I Teach Guitar to Teenagers. And This Is What They Tell Me About New Music…

Posted this weekend by a guitar instructor in the article, ‘Technology Didn’t Kill the Music Industry. The Fans Did…

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33 Responses

  1. Jeff Robinson

    Totally believable.

    Teen girls have always been the ‘Cume’ draw for Top 40/Pop Radio.

    Boys have always wanted to play because of riffs. The only riffs you hear on radio are because of Rock, Active Rock, Classic Rock formats. Typically, a ‘male’ demographic.

    No news here.

  2. Bambam

    I would have thought it obvious that teenage boys playing guitars would want to emulate a guitar hero of old, when you’re learning technique you tend to hone in on the masters of the craft which in this case would be the most flamboyant players with the big solos and big hair. the issue is that’s not fashionable anymore, and those interested in ‘songs’ and ‘culture’ and not just taking the stage to play a big riff or a big solo would be interested in more current music. Hence why art school has always produced more bands than music school. The truth is, musos aren’t interested in culture for the most part, they’re interested in their instrument. It has always been the case. I’m speaking generally but it’s the same reason lots of bass players love funk and singers love singing soul, because they get the spotlight and they get to show off. Guitar show offs are not in fashion right now . Simple

    • Faza (TCM)

      Except it wasn’t like this before. Back when I was learning guitar – early 90-ies – people mostly played (or tried to, anyway) the stuff that was big at the moment: Metallica’s Black Album material, GnR’s Use Your Illusion Stuff (with a smattering of Appetite, maybe), Nirvana, Soundgarden and all that jazz. A person who made a study of older material (from the 70-ies, say) was actually a bit of an outsider.

      The last contemporary guitar hero I’ve noted when I taught guitar, years later, was Jack White. I get that guitar music isn’t “in” these days, but there’s not even much in the way of alternative genre’s hitting the public consciousness. To give a well-known example: Lars Ulrich founded Metallica based on his love of obscure British underground acts and not only did he manage to infect his bandmates with the music – he actually managed to give some of them (Diamond Head, especially) global recognition. Right now, the “obscure” material is stuff that was topping the charts 20-30 years ago.

      We may have reached a musical “end of history”.

  3. jw

    What seems to be in vogue is the folk thing & the electronic thing right now. You don’t really need lessons to play folk music, & no one’s offering EDM lessons, afaik. There are enough tutorials on youtube, et al to get anyone started.

    I don’t think the issue is that dudes in general don’t listen to new bands, they just don’t sign up for guitar lessons because there’s not a particular demand or interest in that sort of specific proficiency.

    But in truth there are riffs all over country radio. Modern country has much more in common with ’80s rock than ’80s country. It just doesn’t have a youth appeal above the mason dixon. (Though that’s changing as the “country” continues to get washed out of country music.)

  4. There is+something...

    I’d say that in Heavy Metal, no band today can match bands form the 70-80 area, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica… So I can understand where those boys come from. I went to a local music school concert last week. It was AC/DC and Metallica all the way for youg boys. Adele for girls.

  5. old fart

    Young people need to be encouraged to find their own style. Sometimes that means struggling for a long time. If your just imitating Hendrix you’ll never be taken seriously.

  6. claudiamarie

    That is the reason why I wrote “Critical Tips for Talented Teens & Young Adults entering the Entertainment Industries”. The music industries as well as the modeling and acting industries all not based on 100% talent. Not even 80% talent (period)

  7. Serge

    The problem with the music industry is teenage girls, and the proof is the anecdotal evidence of one guitar teacher? Brilliant insight.

  8. Dupage Guitar Lessons

    Well, I’ve been teaching guitar for almost 25 years. I currently have a 30 students of all ages both male and female. I agree with some of this teacher’s assessment. My 14 student is playing Crazy Train, The Trooper and other “difficult” rock metal tunes and SHE is playing the solos too. So, don’t assume what my fellow teacher said is true across the board. It is a fact that most guitar students play the music of their parents. Guitar Hero also added a bump to interest in classic rock. It seems to be tapering a bit.

  9. Paul Lanning

    Kids who want to play rock n roll don’t go for lessons. They play along with the recordings they like, then just go to it.

