A student interviews me

The following is an interview between a student and myself for a college assignment of theirs where they had to question somebody working in the music industry. Hopefully you will enjoy learning a little bit more about me and perhaps give you a glimpse into what it's like starting out as an online teacher/musician.


1. What is your age, and family background in music?

"I am 30 years old. As far as I know, my father (Fred Potter) and brother (Gus Potter) are my only other musical family members. My 26-year-old brother was at some point the best pipe band side drummer in the North Island of New Zealand. While he no longer competes, he is still mindblowingly good. My father is an accomplished jazz pianist and has played all his life. What's interesting is that my father regularly encouraged us to take up multiple musical instruments throughout our childhood, but we outright refused! It wasn't until our teenage years that both my brother and I (independently) turned to music".

2. Do you have any formal qualifications?

"Not at all. I didn't even finish my last year of high school. This was the year I began electric guitar. Coincidence? I did try my hand at university and completed half a history degree but abandoned it in order to practice full-time".

3. How did you get into the music industry? Specifically how did you start your YouTube career?

"Being self-taught, I turned to YouTube for my music tuition. I scoured the search results in hope of finding helpful videos which would point me in the right direction and teach me how to play correctly. What I got was hugely disappointing. All the videos were just endless talking... or the opposite: playing and showing off! There were no teachers on YouTube (or anywhere else online) who simply taught licks with TABs or explained techniques in as few words as necessary. When I eventually got around to making a YouTube channel, I remembered this absence of quality videos and decided to fill the niche myself.
I began making videos, trying to keep them as short as possible. Always providing a TAB. People really appreciated this format, and so it grew from there".

4. Please describe what it is that you do.

"I work online as a guitar teacher. My main platform is YouTube where I create lick lesson videos (+ onscreen TABs), technique tutorial videos, technical exercise videos, jam tracks, Q&A videos, and music of my own. I also sell my own ebook PDFs and lick bundle video packages through my website. Through my Facebook business I offer and conduct private tuition by correspondence with dozens of students around the world. When I have any free time left over I practice constantly and try to record my music (Instrumental progressive metal)."

5. What skills would you say are needed to perform your job, and how long was the process to obtain these skills?

"This is a huge question. I will just start listing what comes to mind if that's okay: Being able to use a DAW recording program to create, mix, and master music, video editing to create videos, photoshop skills to create diagrams and art for videos and products, web developing skills for editing/updating website(s), time management skills, anti-procrastination skills, knowing how to explain things concisely and clearly (especially to foreign students who may not be too confident with English), knowing how to market a completed product using the internet, lead guitar techniques, lead guitar maintenance, music theory, and so on. In terms of how long it took to obtain these skills, I'll say they varied.  Video editing and photoshop can be learned to a satisfactory degree in not very long at all, whereas learning just ONE lead guitar technique, sweep picking for example, took me around 6 years (keep in mind I was self-taught. I have taught others in far less time than this). And learning how to record, mix, and master music is ongoing - I still continue to learn more about that every week". 

6. Do you think it is possible for musicians to be greatly invested in the industry, and maintain a disposable income?

"From what I can tell, there are three possible outcomes:

  1. You never make a name for yourself and fail to make an adequate income
  2. You do somewhat well and are able to afford food and rent
  3. You get famous and make more money than you could ever need
Most will fall into the first category. Whether it's because they have a full-time job, or kids, or any other sort of time-hungry distraction. They may be amazing musicians! But time invested is crucial. If you have a full-time job or kids you are in trouble.

I personally fall into the second category, where I am doing well enough to afford food and rent but that's about it. You have to practice and work constantly and remain engaged with fans.

The third category is usually reserved for people who have commercial success because they make pop music and/or know people in high places. That or they know how to market themselves extremely well.

There doesn't seem to be a middleground between option 2 and 3, sadly".

7. How did you get into this job?

"It just gradually happened over the last 9 years of putting out content. Nice streamlined videos with no unnecessary chit-chat which get straight to the point and provide TABs. I started getting more viewers as time went on. The day I got my first paycheck from Google it really made me think: "Hmm, can I actually make a living doing this?"

