Carl Verheyen on Performance: Learn Everything!

Guitar Player, December 2014 | Go to article overview

Carl Verheyen on Performance: Learn Everything!


I LOVE TO PRACTICE. ALWAYS have. As an 11-year-old kid, I'd be outside playing basketball in the driveway with my buddies with the radio blaring from my bedroom window. If a song I wanted to learn came on the air, I would stop the game, run inside, and try to figure out the last two minutes of tunes such as "Turn! Turn! Turn!" "I Feel Fine," and "Purple Haze." When I misbehaved as a teenager, my mom would punish me by taking my guitar away from me for a day.

But in my late teens, I began to realize there was a whole other level of virtuosity the guitar was capable of, besides just accompanying the voice in a song. My five-night-a-week solo gig at a restaurant in Pasadena, California, led me to jazz guitar, because I need to rest my voice occasionally. Soon, I was checking out Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery--which eventually led me into a period of "Full Jazz Immersion."

That's when the real practicing began. Looking back, I realize I was one of those guys who put in quite a few eight-hour days throughout my 20s. It was a carefree existence that I look back on with envy, because the business of being a professional musician takes up an enormous amount of time. The luxury of working on your music all day is something I don't take for granted.

I worked on jazz standards and playing over changes for quite a few years until one day in 1980, I had a life-changing experience. Driving my car near the corner of Riverside Drive and Laurel Canyon, I was listening to the radio when a guitar solo in an Eagles song came on. …

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