Success Story: How A Busy High School Principal Learned Guitar on Five Minutes A Day

Out of respect for the student I am writing about, I have changed his name to Patrick.

One thing that blows a lot of people's minds is when I tell them they can learn on five minutes a day. As you'll see in this success story, my friend Patrick managed to do it despite having an excessively busy schedule.

Patrick is a rare breed of human. He is an avid outdoorsman, spending tons of time in Colorado. He shared a story once of how he climbed a major mountain in two or three days. He was obsessed with coaching basketball teams, and he loved traveling to Las Vegas. He is now retired, but when we were working together it wasn't at all uncommon for him to work 70 or 80 hour weeks. And yet, he wanted to learn to play guitar.

The first lesson, he told me he was auditioning two other guitar instructors and was going to pick the best one. I was delighted and gratified when he picked me! Here's what we did right off the bat: We worked on strumming. I showed him each of about 15 different strumming patterns that were easy to master. I purposely set them up this way so that the student's momentum can be built up. Then, we started playing songs. My favorite first song is undoubtedly Tugboat by Galaxie 500. When he learned that, he finally had what he was looking for: The first inking that he could play guitar and really enjoy it.

We worked on the chords next. Rather than teach him all the chords at once, we worked on only the ones we needed for the songs he wanted to play. And yes, there were a lot of them. He asked to learn how to play The Travelin Wilburies' End Of The Line. Easy! D, A, and G. Once he learned it, he was completely psyched. Mind you, I only gave him suggestions to practice that would take five minutes a day to practice. He got this song within three months, and this was after he learned Dead Flowers by The Rolling Stones and Last Kiss by Pearl Jam.

Patrick didn't stop there. He asked for Tom Petty song after Tom Petty song. I became really well-versed in Tom Petty! And whenever we tried to learn something new, all I did was smooth out the road and make sure that the practicing never exceeded five minutes a day. That is my solemn promise to all students: I will never ask for more than five minutes of practice each day.

Patrick has since moved onto other endeavors in life (retirement being one of them). We still keep in touch because it's fun to talk. I hope we get to hang out really soon because it's always a blast to hear what he's up to.

So, what do you want to do on guitar? What do you want to play?


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