TAC Spotlight: Mark Young


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.

The ULTIMATE Guitar Practice Routine

Just show up every day, and I'll tell you what to play!

If you’d like to nominate someone to be honored with a TAC Spotlight feature, please submit your nominee here.

Say hi to Mark Young!


Naperville, IL (suburb of Chicago)

# of Years Played

30, but the last couple outweigh all the others by a lot.

Favorite three bands


Bruce Springsteen

Stevie Ray Vaughn

How many guitars to you currently own?

3, all acoustic.  2 that I play regularly, one that is my old starter guitar.

Why is it important for you to improve at guitar?

My first musical love is singing, and guitar is my accompaniment.  Well, it started that way, but as I’ve learned more guitar, I’ve learned how I can play more interesting rhythm parts, and lately I’m loving the improv / soloing we’re learning on TAC, and wanting to find uses for that too!  Guess I’d say that I feel very confident in my ability to express myself musically singing, and I want to get more of that same ability with the guitar.  That and I have many guitar playing friends both on TAC, and at the Old Town School where I take classes.  I want to keep growing and playing with my friends!

Why are you an active TAC member?

There are lots of reasons, but I’ll just give my top 3:

1)  Of the lessons and activities, I am most crazy about improv or solo wednesdays, which have opened up a new world for me.

2)  I love being part of the community on the forums!  I love sharing my music, and listening to other members’ music.  I love the conversations we have.  I love seeing my friends grow musically.  The encouragement I get here keeps me going when I feel self doubt, and I’ve gotten some tips and feedback that have helped me.

3)  The spirit of the TAC community is a wonderful, dynamic thing.  I remember when there were just a few members who got up the courage to post in the RAW channel, or were posting Open Mics and Stage performances, and I enjoyed becoming part of that group.  And then more people joined in,  some long time members just getting past the first-post obstacle; others new members.  All along it has stayed a welcoming, nurturing, fun environment, and it seems like in no time, new contributors become regulars, encouraging newcomers.  I see this happen over and over.  The group changes as it grows, but the spirit remains the same.   Maybe it’s like a river: as it flows, other streams and rivers join it, and they bring fresh water from nearby valleys to the growing river; but it’s the same river in some very profound ways.  What could be better than being part of that?  Well, maybe us all getting together in Bozeman next summer, near lots of flowing rivers.

What convinced you to submit your first performance video?

It took me quite a while…  First there were great examples of other people (who I am big fans of!) submitting their performances, and I could see them having fun, and getting encouragement.  And then I guess I convinced myself, because I made it a goal to get over my shyness.  I went about it very methodically.  I recorded myself just practicing.  I sent those videos to my wife for “accountability”, and made myself watch them.  And after a long time I finally did post my first video to the forum.  It was very nerve-wracking.  And then everyone on the forum was wonderful and encouraging, and that helped me keep posting.  So if you’re reading this, and thinking you might submit your first video some day, I say, figure out how to get yourself there.  If you want suggestions from one of the most stage-shy people in the world, ask me!

What else would be cool for people to know about you?

I still post videos partly to keep working on my shyness and stage fright.  I try to post something every week for exactly that reason.  I shared my videos with my friends from my group classes too, and my musical siblings; I figure, why wouldn’t they want to know about that part of my life?

If you have read my posts, you probably know that I have gone from being someone who only plays alone in their house, to someone who seeks out opportunities to play with other people.  This year I’ve taken several group classes, I went to a guitar camp for a week, and I tagged along with my brother when he went to a mandolin camp, just to hang out and play with people in the evenings, and I am starting a song circle.  For someone who loves singing harmony, all these experiences have been great, and I have learned lots about playing guitar too!  Singing and playing music with other people is indescribably wonderful.

And finally, because I love playing music (can you tell?), I surprise myself in what obstacles I can overcome in my journey.  My wife tells me she’s amazed at how I’ve been able to get beyond things that are hard for me to do.  So I try to use this inspiration and energy to help me conquer obstacles in my non-musical life, and I’m finding that it’s making me a different person in ways that I like very much.


  1. Profile photo of simon thorpe
    simon thorpe

    Hi Mark,you are a pioneer of this site and deserve all the praise heaped upon you in this spotlight,your progress has been impressive,your voice improving tremendously,inspiring!!!

  2. Profile photo of Pat Horwath
    Pat Horwath

    Bravo Mark on the spotlight. Enjoyed learning more about you! Although I’ve been here about a month your posts have been so inspirational and helpful. Although I’m at tortoise speed as you can see by my late reply, I’m learning so much from folks like you responding to others and showing your courage performing. I grew up in the land of Bruce near the Jersey shore, just curious if you play any of his songs?

  3. Profile photo of Donald L
    Donald L

    Hi Mark. Congratulations. There are many in the TAC group that have helped other group members, but you have gone way beyond that. From your hard work and dedication…you are an inspiration.

  4. Profile photo of Carol M
    Carol M

    Congratulations Mark, for earning a week in the spotlight, a place where you are becoming more and more comfortable as the weeks fly by! It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to watch you grow as a player and a vocalist. In the few short months that I have been a TAC member, I have seen some amazing videos from you- you are truly an inspiration for all of us here. And also, thank you for all of your support, encouragement, knowledge, and general guitar “geek-ness”, you are a real fixture here at TAC, and definitely one of the many people here who help make TAC the most awesome guitar hang out on the inter web!

  5. Profile photo of Maggie

    I’m only just seeing this now, mark! Such a well deserved recognition… I’m so happy:). You truly are an inspiration!

