Steve Vai Gives A Free Guitar Lesson Live

"The guitar is the greatest instrument in the world." This is the proclamation Steve Vai gives as he opens up a live streaming free guitar lesson at Berklee School of Music. In an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world's largest online guitar lesson, Vai and Berklee hosted the free webinar in March.

And I have to agree with him!

I don't know of any other instrument that is capable of as much expression and emotion as the guitar. With the range of notes and tones available, not to mention the accessibility of these ranges, no other instrument compares. Of course, I say this with complete bias!

Anyway, for those of you that didn't have the opportunity of seeing the webcast live, here's the recorded video for your viewing pleasure:

To give you a brief recap of all that's in store for you in the video, I've put together some of my thoughts and observations.

The most important point I came away with from the lesson is that you must start with a goal - what is it that you want to accomplish with guitar? Even if you've never picked up a guitar in your life, determine what it is you want do and then do it. Go out and get yourself a guitar that feels comfortable and sounds right to you. Have a goal and take action.

Steve Vai gives a point saying that you need to know what you want (your goal) and feel good about it. Music is an endeavor of personal expression, and you don't need to worry about anyone else's perception of your music. Most of us worry about criticism and ridicule, but you need to be true to yourself and play what feels and sounds good to you. "Identify what you're going to do best and what excites you."

And don't criticize others for their choice of music. It might not be your style, but it works for them. This is just another form of competition. The only person you should be competing with is yourself. Improve your style and expand what you're good at.

Another important concept is that when you practice and work on a technique, you need to start slowly and play it clearly and perfectly at slow speeds. This is easier said than done. We see all these artists that can play guitar at high speed and want to play like that, but we're seeing the end result of years of practice. Every one of them started at the same place, picking up a guitar for the first time.

"The great thing about playing is, the more you do it, the better you get, and you get exponentially better in the beginning… Unfortunately, it gets harder to get better as you get better, but the better it gets, the better it gets." - Steve Vai

Some other important concepts Steve Vai gives that are discussed throughout the lesson:

  • Guitar tuning.
  • Chords - get a chord chart and learn every basic chord there is over a couple days.
  • Playing to the rhythm versus "locking into a groove".
  • Music Meditation - focus on something entirely while you do it. Keep your mind focused on the skill or technique you're practicing.
  • Soloing and exercises to improve fingering skills.
  • Scales - you'll get incredible traction out of the Pentatonic Blues Scale.
  • Intonation - making sure the note your finger lands on is the right note tonally.
  • String Stretching, or bends.
  • Vibrato and different methods to create it.

In addition to trying to break a world's record (it was confirmed he accomplished it - this lesson was put on to promote a new course Steve Vai gives at Berklee School of Music, appropriately called Steve Vai Guitar Techniques. This online course offers exclusive access to Steve's style and technique - an opportunity to learn that would be very difficult for anyone to take advantage of under normal circumstances. Berklee, with its online college, has really made this iconic guitar maestro available to the masses.

Because Steve has been a longtime endorsee of Ibanez Guitars, in conjunction with Berklee and the promotion of the online course, there are additional free video guitar lessons Steve Vai gives here.