My name is Tennyson Williams and I started playing guitar at around age 15 and a half. I can remember wanting to play since a very early age, but for some reason was a little intimidated by the guitar. I simply didn't know how to get started, and then I remember a party that I was at where all of my friends could play, passing an old acoustic around, each taking turns sharing songs. When the guitar came to me it was frustrating. I had to pass it up. I didn't know what to do, and it was a real blow because I had wanted to play since about age 3 after seeing my brother tear it up on the old axe.
At that moment I decided that I was going to be the best guitarist that I could be and so the journey began.
It started with me listening to a lot of heavy metal, and so I wanted to be that awesome "lead" guy, and I put way too much focus on trying to play faster than I could at this time. I actually got pretty good, until one day a friend mentioned that I was terrible at rhythm playing. Again, another blow. I went back to the drawing board and started studying music like Bossa Nova, Latin, and Rockabilly just to name a few.
What I gained from those styles of music was a new understanding of complex chord structures, and how to layer rhythms so that it sounded like several guitarists playing at the same time, even though it was just little old me the whole time.
After about two years of intense metal playing, I needed guidance. I started taking lessons from a Bluegrass legend of all people, and for two years he showed me how to further teach myself. It was a lot of fun, and even though we were working on a lot of chicken pickin' type stuff, he helped me push my playing to the limits.
I don't consider myself to be your run of the mill shredder, because I don't always play fast lead in the context that most guitar shredders do. This is because I love to bring all of my music education to the same point. Some of the music that I have explored on my own include:
- Be bop
- Gypsy jazz
- Hard rock
- Death metal
- Neo classical
- Bossa Nova
- Hip Hop
- Dance or Club music
Believe it or not, but after I heard the likes of Brian Setzer and The "Rev" Horton Heat, I wanted to be just like those guys. I decided that Rockabilly as a musical form was right for me, until a couple of years later and then I started focusing on playing only a classical guitar, strictly finger picking.
That too passed after a year or so, and when I came back to using a guitar pick, man did I need a lot of work. So I went back to the drawing table, but this time focusing on my phrasing and creativity first. That alone did wonders for my playing.
I would be the first person to tell you that I am not the greatest guitar player, nor do I want to be. My style and approach to "fast licks" is totally different than other peoples, and being a left-handed person playing guitar right-handed, I certainly have a different outlook on the instrument. Here are my strong points:
- Improvising or jamming both with lead and chords
- Picking odd groupings of notes
- Bizarre guitar sounds without any effect pedals
- Odd time signatures and rhythms
- Visualizing shapes on the fretboard (I call this visual mapping)
- Seeing and hearing chords while playing lead
- Seeing and hearing lead while playing chords
- Intricate layering
- Lead harmonizing
As you can see, I spend most of my time trying to make my playing as interesting as possible, even though I don't always get it right. I find inspiration by listening to a simple piano melody, or listening to a style of music that is foreign to most ears.
I put artistry and unique flavoring first, speed second. Shredding is nothing without good chops.
I have been teaching online now for about 2 years, and I've worked hard to help people learn how to let go and jam. I teach people how to feel the notes, and how to become creative, and I usually do it with very little talk of musical theory. Usually I'm very successful too. I've helped a lot of people get through their personal problems with the guitar.
My personal goals are to help people get better at their guitar playing, and improve mine as well, because there is always tons of work to be done - no matter your skillz.
I also played piano for 9 years, and I wasn't very good at it, but what I learned from that experience was extremely valuable. Basic concepts that a lot of guitar players tend to fight.
My platform is now what I would just refer to as music based with distortion. Basically rock virtuoso stuff I suppose you could say, but I like to experiment and not feel restricted. Even "virtuoso" is becoming a style of music now, where everyone is starting to sound the same.