Today’s Q and A is a very cool one. It features Jared Borkowski who is a guitarist from Seattle who has been teaching and playing professionally for twenty years. He has a degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Washington School of Music, where he also extensively studied classical guitar performance, music theory, and composition.
He posts weekly lesson videos on his YouTube channel called Sound Guitar Lessons and loves playing jazz guitar, practising classical guitar repertoire, and writing songs. Also, he rides a unicycle and is disappointed that there isn’t a unicycle emoji. Enjoy!

Bands and Inspiration

Your favourite guitarist?

This tends to change day to day based on what I’m listening to. Right now, my favourite guitarist is Roland Dyens—I’ve been listening to him a lot. If I had to choose an all-time favourite guitarist, I’d probably have to go with Lenny Breau.

Who’s the best band/artist you have seen live?

Easy answer for me because I was a huge Clash fan growing up. I saw Joe Strummer live in 2001. It was incredible! Two years later, I performed on the same stage that I saw him perform on, which was an honour.

What’s your favourite album? 

Hands down, my favourite album is Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Listening to that album never gets old.

Favourite song to listen to on a depressing day?

“Why Can’t I Be You?” by the Cure

Greatest guitar piece ever recorded?

Anything Django played, haha 🙂


You as a Guitarist

Most difficult thing you’ve ever learned to play on guitar?

The prelude to the Bach Lute suite 1006a in E major. Amazing piece! Very difficult.

Who’s your favourite guitarist and/or biggest influence ever?

If we’re talking purely musicians, Wes Montgomery is a big influence and so are the Beatles. But I tend to get the most inspiration from non-music artists such as Charlie Chaplin, Jim Henson, Franz Kafka, and many others. I try to channel their focus and work ethic and creativity. I feel influenced by these artists in a way that keeps the music I’m working on feeling pure and not derivative.

What’s the first song/riff you ever learned on guitar?

“When I Come Around” by Green Day

Why did you choose to play the guitar?

I needed a creative outlet. When I was a young kid, I wrote poems in the style of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess. I started playing the guitar in 1995, so I could start putting the poems to music. Huge bands at the time, like Nirvana, also played a role in compelling me to pick up the guitar.

What’s the first guitar you owned? 

I owned a Gibson flying V knock off that my uncle gave me. It was painted white over the original colour and I have no idea what the brand was. I recently found a picture of me playing it when I was ten years old and I was holding it in the classical guitar position—I was forced to while sitting down because of the flying V shape. I thought that was funny because now, thirty years later, I exclusively play with the guitar angled in the classical position regardless of the style of music or type of guitar I’m playing.

Self-taught or formal lessons?

I started taking lessons when I was eleven and by chance, my teacher only wanted to teach jazz. I had no interest in jazz, but I was exposed to enough of it from him that I eventually fell in love with it.


 Your Music and Gear

What’s your most embarrassing moment on stage?

I used to play in a prog band called Operation ID. We were finishing off a big set for the Sea Prog festival in Seattle. Right before the final moment of the whole set, I tripped on my guitar cable and fell to the ground. On the way down, the upper bout of my guitar slammed into my chin, ripping open a deep laceration. Blood was all over the stage. I had to go to the emergency room and get 45 stitches. You can’t tell how severe it is, but here’s a video of the show where it happened:

The best moment of being a performer so far?

Playing Brian May solos note for note for a Queen Tribute concert with the Seattle Rock Orchestra at one of the biggest theatres in Seattle.

Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?

Life. Books. Art. I like to journal and process difficult life experiences, and writing songs is a natural extension of that practice.


Tips and Advice

What does a typical day of your practice routine look like?

I’m lucky that nowadays I can just wake up and practise. I like to practise one hour of jazz guitar in the morning, then an hour of song practice on songs I’m writing, and then I’ll do another hour of whatever I want like singing work or ear training or classical guitar or more jazz guitar depending on what I’m inspired to do. After all that, then I start my day dealing with “real work” for my business Sound Guitar Lessons, like replying to interview questions 😉

Tips you’d like to share with other guitarists?

Warming up religiously saved my arm. I can’t recommend warming up enough. I got tendonitis twice from playing guitar—I wasn’t warming up. Now, I never fail to do a 5-10-minute warm-up routine and my arm fatigue problems are completely gone.

Greatest ever chord?


Best advice for beginner guitarists?

Consistency makes the biggest difference above anything else. Starting and stopping is jarring and exhausting, so I just try to never stop, even if that means playing very minimally at times. After consistency, having a vision for what we want to play and why, and learning how to practise with deep focus, makes the biggest impact. We can improve so much faster than we think if we strategically set parameters for our practice goals and focus on them deliberately rather than just playing around (and playing around is great too when our goal is to just have fun!).

The best tip or one piece of advice you were ever given as a guitarist?

Don’t ever have a finger down on the fretboard that isn’t being used for a note that you want to hear. This keeps playing much lighter and more controlled.

General thoughts on learning guitar for our readers. 

It’s worth the challenge at every stage! Don’t ever expect learning new skills to be easy, even if some things do come easier than others. If we embrace it being hard when it’s hard, then we’ll make way more progress, have more fun, and be more musically fulfilled.


Fun Stuff

Song to romance your other half with?

“I’m in the Mood for Love” by Julie London!

Which superhero would make the best guitarist?

The Flash! Can you imagine? haha! Eddie Van Halen, step aside.

Festival you would most like to play?


Most underrated band ever?

Chris Staples. I love his songwriting.

What’s next for you?

Keeping my weekly lessons going for Sound Guitar Lessons, updating and improving my paid courses, and releasing my own songs later this year.


Leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of this Q and A. You can find out more about Jared and his fun and unique take on teaching guitar at his YouTube channel 

Also, if you are a guitarist who is interested in doing a Q and A, get in touch and let me know!

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