guitar player.

Spend about 15 minutes of your practice time creating and recording new grooves.

Understand Your Own Limitations

Although many guitarists have aspirations to play like Jimi Hendrix, only a few of them will obtain this mastery and that’s okay.

Learn what you can and play to the best of YOUR ability.

Don’t compare yourself to other guitarists.

Take a Break

Sometimes your mind and fingers need a rest. Take a break from the guitar and pursue other interests. When you return to playing, you will be refreshed and eager to create.

Just Jam

There’s no point in playing the guitar if you just intend to noodle in your bedroom. Music is meant to be shared with an audience and with other musicians.

Find a local jam session and join in. Don’t be intimidated by the musicians who are more skilled than you are. Just have fun.

You will soon discover that your own playing has improved just by jamming with those more experienced guys.

What life lessons have you learned from an unusual source?

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