Started: Age 9
Instruments: Guitar, bass, keyboard
Styles: Blues/Rock, Funk, Jazz
Books Publications: Guitar Success: Your Solution to Learning and Mastering Guitar (Demand Books)
Gear: Brian Moore i8p Gibson Les Paul Fender Telecaster Taylor 510-CE Yamaha RGX Series Line 6 Products and Amplification D'Addario Guitar Strings Dunlop Picks & Accessories
Lesson Text: Learn to Play Guitar With Eric Slone Eric Slone is a blues/rock guitarist from Long Island, earning his music degrees from Nassau Community College and SUNY at Old Westbury. Since then, he has taught hundreds of students at varying ages, levels and musical styles, including a position teaching grades 1-6. In his lessons, you will learn a wide range of concepts, such as blues forms and variations, popular grooves, soloing ideas, and altered and extended chords to name a few.
Eric provides in-home guitar lessons to 50 private students a week, and in 2004, penned a comprehensive guitar instructional book, Guitar Success. He's currently working on a method book for bass guitar. Besides teaching, Eric composes and records original music, performs with various bands, and focuses on furthering his knowledge as a teacher. He is a member of the National Association for Music Education.
When did you start to play? I started playing at age 9 when my aunt gave me her dusty nylon-string guitar. It was missing a few strings and out of tune, but I still gave it my best at making music. I remember bringing the guitar onto the camp bus and showing my friends - you know, the wannabe rock star. I begged my mother continuously for an electric guitar with, "Please mom, I promise I'll practice a lot, please." Thankfully, my mother gave in and purchased an electric for me as I soon began lessons, and I practiced vigorously for many hours a day. Mom made a wise decision. When did you start to notice that your playing was different from everyone else's? When did you find your voice as a player? As my teenage years soon approached, I began composing my own music, aside from playing songs from my favorite artists. Through composition, I was able to begin expressing myself more profoundly. How do you keep your playing fresh? I focus on listening and playing a wide variety of musical styles spanning many artists - and not just guitar players! I love working with material from players such as John Coltrane, Fats Domino, Ian Anderson, and others. I also experiment with my playing as much as possible, especially in terms of improvisation. I am a fan of unique guitar tricks as well. My students get a kick out of how I can make my guitar sound like a train, a motorcycle, and even a crazy cat! In my opinion, the learning and experimentation never stops. What do you do when you get stuck? It depends if I'm writing a song or playing an instrumental piece. If I'm writing a song and get stuck, I usually take a break and go back to it later. I've found inspiration to be one of the most useful keys when writing a song. If I get stuck on playing an instrumental piece, I find it useful to slow down the tempo and to make suggestive notes to myself. What do you still find hard to do? Fingerpicking as fast as I can pick. I've been trained more extensively with the pick, but I still work my right-hand fingers as best as I can. I also find it hard to put my guitar down! How often are you surprised by your playing, or what you're listening to, or music in general? I am surprised by my playing when another musician reacts with fascination on something I feel was basic for me. I love to see the reaction on their face. My first vivid memory of being surprised by someone else's music was when my twin brother Justin and I first checked out the band Dream Theater. We listened to Dream Theater's "Images and Words" album and were amazed at how a song could sound like five or more different songs in one. Oh, and don't forget Haydn's "Surprise Symphony." Do you have a regular practice regimen? I focus on staying organized and focused while practicing. I devote as many hours as possible per day, but make certain to break up the time to ensure maximum benefit. I prepare a daily practice schedule to keep things structured. Do you have a practice "tool kit"- metronome, tuner, recorder, etc.? Yes, it's all set up on my computer. Do you have a special place for practice set aside in your home? Yes, my home office/studio, which is loaded with many choices of guitars and other goodies. How do you practice on the road or when you travel? The same as I do when I'm home. I also try to play and network with other musicians I meet throughout my travels. Is there a piece of gear you just can't live without? Yes, my Brian Moore i8p electric guitar! That guitar is sweet. Are there one or two core ideas that are central to your teaching that you make sure every student learns? I stress that the student practices along with the audio to a song or musical example. Then I encourage them to play with other musicians or start their own band. I feel this is truly "hands-on" experience. I also stress the importance of applying music theory to real life playing examples, instead of just writing it down on a piece of paper. Do you find yourself returning to listen to the artists who inspired you when you first started to play? Who are they? All the time! One of my first early influences was Van Halen. I remember listening to Eddie Van Halen in shock. When I first heard "Eruption" I knew I had my work cut out for me as a player. To