The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music Skill

 

Ready to uncover the essential steps to master any musical skill? Dive into the world of guitar mastery with our latest episode featuring the exceptional Erich Andreas AKA YourGuitarSage, a luminary in the realm of online guitar teaching. Join host Bree Noble as she unravels the captivating journey of Erich, from his early fascination with music to becoming a successful entrepreneur in the digital age. Discover the secrets behind Erich’s YouTube triumph and the evolution of his teaching philosophy, rooted in efficiency and the relentless pursuit of improvement. The conversation transcends mere chords and strums, exploring the delicate balance between art and business, the impact of marketing in the music industry, and the diverse paths to success. With insights into Taylor Swift’s journey and a deep dive into Erich’s “Unstoppable Guitar System,” this episode is not just for music enthusiasts; it’s a masterclass in the art and business of guitar playing. Tune in and let the harmonious notes of wisdom and inspiration guide your musical journey!

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The Key To Master Any Musical Skill With Erich Andreas AKA YourGuitarSage

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the show. My name is Bree Noble. I am so happy to be here with Erich Andreas from Your Guitar Sage. I love these conversations because I am not a guitarist, so I can learn a lot from Erich and the world of guitarists. We’re all going to talk about musicians, business, careers online, and all of that great stuff.

Erich’s Origin Story

Erich has made such an amazing career online. It says that he’s had 150 million views on YouTube and over 700,000 people in his courses. That is insane. I can’t even imagine. His courses started in 2006. That is a long time to be building up those numbers. We’ll get into all that but let’s start with your orange origin story. How did you get started? Are you someone who loves to play the guitar and started making videos doing it? How did how did that all turn into what it is now?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been obsessed with music as a little kid. I’ve got an eight-year-old boy now. I could think back to his agent earlier when my family would be playing classical music, Elvis, operas, some classic rock, and what have you. I remember sitting by the speakers trying to get inside of what it was that I was hearing, trying to understand it more, conceptualize it from a young age, and being moved by music so much. It wasn’t until I was about fourteen years old that I started getting serious about playing guitar.

I had an opportunity before where I had a guitar and it didn’t happen at that moment earlier. Maybe when I was about ten, and then at fourteen, I had another opportunity. It was to get karate lessons or to get guitar lessons. I said, “I love this guitar,” and started getting into it. That was at fourteen, and by sixteen, I was so obsessed with the instrument that I was teaching my buddies in high school. We had my little set of buddies that played guitar. Shortly after, I was so obsessed with it that I was teaching them. I then went to music college. A few years later, I moved to Nashville. A few years after that, I became a Music Business major.

I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit. In my family, everybody is an entrepreneur. Everybody owns their own business, and lots of friends and family members also own their own businesses. For me, it made sense when I was making that transition from being in college and going into the professional world, wearing the tie and doing the things that you’re like, “Why am I doing this?” All the while I was teaching and eventually, I said, “I’m not having fun doing this other corporate thing.” I’m good at sales and did banking, real estate, and a bunch of stuff, but doing that for eight hours a day was never satisfying. There was a bit of it that was satisfying. I try to find joy in everything that I do.

In 2006 when YouTube became a thing, I would have all my one-on-one students, which I had many at that time, dozens. I worked my work my way up into about 70 lessons a week. I was trying to calculate it last night. It was that was madness. It was like fourteen a day and I loved it. It was great. It was good money. I loved working with folks and seeing them the next week, and them improving and everything. I love that, and then what I did without thinking about any sort of growth, I was like, “I’m teaching this Taylor Swift tune for the ninth time this week,” because it’s obviously on the radio.

I would say, “I’m going to make a video for this, I uploaded it to YouTube. My students can watch and I can help them. I didn’t think anything of it, and then in a short time, I started getting a lot of views. It got to a point where I was getting 50,000 to 60,000 views a day on these few videos that I put up, and then my entrepreneurial years started clicking. I said, ” Let me go ahead and start doing this. Let this be a thing.”

It wasn’t a year or two into it before I started thinking about monetizing or thinking about how I could make this thing bigger. I know some people look down at the thought of monetizing anything, which is comical because I always say, “Let me know where you work and I’m going to come get some free stuff.” When it comes to art or anything, for some reason, people have this thought that it should be free. There are costs to make things. What I did was I took every bit of knowledge that I had that I could pack into a little ebook, and I started selling this ebook. I put a little URL at the bottom of my videos and started to get sales. It was crazy.

Once I had the first one, I knew that I could sell a million of them. I’m a tech geek a little bit. I remember specifically setting up a registering sound on my phone, or maybe it was on my computer, but whenever it came in, that’s the sound my computer would make. It was on all day and I get the regular email and then I’d hear that sound. That started happening more and more and I had to turn that off. I was like, “This is a good problem to have.”