  6. Profile photo of Marcus Nye
    Marcus Nye

    Congratulation Mark really inspiring interview and I find you the most supportive encouraging and kind person, to everyone in the TAC community. Always there to welcome a new member on board which I was myself a few months ago.

  7. Profile photo of David Cagle
    David Cagle


    You are one of the most active, inspiring and encouraging of our TAC members and I am grateful that you are a part of this community. You have come a long way in terms of your playing, shyness and sharing this past number of months since the inception and I wish you only the best in continued growth and happiness.


  8. Profile photo of David W
    David W

    Congratulations, Mark! You are always encouraging and inspiring and a great help to new members (and old members with new challenges 🙂 )
    Thank you.

  9. Profile photo of X

    Thanks everyone! Reading your kind words is very humbling. You all inspire me. And I look forward to learning more about you when it is your turn in the spotlight. If you are still working on doing your first video post, maybe try to figure out something concrete you can do to work toward it. Make a practice video. Tell your significant other you need to practice playing songs in front of him/her. Sharing your music is a beautiful thing!

  10. Profile photo of Ray W
    Ray W

    Great to see you in the spotlight, Mark. It’s becoming evident that the spotlight is a place you’re meant to be. You’re a great inspiration to me. Thanks!!!

  11. Dru

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I can definitely relate to your shyness! I echo everyone’s positive comments in saying that you have been an inspiration for me to post my performances (hopefully more as I get more practice and confidence), play more in groups, and use music as a joyful expression. Take care, Mark, and see you in Bozeman!

  12. Profile photo of Tony M
    Tony M

    when I think of what I like about TAC I can’t help but think Mark Young. You are a Great Talent and I wish we lived closer. Last weekend Dom and I got together and it was like we were old buds and I know that it would be the same with you. This place wouldn’t be the same without you .

  13. Profile photo of DeeDee L
    DeeDee L

    Hi Mark. Congratulations and round of applause on the spotlight and conquering the stage fright (something I should be working on). I really enjoy reading and listening to your posts. You are definitely a motivator and very inspirational. Keep doing what you are doing.

  14. Profile photo of Tony P
    Tony P


    I just spent the morning reading your profile along with everyone’s thoughts and I must say you really are an inspiration. You are a great player, who has really pushed and worked hard to get where you are at and you continue to push to get better and better and to understand more and more. Thank you for being a member and also thank you for providing such great motivation and inspiration for other members to post and share their thoughts and experiences with playing. Keep up the fantastic work and again thank you for being such a great part of the TAC community.

    Cheers and happy pickin!!!

  15. Profile photo of Bradley A
    Bradley A

    Mark, the TAC community has awesome tone, and you have done so much to shape that tone. I always appreciate your musical postings, and seeing the progress unfold since I joined in early June (sometimes feel like I really missed out not finding TAC earlier). When I see that you have posted a comment somewhere, I always stop to read it because you give so much enthusiasm and encouragement to every discussion. Thank you for that….and hey…have a great week!

  16. Profile photo of Dom T
    Dom T

    I don’t know where to start regarding how best to congratulate you. You earned this honor. We were once all scared little puppies sharing a new adventure called TAC. I watched your meek but able voice hiding behind your guitar. Many of us told you time and time again that you had the talent, and simply needed to believe, like we do, in your abilities. With each passing video, I have seen the transformation into what you now are….an unstoppable music machine.
    I am so proud of you!
    Can’t wait to see what you do next. I wish we had a Star Trek transporter so you could have been upstate last weekend. Bozeman or bust! 😉

  17. Profile photo of Charles B
    Charles B

    Mark you have improved, your postings are a inspiration to all of us. You have helped me with your answers to my newbe questions , and encouragement. You are one of the members that make this site what it is today. I think you are the posting guru how many times have you posted a video? We should have a counter somewhere. Thanks for all the help Mark.

  18. Les

    Hello Mark
    I was searching TAC I am a member, I was searching for this weeks Practice lesson Tuesday
    29th sept, and you appeared which was a surprise, BUT a nice surprise for me
    I read your information which is very interesting
    I wished I could just work out how to use my computer so I can get involved
    sending in my efforts of learning and playing as I learn from Tony on TAC
    I wish you every success with your journey, I know how it feels being shy and nervous
    Thank you for your views and input so I can look forward to building up the courage to do
    what you have done.

  19. Profile photo of Ken G
    Ken G

    Way to go Mark. I appreciate the way you use recording as a structured means to reach goals and go forward. I like the videos I’ve seen.
    There’s a Chinese expression that you can never swim in the same river twice since the water always flows past. But then again every swim is anew experience.

  20. Profile photo of Kirby K
    Kirby K

    Mark you are very inspirational and I think you really epitomize the character of the TAC community. It’s comforting to hear how you overcame your shyness to post and I hope to follow that plan myself. Keep on strumming sir!!

  21. Profile photo of Carel M
    Carel M

    Hi Mark,I love your postings and you are improving yourself Everytime. Great to have musical friends like you.,


  22. Profile photo of jumpin' jeff s
    jumpin' jeff s

    Mark, you are a fantastic inspiration to me. I have seen you quickly progress in what seems like a short while. Well it’s about four months I have been watching anyhow. Thanks for being part of the magical mystical TAC community. Thanks for the encouragement always. Bozeman or Bust: Summer 2016!

  23. Profile photo of Fred G
    Fred G

    Way to go Mark. Amazing how things open up more and more with a boost in self confidence. Keep er going!

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