Finding Yourself

Hi everyone,

Lately I have been watching a lot of Justin’s videos that are more deep psychology based thoughts. Videos such as finding feeling in the music, dedicating time to listening to music only and not as a side distraction, having emotions and connecting to what you are playing. I wanted to share that lately I have been asking a journeyman guitarist a lot of questions lately related to this. Maybe I am a pest for a fan, but like learning from others’ experiences. That said, last week I saw Vic and mentioned about our recent trip to Hollywood and taking his advice of just playing in public, putting yourself out there, etc. He also suggested to play the wrong version of the chord on purpose for musical uniqueness, such as throw in an Em7 in place of E minor on purpose only in some parts of the song instead of doing it in error, then wait to see if the crowd notices.

A light bulb moment came on Friday when he challenged the crows to suggest any song they could think of regardless of music type and he would play it. He played everything from the Eagles, to Lifehouse to Aerosmith to Brooks and Dunn then killed the La Bamba riff. I still need to learn from Justin’s lesson-lol. The point was regardless of which venue of music, he played in his own style or version and sounded great. Many of us try to match the exact artist, myself included. I get too wrapped up in the strumming pattern being exact and pitch and tone being exact same as original artist. The point is he played a rock song with a bluesy spin on it and sounded great. My point is in finding our own musicality take a song you know and make it your own, including your own style. He always asks how I am doing with Justin guitar every time I visit. Here is a sample of his music, though poor video quality on my part.

Looking forward to more deeper thought lessons from Justin. I think they are very helpful!



There is a fine line between making a song your own and butchering a great song. Personally I think you need to play a song as close to the original as you can before you can make it your own. I see to many people butchering song with the disclaimer of making it their own. Don’t be that person.
I’m not against Making a song your own but you still need to know the original so you can play it with others. If every song is played in your own style you will always playing by yourself and it’s a lot more fun playing with others.


good points. Thanks for sharing.

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Exactly that my friend!
I can imagine some people think they’ll never have the ability to find their own style but it comes natural as you progress and get better. Every learning curve, no matter what you are learning, starts with copying others but as you evolve, you get inspired by other things and you mix and match.

Later on you carry over you coincidendes or happy mistakes that actually sounded interesting and you consolidate and solidify what gradually becomes “your style”.

This is what I try to convey to the student that follow online sessions with me via the “Justin Guitar Approved Teacher” program; you build up songs horizontally as you learn them. I don’t teach them how to play the song, I COACH them in discovering how to build a song from the ground up.
Many approach them “vertically”, trying to work their way through, copying bar by bar.

I try to convince them to work in horizontal layers;
1: starting with a very rudimentary structure of the song
2: fill in the chords and understand where the repeated sets are so you can “feel” the song going into bridge, verse, etc
3: apply a rhythm that resembles the song but fits you and experiment with alternatives and variations in the song.
… you gradually build up …
4: start decoration the boring stuff or bland passages with what suits YOU; some lead work, some fingerpicking, something percussive,…I don’t know; a mix of things …your musicality speaks here.
5: play it and let it evolve along the way; the more you play it, the more you will evolve and it will feel natural. Leaving the original be for a while helps “deconnecting” from that urge to copy the original.

You will notice that in step 2 and 3 you are already playing a full song and you gradually make it better and better…and your own. That’s how you build repertoire :smiley: (not by working through each bar because that won’t have you play a full song with a steady flow, even after several years :p)

Between step 3 and 4 you will learn what makes this song typically THIS song and what needs to be in there, a common denominator to keep it recognizeable and not keepign the cool or memorable parts out of the song. It can do without the hard and complex solo but you’ll figure out something yourself!

I’m confident to say I have my own style and it’s absolute fun to convert songs into that.
I have slowed down, more intimate versions of songs but when I play with my heavy metal band, we doe a fast n heavy version of “A Forest” by The Cure :smiley:

My complete repertoire was created in the philosophy that I wanted to play “my versions” but that I want them improve continuously as I improve myself.


You are not Brian May, David Gilmour or Jimi Hendrix.

You cant play exactly like them, create music like them or have their sound, precisely.

You are you. Play like you.

But saying that we’re all here to learn. Making a conscious decision to change things is different from not being able to play like it ‘should be played’ because you lack the technique etc.

So learn all the tools you need to enhance your own thing. You dont need more tools than you use but not having a tool means you cant use it even if you might like to try.

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You said it so much better than I did. :+1:

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That’s my perspective completely. If I want to hear a song that’s exactly like the original, well, I can go and listen to the original.

When I first started playing I wasn’t able to play a song anything like the style of the original artist. All my songs were ‘tonyfied’, it was all I was capable of. Now I have some songs that I can play close to the original and I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself musically. That applies only to a tiny percentage of what I do. If someone listening doesn’t like my ‘tonyfied’ version, they are more than welcome to leave, it won’t offend me.

I remember starting a weekly jam session at my house and getting annoyed at two friends who showed up because they would somewhat regularly have long detailed arguments about how a particular song was originally played. Groan!!!

Now the rule at any of my jams is you are welcome to discuss such things only if the person leading the song specifically asks how their playing compares to the original. Otherwise, keep your thoughts to yourself.

Separately I’ve started a thread on covers re-imagined. I often hear someone play a song in a much different style to the original and I really really LOVE such creativity. Bring it on.

Wow. Thanks very much for the details of your teaching philosophy. That was right on point with what I was trying to say. We all have fundamental skills to improve: new chords, scales, riffs, etc. but it doesn’t mean much without a unique style. I think it’s important to explore this early in my guitar playing journey, not years later. You have heard a few of my songs. I still have a lot of work to do to get there, but hey I am still here right? Keep moving forward. Have a great day.


I love the way you put that, not that I wouldn’t mind having the skill of Brian May lol. Thanks for sharing your perspective on “you being you”.

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I am looking forward to hearing the “tonyfied” music soon. I am not quite there yet, barely playing and singing with basic strumming, but have to have some S.M.A.R.T. goals if I ever want to move forward. I love creativity too and putting a new spin on things

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