The ULTIMATE Guitar Practice Routine
Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!
The TAC Spotlight is a weekly focus on members of Tony’s Acoustic Challenge who have posted at least one performance on the forums and are especially active in the community by showing exemplary support or inspiration for other TAC members. All TAC Spotlight featured members are nominated by other TAC members.
If you’d like to nominate someone to be honored with a TAC Spotlight feature, please submit your nominee here.
Say hi to David O.!
# of years played
After I graduated from college, I was working in a job that was stressing the heck out of me. I was way overwhelmed by my day-to-day responsibilities, and I needed a way to focus my attention and unwind. I was attracted by the way I could see myself improving on the guitar. I’d sit down in my corporate apartment, stressed out from a (very) long day in the office, and try to learn how to move from a G-chord to an E-minor. And lo and behold: two hours later I could do it! I was hooked.
Favorite 3 Bands:
I’m really interested in the folk-guitar / blues / alt-country revival of the mid aughts. For now, let’s say Ryan Adams, Jeff Tweedy (solo; acoustic) and Jack White.
How many guitars do you currently own?
Right now? Yeesh… 5?
Taylor 814ce (bright and smooth)
Martin 00-15E Retro (sweet and bluesy)
Taylor GS Mini (loud and portable)
Gretsch Electromatic (big and twangy)
Rust Stratocaster (rock and roll)
Plus a Jazz Bass that I don’t know how to play.
Oh come on, don’t look give me that look, TAC.
Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?
Jeez you guys, you sound like my mom. I think playing guitar is exciting for three reasons: intellectual development, creative development, and personal development.
Intellectual development: Learning to play the guitar engages every part of you. From the strength of your pinkie finger to your knowledge of the fretboard to your ear’s sense of tone to your body’s sense of rhythm. And just as I found that first night in the corporate apartment, with practice I could see myself improve from session to session. I love the idea that I was honing and improving myself on a day-to-day basis.
Creative development: I think of different elements of playing guitar as operating on different ends of a creative spectrum. On one hand, you have memorization, which is where you start. You learn chords, then songs, then licks and riffs, then notes and scales, etc. But over time you gradually find yourself developing a creativity that you didn’t have when you started. Having learned the constraints of the guitar, you begin playing in the space between those constraints. And then one day you look back and say “Oh sh*t! I just created that!” For someone who has always wanted to be more creative than he is, that was basically a drug.
Personal development: I wouldn’t be honest if I told you I didn’t pick up the guitar with dreams of one day being a rockstar frontman. So there’s that.
Why are you an active TAC member?
I started with TAC’s daily practice plan – I loved the concept of guitar practice as a “gym membership” and daily workouts leading to overall athleticism. But over time I got excited by the level of support provided by the community. Now I live for the “New Activity” emails…
What convinced you to submit your first performance video?
Honestly, it was the promise of that GS Mini. Yes, I know I already have one, but what can I say? When it comes to guitars I’m a little greedy.
Tell us the story of your first Open Mic?
Technically I haven’t performed an open mic…yet. It was one of my 2016 New Years’ Resolutions, so expect an update here in the next 7 months. However, a couple of weeks ago I did “sit in” on a Bluegrass jam in Manhattan’s Murray Hill. I’ll tell you what: those geezers could play. I was very thankful of TAC’s Wednesday solos the first time the leader asked me to “take a break,” even if I did fall flat on my face. Just an awesome learning experience – and an experience I couldn’t have had without the incredible curriculum and discipline that TAC provides!
What’s the one thing you’d tell other TAC members who don’t think they’d be good at writing songs?
I am just beginning the process of writing songs. And they suck. I mean, seriously, they’re totally embarrassing. But that’s cool! Every time I string together a melody or a couple chords, or even (yikes) some lyrics, they suck/embarrass a tiny bit less, and sound a little bit more like an actual song. I think it’s really hard to judge yourself as an amateur songwriter, when all you hear, all day long, are the songs written by pros. So I guess the advice I’d give is advice I’m trying to give myself, which is to keep at it, and to tell that voice in your head that it can shut up!
What else would be cool for people to know about you?
Usually, this is where I tell people I play guitar. So I guess here I’ll tell you that I’m a bit of a finance geek. I work in private equity in NYC and I’m about to go back to school for my MBA. Um, nope! Doesn’t have quite the same ring as “oh yeah and I play guitar.”