“Ever wonder what it takes to be a full-time guitarist? Well, for me it was an online business course and community of like-minded musicians all with the goal of making their dreams be their full-time jobs. And that’s where Philip comes in – he is a part of such a community and seeing his progress and what he shares has helped me on my way as a musician too. He loves jazz, but similarly to me can find something he likes in any type of music – from classical, through punk and folk, to hip hop! And with his impressive experience of playing the guitar, singing and writing songs since the 70’s I thought he’d have some great tips to share with you. Enjoy! 🙂 ” – Neli
What is the most important lesson you learned on your journey as a musician?
Ironically, connecting with people is the most valuable byproduct of being a musician. It’s a lesson I obviously have to learn over and over again because I’m essentially almost completely isolated from other musicians and my audience.
Having years of experience as a musician, how do you personally set goals for the continuous development of your guitar skills?
With a piece of paper and a pen. After thinking about what I want to be able to do, based on what I hear and/or pick up from my mentors. I use a journal in which I write down every minute I practice, what I practice (exercise, tempo, composition, etc…) to keep I track of my progress and stay on task.
What are some realistic goals a beginner should set for themselves when first starting?
Choose a song (or three) that they want to be able to play. Listen to recordings of those songs from as many different performances as they can find and decide which one they want to imitate. The number one goal should be to have the ability to play what they hear.
How would you say a productive guitar practice without supervision/on your own goes?
If I made any improvement at all, it was a productive practice session. Sometimes the difference is very subtle. Here’s my typical routine: First I warm up, then run through single note technical exercises (like scales or arpeggios), then comping (playing chords as accompaniment) and finally (using at least half of the time I have allotted to practice) I devote myself to building repertoire (practicing the songs I am working on mastering and learning new stuff by ear [a.k.a. transcribing]) and almost always with a metronome or backing track going to ensure I’m playing with solid time. Mostly I simply trust in the process, I decide what I’m going to practice and I believe that if I put in the time and practice what I set out to, I’ll get a little better every week.
How can one make the best schedule for practicing?
Decide how much time you have to practice for each day you are going to practice. Divide that in half. Use the first half to warm up and practice technical exercises. The second half should be used for building repertoire, learning new songs and improving the ones you already know (or just refreshing your memory if you don’t play them often enough). Consistency is key, make every effort possible to practice the same amount of time each time you practice and the same number of times every week. I believe that an hour a day 5 days a week is a much better schedule than 5 hours one day a week because it takes time to have things soak in to your ear, fingers and heart. I have had great success at personal accountability by journaling my practice time.
Besides the guitar, you also play the drums. Is learning a second instrument easier than the first or is it confusing?
It is way easier to learn a second instrument because you already know certain songs and have musicality developed from playing your first instrument. What is tough is to master more than one instrument because the technique you’ll need to develop any sort of mastery requires a significant time commitment, time you’ll have to steal from practicing on one instrument to improve on the other.
What is a piece of advice you received that helped you with your development as a musician?
Plan for success, but don’t plan on it. In other words, develop your skills so that when you have the opportunity to perform you’ll be as prepared as possible, but realize that you may never build a big enough audience to support even a modest lifestyle playing music.
Who is your biggest musical inspiration and influence?
My dad is my biggest musical inspiration and influence. He had a short career before I was born and quit to follow another path. I think I’ve stuck with music because he turned me on it and I’ll never quit because a part of me wishes he hadn’t stopped playing. He enjoyed his life as a university professor, traveled the world developing relationships with his colleagues, writing with them and presenting papers on mathematics. He always says that he found math to be just as challenging and satisfying a creative outlet as improvising Jazz.
What is your dream musical project?
Singing and playing with a group that jams (impromptu collective performing) in a number of styles (Blues, Rock, Jazz, etc…), writing together (arranging and/or composing) original as well as previously established songs, performing and recording them live.
Currently, Philip is in the process of recording live solo acoustic demos of his unrecorded original songs. He is posting these performances as videos on his social platforms:
…and is listening to the responses he gets (while being very big on liking, sharing, commenting and reciprocating!) to determine what order to produce full band versions of them.
If you want to hear full band versions of his music, have a can listen to an EP and CD here: https://philipquintas.bandcamp.com or on iTunes or Spotify.