“As soon as you think you know everything, you stop learning.”
Welcome to Part 3 of our interview with Mike Lanteigne, lead guitarist of the Ontario based country rock band, Jonnson’s Creek. This our third and final part (and…in my opinion, our best) of our interview series with Michael Lanteigne. Mike shares with us, more of his unique and intelligent insights on guitar playing and music, plus some very interesting information on recording music.
We discuss recording music. Nowadays, compared to The Beatles’ heyday, we do have superior recording technology in the form of recording software, but having quality equipment such as microphones at the front end is still very important. As Mike says, “crap in, crap out.” Good software can’t compensate for poor recording practices.
We talk about his experiences as a teacher and what he gets out of teaching and how country music is one of the few current musical genres where guitar is prevalent.
“Every time you teach something, you reiterate it to yourself. The knowledge you gain by teaching is tenfold.”
He is inspired by his students and by how quickly they pick things up. Teaching others forces you to learn things you probably should already know and recognize your musical shortcomings.
“As a teacher, you recognize things in yourself that you never grasped or learned through teaching…Every time I teach, I get better.”
It’s a practical exchange of knowledge and inspiration between teacher and student. We both talk about our challenges of teaching absolute beginners, and how learning how to tune ones guitar is one of the most challenging parts of learning how to play guitar for young guitarists. Learning the basics of how a guitar is designed and made, as well as the basics of chord structure and how notes flow together are very important topics to reinforce to novice guitar players. Teaching forced him to break things down into their elemental components so that his students properly learned the basics. This process forced him to learn the ins and outs of music and guitar playing better than any passive lesson could have.
We talk about the challenges of tuning beginner grade guitars, and how it’s probably better, if a student is serous about learning guitar, to spend a little more and invest in a quality instrument that is easier to tune and one that stays in tune better. Not only is it important to invest in a quality instrument, it must be properly set up by a qualified guitar tech or luthier. This discussion leads us into a comparison between Taylor and Martin acoustic guitars.
As Mike says, “Martin has an aged sound. An already rounded and warmer sound. Taylor has much brighter sound. A (sort of) seventies chime.”
I then go on to ask him what makes a good musician.
He answers, “It’s a subjective thing. To be a better musician, you have to listen.”
You need to allow space to play. By listening more, you will be “more poignant” and you will play in a way that is “more proper for the music that you are playing.”
He goes on to say, “You need to think about the song, (not to think) about yourself…Music is about the song about the song. Not about what you put into the song…You need to know how much to put into your music (and how much to leave out).”
Songs that are memorable are “poignant and to the point.” Those are the kinds of “hooks that are memorable.”
“You’ve got to create an experience with your music…Something that is unique from the next guy.” You need to be individuals, creating great and unique artful music. You need to be an orginal.
“Be yourself (and) do what matters to you.” You also need to keep on learning. “As soon as you think you know everything, you stop learning.”
This series has been a real pleasure for me to record, edit, and write about. I hope you enjoy Mike’s knowledge, insights, and passion for music and for playing guitar as much as I did.
To see the video, please click on the link below:
To read Part 1 of this interview series, click on the link below:
To read Part 2 of this series, click on the link below: