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"Tom, outstanding guitar playing for only being 18 years old. You've got a bright future ahead of you!" - Derryl Gabel 

“Incredible playing and sophistication. Tom is the one to watch for the future of Fusion Guitar” - Tom Quayle

“Teen Guitar God” - Total Guitar Magazine

These are some of the comments levelled at this young Northerner who never fails to impress with his guitar skills.

5 years after he picked up a guitar, at the tender age of 14, a video of an unaccompanied solo he performed at his school was featured in the “Best of YouTube” section in Total Guitar Magazine praising his playing.

I was curious to find out more about him.

 

 

 

 

 

After having tried his hand at several musical styles, he found himself more and more inspired by players such as Guthrie Govan, Alex Hutchings and Tom Quayle and from then on he decided he would focus his time on learning more about Jazz and fusion as the styles intrigued him greatly and this is still the main focus of his playing today.

 

Tom, why do you play guitar?

I’ve always had an interest in guitar playing since I was very young and since picking up the guitar for the first time, that interest has continued to grow. Throughout the years I’ve always set my sights on aiming to be like my favourite players while also developing my own style,which has given me motivation to improve and continue playing. Now I’m at the point where I would love to make a living out of guitar playing some way or other. My liking for Jazz and Fusion has also sparked a newfound interest in guitar playing as before I felt I was getting a bit jaded with my playing style whereas now I want to learn as much as possible about these styles and there’sa lot to work on!

 

You are one of the few young, very talented guitar players, who are quickly rising to prominence. The Internet seems to have helped a lot with that?

Over the past year or so I’ve tried to make use of the Internet more as not only is it a great way to promote yourself with all the dedicated guitar and music websites, there is also a worldwide community of guitar players so it’s great for networking with like-minded people. I find YouTube to be good for that and it’s definitely a site I use a lot. I always try to upload videos regularly and the Subscriber count and Insight section is something that can be used to check your progress easily. Also Laurie Monk does a great job with his blog (truthinshredding.com) and has helped me, and many others, to get more recognition. Through using the Internet you can reach an audience that you otherwise wouldn’t know about and many players will probably agree that it’s a valuable tool!

 

It definitely puts you in the public eye? Does such exposure help your motivation to better yourself as a musician?

Yeah, definitely, knowing that people are watching you and noticing your playing is nice to know and it feels like all the practice is beginning to be more worthwhile. Since being a beginner, one of my aspirations was to get somewhere playing guitar and being in the pubic eye is a big part of that. After seeing people’s feedback to my playing, I find that it inspires me to continue improving to see what things I can accomplish. There are also a lot of great players out there, not necessarily just famous and well-known players but underground ones too - the standard of playing is very high so you’ve got to be able to cut it to stand a chance at getting noticed, so that’s another motivating way to keep bettering myself.

 

How much of your skill do you owe to your talent and how much is due to hard work?

I think some people are naturally more creative than others, with more of a natural feel for the instrument, which allows them to pick things up quicker. In the long run, I find there is no substitute for good, structured practice. Right now I’m working on learning to play over changes, which involves playing continuous scale exercises over a non-diatonic progression. It’s a very long process and needs a lot of time and effort but the results are worthwhile in the end. When it comes to things like that, hard work is the only option if you want to get good at it. I think the level of motivation, enthusiasm and interest in guitar playing are all things that contribute towards talent rather than a “special” skill that not everyone may possess. I find these traits have affected my overall skill level as these determine things like how I spend my practice time and how much I practice for, which in turn contributes towards a higher skill level.

 

You display high degree of musical maturity which is constantly recognized in all the competitions that you take part in. What or who do you have to thank for that?

Since my interest in Fusion began, as well as helping me to develop my technique it has also helped me with other things such as phrasing, dynamics, control and feel. These are the things that I sometimes overlooked in the past but in recent years I’ve released they are important as they all help to give a player their signature sound as well as being the signs of a well seasoned player.

One of my biggest inspirations at the moment is Tom Quayle, an amazing Fusion player and he seems to have an endless knowledge about Jazz and Fusion. His lessons are really good and have allowed me to become more sophisticated with my own playing. I think that a good knowledge of theory compliments technique really well.

 

You couldn’t have picked a better player to inspire you. You once said that a good teacher can speed up someone’s development. Where you referring to your own experience? Who taught you to play?

When I was first learning, my Dad was able to teach me enough to get me going and I also used quite a few books to learn new things. When I was about 14 I took up lessons with a local jazz/blues guitarist, as while my technique was developing fine, I didn’t really have a good theoretical understanding of music. I started with learning about basic theory, such as intervals in chords and scales, and after a while I realised that most things could be related back to the basic major scale theory, so knowing this made it a lot easier to learn about more advanced ideas. I also studied for my Grade 8 with the same teacher and learnt a lot of chords, scales and arpeggios and how to apply them among other things and this has been especially useful when learning about Fusion. For the past few years, I haven’t had a formal 1 to 1 teacher but I’ve been using a variety of resources to learn including the Internet, books and magazines. It’s entirely possible to learn by yourself as some of the best players are self taught but I think more often than not, a good teacher can save you a lot of time while making sure you don’t pick up any bad habits, especially in the first few years of playing.

 

You will continue to study music. How are your extra-curriculum activities received by your tutors? Do they encourage you or do they think you better spend that time studying?

I’m lucky enough to be studying on a music course and while there is a large academic side to the learning, there is still a lot of time for playing and practicing both course-related things as well as my own stuff. Thankfully my grades haven’t suffered so playing along side studying isn’t too much of a problem and has never caused any concern with tutors. I think if I was going to be studying a more traditional subject such as English or Maths I’d have a harder time trying to find enough practice time but studying music gives me an excuse to practice more!

 

Where do you see yourself musically in a few years time?

One of my plans is to release some kind of instrumental solo album in the future and I hope to keep developing as a player while building up a following. Eventually I hope to be able to get some kind of endorsement deals too, that would be really cool! I plan to continue teaching to more people, both in person and through Skype as well as the L4G marketplace, and to be a part of many varied musical projects, just as long as it involves playing guitar!

 

You have recently joined Live4guitar as a guitar instructor. What do you think of that particular concept of learning guitar?

It’s a great way to learn. You can choose the lesson topic and learn at your own pace. There is a lot of content included in the lessons too so even though you’re not sat in a room with the teacher, it’s still very easy to understand! When I think about older generations learning guitar, people in this age have it a lot easier. We can just play a backing track at the click of a button or loop a lick over and over so that we can transcribe it and the same goes for lessons. Previously other than having a personal teacher, you’d probably only be able to learn from books, maybe with a cassette or VHS, depending how many years back we go! Now it’s so much simpler. As well as this, it also offers opportunities for people like myself to become instructors and earn a bit of extra money!

Fusion Guitar Solo Lesson - available for purchase here:
http://marketplace.live4guitar.com/guitar-lesson/fusion-solo-creating-tension-and-release

 

Where do you see Live4guitar in a few years time?

I see live4guitar as being one of the go to places for great, affordable lessons with a bigger following and even more awesome content!

 

Check out Tom's guitar lessons: http://marketplace.live4guitar.com/guitar-instructor/TomRichardson9/guitar-lessons