Thursday, March 5, 2009

Interview - Shred Teacher Nick Layton

This is the start of series of interviews with teachers from around the world, who can shred and teach others how to shred. Although the interviews are relatively brief, these guys have loads to teach, so lookout for the great tips they give.

Nick Layton kicks off the series. Let’s see what he says.

How long have you been teaching guitar?

Professionally for about 7 years, although I taught friends informally for years before that.

Why do you teach guitar?

Several reasons: (1) I’m not cut out for the typical 9-5 day job thing and teaching is a great way to make more money in less time….which results in me having more free time to work on other music related things like recording for example. (2) I can set my own schedule. (3) I get to spend my working hours with guitar in hand. (4) It’s great helping others reach their musical goals.

Where is your teaching practice based?

Vancouver, WA.

As far as teaching goes, what is your specialty?

Rock and Metal styles involving lots of technique work, improvising, and theory.

What level of player do you prefer to teach?

I prefer intermediate to advanced.

What makes a player a virtuoso?

Hard question to answer really. Based on the musical styles I listen to it could be defined as: “Able to fully express oneself musically without technical barriers or other restrictions”.

How fast is too fast, if such a concept exists?

It’s only too fast if it’s (unintentionally) sloppy. “Too fast” is totally a matter of opinion in terms of just sheer speed. But speed without clarity and precision is not true speed in my opinion.

From a Teacher’s point of view, what is the number one roadblock to becoming a better player?

I’d say an inner drive and desire to put in the necessary work to get better. Some people seem to think getting better is just going to “magically happen.” It takes work to be good, always has and always will. From a student’s perspective this means realizing that it all takes time. Consistent work over time=consistent results!

What makes a good student? Describe the student who progresses really quickly.

A good student is one who listens, thinks and then asks questions. A good student also is hungry enough to study on their own, away from the lessons, because they want to get better and because they love to play.

Do you find that older or younger students progress faster/learn quicker?

I think, in very general terms, that students in there mid teens and older tend to progress faster than early teens and younger. This has to do with several factors but I think it’s largely because older students really want to take lessons and have a sense of what areas they want to improve upon, whereas some younger students really have no idea and can sometimes lose interest a lot quicker. There are always exceptions though.

What is your teaching format?

Usually a 60 minute lesson once per week.

What models of learning benefit the student the most?

A combination of technique, theory and creative applications such as improvising, songwriting and recording seem to work best. The student’s needs and interests will determine which areas are emphasized at any given time.

Is there one piece of advice that you can give the readers to improve their playing right now?

Stop comparing yourself to other players. Although it’s good to be inspired by others and learn from them, you have a unique voice on your instrument and your goals should include developing that voice and getting it out to the world so we can all enjoy it!

How can prospective students contact you for lessons?

You can simply email me at :

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