    • The Dude

      I agree to a degree with Paul here. I’m 21 and attending music school and growing up in the 2000s I only saw a select group of people who played guitar wanting to play older stuff. They were mainly the kids who didn’t start bands but thought guitar was “cool” and wanted to play covers all day long in their rooms or at high school talent shows. The kids that actually started bands were into both new and old stuff – with an emphasis on newer bands – a lot of modern metal acts, punk, alternative, etc. If you’re teaching the sort of kids that just listen to what’s on the radio (including classic rock stations) then obviously that’s what they’re going to want to play. Sometimes guitar teachers will teach older material because it’s what they know or what might be best for learning certain chords, scales, or solos.

      The fact of the matter is there are a lot of bands that are more about writing good songs than guitar songs (not that they can’t be the same thing) but if you look through their catalogue there are a lot of cool solos. All that being said, just because some songs don’t have solos doesn’t mean they don’t have cool guitar riffs and parts throughout the song.

      People who say there are no new rock bands that are any good are just too lazy to look further than their radio or television set.

  10. cranky old complainer

    “man, music today just succccks”

    your parents.

    C’mon Paul this is a non story. This used to be digital music news. Now it’s just the old cranky bastard complaints forum.

  11. cranky old+complainer

    I can go to the lunch room section of any guitar center in america to hear wannabes complain about how much music today sucks and how teenage girls are ruining music. if this were 1965 you’d all be complaining about the Beatles. this site blows now. used to be worthwhile.

  12. cranky old complainer

    the schadenfreude buzz i get from watching you all complain about everything is the only thing that brings me back.

    this reminds me of a sound guy i knew who played in an aerosmith tribute band – he bitched about every “shitty” band that came through his shitty little small town midwestern club. apparently he thought dressing up in leather pants at 50 and growing out his thinning, perm hair was more legit.

    well, i loved that cranky old bastard, but 10 years later old he’s still in the same shitty club, complaining about the some new “shitty” bands. that’s your destiny, people.

    bitter, angry, helpless fools sit around re-imaging the past as it never was and grasping for something nowhere within reach. a misguided worldview dooms them to a life of resentment and negativity.

    yeah man, music today sucks. everything was better back in the day.

  13. axgrindr

    Hi Cranky Old Complainer
    The guitar teacher in question was simply commenting what his students were requesting he teach them. You seem to think the guitar teacher was forcibly making these kids learn old Black Sabbath and AC/DC songs.
    I think what he had to say is pretty interesting and relevant, not sure why you have to bring your 60 year old, back woods, leather clad loser into the conversation. What does he have to with anything?
    Stop coming back for your schadenfreude buzz if you don’t like it.

  14. cranky old complainer

    his article was entitled “Technology Didn’t Kill the Music Industry. The Fans Did…’

    if this were 1965, they’d be complaining about how rock and roll was ruining music. you are the reactionaries, the people who complain that everything was better back in the day, even though it never really was.

    i see no value in his commentary, whatsoever, especially on a site that used to be contain useful content about the state of the future of music. as far as digital music news goes, things WERE better back in the day.

  15. cranky old+complainer

    rock and roll has become the tea party party of the music business.

  16. stephen craig aristei

    You are singing to the choir here! However, I don’t think that the old is necessarily “better”, but the “fans” are simply bored ! Other than the “cute” factor, which is why music sales in the “Radio Disney” crowd couldn’t be better….and the “niche” area (great looking tenors singing classical arias), music is boring and the fans are bored……Technology had nothing to do with it other that distract people in the music industry who would rather pontificated about the ills “tech” has brought to the industry they neither have ever understood, nor do any of them have the ability to know and recognize talent, let alone how to develop and build it !

  17. Gauzhn

    I don’t think that one guitar instructor’s small window of student opinions means anything. I go see plenty of new bands and the clubs are packed with young people. First Aid Kit, Phosphorescent, The Black Lips, etc. They may be playing in clubs but they are large clubs and they are selling out the place. Look at the growing vinyl craze and the types of bands that are selling. Yes, lots of classic albums on the charts but lots of new stuff as well (Antlers, Boris, Sam Smith, Parquet Courts). Young musicians are typically drawn to the legends. It was that way with me and my friends when we were teens in the early 80s. Old news and doesn’t mean anything about the state of the music industry.

