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Learning Guitar in Oklahoma City - Getting Started:

Nathan Kress

So you've decided to learn to play the guitar. Well you're in luck if you live in or around Oklahoma City because we have had some of the best guitar players in the world come out of this city. If you take private lessons online then you don't even have to be from here, you can do them from your computer or phone. Did you know that the electric guitar was actually invented in Oklahoma by a man named Les Paul? I play a Les Paul Studio and I highly recommend them for lead guitar players.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Nathan Kress and I am a musician, singer-songwriter, and producer based out of OKC. I have played in many different bands and outfits over the past 14 years who played many different styles and genres of music. Everything from Indie, Folk, Rock, to Blues, Funk, Southern Rock, and even a little Jazz back in the day. When I'm free to teach, I mostly teach guitar lessons, rhythm guitar and lead guitar. I also teach some songwriting lessons, vocal lessons, and beginning piano lessons. I have recorded each professionally, toured the U.S. and played in several other countries. I am proud to say that I had a Grammy Winning Producer, Trent Bell (from the Chainsaw Kittens), who produced and engineered my first solo EP titled, "Nathan Kress - It's Not Enough", at Bell Labs in Norman Oklahoma.

The first thing I always ask a student on their initial lesson is, "what kind of a musician (or guitar player, or singer, or songwriter) do you want to be?" I can tell that most haven't even considered this question until I ask them so I usually follow that up by asking them what they listen to most and whether that is something that they can see themselves playing eventually. The reason I do this is because I don't want to waste too much of their time making them learn my favorite styles, and probably most importantly, I want them to start to think about what their 'end goals' are in taking and getting the most out of their music lessons.

It is important to make attainable goals and always be working at getting better every day. Don't look at the end result (or a professional) and say, "I'll never be that good." No one starts out as an amazing musician. You are where you are, but as long as you are practicing and working on improving your weak areas, then you will slowly start to get better and moving up toward your end goals. I'm not going to lie and say it is going to be easy, nothing that's worth it ever is, but when you are getting started I think it is just as important to keep things fun so you don't lose interest or give up because you're not getting good overnight. One thing I will do to keep it fun is to break down parts of a student's favorite songs or artists and show them how to improvise something or play a very basic part with them, depending on where they are at. This keeps it fun in between learning music theory, scales, and techniques.

So if you live in OKC you are in luck because there is a ton of really good guitar players here who can show you the ropes. The Kings of Leon have a member or two from Oklahoma, The Flaming Lips are from and still live right here in OKC, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Vince Gill, and Toby Keith are all from suburbs of OKC. I'm pretty sure these guys are probably too busy to give lessons these days so I would recommend finding local bands or acts that you like and asking them if they do music lessons. There are plenty of festivals and events around you can find them at like, The Plaza District Festival, the first Friday Artwalk in The Paseo District, H&8th in Midtown, The Norman Music Festival, the Twilight Concert Series at the Botanical Gardens, practically anywhere in Bricktown or on Western Avenue on the weekends, etc.

Look into your potential instructor's credentials, what they have played, how long they played, who they played with, what they have done, and make sure it is in line with what you are trying to do. Have they ever played and recorded professionally or are they more of an educational type instructor? If you're trying to play straight up old school rock, or looking to end up being a touring, professional musician yourself, then I wouldn't recommend the latter. Things have changed considerably in the music world in the last 20 years and do more so every day, so the closer to recently an instructor has their experience in the better. Otherwise, you might get stuck playing Smoke on the Water or Chopsticks for hours on end and never learning the skills needed to make the kind of music you actually want to make.

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