“Instead of giving students scales or Mary Had a Little Lamb, teach them Highway to Hell!”: John 5 on the mistake guitar tutors make with beginners

“Inspiration is key to having fun when learning an instrument.”

John 5

Image: Daniel Knighton / Getty Images

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Practice makes perfect, but how do you get more practice down? Well, make it “fun”, says Mötley Crüe axeman John 5.

The guitarist speaks in a new issue of Guitar Player magazine, where he points out a common mistake a lot of guitar tutors apparently make when teaching beginners.

“It’s so important to make practice an enjoyable pursuit, especially when you’re just starting out,” John 5 begins. “Inspiration is key to having fun when learning an instrument.”

“If you’re a guitar teacher, instead of giving students some scales or Mary Had a Little Lamb right off the bat, try to find out what they like. Maybe there’s a student who’s wearing an AC/DC shirt. Perfect! Teach him Highway to Hell and watch his eyes light up.”

“He’ll be so excited that he’ll never want to put the instrument down again.”

The musician also details how his own guitar-learning journey differs from the average player because of his obsession with the instrument, saying: “I’m kind of different from a lot of players, because I was just so obsessed with the guitar when I was starting out – and still am.”

“I wanted to learn my lessons completely. Whatever was put in front of me, I wanted to have it down 100 percent. I sort of treated going to each lesson like I was going to play a concert. That’s how I felt about it, and it was so much fun for me.”

He continues: “Whatever helps you stay engaged and able to enjoy practising, go for it. Nowadays there’s so much content available – it’s on Instagram and YouTube – so you can just scroll around and find stuff to inspire you.”

As far as having fun with the guitar goes, John 5 previously spoke about how he once chipped a tooth while trying to play like Jimi Hendrix.

“Everything I heard, I learned,” he said on The Howard Stern Show. “I just learned every AC/DC riff, anything I heard on the radio.”

The rocker then recalled watching Hendrix play, saying: “He was playing with his teeth. And I was like, ‘Well, I know how to [perform The Star-Spangled Banner]!’ And so I did this [plays] – and I chipped my tooth and my mom was so mad at me…”

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