April 09, 2015
How Long Will It Take Me to Learn the Guitar?
By Bill Hart
This is a common question for beginning students. It might seem innocent enough, but it’s a loaded question to be sure. It’s a very logical question, but I don’t believe logic has a place in music. Stay with me for a moment.
Music is a language that breaks down all barriers. Here’s an example for both the musician and the non-musician.
Let’s take out the word music, and substitute the word language. Let’s talk about the education of language.
Logically, we would ask:
- How long will it take me to learn the language?
- What can I do to be the best?
- How can I learn every word?
- When should I practice?
- Can I use every word in the language?
Well, logical questions deserve logical answers.
Logic would say they have a book called a dictionary with every word in it. I can start from the beginning and memorize every word, starting with letter “A” through “Z”. That way I will know every word and I’ll be the best. How long would that take?
Instead, look to the children in your life. By age 5, they are using the language to convey nuance and subtle distinction. They understand the twists of language behind jokes. Yet, they have little if any formal schooling. Odds are they haven’t been reading serious books about language. How did they learn?
They listened. They mimicked. Not just the words, but all the phrasing and dynamics. Quite literally, they spend time playing with the language.
Back to the question “How long will it take me to learn the guitar?” That depends on the number of excuses you create. I’m too old. My fingers are too fat or too short, or too long. My belly is too big. Believe me, I’ve heard them all.
First thing I do is encourage students. I let them know we have all been there. The student already knows the answer. They are looking for validation. So, I try to get students to do what they can today to become a better player. Depending on where they want to go musically. The worst thing that will happen if you practice is you will get better.
Bill Hart was born and raised in Ontario, Canada and began playing guitar at the young
age of nine years old. Hart immediately felt drawn to the instrument and would find every
opportunity to covertly rendezvous with his guitar. A lifelong connection’s formed.
Hart started taking lessons when he was thirteen. Initially, he played rock, influenced by
the diverse guitar styles of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. One
day, in a music store, he saw a jazz guitarist playing the most incredible chords and
lines. Bill wanted to know how the guitarist played that amazing music. Thirty years later,
Hart modestly says he is still trying to figure it out. Currently, Hart is the one playing the
amazing music, while always keeping it accessible to one and all.
Hart’s early training was non-traditional. At 16 years of age, Hart started playing
professional in theaters performing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Little Shop of
Horrors”, where he was the designated musician, providing live music for the shows.
Fascinated by the mathematical precision of music, Bill attended the Guitar Institute of
Technology in Hollywood, California, graduating with honors. Bill has studied under
master guitarists, Gary Starling, Mike Stern, Don Mock, Steve Khan, Wayne Krantz and
Scott Henderson. Bill’s true joy comes from playing his original compositions. Bill Hart
has opened for jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Lou Rawls, Yellow
Jackets, Acoustic Alchemy, Joey Defrancesco, Norman Brown, Rippingtons and Mike
Hart has been the head of the guitar department at the Atlanta Institute of Music & Media for over twenty-five years, teaching and mentoring over 5,000 plus students. He has
participated in numerous music clinics with seminar partners such as Scott Ambush and
Joel Rosenblatt (Spyro Gyra), Mike Stern (Miles Davis Band), Adam Nitti (Steven Curtis
Chapman), Shane Theriot (Neville Brothers, Hal and Oates) and Jimmy Herring (The
Grateful Dead and Widespread Panic). Bill Hart has released five albums: “Watch the
Sky”, “Think About It”, “Subject to Change”, “This Is Why” and the new release “Touch of
Hart toured Mexico and South America with his original music performing at big venues.
Bill received a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela on behalf of the Bill Hart Band
for his contribution to the students in South America. Hart was also a two time Grammy
nominee. Hart received an Akedemia Award for best Funk/Fusion album of 2016.
Currently Bill Hart is recording his sixth CD titled “Executive Decision” for 2017.