this day, Van Halen is still one of my favorite bands. Some other artists that will always inspire me include Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream, just to name a few. Since I've matured physically as well as musically, I've exposed myself to other genres as well. I feel it's essential to explore the many wonderful aspects of music. Does your playing change when you switch instruments? Sure, playing a different guitar can provoke a different stylistic approach for me. When I pick up my Brian Moore i8p electric, I feel enticed to play more blues/rock material. When I pick up my Taylor 510CE acoustic, however, I feel more tempted to fingerpick. The best part is buying a new guitar to add to the collection. Getting a new guitar actually inspires me to play new ideas that are far different than before. As you might imagine, I have a lot of guitars. In fact, my wife says I should open my own guitar shop! How often, when you're playing, do you find those moments of pure music, when your head is clear, your fingers are working, there are no distractions, and it's just you and the music? Honestly, almost all the time. Playing music on my guitar is very therapeutic for me. I put myself into a world like no other - no errands to run, no phone calls to make, no sitting in busy traffic, and absolutely no stress. When I play guitar, I am at peace. I am able to put my body, mind and soul into both the technical and emotional aspects of making music. If everyone played a musical instrument, the world would be a more harmonious place. What are you listening to these days? Do you search out music that's new and unfamiliar to you? I enjoy listening to different styles of music as well as tunes from the different eras. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Dream Theater, since I enjoy their technical musicianship and complexity. I also listen to a lot of B.B. King, Wes Montgomery, Albert Lee (more recently) and classical, as well as a ton of other music - way too much to fit on this page! I learn about a lot of new bands and artists from my students. Besides that, I'm always searching online for new music to check out. I am grateful for the internet. Just a few clicks and you can discover a plethora of artists you've never listened to before. It's truly remarkable. Do you have a musical wish list - other instruments to learn, people to play with, artists or styles to explore? Lately, Yes, if there were more hours in a day, I'd want to learn the saxophone, trumpet, bass clarinet, drums, etc. You get the picture, right? If I had to pick one instrument to study in depth, however, it would probably be the harp. I first saw a harp at my aunt's wedding when I was 7 years old. I think my jaw dropped for about 5-10 seconds! The harp intrigued me, and I wanted to learn, but found out that harps cost a pretty penny. Back then, I only got an allowance of about 15 bucks a week, if I remember correctly, so the harp was way out of my price range. In fact, harps are still pricy for me. Did you know that I saw a harp online going for $179,000?! If I get a harp, I think I'll opt for the affordable one. By the way, I would love to play with guitarists such as B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and fellow WorkshopLive teacher Jody Fisher. Of course, I'd love to jam with additional well-known musicians, but the players I just mentioned respectfully remain at the top of my list. Speaking of Jody, I recently stumbled across a review I wrote years back for his "Rhythm Guitar Encyclopedia" - what a great book/CD pack. You've got to purchase a copy for yourself! Have you ever had a really great teacher? What made him/her so good? I've studied with many great teachers, each of which was unique in their own way. The most special of all was my first teacher, George. I thought he was the coolest guy on the planet. I remember taking lessons and asking him, "Hey, can I check out your guitar today?" Playing his guitar was extremely inspirational for me. I enjoyed working with George since he taught me the songs I wanted to play in a laid back, yet effective manner. How do you learn best? I learn best by practicing a little at a time. Once I have my parts/sections down, I put them all together. When you practice, you've got to think logically and in steps; it's just like building a house. When everything is together, I apply what I've learned to a jam track or original song, and focus on bringing the music to life. Do you have any practice tips we can share with our subscribers? Sure, I've got a dozen practice tips to live by: (1) Practice slowly, evenly, and accurately, then gradually increase speed. (2) Practice in an environment away from distractions. (3) Once you feel comfortable with what you're playing, turn on the music or jam track and play along. (4) Break up your practice time. For example, two half-hour sessions, compared to one straight hour session. (5) Spend time reviewing. (6) Record yourself playing and critique it. (7) Warm-up at the beginning of each practice. (8) Create and use a practicing schedule of things to practice/things practiced/time allotted. (9) Practice things in different keys. (10) Use your ears. (11) Play along with other musicians, the radio, and your favorite CDs. (12) Practice things repetitiously and as accurately as possible; perfect practice makes perfect. visit Eric at http://www.ejsguitar.com
Lakeside, CT 06758
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