Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Tom Hess Clinic Tour Instructor Group Interview

Join Tom Hess and 5 pro guitarists for free guitar lessons on the 2009 Tom Hess Instructional Clinic Tour. Don't miss this great opportunity.

Learn how to:
•Immediately Increase Your Guitar Playing Speed
•Know Exactly 'What' To Practice
•Make Consistent Progress EVERY TIME You Practice Your Guitar
•and much more!

September 14, 2009 Guitar Center - Algonquin, Illinois, 7 pm
September 15, 2009 Guitar Center - Grand Rapids, Michigan, 6 pm
September 16, 2009 Guitar Center - Toledo, Ohio, 6 pm
September 17, 2009 Guitar Center - Cleveland, Ohio, 7 pm
September 18, 2009 House of Guitars - Rochester, New York, 7 pm
September 19, 2009 McNeil Music - Vestal, New York, 6:30 pm
September 20, 2009 To be announced
September 21, 2009 To be announced
September 22, 2009 To be announced
September 23, 2009 Guitar Center - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 6 pm
September 24, 2009 Guitar Center - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 7 pm
September 25, 2009 Sam Ash Music - Columbus, Ohio, 6 pm
September 26, 2009 Guitar Center - Cincinnati, Ohio, 7 pm
September 27, 2009 Guitar Center - Indianapolis, Indiana, 3 pm

For details, additional videos from the previous tour and to save
your spot, check out:

I caught up with the instructors (Tom Hess, Mike Philippov, Randy Johnson, Paul Kleff, Nick Layton and Zack Uild) for an interview.

How do you prepare for the clinics?

Mike: Everyone practices their parts individually, and shortly before the tour, the whole group gets together for rehearsals. The group practice helps to bring everything together smoothly.

It is a process that occurs over many months. It stems from what I am learning in my own playing. I know by the time I hit the clinic and present that what I am talking about will truly bring a benefit to the people who listen and are willing to apply what I am teaching because I have already seen the benefits that it brings to me. I never have any problems being excited about what I teach because I know what I am sharing can be easily implemented AND help people make great progress on the guitar. Guitar is such a cool instrument. It's a blast to learn. I start with an idea and in my mind create the outline. There comes a point where that thinking flips a switch and I start writing. It comes pretty quickly after that. Then in final stages I put together some clear examples to demonstrate the material. I try and keep the examples simple because most people coming to the clinics are not extremely advanced. I want to provide examples that are more attainable for the people watching. If they are more attainable people are willing to try them and have more belief they can actually reach new levels.

We each selected some topics that we wanted to present that we felt were really important. We all teach, so we all have a good idea of the struggles that guitar players run into. So I chose my clinic topics based on the types of things that I help my students work through.

I always try to anticipate the needs of guitar players. To be very mindful of what they say they want and what they also may need (but are not saying). It's also very important to me when speaking to diverse groups that everything I present to them is applicable to all (or almost all) the guitar players there - regardless of their skill level or playing style. It's very challenging to make that perfect, but I'm confident that what they will learn will do exactly that. I am actually going to be giving 7 different presentations throughout the tour. Some guitar players will be traveling to more than one city to see this clinic tour, so I wanted to be sure they get something new. There are 14 clinics no this tour so every 2 days I'll be giving a different presentation.

Nick: I chose a topic that I'm very passionate about and I've fine tuned it quite a bit over the last few weeks. Because I teach privately I'm very aware of some of the stumbling blocks that students have. A lot of it stems from ineffective practice habits.

Zack: I prepared for these clinics by thinking of topics that will be of the highest benefit to the people attending. I design my presentations so they will benefit the attendees immediately upon hearing the information.

What will each of the clinicians be focusing on?

Mike: All of the topics are related to practicing guitar. Some of us have more than one topic that we will be teaching throughout the whole tour, but all presentations will be about the various areas of practicing the guitar (general practicing concepts, practicing for building speed, practicing improvising, and more).

