These days, as I’ve also been continuing to teach privately in addition to my online lessons at Gibson.com, I have found a great and wonderfully diverse group of very gifted students! It seems that right now, I have more than usual, and they certainly give me a great challenge! One thing is for sure, they seem to be making them younger and younger these days, and it’s not uncommon for me to see incredibly gifted players even at the age of 8 to 14, for example!
The challenge for me is to find that special moment when the student must shift gears with me, and go from just learning things by rote, to a point where they start to become artists at what they do. This is a very individual thing, and some players are seemingly creative right from the start, which is really how I was, and always remained. I guess it’s part of someone’s nature to be that way, and of course for me it was also how I was raised….to be creative at every juncture. Sure, I wanted to sound like my heroes here and there, but rather than trying to be them musically, I was able to take their styles and techniques in “snapshots” where I was able to apply it to my own style. In this way, I was always able to satisfy and “feed” my creative drive. I try to instill this in my students as much as possible, and whenever I get the chance, I try to move them in the direction of self-teaching and self-realization about their own abilities. There has to come a point where the security of the teacher becomes something that a student must break away from. For some this must be a “clean break” such as what I did, or for many of whom I have taught, it’s more of a gradual break.
Again, it depends on the individual student, but it’s important to feed that independent “streak” in them, so they eventually feel much more comfortable with themselves as players, and therefore as people, too. I know I have many gifted students the world over, and I wish I could hear and meet them all, but I certainly know it’s an incredible blessing to see it right in front of me, when a student is truly gifted, and has fallen in love with the guitar….and also that the guitar loves them!
So here’s to all you gifted players and students out there….I’m glad to be a continued part of your musical lives and development, and I hope someday in my travels I get to hear you, and that you get to really impress me, too!