My interview with Gary Hochstetter is a follow-up to my OpenNote’s Guitar Coaching course review. After having access to the course and being impressed with the overall quality of the course and coaching provided, I had a few questions I wanted to ask Gary.
Here’s what Gary add to say regarding how and why the course can work for all of Opennote’s students.
OpenNote seems to be revolutionary in its concept to teach beginner guitarists, what’s your thinking behind this method of teaching?
The thinking is very simple—provide the basic knowledge needed to allow a young or new player to grow into their style of playing. We don’t believe in bombarding the student with exercises and lessons that they may feel they have to do before they can start playing the guitar.
We try to paint a broad picture, giving them only what they need to get started. We believe that this lets them feel the music, discover it, and then as they grow, maybe they’ll think ” Hey, you know what, I would like to do this”, and then they can come back and dive further into it.
With formal instruction, it could be months before you’re playing a song. They want you to learn notes, read music, and know time signatures and counting before playing. That’s all boring—especially today when everything is about instant gratification.
Some of the best guitar players of all time couldn’t read music. Hendrix was known for using colors to describe how he wanted something to sound. He would say, “Make it sound purple”, not, ” Let’s go to the Phrygian mode over a 3/4 time signature here”.
Play guitar your way seems to be the motto, so considering all the other online guitar courses, do you believe you have everything included in the course to allow beginners to develop their own playing style going forward without needing to look elsewhere?
Absolutely. Our Foundations course offers instruction on rhythm playing, soloing, and even songwriting. Some other sites charge separately for all of those topics, or they are subscription-based services.
Included in the price of the Foundations course is access to our collection of practice materials, which includes over 2,000 Chord Charts, over 500 Scale Diagrams, an ever-growing collection of Jam and Drum Tracks, and an online metronome.
And if users have questions or get stuck, they can email their instructor directly with any questions. We believe that this is everything an aspiring player needs to get started.
What’s the thinking behind the low $34.95 price tag, why set such a low entry cost to take the OpenNote course?
The current price represents a 50% reduction from our original price, which was a recent effort to try to boost interest. That being said, we don’t believe it’s fair to charge someone for content that they may have no interest in.
For example, not everyone wants to know how to play death metal, so why should they have to pay a monthly subscription that includes covering the cost of the new death metal lesson instructor for the month?
We also feel that the price tag of our Foundations course is in line with our philosophy of letting the player discover their sound and style of playing. We’re saying it’s on you, not on us, which, in reality, it is. You could pay $20,000 a day to Eddie Van Halen for guitar lessons, but if you don’t practice, then you’re not going to be able to play.
I always go back to the old-school guitar greats. So many of them learned by just listening and playing along for hours on end. Eddie Van Halen himself has said he thinks guitar lessons aren’t needed! Honestly, we agree—at least in the traditional sense.
You do, however, need to study, experiment, and practice, it’s extremely helpful to have a reliable, unbiased resource to acquire the information to do so. We view ourselves as the one-stop-shop reference and instruction manual that jump-starts your musical journey and gives you a “home base” to come back to while you’re growing as a player.
Rather than pay for a few books here and a few lessons there, you can pay one low price for all the answers!
What’s the future plan for OpenNote, can students expect more courses to come, may be dedicated genre styles of playing?
We have genre-specific lessons planned, as well as further advanced courses. Our advanced courses are going to cover more in-depth techniques and the minutia of playing.
The advanced courses are going to be like shortcuts to playing. They won’t include anything that can’t be discovered on your own or that we’re withholding—just something that if the player wants to focus on, we will offer.
What’s the one biggest benefit, beginner guitar players will get if they signup for the OpenNote courses?
Clear instruction. A lot of musical instruction is overwhelming and/or hard to understand for someone first getting into it. We remove the stuffiness of the musical language and present everything in a way that gets the student playing immediately.
What type of guitar is needed to get the best out of OpenNote, Acoustic, Electric or both?
It does not matter. Some people believe that you have to start on an acoustic, but that’s just because the association with learning on an acoustic is that you learn the fundamentals first before trying to play a face-melting solo.
The one thing with an acoustic guitar that can be viewed as both a deterrent and a positive, depending on how you look at it, is that it is a little tougher to play than an electric. The strings and neck on an acoustic are thicker making it tougher to push down on.
I know a lot of people who say that’s why they stopped playing—they couldn’t push down on the strings. It could be good in the sense that when you switch to an electric, it will be easier, but it’s a negative in that it may be too tough starting and the player just gives up.
Both acoustic and electric guitars have advantages and disadvantages for a new player, but, ultimately, you can start on either, as long as you’re willing to keep practicing and playing until you master the fundamentals.
Any advice for those who believe, if they take acoustic guitar lessons, they will also need more lessons if they want to play electric guitar?
It just depends on what those particular acoustic guitar lessons focus on. If the lessons focused strictly on playing folk, bluegrass, classical, etc., then, yes, you would need some lessons on scales and solo playing.
With our Fundamentals course, you can learn all of that on an acoustic guitar. Sure, a pull-off on an acoustic guitar doesn’t have the same sound and resonance as it does on an electric, but you can still learn the technique.
What type of guitar is best for a beginner to learn on?
Again, it doesn’t matter, in our opinion. That being said, we recommend using a thicker gauge string on electrics, and a lighter gauge string on acoustics. The thicker gauge on electrics makes it a little tougher on your fingertips, which helps to harden the skin on your fingertips and strengthen them more quickly.
A lighter gauge on the acoustics makes it a little easier on the fingers for those who are brand new to playing.
A word from the course reviewer.
OpenNote is an awesome course for beginners and intermediates who are struggling with learning their guitar chords. I highly recommend it to anyone learning guitar.