In Conversation with Troy Stetina

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Meet internationally renowned guitarist Troy Stetina, who will not only be a judge in this year’s rock competition rounds, but also will be participating in an “Advancing Your Music Career” panel discussion on Friday, August 16, at 12:15pm, offering a rock guitar masterclass on Saturday, August 17, at 3pm, and giving an outdoor concert with the “guitar-driven, genre-busting” Troy Stetina Project on Friday, August 16, at 6pm! Each of these events is free and open to the public, and advance registration is recommended for the masterclass and panel discussion; click here for the full Festival schedule.

Check out a conversation between Troy and our Social Media Festival Assistant Julia Lewandowski!

Julia: Your book, Speed Mechanics for Lead Guitar, was one of the first major works in electric guitar pedagogy. How did you go about creating the method outlined in this book?

Troy: It was the result of my own experience striving for technique mastery on the guitar along with what I had learned by teaching a number of similarly-minded guitarists at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music at the time, in the late 1980s. So basically, I just put everything I had learned about technique and practice into it, to convey what I knew worked in the most efficient way possible.

J: You’re mainly a metal/rock guitarist. When developing your method book, did you have any influences that focused on playing jazz, classical, or blues?

T: I began as a rock and metal player, but early on, also got into classical music, which was a major part of my technique development. Then, over the years, my skill set broadened.

I’ve been the Music Director at an area church for the past few years now, putting together special events, writing choral arrangements and orchestra parts. Once you understand how music works fundamentally and get the ability to play what you hear, you can drive that boat anywhere you want to go. But jazz still puts me to sleep.

J: In terms of advancing a career in music, how important is it for guitar players to read music?

T: Not important in terms of advancing a career in music. Important for advancing one’s skill set. But developing a good skill set is not a requirement for a career. It can help, but having good, relevant ideas and getting to know a lot of people in the industry and having a good, reliable character is probably more important in the big scheme of things. Of course, when the opportunity does hit, you have to deliver the goods, whatever they are.

J: Looking back to when you were first starting on your professional career as a musician, what would you have wanted to know going into the business?

T: What I just said (above). I was under the delusion that if only I was good enough technically, the career would fall into place. That’s not necessarily true. No one does it alone. It’s about working with others, and finding the RIGHT other people to work with.

Written by: Julia Lewandowski, Guitar Festival Social Media Assistant