The Day my Guitar Teacher Burst my Bubble


No, he didn’t tell me that I sucked, or that I ought to give up trying.

It was probably about 18 months into the lessons, weekly 1 hour sessions that covered a lot of theory and practical groundwork. I was making a lot of progress, and feeling pretty good. I had learned several of the songs that I thought would be pinnacles of my playing. ‘That which shall not be named’ (1), UFO’s “Rock Bottom”, several Michael Schenker songs, some of Gary Moore’s rockers, and others that I considered my go to songs.

Then I brought him a song to learn that was more of a loosely structured jam session.

I am speaking of “Child in Time” by Rainbow, a song that starts with John Lord’s ethereal Hammond B3 work, and then slides into a several minute long Ritchie Blackmore guitar riff that plays on several themes.

Listen to it here if you are unfamiliar:

My guitar teacher, when presented with this to teach me, made a comment that is worth paraphrasing:

Geoff, you’re going to start to be disappointed in many of your rock star guitar players. Most of your favorite solos and leads are just pentatonic minor scale patterns.

I was taken aback, but over the next few months, it was proven to me over and over. The genre of classic rock is chocked full of masters of the pentatonic minor scale. Ronnie Montrose, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Michael Schenker, and on and on.

Of course, there are others who play odd scales, and keys, but by and large, once you are fluent in the 5 tone scale, you have a huge library of music that opens up to you.

I am not sure my opinion of my favorite guitar players declined on that day, but suddenly I was motivated to learn a lot of new songs.

1 – Stairway to Heaven

About the author


Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.

By gander


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