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Arts & Entertainment

Live Shows: Philosophy and Nerves

Tom Morello

Lesson time 09:59 min

Learn how to find your own authentic voice as a performer and combat the nerves that might be keeping you from growing as an artist.

Tom Morello
Teaches Electric Guitar
In 26 lessons, Grammy-winning musician Tom Morello will teach you the guitar techniques, rhythms, and riffs that define his signature style.


Probably the number one best way to practice and to improve your playing is by playing live with live bullets firing. The things that happen in a live environment cannot be duplicated in a rehearsal, can not be duplicated when you're playing by yourself. [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] I was playing a gig with my high school band, The Electric Sheep, at what was our biggest show to date. It was a musical variety show in front of 800 people, friends and family and fellow students at the theater. And we were playing the song "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf. And we were not a very talented band, but we were a loud band, and we were super nervous band. So they rolled us out in the middle of a lot-- there were some folk singers and people telling jokes and whatnot. We at least looked like a rock and roll band, and a huge roar went up. They didn't know that we weren't that good. So this huge roar went up, and that was encouraging. Then we began playing. And the bass player was playing some of the wrong notes. The keyboard player was in the entirely wrong key of the song. So I wouldn't say that it started out great. We were on this little platform. They rolled us out. And I was probably about this high off the ground. So when the first chorus kicked in, I jumped off the platform, and the place went absolutely apeshit. I didn't even know-- I thought maybe something happened behind me. I thought Nelson Mandela had entered the room or something. The roof came off the place. And it was like-- it's 'cause I jumped off the riser. So rock and roll might be more than keyboards being in tune. Rock and roll might be about jumping off the riser and rocking fools. And of course, I practiced my thousands of hours. But I never forgot that lesson-- that rock and roll is about more than getting the notes right. Rock and roll is a visceral experience and a connection with the audience that should be exciting at its core. I hold in the highest regard artists that play with authenticity. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're the artists that are most compelling. That doesn't actually mean that I-- in tune, I was a huge fan of Kiss growing up. And Gene Simmons was one my favorites. He breathed fire, and his lascivious tongue was lapping at the photographers in the front row. And I instinctively knew that that's what that guy is about. That's not an act. That guys wants to breathe fire and lick the front row. Counter-examples are Slash or Keith Richards, who merely by standing there with a certain cocked leg set, are just effusive of cool from just the way that they are. Then there is nerdy Deevo, or shoegazing band, or Oasis. They just come across as very much-- I believe everything they're doing, and they're not doing anything. And that, to me, is what's really compelling in performance. So it's all right if, in your journey, you try on a bunch of different hats. But hopefully, you'll eventually set on something that feels very, very true to yours...

Strike a Chord

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Tom is an excellent teacher and this isn't only the best guitar class I've sampled, it's the only one I've cared to finish.

Loved it - Tom's instructions and advice are top notch and made me a better guitar player and artist in a day. With a pth to continue to improve.

Tom is a wonderful teacher! Inspiring and supportive of risk-taking as an artist and as a student.

Terrific. One of the best classes I took. There were some repetitive video clips that were somewhat strange, but ultimately, a worth while class.


Quinn J.

At the end of the day, if its not about the art, and the art of performance, then its really hard to maintain that resilience to keep going and to sustain yourself. Make sure your doing what you love, whats authentic to you. I love instrumental progressive rock/metal but basically only musicians like that genre of music. Sure not everyone likes that genre but that doesn't mean I should stop learning and writing it. It keeps myself sane to learn and do what I love, regardless of its popularity. I think searching for authenticity through self-expression will be acknowledged by the crowd.

Marc T.

Very important advice at the end: ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR MISSION!! Don't ever disappoint your fans and have respect for the time that you've put into becoming the musician you are today!

Raquel C.

Life time song...furious and energizer....One of my favorites...inspiring me during my teenager times Black to Brazil in 90s

Jonathan S.

I've lost so many bands to what Tom talks about at the end here. My guys lost their focus from playing for that audience and got wrapped up in all the things that came to them from being in the music job; ego, drugs, booze, women. Now I use technology to do a one-man show, because I know I can count on me. My joy is interacting with the audience, but I do get together with friends to jam.

Jonathan S.

I put together my first band and got us our first gig. During the show I wore a lacy shirt and a leather jacket and jumped all around the stage and onto the floor. The next day the guys called a band meeting and fired me. What?! It was my band! I put it together. They fired me because of all the jumping around. Two hours later, the bass player, who had remained quiet all during the meeting, called me up and told me I was right and he was with me. He switched to drums, and to this day is the best drummer I ever worked with. The other two guys ended up selling insurance or something—and don't play music. In the words of Rage Against The Machine, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!"

Michael S.

This masterclass is amazing. It's a shame kids don't learn instruments and that bands "making it" is pretty much dead right now. Maybe things will come back around. I'm sure most of the people watching this video are already 30+ years old!

victor O.

I also can not seem to view the video only the audio. Chrome and Firefox and Safari . . . same thing.

Wade N.

Wonderful to hear validation of things I have always felt about live performances. Thanks Tom!

Peter M.

I can't seem to get the video portion of this lesson 22 to activate. Anyone else having this trouble? (same with 24)

Luke S.

Very inspirational advice. Means something coming from a amazing guitarist like tom morello. One of my all time favourites