Friday, March 13, 2009

Interview - Shred Teacher Paul Tauterouff

New York guitar teacher and all-round nice guy Paul Tauterouff shares some amazing insights from the perspective of a shred teacher.

How long have you been teaching guitar?

I have been teaching guitar steadily for about 4 years now. I taught guitar for a short time back in my late teens too, but things were a lot different then. For example we didn't have computers or notation software. I have always been a natural teacher; always showing things to my friends.

Why do you teach guitar?

Two reasons that drive most people - Love and Money!  I love helping other people to reach their goals. It is very rewarding on a personal level. You truly feel like you make a difference in people's lives. The money is also good, but it is secondary to the emotional rewards. I feel like teaching guitar is what I was put on Earth to do.

Where is your teaching practice based?

I live and teach in the Binghamton area of New York State in the US. I teach private lessons in a nice professional studio.

As far as teaching goes, what is your specialty?

I focus mainly on rock, metal and blues-rock guitar. As far as techniques goes, I teach lead and rhythm guitar beginner to advanced. I really love teaching improvisation.

What level of player do you prefer to teach?

There are challenges to face when teaching people at the various levels and I don't really prefer one level over another. An intermediate or advanced student may be able to move their fingers really well, but depending on their prior training they may also have deeply ingrained bad habits. A beginning student is more like a blank slate to work from, but often they lack confidence, so the challenge with some of them can be to get them to believe that they can become good at guitar.

What makes a player a virtuoso?

I think a true virtuoso is someone who has full command of the instrument and the ability to express themselves and their emotions as they want to. A virtuoso has a combination of mastery of technique and musical knowledge.

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

I don't think that there is any such thing as too fast, or at least I haven't heard it yet. It really comes down to what someone wants to express.

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

Number one - inefficient or not enough practicing!

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

A good student to me is someone who puts in their practice time at home, pays attention and focuses on what they are doing while practicing, and enjoys the process. I think a student will progress quickly if they have these traits and believe that they can become as good as they want to be.

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

It's a popular myth that younger people learn more quickly. I don't agree with that. It really depends on the person. If they are passionate about learning older students can advance just as quickly. The bigger issue with adult students is a lack of time to practice.

What is your teaching format?

I teach mostly private lessons. My format varies because I find that it gets boring for most people if you keep things the same. I try to create a nice balance of knowledge, technique and enjoyment. I think it is important for the student to enjoy the learning process.

What models of learning benefit the student the most?

There is no single right answer here because all people are different.

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

Two pieces of advice:

1. Take a portion of your practice time and really focus on the little details in your playing. Look at your hands! Be aware of any inefficiency of movement in your hands and make sure you are not squeezing too hard with your fretting hand.

2. Learn your scales and theory. Knowing what your options are musically will enable you to more fully express yourself.

How can prospective students contact you for lessons?

Send me an email at or visit my website at

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