“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their
― Nikos Kazantzakis

My first guitar teacher, Mike

I desired to teach guitar from an early age. Really I desired to just play guitar, but I figured teaching was a way for me keep a guitar in my hands for most of the day.

I idolized my first guitar teacher Mike, and I thought he had the coolest job in the world. He gets to play guitar everyday, all day.

I started playing guitar when I was 13, and when I was around the age of 16 — Mike went on tour with his country-rock band. Who better to take his on his student roster than his best student?

So, while a sophomore in highschool, I began teaching at The Guitar Gallery, famously owned by Vic DaPra — the foremost expert in the world (and collector) of the 59 Les Paul.

The secret to teaching anything

I found that teaching guitar was easy. I just copied what Mike did: hand write the guitar tablature, teach people easy riffs until they can handle a (relatively easy) full song. Then, ultimately figure out how to play the songs that the student really wants to learn.

Mike was very good at adapting to his individual student’s desires. Before my guitar lesson with Mike, the protocol was to wait outside the lesson room door till it was your turn. I would listen to Mike’s lessons — and whether he was teaching a teenage girl, or a 35 year-old man — he was totally passionate about their musical desires.

Even though Mike was a diehard Queensryche fan (this was 1991) he would show just as much enthusiasm for his student learning The Indigo Girls, or Hank Williams Jr.

And that’s the secret to teaching anything: you have to look at the world through your student’s eyes, and relate to them without ego. 

From a business perspective, this is also the way to keep students, week in and week out, for years on end.

How to play Loose acoustic blues in the key of A

Although I play a nylon-string guitars most of the time on Intellimusica — it’s only because those are best sounding guitars for arranging solo guitar pieces. I personally cannot stand instrumental guitar arrangments on steel string guitars. It just sounds so cheesy.

However — if I’m playing the blues, The Beatles, or anything else — I prefer steel string acoustic guitars and electric guitars.

I don’t personally own an electric guitar for the same reason I don’t own a Playstation — I wouldn’t get anything done, and Intellimusica probably wouldn’t exist.

When I play electric guitar, time and space cease, and there is only me, infinitely playing sweet licks. See what I mean? Hours can go by and I don’t even know what happened.

So rather than allow my blog and teaching business to wither and die, I use the power of positive constraints and only keep guitars that I’m 70% drawn to, rather than 120% obsessed with.

Have no fear — one day when Intellimusica is earning a full time income, I’ll buy a Gibson SG with P90 pickups and and Orange amp. But until then, I can exorcise some of the demons by playing “acoustic blues”.

When I teach guitar, I always warm-up with and practice blues stuff in every key. Although, the central keys for blues tend to be either E or A.

This little riff is a 12 bar blues progression in the key of A. I’m basically accompanying myself by playing chord, lick, chord lick, etc. Loose acoustic blues is a basically a way to use all of the neck in the key of A.

I came up with the idea because I like watching video clips of world-class guitar players like Eric Clapton, or Slash just warm-up and screw around on the guitar. They play the most amazing stuff just off the cuff!

If you’re a beginner or intermediate guitar player, by simply attempting and playing through this, you’ll begin to get and unconscious understanding of the key of A blues. Many famous guitar player can’t read music (or even tab) and have no formal understanding of music theory. Yet, they’re amazing because they possess an unconscious understanding of the guitar.

If you’re a more advanced player, this is just me sharing some licks. I watch reruns of the Crossroads Blues Festival on Palladia all the time. Those guitar players always talk about watching and learning from all the other players around them. I do the same — albeit from my living room.

The guitar tab is available below:

Loose acoustic blues in A

If you like this, you’ll really like my Eric Clapton Acoustic Blues in E.

Please comment to let me know what you think, or if you have any questions. My guitar is a Taylor GS Mini. You can find a list of all of my gear and recommendations in the gear section at the top of the page.

Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.