For years, that’s all I did. I uploaded songs to YouTube and I have this little $10 ebook that I sold. That was enough to pay for lots of things and pay for my family, bills, and everything else. In 2012. I decided to ramp it up and create a full curriculum. We’re over 1,000 lessons now. That’s not including another 1,800 lessons on YouTube, other courses in different places, partnerships, and what have you. It’s grown into this thing now where I have all these courses and I haven’t you know employees. It’s wild what it’s become. That’s how it got it got started. Since I had no intention of doing this in the beginning, where it’s going to go, I don’t have an idea. I would like it to grow and reach more people and do all those things to do so.

Your story reminds me so much of Pat Flynn. Are you familiar with Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income? It’s the same thing. He wasn’t thinking about selling it first and then he was afraid to sell, so he put up this little thing that wasn’t that much money. He then sold one and was like, “This is an actual thing.” I think he set up that sound too. That’s what reminded me of it. It’s so motivating.

You have to do something to motivate you. For the longest time, I didn’t have any notifications like that. Eight months ago or so, I decided to get notifications again on my phone every time I got a sale. I’m glad that I have. Number one, it’s motivating. It also helps me to understand what’s happening with my business. I know when there’s a low. I know when we’re doing a promotion because many things are systematized now with my team.

The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music Skill

Master Music Skill: You have to do something to motivate you for the longest time.

 

A lot of times, I’ll forget what it is that we’re doing a promotion because we have such a pipeline. I’ll create the emails, the course, and the sales videos that go along with that. They ask me for the assets for the pieces, and then it goes into the pipeline. I’ll be like, “That particular course is doing good. We’re going to promo this.”

It’s like when you first start out, you’re doing it all yourself. You’re so immersed in it and you’re writing an email and sending it immediately, and then you see the results. You then get to the point where you’re writing your emails three weeks before the promo, and as you said, you don’t even realize that it’s happening because you’re on to something else.

That’s a weird feeling. I remember doing everything, like editing. I built my own website. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t do, publishing books and creating the PDF. They were so janky and pieced together Even before that, I remember creating an HTML web page. I don’t know what it was. It might have been raw HTML. It was basically like a cord catalog for guitar chords. I sold it for I think $10. I made these little CDs. I was burning CDs at home and selling them on eBay. I sold a ton of those. I might have made $100 a day on that back in the day. You get a taste of like, “This could be something, especially if I started getting professional about it.”

We were talking before the call about as an artist, there’s this wrestling that goes on in your mind that I got into this because of art or because it’s something that I loved, and then now we’re monetizing it. It’s that balancing act of keeping the love for the music. My daughter is going through it right now. She’s living in New York City. She’s an artist. My wife is a professional songwriter in Nashville. We tried to get her on the train of working for these record companies and you could do this on the side. She’s like, “I don’t have anything to do with that. That’s not being sincere.”

She thought that was being a sellout. I’m like, “It’s not being a sellout because you’re working for those people, but you have the connections and everything.” Now she’s working in New York as a barista. She’s doing her music. She’s a phenomenal writer and musician. She’s doing great things, but for eight hours out of the day, she’s frustrated because she’s doing nothing towards her music.

There’s that constant balancing act of I have to make money unless you have someone who’s going to pay for everything. You have to be an artist because this is why you got into it, but as we grow up and we get bills, then we have to face that thing as well. It’s been a balancing act. I still try to do that because, in a business that I have online, there’s an infinite amount of things you could do, an infinite amount of work you could do, an infinite amount of promotion and emails, and everything.

The more channels you could be on.

It’s everything, more partnerships and just all. I try to make it as natural as possible. It’s easy for me to say that now on this side of it, but for someone just starting off, you don’t know what those things are. You have to try everything. In a short time, if you’re hustling, you start realizing, “This thing is paying off. I’m spending a lot of time with this thing and it’s not working. Let’s free up some time.” I love and I’m obsessed with efficiency. That’s another thing of mine, which is why I teach guitar. I like to get people from here to there as quickly and as effectively as possible.

That requires some thinking, some hacking, some taking stuff out that people fear over when you take that out. You’re not getting the full picture and it’s like, “It didn’t work like that.” You can put it but put it at the end. Pareto’s Rule, 20% of the right stuff yields 80% of what you’re looking for. Right now, it’s the same thing. The business has changed so much. What I do has changed so much over the years. At the same time, the thing that hasn’t changed is everything constantly changes. You keep up with it and work with the variables.

20% of the right stuff yields 80% of what it is you're looking for. Share on X

I love Pareto’s Rule. There’s an exercise that I have my students do at the end of the year where they look through all the things. A lot of it is about their marketing channels and their income sources. I’m looking at all the things that they do and saying, “How much time do I spend on this? What am I yielding out of it? How much do I like it? How much do I feel confident in doing that I could grow it?” Giving that number values, and then looking at that going, “Is there any point in continuing with this thing? This thing is frustrating me and it’s only yielding this much. Whereas this other thing, I feel confident in and it’s yielding a lot better results.”

Sometimes we don’t look at that because we just go, go, go, I need to be here, I need to be there. Everybody says I need to be everywhere and all that. I think you showed that to us. You focused on YouTube and you lucked out. You were very early on YouTube, which does help. I was very early to podcasting, so I can say, “I have these shows on new and noteworthy. They were number one in this category.” I could never be number one now because I’m too late to the game. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes it’s about what you’re good at. I kept podcasting because I was good at it and it was yielding good results.

It seems like a very logical thing to do, but it’s not. Teaching guitar is the same way. There’s so much that seems very logical. What I’ve learned is you have to throw that away because it’s not, and people don’t think that way. Your job is to guide them and to not be like, “Come on. This is obvious.” They don’t need that. They need someone to say, “The stuff that you’re doing is yielding results.” You go, ”That’s a good idea,” and then you do it and you’re like, “I’m doing all these things that aren’t yielding results. Let’s get rid of that stuff.” I think people are afraid of the void, “What am I going to do with them?” Trust me, you leave that void there. The universe is going to bring something that’s going to replace that time with something bigger and better.

Artists And The Entrepreneurial Spirit

We were talking before we started about artists and the entrepreneurial spirit and that thing. If an artist doesn’t naturally have the entrepreneurial spirit as you did or have all those examples in your life, which you were very lucky that you did, do you think that they can still make it as a musician? What do they need to learn or what experience do they need to get to be able to build up that entrepreneurial side? We do have to run our own business, especially at the start.

I thought about this one a lot. I feel like if you have zero marketing skills and zero entrepreneurial skills, then whatever it is that you do, you better be the best. Especially in 2024, no one is going to give you a second thought. All the “I think I’m the best” and all of the stuff our mom says to us, which I’m not discounting, but our friends and family are going to be nicer. You start having a following, people are always showing up to your shows or whatever, and they’re obsessed with you. It’s such a rare thing. It’s not rare that it could happen. It can happen to anybody but not without lots of hard work and dedication.

If you’re not going to be that person who does any sort of marketing, then you better be so insanely good at whatever it is that you do. Someone is going to see you and go, “Dear Lord. What is that person playing in this venue? How can we capitalize on it?” At the end of the day, someone is going to want to capitalize on you. Someone is going to want to make money. If you don’t want that, then that’s okay too. You cannot pay bills and be a 100% artist. That exists out there. There’s a cool thing about that.

When you see these street musicians, they’re the best of the best. They’re not going to go anywhere other than playing in that street. They’re probably making some decent money at that point anyhow. You see the opposite too. You take somebody like Taylor Swift. When she started off, she was not a very good singer. I think most people who know a good voice would say that. She doesn’t have a good voice, but she is a good songwriter. Now she’s become this insane songwriter. Our family is humming her songs all the time. She’s so good. She’s also amazing at marketing and everything else. That’s a perfect example of somebody who did the most with what she had.

She clearly loves it and she’s so prolific. How can she be coming out with another freaking album?

It’s insane. She keeps cranking them out. It’s pretty remarkable, her live shows and everything. There are so many other things that go along with that. My wife wrote with Taylor before she hit it big. Back in the day, you had to make choices with who it is that you’re writing with. Are you going to write with that person again? She wrote with Taylor and at some point, somebody in the mix probably made some sort of decision like, “That writer isn’t going to happen again” You don’t know always know. You learn as you go along.

The point that I was trying to make with that latter part was that you can take mediocrity. Not that Taylor is mediocre, but her voice at that time was. She’s insane. She’s a superstar now, but you can take mediocrity and market it well, and do better than a person of much more talent who’s not marketing themselves at all. To me, there has to be some sort of thing where what you do is heard in mass amounts or seen in front of a huge crowd. If you can only be one or two people, how long does that take to convert the world to being a believer or a massive fan by doing one or two people a day? There has to be some way that you can get it in front of a lot of people.

I agree. I think about the street musicians. They’re incredible. If the right person comes along and sees them and wants to take them on as a project, then that might happen for them. They might not be in the right place to build an audience and take off as an artist.

Probably not. They probably have some degree of knowing how good they are. They’re doing it for 8 to 10 hours a day and they’re getting the crowds. There’s a certain qualm that you know as a musician or as an artist. You can see it in any bands or artists when they are hitting it big. You could see it in their eyes. They’re obsessed. They’re possessed by greatness and they know it. They have that swagger and what have you. Those street musicians know they are great, but there’s a reason why they are usually playing on the streets. They’re pretty happy with where they’re at. They don’t want to compromise. They’re fearful of growth or any combination of things in there. There’s nothing wrong with that. That could be a beautiful life of not getting involved in the machine.

Maybe they don’t want to be a personality. They want to be known as a musician. They don’t have to be brand.

I knew one of these guys. He became a buddy of mine. His name is Ben Peg and he’s this amazing guitar player in Key West. That’s where I saw him the first time. He played in other places, but he’s exactly that. It’s a beautiful life to be that too. There are many different ways to be happy.

The Pull Of YourGuitarSage

Since you’re a guitar teacher, let’s talk a little bit about guitar. I don’t play guitar, but I have one in the back here. I messed around it a little bit. I understand how the guitar works. I can understand how to figure out what chords are because I understand music theory and that kind of thing, and I love the guitar but I’m more of a pianist. Tons of people that I work with are guitarists because a lot of them are singer-songwriters. It is an easy instrument to start on. Are there any particular things that you do as a guitar teacher that make you different? There are plenty of other guitar teachers online as well. What do you think is it that draws so many people to your videos?

I’m such a hacker because I like to disassemble things. I’m one of those people that is dissatisfied with, “This is how we do it.” I always like to know why is it that we’re doing it that way. If I know why or if I understand the theory of why we’re doing a particular thing, then it will forever be with me. Not only that but understanding how it works will get my gears thinking in different directions that I could improve on whatever it is that we’re doing, as opposed to being told, “This is why we do it.”

If you understand the theory as to why you’re doing a particular thing, then it will forever be with you. Share on X

I think it’s because of that natural spirit within me. Also, I love seeing improvement in the world, in people, or beings. I love all the positive emotions of joy, happiness, gratitude, and everything else. I love to be able to have someone have a question, and then maybe with some doubt or whatever, I say, “Here’s the path. It happened 100% of the time for every one of my students who listened to what it is that I’m about to tell you. Do this and you’ll get there.”

It’s to be able to break things down in a palatable way that allows a student to feel that progress, to feel good about what it is that they’re doing, to cut out all the stuff that isn’t good or that isn’t the stuff they need to be learning now. They could learn it possibly. We’ll put it at the end, but right now, these are the things that you got to do. That’s so important.

Curating and putting things in an order that’s impenetrable if you will, or unstoppable, which is the name of my guitar system, the Unstoppable Guitar System. There’s a reason for that. I wanted this to be something that people have this germination of like, “I want to play guitar. I want to be a musician.” That’s very real. It’s like a seed, which I’ve recently gotten into gardening big time, if it’s not cultured correctly, then it’s not going to do anything. A seed has the potential to be a huge plant or a tree that can produce an insane amount of food, but if that germ is not treated correctly, especially in the beginning, then it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s going to wither.

Someone who’s learning the guitar doesn’t know that. That’s like asking a seed what it needs. What do you need to flourish? No response. New guitar players are not going to know that. New guitar players are looking for guidance. They are looking for that moving forward. Having taken lots of guitar lessons growing up and working with so many dogmatic mindsets and what have you, I realized that there are plenty of teachers out there, then there are not plenty of great teachers out there. There are plenty of teachers but not plenty that are obsessed with their students’ progress.

I’ve always been obsessed with my students’ progress if they’re showing that they’re meaningful and that they want to do this and do the work and everything. I wouldn’t have time for folks who think they’re born with it or something, which there is plenty of that. I had plenty of parents that would bring their star kids to me and what have you. I didn’t like working with them because they thought everything was going to be easy. Maybe they’ve been singing since they were three and they’re good at it, but they don’t realize that they’ve been practicing for ten years here.

For me, being able to break things down, pull people through the process, and be as encouraging as I am. That’s the magic sauce if you will and what I teach. Whether it’s guitar, tennis, vocal lessons, piano, or anything, it’s not like there’s anything new. It’s not like people are coming up with new stuff to learn. It’s all the same stuff for thousands of years or however long the instruments have been around. It’s the way that you do it. That’s the differentiating factor. The way that I teach is very different from a lot of other folks out there.

Barriers To Learning How To Play Guitar

What are some of those barriers? As I said, I can play some chords and say I am a guitar player. For me, some of the barriers are not being able to change chords quickly enough or not being able to play an F very well. I can’t play and see, but being limited by the keys I can play in and stuff. What are some of those things that people struggle with that you help them get over that hump?

There are specific things like exactly what you’re talking about there, like understanding how to strum and what that means to be in time with your strum. That’s one of the big ones. Transitioning from one chord to the next, the F chord, the bar chords in general. I did a huge blog on that. Those are the things, but to back up even a step further, it would be the difference between the way I teach and a lot of what other guitar teachers teach. Those who have been around students for a long enough time know that there are three things that are definitively on the forefront of a beginner’s guitar player’s hit list of what they’re frustrated with.

If we go beyond that, we say the reason that the guitar is in your corner all the time and they’re not being picked up is because it’s not exciting enough. It’s not moving forward enough. If every time you pick that thing up, it brings you joy and excitement, then you’re going to grab it. It’s like something we do. It’s like eating a particular thing that we like. That process can be broken down into steps that are not only doable but you can see the progress. A lot of times, people take these broad strokes and they say, “I can’t play the F chord.” I’ve heard that ten million times. Because it’s a real thing, it’s the one chord that you got to fit into stuff.

The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music Skill

Master Music Skill: The reason that the guitar is in your corner all the time and not being picked up is that it’s not exciting enough. It’s not moving forward enough.

 

If you’re playing the open position, you’re like, “That chord keeps coming up,” or a B-minor chord, which is the same shape. You run into those two chords sometimes and decide to skip this song. “I’m not a bar-chord type of person. I’m an open-chord type of person.” Let’s break that down. You’re not a bar-chord person because you don’t know the steps to do it. “I’ve tried it a hundred times. I can’t do it.” Let’s do this. The way I would approach that is I’d say let’s take that bar chord which is six notes and let’s practice the two notes that are on the bottom, the first two strings.

We practice that and they say, “I want to play a bar chord.” I’m like, “We’re playing a bar chord, but watch,” and then we do the next two strings, and then the next two strings. If they had issues with holding any two strings at a time, then we know that that’s the area that they need to look at. What people do is they say, “I’m not going to do bar chords.” There’s a specific something about that bar chord. It’s probably the same thing that everybody has an issue with, but there’s a specific thing about that bar chord.

You may be able to play 3, 4, or 5 notes of that bar chord, but let’s figure out the specific thing that’s your Achilles heel or the chink in your armor that’s keeping you from completing that bar chord. Once you can play an F bar chord, I’m going to show you 96 more chords that you could play just because you could physically play that chord. Until you can physically play that chord, these 96 other chords aren’t available to you.

That’s the way I’ve approached bar chords for years with my students. Let’s not worry about six notes. Let’s worry about two notes. Once they get the two notes down, we get the three-note versions of these chords. We don’t go onto the four-note versions until we get the three-note versions down. I’m going to play this F chord with the bigger goal of if I can play that F chord, Erich is going to give me or I’m going to give me 96 new chords that I’m going to be able to play jazz tunes and all sorts of stuff with bar chords.

That’s a lot for someone to understand that concept unless we’re sitting down, we have the time to do it, they’re asking the right questions, they believe it, and they apply it, then we see progress. There are a few there’s a few obstacles there. At the end of the day, it’s always about breaking stuff down. I’m the same way with piano. I’m equally frustrated sometimes with piano. I have the same mindset on piano that I do on guitar. It’s like, “Wait a minute, break it down.” I’m sitting there trying to play Moonlight Sonata and I’m not getting it.

I’m like, “Let’s focus on that left hand. Let’s get those arpeggios down. Now let’s now let’s do it without looking. Let’s do it on the field. Now let’s work on the melody. What is the melody?” I’m working out the melody and I’m doing all this stuff together, and then I’ll break it down to now I got both hands. Let’s do one measure. One measure would be easy enough, but breaking it down into pieces where there’s like cookie, cookie, cookie, reward, reward, reward because that is what keeps us motivated to continue to do that.

That is the number one thing to me. My students aren’t having fun, and I have plenty of guitar teachers who not only didn’t want to be teaching. I’d come in with questions and stuff and they’re like, “That’s easy. It’s an arpeggio.” We weren’t learning what it was that they were excited about that week. You’re like, “I’m so glad I have the tenacity to keep going,” because with so many students that I had, if I had done that to them, they would have been out of there. They would have said. “I’m not cut out for guitar.” I can’t tell you how many of those students said, “My guitar teacher said I would never play guitar, my last guitar teaching online.” “Give me that guy’s phone number. I’ll kick his ass.”

I don’t understand any teacher telling someone, “You won’t be able to do this.” How is that going to do anything?

It’s untrue and it’s lazy. I’ve told them this, “What that teacher meant is ‘I can’t teach you.’” That’s what he should say.

“You’re paying me for a job I can’t do.”

“I don’t want to” means “I can’t.”

Being a teacher is a different thing than just being able to play.

In Nashville, there are plenty of great session players that I would hang with and what have you. I try to get them to teach anything or to understand, “Let’s make a course. You could do well at this.” They don’t get the concept. They are stuck in paradigms.

They try to teach someone and they’re like, “Just do this. Just do it.” They don’t know how to break it down.

They’re skipping 1 to 17 steps instead of breaking it down slowly.

It’s hard to remember what it was like to be the person who didn’t know how to do it. How did I get here? That does take some work to go back and be like, “First, I did this and then I did that.”

I did not add that earlier. When you asked about what makes my teaching different, that’s one of the things that have always been able to tap into like, “I remember this,” and I go back to it, ‘When I do this, what did I do?” Sometimes I’ll take the guitar and I’ll flip it over. I was a lefty and I’ll do stuff. I have all the technical knowledge and I’ll do it. It takes longer for me to do it, but I think, “That’s difficult.” I try to finger-pick. I can do it but it’s slow going. I know all the techniques. Remembering how you got there is a great thing for a teacher to have.

The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music Skill

Master Music Skill: Remembering how we got there is definitely a great thing for a teacher to have.

 

It’s like riding a bike. You can’t remember how to not ride a bike. If you get on a bike, you’re not going to not balance all of a sudden. Your instincts will kick in and you’ll balance so you don’t fall over. It’s it’s like with voice. You haven’t figured out how to blend your head voice and your chest voice. I struggle with this for six months. I remember going through this and my voice sounded awful, like super breathy and stuff because I didn’t know how to blend them. Now I could never go back and make that sound again because I know how to blend them.

I might struggle if haven’t practiced or whatever, but I’ll never make that sound I did before when I hadn’t learned to blend them, to begin with, because you can’t go back. It’s interesting talking through these things and realizing how we got where we are, and how much it does take to bring people along from beginner to intermediate to advanced.

The Value Of Repetition

I’m constantly telling my students, “You have a conscious brain and you have a subconscious brain or unconscious or however you want to look at it.” Essentially, your conscious brain can do one thing at a time. Your subconscious can do an infinite amount of things at a time. That is why you can have a unicyclist juggling on a tightrope and he’s doing all these things at once. He didn’t learn that all at once. You said, “I’m going to try this. I’m going to get up there. I couldn’t do one of those things, but you get one thing down to the next consciously. That goes into your subconscious. Now, you can focus on the next thing and it goes into your subconscious. It’s like that with anything. It’s like that with mixing your chest and head voice. It’s that way with playing bar chords or anything that we’re good at.

I always try to remind people because I know there are listeners out there going, “That’s not always true.” It is 100% always true and I’ll challenge them to this. There’s nothing other than basic bodily functions like crying, sleeping, pooping, and what have you that we’ve done naturally since we were babies. Every other thing, everything, from crawling to turning over on our bellies to walking to driving a car to typing, every single thing was learned.

Every single thing was a challenge in the beginning. It always is. Let’s get used to every new thing. If I started taking Mandarin today, I would suck, and yet there are four-year-olds speaking great Mandarin. Is it because I’m dumb? No, it’s because I haven’t practiced it. I haven’t spent enough time marinating in the concepts. The same thing is true. That’s something that I’d go toe to toe with anybody and win that one. I know that to be true because there’s nothing that we don’t learn through repetition.

There's nothing that we don't learn through repetition. Share on X

Very true. My first child was the type who if she couldn’t do it perfectly the first time, she wasn’t going to do it. I’m like, “How are you ever going to learn anything?” This is how she was with piano. I was like, “I cannot teach her. I will kill her. We will kill each other.”

That’s my boy. He has perfect pitch and he does other things very quickly, and then he sits down and plays piano with one finger, two fingers now. How old is your daughter now?

Twenty, almost twenty-one.

Did she work out of that? I’m interested to know.

She did but it couldn’t be me teaching her. We had to find the right teacher for her who could understand her perfectionist language. She had to grow out of that too. This is when she was four. She started to become aware that she did this and this was a problem. She was never going to grow until she got over that. It’s not an issue now.

That’s good to know.

Singing And Playing Guitar

We have a lot of singers that are watching and listening. Maybe they want to play the guitar so they can write songs or they want to perform. A lot of singers that I work with are frustrated that they don’t have instrumental skills. It limits them from being able to perform because they want to perform a track, and then they have to find a guitarist or whatever, and they’re not always available.

I’m assuming there are separate skills or special skills that you learn to play and sing at the same time. Is that something that you have to learn? You first learn to play the guitar and then you learn to play it and sing. That’s how I did with the piano and I struggled with being able to play and sing, even though I could play great and I could sing great. Is this anything that you teach or other people that focus on that?

