Guitar Practice Method Review: A Tom Hess Interview

Do you feel as if you are not getting all you could be getting out of your guitar practice time? The truth is many guitar players struggle to get great results from their guitar practice. This can be very frustrating considering how much time guitarists spend working to improve their guitar playing.

In a recent interview I held with Tom Hess (virtuoso guitar player in epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire), I had the opportunity to get his perspective on the topic of how to practice guitar for big results. During the interview, Tom shared his thoughts in his responses to some of the most frequently asked guitar practice questions.

As you read the rest of this article, you will find Tom Hess' personal review of excerpts of various e-mails containing common guitar practice questions that I had given to him to check out. I believe you can learn a lot about how to improve your ability to get better results from your guitar practice by reading through his advice and comments. Check out Tom Hess's review of common guitar practice questions below:

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #1:

"I'd really like to get better at playing arpeggios with clean sweeps…I've gone online and found a ton of information, but I don't even know where to begin really. Feels a bit overwhelming. I just want to get better at sweep picking really fast, where can I get lessons that will help me?"

Tom's review and thoughts: If you are feeling like you are taking on too much information now, it will not be helpful to continue piling on even more! Fact is, being effective in your guitar practice is just as much about organization as it is about the actual information you are studying. With this in mind, work on finding a good method for organizing the materials you have right now into an efficient guitar practice system. While designing this system, think about not only the general goal that you want to achieve but also the specific shorter term obstacles in your playing that must be overcome to reach the final result. Your practice schedules should organize your practice materials to enable you to conquer the short term obstacles, thus getting you closer to the main goal.

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #2:

"I never seem to get much done in my guitar practice because I always end up playing around with the same old guitar riffs or scales that I can already play well. What is the best way to become more focused while I practice?"

Tom's review and thoughts: This is a very common occurrence for many guitar players. The truth is, practicing guitar takes a lot of dedication, and can sometimes be frustrating. While practicing things on guitar that are difficult, it is easy for your mind to wander and seek gratification from the things you can already play well. This makes you feel better about yourself, so that you don't feel so frustrated about not being able to play something new. This is very natural, and there is nothing wrong with it… However, if you really want to become a great guitarist, you will need to become 100% dedicated to your musical goals! This means that you must tell yourself ahead of time that you WILL stay focused because your desire for your goals is higher than your desire to distract yourself with stuff you can already play well. That said, remember this: the deeper and more passionate your desire is to achieve your goal, the easier it will be to resist the temptation to play around on guitar during the time you have dedicated to serious guitar practice.

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #3:

"I work 40 hours at week at my job, leaving me only a small portion of the day available for guitar. I love to play, just don't have enough time. How can I still improve my guitar playing with so little time?"

Tom's review and thoughts: If you want to get the most out of your guitar practice with only a limited amount of time, you will need to practice things that have the biggest overall impact on your playing. For example, if you have a choice between practicing a single string two handed tapping lick and exercises to help you combine scales together with directional picking; you would want to choose the scale/picking exercises because they will help your guitar playing in many different areas at once. By applying this simple strategy in all of your guitar practice time, you will be able to achieve a great deal of progress even though you have only a limited amount of time to work with.

Tom Hess review for guitar practice question #4:

E-mail excerpt -

"I want to get good at guitar, but I am not sure what I should be working on."

Tom's review and thoughts: If you want to know what you need to do to get good at guitar, you will first need to clearly define what "good" means to you. In other words, you will first need to determine what your highest guitar playing goals are. Next, you need to take account of all the skills that you will need to possess in order to achieve them. Before I begin training new guitar students, I make sure that I clearly understand what their highest goals are, what the strong areas of their guitar playing are, weak areas, etc. Once these things have been determined, I can then begin to create a strategy to effectively help them. With this in mind, if you want to become a better guitar player in the quickest way possible, find a guitar teacher who knows exactly what you need to learn in order to reach your highest guitar playing goals.

Learn more about how to create a guitar practice schedule by checking out the guitar practice schedule generator.

Ryan Buckner is a professional musician, guitarist and songwriter.

He has written many instructional articles on guitar, songwriting and music theory.

Ryan Buckner