8. What would you say are some of the best and worst moments in your career so far?

"Every time I finish a track for an album I'm working on I get a delicious bottle of whiskey or some other hard liquor. It's a real thrill to complete something like that. Especially after suffering through the recording and composition process for months! I hate recording. I get stressed and sleepless and miserable. But when a track is done. I am on top of the world! Other than that I'd say a high point was when I'd published my ebooks and people bought them and I felt that comforting feeling (like with the Google paycheck) that maybe I can make a living with music.
My darkest moment in my career was when I switched from "forearm rotation" picking to "side-to-side wrist" picking. Both are excellent ways to pick but I valued the virtues of the latter far more. It took me a whole year of relearning to nail the technique. Dark times full of helplessness and self-doubt".

9. How often does your job require you to interact with others, and what experiences have you had with these interactions?

"On a daily basis. On the whole they are overwhelmingly positive. It's so pleasing to hear how I've helped people. That's why I do what I do! I look forward to waking up and checking my comments and messages. My fans bring me happiness every day. And all I have to do is help them with their technique. A fair trade, I'd say". 

10. Do you find passion in what you do?

"Most people don't believe me when I say this. But I don't enjoy guitar or making music. 99% of the time it's stress, hard work, and failure. Day after day after day.
But the sense of accomplishment and purpose it gives me is unlike anything else.
Believe me when I say I am passionate about what I do! I just don't enjoy it at the time".

11. Finally would you recommend this job to aspiring musicians, and why?
"They would be entering an already saturated market... however this is well known to musicians! But with enough drive and determination they can make some sort of living doing what I do. 
Why would I recommend this job? For the reasons I do it. To help guitarists who aren't having luck with the other teachers and videos out there on the internet. And also to create passive income so I can sit around practicing and recording and making videos to help people. If I had a proper, traditional job I would not be able to do what I do".


Tapping Arpeggios Lesson #2

Welcome to the second lesson on two-hand tapped arpeggios! Last time we covered the fundamentals such as: muting, string transitions, and a small 2-string example arpeggio to begin with. Now it's time to delve further into the technique and learn some larger arpeggio shapes. This lesson will teach you the tapped arpeggios for the four 7th chords of the major scale: The Maj7, the Dom7, the Min7, and the Min7b5 arpeggio. I will provide you with a TAB and also a fingering diagram (where the blue notes are the tapped notes) for each arpeggio.

NOTE: Use your picking hand's middle finger to execute the tapped notes for the following 4 arpeggios. Using the ring finger for tapped notes on the high e string is optional.





As always, check out the video below for a more in-depth lesson and to see/hear these arpeggios in action!



Essential Scale Sequences

What are scale sequences?

A sequence is a repeated and ordered pattern applied to the notes of a scale or arpeggio.

Imagine walking in a straight line for 8 steps. You could go ahead one step at a time like you normally would or you could decide to mix it up. For instance, you could step forward 3 times and step back once. You could step forward 4 times and step back twice. You could even leap forward a distance of 2 steps and then take a step back. All of these would be different ways in which you could walk ahead 8 steps. They are different patterns. They are different sequences.

Why learn them?

From the moment you learn a scale, it is your duty as a musician to convert it into music. Playing scales up and down the same way forever simply won’t cut it. And so the use of scale sequences is the answer. Sequences are an essential part of fretboard freedom and musical freedom. The more you master, the more interesting and creative sounds you can make with scales. Using sequences can change the way in which your guitar leadwork affects a track/song/jam. For instance, simply playing up through the notes of a scale produces a rather bland and straightforward result, represented below by a straight line. Whereas by applying something powerfully intervallic like the second example in this article: the "Pentatonic 4ths" sequence, you can produce a far more jagged and melodic sound to the ear, represented below by the jagged rising line.

