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Lunch with a Jazz Guitar Legend: Dave Stryker

Jazz Guitar with Dave Stryker is coming to ArtistWorks! Sign up for lessons with Dave here. We sat down with our newest online faculty member to discuss Jazz Guitar, teaching online, and his hopes for ArtistWorks students.

Q: The ArtistWorks Jazz Guitar School with Dave Stryker is about to launch! When were you first introduced to guitar?

When I was a kid! My older sister was a big fan of the Beatles, and she would play her guitar to their songs all day. I was inspired by her, so I decided to take lessons myself.

Q: What was it like to take lessons for the first time?

I distinctly remember trying to learn the basics, reading through a Beatles book (of course). There was an amazing moment when I could move my hands between the chords for the first time. I was on my way!

Q: Those first learning moments are what keep us going as musicians! Where did you go next with your music?

I started a band. I was 12 years old, and we played parties and different gigs around town. By High School, I realized I was getting pretty good. I started listening to different music influences, and started to improvise.

Q: Is that when you were first introduced to Jazz Guitar?

The first time I interacted with Jazz Guitar was actually at my student union in college! I went to a guitar jam event, and they told me to stop playing rock licks. From then on, I was hooked on George Benson and John Coltrane -- I taught myself to play Jazz from their records.

Q: Where did your career go from there?

I just kept playing and performing (it’s so important). I was playing gigs and meeting people all over. Some of those people ended up helping me make my career what it is now.

Q: Sounds like you learned by doing, as opposed to attending traditional education?

I didn’t go the music school route - I was busy playing in LA, and NYC. I learned a lot doing that. I just kept getting gigs through my connections, like my friends Jack Duff and Stanley Beckford (Stanley and The Turbines).

Q: When did you take your career to the next level, and make a record?

While I was still building my name, I couldn’t get signed in the US. Surprisingly, a Japanese label picked up my first record. I then went on to a European label.  

Q: It seems like these days, teaching is important to you -- when did that passion first begin?

Years ago, I was asked to teach at a summer workshop. I enjoyed the experience so much, I started teaching privately. Whenever my students would come in, I would write tabs and lessons for them. All those lessons added up, so I eventually published a Jazz Guitar book.

Q: Is your only teaching experience private lessons?

No, once my book came out, I had the opportunity to teach at some colleges. I currently instruct at two universities. I try to teach what I learned from great musicians, and help players find their own creative voice.

Q: How do you make Jazz Guitar easy to learn?

I break it down. Once I can explain each part of something, students can see that it isn’t as complicated as it seems.

Q: How does ArtistWorks differ from all the other ways you’ve interacted with students?

It’s a great monetary deal, that’s for sure. You get unlimited lessons for as little as 23 bucks a month. Besides that, the Video Exchange puts ArtistWorks students at a unique advantage.

Q: What’s the biggest difference with Video Exchange Learning?

Students focus on one subject or idea at a time, and it’s a great way to learn. We’re able to have a personal interaction, where they send me a video of what they’re working on, and I send them a video response telling them how to improve.

Q: What advice would you give a player interested in Jazz Guitar?

Music is an endless journey! There is always more to learn. Listen to great music, and transcribe it. You’ll see improvements when you put in the work.

Q: What advice would you give your ArtistWorks students?

Stick with it and be consistent! Make time every day for your instrument. Have goals, and have something you’re working towards. It’s important to stay self disciplined.

Q: What does it mean for you to teach the ArtistWorks Jazz Guitar School?

It’s a lifelong dream! I’ve put all my ideas and teaching in one place. It feels like a way to immortalize years of playing, and paying dues, and working my way to where I am now. There are hundreds of lessons, all the way from basics to advanced. I feel great about it.

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