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On a Musical Journey with the Nashville Guitar Guru - Dave Isaacs

by Rich and Laura Lynch

One of the joys of living in Nashville is having access to one of our longtime favorite musicians - Dave Isaacs - and the resources he provides as a renowned guitar teacher and musical motivator. Formerly from Long Island, New York - Dave has set up shop in town and has emerged as the goto Guitar Guru in Music City. MCN founder Rockin' Rich Lynch is currently embarking on a journey to get more enlightened on the six-string. We recently caught up with Dave at his monthly performance night held at InDo to gain insight on the man and his method.


Dave Isaacs - The Nashville Guitar Guru - is a multi instrumentalist and sought after teacher.

MCN: Dave, according to your recent online video offering you have taught the instrument for 30 years now. You must encounter students at various points along the path of learning. How do you determine what guidance to provide in each instance?

D.I. - It depends on the student's needs and goals. There are fundamentals of technique I think everyone should have in place, and a basic musical vocabulary. But once you have that, the next steps depend on where you want to go. Sometimes the next step is exploring your creativity and developing a style of playing. Sometimes it means a more intensive exploration of a particular genre: what makes a blues player, or a folk stylist? It can mean developing a well-rounded musical vocabulary too, but over the long term. I think most people learn most effectively by focusing on one particular style of playing at a time; you can always branch out when you have another itch to scratch.

MCN: Is the ultimate goal musical Enlightenment?

D.I. - The ultimate goal is to be able to play with confidence and conviction. That's what makes the experience of making music satisfying and fun. Also, to learn to be your own teacher: to understand how you learn and have an effective process. Once you have that, you're able to keep progressing for a lifetime.

MCN: Each player according to their ability and training probably have their own idea of what guitar Nirvana is. What would that be for you?

D.I. - To be able to play what I hear, to have my chops keep up with my musical ideas, and to never run out of things to say. Of course that's a never-ending process; I've been chasing it my whole life and expect I always will be.


Rockin' Rich Lynch embarks on the quest for guitar greatness with the Nashville Guitar Guru.

MCN: Looks like you have added author to your list of accomplishments?

D.I. - I've written articles and blog posts for ten years, and always thought I wanted to write a book. I gave a talk at NSAI Song Camp a couple of years ago, and ended up chatting afterwards with two people that turned out to be an author and a literary publicist. They were really enthusiastic about what I had presented, and that conversation convinced me it was time to sit down and really articulate the ideas I've been working with over the years.

I've written a book about learning music, an instructional memoir exploring the lessons I learned as a student that have stayed with me and become a part of my work every day. It's in editing right now and I expect to have it published by late spring 2019.

MCN: I know you are in Nashville long enough to have an opinion on these things and your former office was on the town's famed but quickly vanishing Music Row. How important is it to have a consolidated geographic region for artists and industry to gravitate to in a place like Music City?

D.I. - I have mixed feelings. You could argue that in the modern world it's so easy to stay connected to a virtual community that it doesn't matter the way it used to. But there's a lot to be said for having so many creatives and creative businesses in one place. They say a lot of deals got done at the old Longhorn Steakhouse right off the Row, it was a hangout for songwriters and industry people. You don't have that same kind of casual community hub any more, but you do have multiple interconnected circles across the city. A lot of neighborhoods and even venues have self-contained scenes of their own. The landscape is more diverse than ever now, and people still like to gravitate to other like-minded people. So I don't think that the changes on Music Row will ultimately hurt the industry, it's just a shame to see something so unique and with such a history start to fade away.

MCN: Speaking of your video, like all good teachers some of your wisdom is imparted for free. What value is there to you in making part of your message accessible to everyone at no cost to them?

D.I. Well first of all, it's the internet age. Have you ever heard Gillian Welch's song "Everything Is Free"? She wrote it about Napster back in the early Aughts, but it applies even more now.

I look at my blog, YouTube channel, and Facebook page as ways to connect with people directly, and to reinforce my credibility as a teacher by sharing information. Only a small percentage of people will reach out about private lessons, but enough do that over time it becomes significant. So from a business perspective the ROI is small in the short term but larger in the big picture.

It's also a way of giving back; I look at my monthly performance night that way as well. If my mission is ultimately to help people learn, I'm serving that mission by giving something away.


More students step into the light at Dave's monthly performance night at InDo Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on DAVE ISAACS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Nashville Guitar Guru | Rockin' Rich Lynch | Nashville Stars Ignite | InDo Nashville


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