How to use them

Play through the examples. Alternate pick everything. Apply them to different positions/scales/modes/keys. Familiarise yourself with the different sound of each sequence. Next time you jam, make sure to incorporate them into your leads. Perhaps between licks, melodies or scale runs you already know. Remember to mix it up: play examples as 16th notes (4 notes per beat) but also try them as 8th note triplets (3 notes per beat). Different notes of the sequence will land on different beats and can change the sound. You may be very pleased with what you discover! Pay very close attention to the fretting fingering instructions under some ambiguous tabs. Play examples exactly as specified to avoid unnecessary difficulty and confusion.

Example #1: "Linear Fours" in C Major

Here is the first of four examples. Instead of playing the C major 3-notes-per-string (3NPS) scale up and down, we apply a sequence called "Linear Fours". The pattern goes like this: Forward 4 notes, back 1 note. When you step back that one note, the sequence begins again. Give it a go!

Example #2: "Pentatonic 4ths" in A minor

Now we will try out a pentatonic idea. This one is trickier as it requires you to employ finger rolling to hit adjacent notes. In other words, you'll need to rock a small barre back and forth with a fretting finger to play notes which have the same fret number but a different string. Go really slowly to ensure a clean sound. And make sure you follow the fingering instructions under the tab.

Example #3: "Skipped 3rds" Diminished Arpeggio

This example shows that sequences aren't limited to scales - they can be applied to arpeggios as well. Starting on the D note on the low E string we play through the 4 notes of the diminished arpeggio (Root, Min3, b5 & 6 AKA bb7). But we don't play them in order. Instead we play the first note, then jump over the second to play the third (Hence "Skipped 3rds") and then we step back a note to play the second. And from that note we skip up a third, then step back one, and so on it goes. Once again, pay attention to the fingering instructions below the tab. Love this sound!

Example #4: "Root, 7th & 5th Triads" E Lydian

This is the most complex example by far, and sounds amazing! I'll try to explain this one as simply as possible. We are basically sequencing an E Lydian scale by building triads of root, 7th and 5th off every note of an EMaj7 chord. But don't get too caught up with the technical aspects of this if you don't want to, just follow the fingering instructions (Slowly!) and enjoy this beautiful sound.

Check out the video lesson!






Clean Note Transitions

This is a lesson on how to play passages of notes in
a perfectly clean and intelligible way. You must eliminate silence between notes
to create a seamless stream of sound. Picture your notes as a brick wall. You
want to lay the bricks so tightly that there are no spaces in between them.

The problem:

When a guitarist first begins learning, every movement is very deliberate and
conscious. When they play single notes one after another they have to stop,
find the next note, move their fingers there, and prepare to pluck the string.
All of these conscious actions lead to a period of silence/shuffling around
while they prepare to play the next note. And so a satisfying flow of notes is
not achieved.

The solution:

The solution to technical problems is always to tackle the problem directly and with a targeted
exercise which is as small as possible so as to reduce the workload on the
brain and fingers and to ensure faster results.

Ex #1 - Basic single string clarity:

Let’s achieve a loop of two perfect notes on a single string. On the high e string, the thinnest,
pluck the 12th fret. Let it sound for a moment. Now press the string
against the 15th fret with your pinkie, and the MOMENT you do, as in
instantaneously, pick the string. If you did this correctly you should have
heard the first note stop and the second note begin almost seamlessly. The only
sound in between should be the gentle percussive click of the pick striking the
string. Now lift your finger back off the 15th fret and immediately
pick again to return to the 12th fret. Again the notes should
transition seamlessly. Go back and forth between these two notes slowly and
perfectly. Remember to palm mute the other 5 strings to kill string noise.

Ex #2 – The “See Saw” exercise. AKA “The Siren”:

This exercise is exactly the same as Ex #1 except that the second note is on the b string
instead of the high e. The purpose of this exercise is to keep the same clean flow
of notes going even while crossing strings. Keep both index finger and pinkie
touching the strings at all times. Never lift either finger off its string. To
fret a note simply press down gently and then pick. The other finger will be
gently resting on/muting the other string but NOT fretting it. To play the
other note simply reverse roles. So put simply, both fingers will be touching
the strings at all times but only one will ever be fretting at any given
moment. When the b string is being played, your palm should be muting the 4
lowest strings. When the high e string is being played, your palm should be
muting all 5 lower strings. Loop this.