  18. CD

    It’s been going on a long time and not just men and women — David Bromberg (Bod Dylan, Dr John etc etc) the musician/sideman and all round wonderful character tells a true story of getting bumped from the Johnny Carson Tonight Show when he had a hit record and the producers saw him and decided he looked to “ethnic” for the show … My favorite quote of all time on the subject comes from Steve Lukathur (Toto) — I did a show with him in Holland at a big festival with hundreds of thousands of fans and he came off stage and said, “God, I sure hope I played good because man am I ugly.” cracked me up!

  19. Anonymous

    Eff that. Former teenage girl here. I learned all Indigo Girls, Bob Dylan, and Ani Difranco as a teen. There are idiots everywhere, and also non-idiots.

  20. callum wegener

    I’ve had teenage girls asking for metallica and the eagles, because their dads played it and they liked it. This is not 100% true, it depends on the person.

  21. TonsoTunez

    The most successful ‘music’ over the last 35 years – hip hop and rap – requires non of the following to attributes to participate: the ability to sing, the ability to play a musical instrument, the ability to write music. Once you’ve mastered the word, “fuck” you are at stardom’s door. Need a guitar solo for some strange reason … sample it!

  22. anon

    How about this-maybe the bands of “yore” had musicians who actually went to school and more importantly, learned there instrument by practicing for many hours on a daily basis, instead of twiddling knobs on disposable technology devices. Having said that, without physical product, the music industry is f—-d.

  23. anon

    Today’s pop music is worse for many reasons, not the least of which is a greater number of musicians who don’t think that spending long hours practicing with their instrument is the only way to master it.

  24. Tony

    For the last hundred years, money people have mostly determined the course of popular music, be it dance bands, R&B, Rock and Roll, Disco, Hip Hop, whatever. Part of this has been in reaction to actual popular development of new sounds, of course, but nothing has remained untouched by commerce (Bop, being difficult listening for non-musicians, came closest). As the situation changed to where teenagers were the primary consumers of music, it became possible for people in expensive suits to sell crap more easily than before. Mind you, there was always bad popular music, it’s just that now it seems to be the generic tracks, illiterate lyrics and melismatic but unevocative voices dominate. There is good and intelligent stuff being written, played and recorded, but you mostly will not find it on the charts or the media outlets.

  25. declan

    Simon Cowell (and the power he has been allowed to hold, then spread as a modern plague within the media) must be blamed for much of the teen-favoured dross pumped out as so-called new music. However, it is both interesting and heartening to note that the late Emily Remler, via YouTube no less, has inspired a good number of youngsters to learn guitar, one of whom became a credible and respected British singer/songwriter/musician, gaining success too. You know who she is, I bet…. If not, here’s a clue: initials of her name are LLH. We have to live in hope, uh?

  26. Robert Jarvis

    I’m a guitar teacher too,done it for 26 years, i love electronica and have a moog voyager all rigged up with the foogers plus shed loads of pedals,other synths etc,,, thats not to say guitar isn’t my first love,I’ve played rock and classical for over well since 1978 and taught all sorts of ages and levels.Every body is different and no matter how good the teacher as a player,i think the best thing a teacher can do is treat every one as a total individual,inspire them and then just do your damnedest to get the very best out of that student. Some I’ve taught at first I’ve thought will never do anything whereas surprisingly, these very students can become near virtuoso. Others come to me and show off without listening to a word i have to say,fair enough they are pretty good, but thats about it, they don’t improve because they are a tad blinkered.
    Any ways, i would like to say that yes in the last 3 years or so, guitar has wained in popularity,also the world recession has not helped either,but i’m still making a living even though probably half the income i earned 5 years ago and i’m optimistic, i think it is showing gradual signs of coming back into the limelight.There has always been manufactured bands and Cowell is obviously a good money maker but i certainly don’t watch his shows because it doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I’d rather listen to Joe Satriani,Anoushka Shankar or Vangelis, but lets not blame electronic music for the decline of the electric guitar either ,check out Infected Mushroom,they are great musicians and even sometimes have a talented guitarist in their trancey electronica style shows.
    I think it will be back again with a vengeance so lets be optimistic,and last thing is ,good music for sure will always be here whatever the idiom.