Randy: All the clinicians will be focused on topics about practice efficiency. How to get the most out of the time spent in practice. This is a concept that Tom Hess has successfully transferred to me as a student and it lives in every student I know of that has studied under him. There is a big broad amount of information that can be learned about the guitar. We only have so much time to reach our goals. Tom Hess's goal has always been to help students get from point A to B as quickly and effectively as possible. So it's only natural that his clinic would be focused on this sort of idea.

Paul: We are focusing on different aspects of guitar technique and musicianship and the best ways to practice to develop and grow as a musician and guitar player. The material we are covering is very valuable. Most clinics consist of a guitar player sitting down and demonstrating maybe a couple cool licks and then playing a couple songs--these clinics are nothing like that. These clinics are jam packed full of practical info. The people who attend will leave with valuable information that they will be able to apply to their own playing right now regardless of their playing skill level.

Tom: This year our focus is on guitar practicing. The other clinicians and I have developed many innovative guitar practice strategies, a few of things have never been publicly taught before... ever.

Nick: Each clinician will be focused on sharing ways to help guitarists maximize their practice time.

Zack: I will be focusing on combining various techniques, string skipping, and improvising with restrictions.

Who should attend the clinics?

Mike: Intermediate players and early advanced players who are looking for ways to get more results out of their practicing in a short amount of time and take their playing to the next level.

Randy: Guitarists of all levels should attend. Tom Hess specifically instructed us all to consider how the principles we share can apply to all levels. As a more advanced player I wish I had heard the information that will be shared during these clinics when I was at earlier levels. Really. The information you will hear in these clinics is's gonna be sick! There will be information in these clinics that will be applicable to players of all levels there whole lives! I know, yeah I know. Sounds pretty hyped to say that. But well. It is true. And as a teacher myself I would have to say the information in these clinics is not something you will hear in guitar lessons or on the internet very often. The ZEN of guitar! Last year I was privileged to be on the tour and hear the information shared over and over again. I still remember standing in back and listening to these guys and going wow! There is just a ton of good information and this year we were able to get Nick Layton to join us who is a phrasing master! I can't wait.

Paul: All guitar players who are interested in finding the best ways to improve in the most efficient ways possible. And, by the way--the clinics are FREE!

Tom: Any guitar players who want to improve (and improve quickly) on the guitar. It's totally free to attend.

These clinics will really help, encourage and inspire guitarists of all levels. Any guitarist who wants to learn and improve will love this!

Everyone should attend the clinics. It had an incredible value and the feedback we receive has been nothing short of amazing.

How long does a single clinic at a single venue last?

Mike: 90 minutes. During this time, 5 presenters take turns explaining their topic.

Zack: These events last a few hours. There are the presentations, question and answer, and then informal discussion after the event is technically over.

Do you get more or less nervous when presenting a clinic compared to performing, and what are your coping strategies?

Mike: Not really more nervious, but presenting at a clinic requires a different level of preparation that is not the same as practicing to perform, so as long as adequate time is taken to prepare and rehearsals take place before the tour, everything usually goes smoothly.

Randy: I get a little nervy. I would be dead if I did not get a little nervy speaking in front of a bunch of people. My coping strategy is to just get on stage and start sharing. That is the good thing about all this. What I talk about is what I am passionate about. I love playing guitar, I love learning, I love to share what I know. I have a plan, an order to what I share. I am practiced up. I just do it.

Paul: Preparation is important--nobody is just "winging" their presentations. It's a little different than just performing where you can get locked into that music zone in your brain and just go. I have taught guitar for a long time and am accustomed to talking about it and helping people learn and doing a clinic is really a lot like an extension of doing a lesson. I don't really get nervous--once I get started it just goes.

Tom: I do not get nervous anymore when performing or doing clinics. There is no reason to be nervous really. I'm dedicated to giving of myself to others on this tour. So when you do something nice for others you don't really feel nervous. As long as the focus in your mind is all about 'them' you don't get nervous. As soon as you begin thinking about 'yourself, then you get nervous.