I definitely teach that. It’s going back to what we were talking about there. You sang when you were a little kid. Many singers, I’d say even more so with females and males, were singing at young ages. They don’t remember a time not singing like a bird. You learn some techniques later on once somebody helps you identify the placement, what’s happening with vowels, and all the rest. They start playing guitar or piano. They’re unable to do both at the same time. The reason for that is that they have to consciously think so much about that particular thing that their subconscious has to bail out too.

If a child was of an age where they could talk but hadn’t ridden a bike yet. That’s my son. He can talk but can’t ride a bike yet The first time you put them on a bike without the training wheel and then you push them, they’re not going to be very conversational. Literally, 110% of their brain is going to be trying to keep them from falling to the ground. In that case, just like the juggling unicyclists on a tightrope that I talk about all the time in my lessons, what that person needs to do is not focus on singing while they’re playing guitar. They need to get that as part of their subconscious.

The only way to do that is through repetition, but there’s a path that gets them there quicker. Just like with voice, you can sit there and sing all the time. You’re going to learn stuff, but there is a path and the path is going to get you there quicker. By them learning those essentials and getting those out of the way like learning the basics of strumming, learning the basics of chord formation. I have a course on this called Singing and Playing Guitar. It literally addresses that one thing. It’s a small course, but essentially, what I do is take it from the standpoint that they’re trying to do both, but how do we get into that position of singing and playing at the same time?

What I say is like anything, you strip it down. If they’re singing a song and there’s a strum and changing chords, then what I say is let’s simplify it. How can we simplify it? We can take the strum out. We’re not doing this fancy rhythmic strum. Let’s take the strum out for a minute because that’s probably going to throw you a lot off from the rhythmic structure of your vocal line, then I say, “Let’s make that vocal line easier too.”

If you don’t remember having these lyrics memorized. Let’s take the lyric thing out of it and each one of these things. You got a melody. You got a lyric. You got the rhythm of the melody. You got let’s say the melody of the melody. You got the lyrics. You got the rhythm of the melody, inflection, and all that other stuff. With guitar, you have the chords, when to change from one chord to what chord, how to set up the fingering, how to strum, my staying in time, and now you have the conflicting rhythms. It can seem impossible, but I can say 100% of the time, it’s never impossible. It’s just difficult. Our brain will flip sometimes to impossible because that gets us out of having to do that thing. If you’re obsessed enough, that’s not an option.

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To give you the short of it, what I’ll do is I’ll say, “Let’s take the first two lines,” and what I want you to do is strum diamonds. Whole notes, the chords are changing, to strum and sing your line. If you can’t, then something else needs to take something else away. Maybe take the lyrics away and hum it. It doesn’t have to be a full voice. You’re strumming on those on those down strokes. The more you could strip away and then you start feeling it, once you can do that, then you go, “Let’s do some quarter notes.” Now we’re strumming quarter notes, and now maybe we’re introducing a lyric. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what things you’re adding or taking away. What matters is it’s doable, it’s fun, and you can feel the progress.

If it’s not any one of those, then it means you have to take something away, or it’s too simple. You might be hitting diamonds. That’s what we call it in Nashville. We call diamonds the whole notes. You’re hitting whole notes and you’re humming the first melody line, no lyrics, and you’re looping it. That’s a great way to do it. Loop it over and over again, but that can become boring and this is going to be challenging. What we want to do is we want to get right in the center of not too easy and not so challenging that we’re getting frustrated.

It’s right on what I call the edge and riding that like a wave. That’s how you do it. Another thing to know and it’s very helpful to understand that there is no musician who hasn’t struggled with that. You look at somebody like Sting. That guy is a wiz at doing this right. He’s playing all these crazy baselines or Paul McCartney. It’s almost like a separate person because it is. He’s baked both of those things into two separate subconscious people that when they come together, create what we hear.

Anybody that plays bass or drums and sings, you are an incredible musician. I don’t know how you’re doing that. It all became subconscious to them.

It’s all repetition. You’ll know when it happens because then you’ll sing the part while you’re playing and you’re like, “I did it.” You’ll say maybe that was a mistake and it wasn’t a mistake. You may not be able to replicate it the second time, but the third or fourth time you will, and then eventually, it becomes more consistent. The more you do it, the more consistent it’ll be. That is one thing that there’s no escaping. It is that repetition and that consistency.

The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music Skill

Master Music Skill: The more you do it, the more consistent it’ll be.

 

I’ve talked about this on the podcast before about how I learned how to play and sing at the same time, which was a huge struggle for me. I got an epiphany as you were talking. The way I started is I played with a band. I played the keyboard with a band and I felt comfortable doing that. I thought it was because it wasn’t all on me. If I had to drop out the song, it would still go on. I thought that was why, but I think it’s because I didn’t have to keep the rhythm of the keyboard while also singing.

