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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!)

Winter is Coming

...and today is the first day of "serious snow" here in Edmonton. From this moment on, there is a very good chance that everything will be white until next spring :-)

This also mean that we are officially entering Christmas Season. To spread up the cheer, I think it's a good idea to repost my video for Carol Of The Bells (prog metal version). Enjoy!

HessFest in Chicago - Aftermath

For all you guys following our adventures in Chicago... you are going to love this. Usually you get only my own point of view on how HessFest and the other events organized by Tom Hess are amazing. Well, this year one of our students came with us and was present at three of the events (HessFest, the Fretboard Domination, and the Total Mastery Week), and here are his thoughts about his experience.

Without further ado, I let our student John Loder speak for himself:


Trying to summarize the experience of attending Hess Fest, Fret Board Domination, Total Guitar Mastery, meeting great individuals from all over the world in a few sentences is like trying to park the Space Shuttle into a spot designed for a Toyota Eco, but I will try to lightly scratch the surface.

Upon our arrival in Chicago we met up with a fellow Albertan (former student of Tommaso) and another from Australia attending the event.  When you read about this event that people travel from all over the world to be here, this is truly the case!  When we checked into the hotel I was greeted by people from Australia, Finland, Norway, Malaysia, UK, etc….  It’s hard to believe that with such diverse backgrounds we were all very similar in personality and shared the love of guitar.  During the 2 week event I was fortunate to develop many great friendships that will last forever. 

First of all I should start off by saying that Tom Hess and all the instructors were exceptional people, guitar players, and instructors.  No matter what level of guitarist you are they focused their energy on making you a better guitar player regardless of the starting point!  This was stated in Tom’s first introduction to the group, his passion for guitar and teaching is amazing, this was proven time and time again throughout the 2 weeks.

The week started off with the Hess Fest, a four day event which included master classes from Tom Hess (along with our own Tommaso Zillio and others) that included discussions on specific skills related to mastering the guitar practically and theoretically.  In the evening we had the opportunity to observe and participate in one on one instruction with Tom Hess himself, follow by performances from individuals in the room.  This was truly amazing and the talent at the event was indescribable!

The Fret Board Domination was a 3 day event instructed by Tommaso and Tom were you were totally focused on understanding where you are and where you want to be on the fret board in real time.  This is invaluable information in the development of mastering the guitar through song writing, improvising, performing, etc….

The Total Guitar Mastery Week is a 6 day with nearly 10 hours a day of focused practising and playing your guitar!! It was insane being immersed in this training, you can literally notice yourself improving daily with the specific coaching related to the task being worked on!!  I could not even begin to tell all the little things that improved my technique.  It was like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant!  I can’t wait to continue with my focused training and applying the things learned from this event.  With the pages and pages of notes it will be months and years of fun practise!!!!

And last but not least I want to send a special thank you to Tommaso Zillio and Dan Smith for the opportunity to attend this event.  Without their coaching a guidance none of this would have been possible. 


KEEP SHREDDING AND ROCK ON!!!!!!!!!!!           

John Loder


HessFest 2014 in Chicago - Part 14

... and this was the last day of all the guitar events in Chicago this year. Over the span of the last two weeks I taught and trained musicians at an advanced level for a grand total of 110 hours. I am exhausted, but at the same time I'm happy to see these people learning and advancing.

And at the same time, *I* learned a lot on how to teach music and train musicians. :-) Not that I was bad before (I would not have been invited to teach here unless I already was at a high level both in my playing and in my teaching skills...), but now I have an arsenal of "secret weapons" at my disposal!

Our 8 hours session today felt easy, even if most people are (understandably) drained of most energy. I can definitely say that most "normal" guitar players would not have been able to withstand this training event. 

Here's a picture of the Training Team. From left to right Mike "the Siberian Krusher" Philippov, Charlie Long, yours truly Tommaso Zillio, Maestro Tom Hess, Mike "Sergeant Shred" Walsh, and David Rose. I feel honored and proud of having been part of the team for the last two weeks. 

Now the only thing left to do is to head back home, and take eveything I learned back to my students. Brace yourself guys! We are going to train like never before!!





HessFest 2014 in Chicago - Part 13

Second day of the Guitar Elite Training event. We are increasing the pressure on the students by giving them more an more difficult (and interesting) exercises. 

I give a few exercises on string-skipping scales and arpeggios, and while I'm halfway through it Tom Hess jumps on stage, stops me and asks me to start again because (paraphrasing and censoring the original comment) "stuff that good needs to be filmed on camera".

Mike Walsh shows some great legato licks that are not very difficult but sound awesome... and Mike Philippov add to that with some great octave-displacement tricks. Charlie Long shows some cool 2-string scale ideas.

David Rose ends up with a masterclass on chicken picking... and at this point I sat down and took notes because these licks and ideas sounded SOOOO good. 

Again, after one week of teaching for 10h, the mere 8h of this event feel very easy and relaxing. Tomorrow we have the last day of this event, and then it's time to go back home - more inspired as a teacher than ever and ready to take names!

HessFest 2014 in Chicago - Part 12

The Total Guitar Mastery week ended yesterday, and now we are starting immediately a new event, the Elite Guitar Force Training that lasts for 3 days and features masterclasses from an elite team of teachers and trainers.

The event is still an 8h/day long learning/training session. But to us trainers, this feels like a vacation after the 10h/day of the previous event :-) 

Let me tell you, I have learned SO much about how to train guitar students in these events. On one hand I have seen how all the others trainers in the team explain their lessons and approach the audience. But also, I have "practiced" my training skills for 10h a day in the last week! It is incredible how fast I can spot a guitar playing problem now, and how many ways I can find to fix it depending on the level, personality and attutude of the student.

I can't wait to apply all this stuff to my students!!

This very last event is maybe the most fun fo me because the students are (as the name of the event says) the most advanced. This means that I can have my fun in giving them some of the hard exercises - and today I gave them at least a couple that looked very easy but in practice are incredibly hard. And I'm really pleased at how they reacted to them!!

After dinner I have a long business meeting with other music schools owner/managers among the students and the teachers, and we look over each other's business plan. There are SO many things I am going to be doing for my students to teach them better... Can't wait to go back home an start working on these ideas!


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