Nick: This kind of clinic is focused on sharing valuable information and helping others to there really is no reason to be nervous. We are doing this to try and help people better themselves and their guitar playing.

Zack: I have never gotten nervous being in front of people honestly. I did a little when I was a kid, but now I don‚t. I realize that I am a total nerd/dork so even if something terrible happens; I just laugh about with everyone.

What did you, as a clinician, learn from the last clinic tour?

With each clinic I do, I get more comfortable presenting topics in front of groups, and also it is easy to see (by the audience responses) what topics are more helpful for larger groups so that I can tailor my clinic ideas in the future to help more people.

Randy: Isolation. The power of isolation in practice. Tom Hess is a master at communicating the power of getting the most out of your time in practice. I actually used some of what he taught on the tour while I was playing on the tour. It was funny because one night I was playing something that I had isolated per his instruction (he knew I was working on it) and looked over at him when I nailed it and was like "Oh Yeah! This KICKS!!!"

No matter where you go, people love to play the guitar and love to learn and improve. I enjoy teaching in a clinic format and have done several clinics on my own since the last tour.

Tom: Many people are afraid to ask questions in a group setting among people they do not know. So this year I have factored that reality into my presentations to better help the person in the audience who may have a question but is too shy to ask it. I don't want people to simply listen to me, I want them to LEARN and apply what they learn into their guitar playing for the rest of their lives.

Nick: This is my first tour. I'm sure I will learn a ton of stuff. Can't wait!

Zack: I learned a lot. Being able to spend time with guys like Tom is really valuable. I learned a lot of guitar related ideas too from the various presentations.

What is your favorite part of a clinic tour?

Mike: I enjoy traveling and teaching others about things I'm passionate about, so there are a lot of things I really like about a clinic tour, hard to pick only one.

Just hanging out with Tom Hess and all the people on the tour. It's just a great bunch of people to hang out with. Everyone is level headed and loves to learn and play. To me it's just a little heaven on earth. It's great to meet the people that come to the clinics too. I hope to see many of them just to say hey.

Paul: Meeting with people before and after the clinics is very cool. Answering questions and talking with people is great.

Tom: I have 2 favorite parts.

1. Seeing the look on people's faces when we share something cool with them and the light bulbs are going on in their heads like they just had a transformational learning experience. That is REALLY cool for me.

2. Hanging out with Randy Johnson, Mike Philippov, Nick Layton, Zack Uidl and Paul Kleff. I had the privilege of teaching and mentoring all of these guys through my online guitar lessons and my Music Careers Mentoring Program.

Nick: I think hanging out with the other clinicians and meeting new people at the clinics will be my favorite parts.

For me, my favorite part is getting to meet people from around the country. I love getting to interact with fans and people who attend the clinics. It really is great.

Share a funny story from the last clinic tour.

Randy: There were many funny things actually. You have to see Tom order chicken fajitas though. That is truly an experience that is unforgettable. I also remember Uli (who is on Tom's staff). You should see her face when the word chocolate is uttered. It is priceless. Then finally the laughing from Mike Philippov when he saw Paul Kleff's cat.

Paul: Doing the tour last year was a lot like being in a band. You spend a lot of time together and everybody gets to know everyone's quirks so everybody gets a turn being picked on at some point.

At one of the venues, the stage was very small and somebody fell off the back of it. I won't say who, but it wasn't me!

Tom: One of them was when our tour manager feel off the back of the stage. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it sure is now. 

I wasn't there but I heard about various shenanigans. Knowing these guys there will be lots more this year :-)

Zack: There are a lot of great stories. I think the funniest thing is Paul Kleff‚s insanely fat cat. It is huge! Seeing that thing and then seeing Mike Philippov almost die laughing at it was pretty great.

Another funny thing was recording some people from the tour snoring and making death metal tunes with the snores in the place of the vocals.

Don't miss this!

Learn more about:
Tom Hess here
Zack Uidl here
Mike Philippov here
Paul Kleff here
Nick Layton here
Randy Johnson here

1 comment:

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