As you said, I could play diamonds and there was a drummer and there was a guitar player, and it didn’t matter that I did that, but then when I was going solo because I couldn’t bring my band with me because they all have day jobs and I had to focus and learn and spend an hour a day being able to do this. That was when I had to add the rhythm back in on the piano, and that was what was hard. Because I think I had that time in the band where I was playing, but I wasn’t solely in charge of the rhythm, that had brought me a little way closer to being successful.

Taking the process of what you’re talking about and even putting more of a microscope on it, I can tell you, 40 years into playing in bands and everything else now, the band that I’m in now is called Gabriel the Bull. Our singer comes up with some great parts and vocal lines. I’m playing these intricate guitar parts and then he’s throwing an intricate vocal line over the top and I’ve got to learn it. What I’ll do is I’ll find myself going, maybe 75% of it, I’ll be able to get right off the cuff, but then there’s always those notes or whatever that I’m having difficulty with.

It’s good to understand that it’s not because we’re stupid. It’s because there’s something about that little structure, that little area that’s problematic. Maybe the beat is pushing, but you’re singing on the beat. There’s some syncopation. There’s something happening there that you have to unravel. The only way that you can unravel it is if we’re talking a four-measure section, take one measure. Take that one measure and let’s talk about one beat at a time. Where’s the mistake happening?

Not only that. You might have to slow it down and go, “I do this all the time.” I’m tapping with my foot and I’m hitting that down strum on the four, but the vocal line is coming in on the and a four. That’s why I’m messing that up. What I’ll do is I’ll do these real exaggerated movements. Maybe for the four, I go down with my head, and then for the vocal line, I might lean forward to the end or something. I’ll always have some sort of visual or some sort of physical thing happening. You notice some of the best musicians are swaying. They’re into it because when you do that you become part of what it is that you’re doing,

There’s vibration and everything else. It’s so helpful. I was recording tracks this morning. I was not in the groove as I wanted to be. I started tapping my foot and getting it and feeling it, closing my eyes, and I got the track that I wanted. Sometimes we’re thinking too much with the conscious part of our brain. It’s helpful for things like unraveling or what have you, but then once we have it down, we need to let it go and let it get into the subconscious. If I’m thinking too much in my conscious brain about anything, especially the guitar, that’s when I’ll make a mistake.

The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music Skill

Master Music Skill: If you’re thinking too much in your conscious brain about anything, especially guitar, that’s when you’ll make a mistake.

 

Reach Out To Erich

This has been so helpful for anybody who plays an instrument or is learning to play an instrument, whether it’s a guitar or not, and learning to play and sing. I love how you’ve given us an example of how you break things down in this conversation. It makes me want to go and take one of your courses and start playing that guitar again over there. Thank you so much. This has been awesome. I’m assuming that the best place for people to find you is on YouTube.

You can find me there. I have so many free courses, free resources, and blogs. These aren’t regular blogs. These are videos and details, and a lot of times, PDFs or downloadable things. On my website, I have lots of free courses for folks to get into that will help them with a lot of these things, the strumming, transitioning chords, and a lot of those chords that after teaching over 10,000 one-on-one lessons, these are the things that people run into every now and then.

You give somebody a small victory and they’re ready to go further. That’s what’s great about free resources like that. You get them over this hump and they’re like, “I’m all in with you. You help me with this thing.” What is your website where they can find all that?

It’s Your Guitar Sage. That was a moniker that I came up with.

Why did you come up with that?

I’m teaching guitar. That was when iPhones were coming out. I’m like, “You’re a guitar sage.” I didn’t want to be your guitar teacher. Spirituality and metaphysics, I’m all that stuff too. I was like, “That’s fun too.” YourGuitarSage.com, if they go to the front page there, they’re going to see a lot of different paths that they can go for whatever else there.

That is great. Thank you so much. This has been such a fun conversation. I have enjoyed talking about the intricacies of learning how to master something, which I think has been interesting and hopefully, inspires people who have been listening and watching. If any of these things you’ve come across and you’ve gotten stuck, as he said, there’s no way that you can’t get over that if you put in the time.

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

 

Important Links

 

About Erich Andreas

The Profitable Musician | Erich Andreas | Master Music SkillErich Andreas AKA YourGuitarSage(online) is passionate about creating amazing guitar players! Since 2006, guitar students have have watched his videos over 150 million times! He has over 700,000 happily enrolled students in his courses to date and has the largest and most successful single guitar lessons course in the world (based on student count: over 260k students and reviews).