Ex #3 – Pentatonic scale section:

You are now ready to apply your one and two string transitions to a scale fragment. Very slowly play
through the three highest strings of the E minor pentatonic scale. Focus
diligently on starting the next note as soon as the previous begins. Build that
perfect wall of notes. No space in between the bricks. Go in one direction.
Have a rest. And then return.

Check out the video lesson:




Tapping Arpeggios Lesson

I proudly present an in-depth technical guide to basic multi-string two-hand tapping arpeggios. Learn how to tap, how to cross strings and how to perform a basic 2-string, string skipped diminished arpeggio on the g and e strings. From there you are free to branch out to bigger shapes and more exciting opportunities on your own and with the help of my lick videos.

However before we proceed, make sure that you've seen my video below on string muting. Keeping your playing free of unwanted string noise is essential! 

Single String Tapping Recap

Now that your muting has been addressed, let's apply it to some single string tapping before moving on to multi-string tapping. See the tab below. We're going to do some simple back and forth legato and tapping. With your index finger on the 10th fret of the G string, make sure that the underside of the finger rests flat across the b and high e strings - muting them. Use your palm mute to keep the D, A & E strings quiet. Zero in on that G string and make it the only one ringing out. Tap with the middle finger of your picking hand to the 16th fret, tapped pull-off to the pinkie on the 13th fret, pull-off to the index finger on the 10th fret, hammer-on back to the pinkie, and then tap the 16th fret again to loop.

String Crossing Exercise: "Seesaw"

Tapping is rather straightforward on a single string. But things get tricky as soon as you attempt to cross strings i.e multi-string tapping. But never fear, I have created a basic 2 note exercise to tackle these challenging string transitions. Introducing the "Seesaw" exercise:

Start by tapping the 16th fret of the G string as before. Let it ring for a moment and then when you're ready, hammer-on to the 10th fret of the high e string with your index finger. The moment you do, unfret the tapped note on the G string. That doesn't mean pull-off. It means raise up the tapping finger so that the string separates from the fret and is silenced by the tapping finger. Your tapped finger is now safe to leave the string.

To return, simply do it in reverse. Tap back onto the 16th fret of the G string. And as soon as you do, unfret the high e string. Go back and forth between these two notes very slowly. Focus on perfect note separation. As soon as one note ends, the next one starts. And with that let's move onto multi string tapping.

2-String Diminished Tapped Arpeggio

The reason I chose this arpeggio is that the shape is nice and symmetrical and easy to remember. The fret numbers and fingers are the same so we can focus more on the technique than on the actual arpeggio shape.

Start out the same as the single string example: tap, pull-off x2, hammer-on, tap. And then execute the string cross maneuver to get you to the 10th fret on the high e string. Now at this point you will need to move up your picking hand mute/palm mute a bit so that every string except the high e is silenced by your picking hand. From here, pinkie hammer-on to the 13th fret and then tap onto the 16th fret. You may use the same tapping finger or do what I do, which is to utilise the ring finger. Now just pull-off to the 13th fret and again to the 10th.

Do the string cross maneuver once again to return to the G string. Careful of string noise here: Keep your fretting hand low and vigilant as it ducks back to the G string to end the tapped arpeggio by doing a tapped pull-off to the pinkie on the 13th fret and then pull-off to the 10th fret.

I hope this helps!
Check out my video walkthrough below:



Cmaj7 Alternate Picking Shapes

Here I have arranged the notes of a Cmaj7 chord into some seriously handy scale-like shapes. Pick through these, work them into your own soloing and get ready to jam with a whole new sound.

While using every note in any given scale is surely effective, by choosing and limiting which notes you play you can discover a whole new realm of sounds, licks and opportunities.

And so the idea I present today is how you can arrange the notes of a Cmaj7 chord/arpeggio (B, C, E & G) into playable scale-like shapes. Use the following shapes in the key of C Major (AKA A Minor):




Work these ideas into your own style. Blend them with your current favourite licks. Enjoy utilising the fresh sound that is the major 7 arpeggio.

To see and hear these shapes in action (+ a music theory breakdown) check out my video lesson below!

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