If you don’t know who Keith Wyatt is then you are missing out on a premier guitar player and instructor. Since 1977 he’s been playing and teaching music around the world.
He’s helped shape a generation of musicians with the curriculum he developed at the Musicians Institute. He also has released a number of popular books and best selling instructional videos. In 2014 he developed a course with ArtistWorks on Blues guitar playing.
To say it’s an honor and a privilege to pick the brain of such an artist is an understatement. Keith was kind enough to answer a handful of questions for us about starting out as a guitarist. Check out his answers below!
Interview with Keith Wyatt
StringVibe: What is the biggest mistake you see beginners making when learning to play guitar? What should they do instead?
Keith: The biggest mistake beginners make is to be impatient. It takes a lot of time to train your muscles and neural pathways to react smoothly and accurately, but if you just keep at it and don’t get disappointed right away, things will start to happen.
What bad habits or mistakes do you see most often with professional, or very experienced players?
Very experienced/professional players generally don’t have very bad habits, which is what makes them professional. The differences between experienced players are mostly a matter of taste and style, which aren’t good or bad, just different.
Do you have a few songs you like to start new players off with to build fundamentals?
Blues songs are mostly built on very similar chord progressions – 12-bar, 8-bar etc.- so I start students off by learning how to play rhythm and memorize the form before we get into particular songs.
What skills should a novice guitar player work on if they’d like to play a lot of Blues Style as they progress?
To develop broad blues skills it’s essential to develop a good ear for rhythm and form. The shuffle is the traditional rhythm of blues, so knowing how to play shuffles at slow, medium, and fast tempos is a good starting point. To play blues/rock, blues/funk or other hybrid styles, listen to those styles of music, learn their rhythm patterns and play blues melodies over the top.
Is there a piece of advice that is commonly given to beginners that you feel is bad? What would you say instead?
The most misleading advice that beginners usually get in terms of playing blues is an emphasis on practicing scale patterns. Blues melodies are phrases that balance melody with rhythm and touch, so copying blues melodies and phrases from people who know how to play is a much more effective method for learning to play blues than practicing generic scale patterns.
We don’t find it surprising at all that Keith talks about patience as a beginner and stresses rhythm for a budding blues musician.
For guitarist who are just starting out, ArtistWorks has a great Acoustic Guitar 101 course that is FREE!
For more experienced players interested in blues to check out Keith’s course. Want to get a taste of what you’ll be getting? Keith has put up a free sample lesson on his personal site: KeithWyatt.
We want to thank Keith for taking the time out to do this interview, a lot of great wisdom here!
Have questions about the article or know someone you’d like to see interviewed next? Shoot us a message and we’ll do our best to make it happen!