I just got back to NYC a few days ago from a short trip to Germany. I was a guest artist at the Remschied Guitar Festival in Germany – and it was a lovely scene and experience. The students were mainly classical and rock guitar players – and they were excellent.
With each student I see and teach, I see a little part of my past and history, and to be honest – I almost get “tear jerked” as I remember how much my beloved teachers helped, taught and mentored me.
During one masterclass, I got to pass on a lesson I learned from mentor – Mike Longo.
There was a young student there who was playing Andy McKee’s “Drifting”. In case you are unfamiliar with this tune, it’s a guitar / percussion tour de force in which the left hand frets notes upside down, and the right hand frets notes as well. This is one of Andy’s YouTube Hits – with over 30 million views. It is an awesome piece of music.
My 15 year old student learned this neat piece of music from watching on YouTube. Yes he did a great job technically, but as the teacher I needed to help him take this piece to “world class level” rather than just “very good for a student”.
I remembered all the musical “ass whoopings” I got and realized this was the medicine required. 🙂
First off, I told him to play “Drifting” with me as I played the djembe drum. I had to take him to “my” zone, have him hear and feel the relentless smack of the drum, and deal with me grunting and egging him on. No escaping the Raf Groove.
Then, I had the entire class clap quarter notes, stomp feet and get in on it – to push him even harder as he played.
Do you see the shift? He went from a student “I’m gonna perform for you, and I hope you approve” attitude to US all being a tribe, thumping and ALL being in on it together. Just think of the different energy and non verbal communication that was set into motion for all of us there!
The “roar” that came out of his guitar by the end of this process was strong, confident and authoritative. It was a total “vibe change” and everyone’s energy was raised – but most importantly, his.
YouTube makes imitation easy – but as far as a world class VIBE goes, “apprenticeship” with a mentor who has gone the mile is a musical requirement.