Teachers Blog

HessFest 2015 - Day 4 (Part 2)

Day 4 of the Guitar Teacher Summit. This blog post is coming out the day after due to the fact that we were discussing well into the night and morning after.

The highlight of the event is the session on Dynamic Teaching. Tom Hess found new ways of teaching guitar students (or students of any other instrument) with 200% efficiency respect to all previous ways of teaching.

I know this sounds an exaggeration, but if you could see what I have in front of me right now you will realize that I am actually downplaying it. I've never seen anything similar before, and believe me, I studied quite a lot of pedagogy.

My students (in fact al the students at Edmonton Guitar Music School...) need to prepare themselves for a complete revolution of their lessons... we are going to make you progress FAST, make things incredibly easy, make you have more and more fun.

Man, I sound like an infomercial... :-) But it's all 100% true.


I see how in these blog posts I spent more time talking about WHAT we are doing, but WHO we are doing it with is even more important. So I want to spend a moment talking about the people here, ad the environment we are in.

We are spending 10h a day with 50+ people who are all dedicated to excellence in teaching. We are reviewing each other's practices, and we don't pull any punches. Despite appearances, 6 days of this is actually a pretty short time, so we are communicating in a very direct way. If anyone who is not accustomed to this community could hear any of our conversation, he would think we are all jerks being rude with one another.

The reality is that we REALLY REALLY care about each other. When we realize that one of us is doing things is a wrong or even just inefficient way, we make it a point to help that person. Given that there is very little time for us to be here together, we tend to dispense of some unnecessary niceties.

Well, I like it :-)

This means that I have no problem being chewed out in public (and this already happened to me a few times) as long as this helps me make the lessons better for my students. No compromises.

(now, I need to specify that not all people here get chewed out in public, only the ones who explicitly ask for feedback. Which I do every time)

Now it's time for the lessons of day 5 (in fact we already started), so I end this post here. See you later :-)

HessFest 2015 - Day 3

I am writing this post while we are having an unofficial round table with other attendees... It's 5 minutes before midnight and we are not going to stop anytime soon. More coffee for me... anyway:

Guitar Teacher Summit day 3. Things are getting hotter and hotter.

This means: we are sleeping less and less :-) As bad as this sound, we keep going on ahead only thanks to regular assumption of caffeinated, sugary beverages.

It also means: Tom Hess is now doing more regular pauses: once per hour rather than once every 2-3 hours. Which is really welcome :-)

It also also means: we are absolutely on fire. Tom Hess taught us a number of game changers. We actually had four YEAH! moments just today. While some are top secret and I can't share, there is one I can share.

Tom Hess gave us the ULTIMATE class system. My students know already that I run flexible class systems (that some other schools in Edmonton already tried to copy by sending spies... true story!). My advanced students in the Special Force program benefit already from an even more advanced class system.

Now, as good as these system we already use are, this new system is way, way, WAY more powerful and more beneficial FOR THE STUDENTS. Seriously, if you are one of my students and I could explain to you this format right now, then you would not be able to sleep tonight by how excited you are!

It will take some time to get this system in place (and it is not the first thing we are going to implement when we come back) but we ARE definitely going to make this work as soon as possible.

What I can tell you is this: if some music schools are running only private lessons, they should be guilty of music teaching malpractice, as all these class format work so much better than private classes (for the student and its progress).

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow. I'll see if I can get a picture or a video (no promises!)

HessFest 2015 - Day 2

Second day of the Guitar Teacher Summit.

Due to the fact that we stayed up late yesterday night to discuss about ethical aspect of Capitalism (yes, we do these kinds of discussions here..) and other things, this morning many of us are VERY tired.

Even Tom Hess showed up 20m late (and he's starting to lose his voice too... things that happened when you speak for 10h a day!), but none of us really complained :-)

Especially because after he arrived we proceeded at a, say, brisk rhythm (i.e. we got through the material REALLY fast, hang on your seats...)

A particular mention for the lunch, as I've seen Tom Hess do something he never did before (or any of us thought capable of doing): he ordered a salad. A salad. I'm still shocked.

(no, seriously, a salad...)

In the afternoon we finish the "preliminary" part of the material, and Tom Hess leads us through one specific strategy for teaching students. I am completely blown away at the depth of it: it's years that I teach and think at how to make things better for my students, and not ony I did not thought that far, I didn't even realized it was possible to think that far!

The specific strategy is on how to train guitar players for speed. Students in the Special Force Guitar Program: remind me to tell you everything about the 7 types of speed. This strategy is so powerful I can barely contain myself.

But the real value of all this is also in the process: by showing us how he thinks, Tom Hess opened the doors for us to think in new ways about many other things in teaching. Wow. Just wow.

After a satisfying dinner and another Master Mind session, I just head to bed: I'm way too tired after this long day to get more conversations.

(but still... a salad?)

HessFest 2015 - Day 1

First day of the Guitar Teacher Summit, where Tom Hess will teach us how to make our student incredible musicians :-)

Now, most of the actual sessions are ultra top secret. First of all, we don't want to spoil the surprises to our students ;-) Second we are actually sworn to secrecy (we are not signing with blood, but that's only becasue of sanitary reasons...) because some of the strategies we are taught here are absolutely devastatingly powerful.

But I can still share SOMETHING, so...

After the registration process (that we spent mosty greeting all the old friends) we started the sessions. Tom Hess as usual "forgets" to give us some rest at the end of every hour the sessions run 2-3h long (argh...)

A great session was the Master Mind that we did at the end of the day. This essentially consisted in discussing specific elements of teaching with the other attendants and have them finding all the problems (and relative solutions) of the element under discussion. Like having a board of other teachers rewieving what you do in detail and helping you doing it better.

Stay connected for the chronicle of tomorrow, it already looks like an amazing day...

HessFest 2015 - Day 0 (traveling...)

(niiice, the blog did not save my first post. Let me rewrite it...)

Like every year I'm going for a couple of weeks in Chicago to see Grand Master Tom Hess at the events he organizes. This time my wife Eva is going to be with me for the first week, that is dedicated to music teachers. Imagine: 6 days, 10h a day of classes on how to teach music: that's how hardcore I like it! :-)

The trip was quite uneventful, except for the end. First, due to a mishap with the taxi company, they sent us two cars rather than a van. They assured us that the price would have been the same. Except that then we had to spend 45m arguing with the drivers.

After multiple back-and-forth calls we were able to resolve the situation. Eh, good training for my negotiating muscles.

And then when we tried to go a room at the hotel, they gave us the strangest things. The first room they gave us was not clean. Scratch that, it was a dumpster. Beds not done, garbage around the room. So we asked for another room...

... and they gave us a smokers room! It smelled like someone burned a dog inside it (yeah, I know...)

The did not have a third room. Give the choice between the dirty room and the stinky room, we had to insist A LOT in having the first room cleaned up. No cleaner was available at that time... but when we told them "ok, so you want us guests to clean up our own room?" then they realized how absurd the situation was, and they found somebody to clean the room.

Eh, more negotiation muscles flexing...

After a nice conversation with a few old friends we hit the bed. It was hard to sleep because we were too excited. (tune up tomorrow for the first day!)


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