Who Is Scotty West?
We asked Scotty why he is so passionate about helping folks learn to play guitar and what inspired him to make the Absolutely Understand Guitar Video Lessons Program.
"I never really set out to be a music teacher. My mother, a symphony violinist, started me with piano lessons when I was 6 years old. I began to learn to play the guitar in 1964 when I was 10. The Beatles had just arrived in America and I just had to learn to play the guitar. From the beginning, I was the kid who had to know. My piano lessons had shown me that there was a system to the way music worked and I knew that if I wanted to learn to play guitar, I would have to understand that system. I wanted to write my own songs ... play by ear ... jam and improvise like the Beatles ... but neither my private teachers or the public school music programs taught that stuff.
I tried to learn to play guitar myself. My friends would show me some chords and scales. The books I would try to read were often scattered and confusing. My music instructors didn't seem to know the answers. It's difficult to learn to play the guitar if there's no program to follow. Even so, everyone thought I was this hot guitar player. I could play the popular songs of the day ... Hendrix, Dylan, The Beatles etc. Everyone thought I was this hot-shot guitar player but I knew I was only faking it. I didn't have "The BIG Picture".
Then one summer, my luck changed. A new roommate named Dan May moved in with us. Dan was one of those true musical prodigies you hear about ... played the piano before he could walk ... masters degree in music composition at age 22 ... totally knowledgeable about guitar music theory and good at explaining it clearly and logically. Dan understood music inside out. He actually knew the answers to all the questions that I had been asking all those years. I would slap myself on the forehead and ask "Why didn't my other music teachers show me this stuff when I was a kid? "Dan showed me that learning to play the guitar is easy if you can find someone to explain it to you the right way.
I also began to see that guitar music theory might very well be the worst taught subject ever. In the traditional ways that folks learn to play the guitar, they're given the information in the wrong order. They're left with a fragmented vision of music. They can never see how all the pieces fit together. Now, with Dan's help, all the guitar theory books I'd read began to make sense. I could finally see how the whole thing works! My own writing and playing exploded. After all those years trying to learn to play the guitar, I could finally write and solo the way I had always wanted to. I went on to earn a BFA from the University of Hartford, Connecticut where I studied at the famous Hartt School of Music.
One day, a friend's son asked me to help him learn to play guitar. I found that I enjoyed teaching and was actually good at it. I know I wasn't the world's best guitar teacher at first, but from the beginning, I tried to figure out the correct order in which to express the concepts. I must have been doing something right. First I had 1 guitar student ... then 5 ... then 10. Word was getting around. Finally I was totally swamped. I began teaching classes and workshops. That was 28 years ago and I think I have it down to a science.
One day, a student said to me "Ya' know, you're a really awesome guitar teacher. You should put your program on video. You could reach a lot more people that way." What a great idea! I had actually worked in television production for awhile after I got out of art school. I could see the whole process very clearly. I assembled a great crew ... friends I had worked with before ... and away we went. It was a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun. This video guitar lesson course is the logical conclusion. It's the same method I have developed to help thousands of students learn to play the guitar at my private studio here on Cape Cod in Massachusetts."
— Scotty West
Scotty continues to help students understand music and learn to play the guitar. He is the owner and production manager for Experimental Communications of Cape Cod, a unique audio/visual production facility and Scotty's Mid Cape Music School in Cotuit, MA featuring private lessons, classes and workshops in guitar, bass, keyboards, music theory, ear training, song writing, demo recording and MIDI.
He also directs The Experimental Ensemble of Cape Cod ... a modern septet playing all original compositions blending jazz, blues, rock, new age, classical and ethnic influences.