Adam Goldsmith | How to be a Session Guitarist

Our tutor and respected session player gives us his advice on how to achieve industry success…


For guitar players, sustaining a career as a professional musician now involves taking on numerous projects. 

ICMP tutor and respected industry guitarist Adam Goldsmith is well accustomed to adopting different musical personas. From playing at Wembley to sessions at Abbey Road working with the likes of Will Young and Rod Stewart, he's enjoyed musical success at the highest level in a variety of settings. 

Here we find out more from Adam on what it takes to enjoy success as a professional guitar player... 

Keep your options open

Your musical career depends on the area of the business you want to be involved in.

If you just want to be a working guitar player, then it’s important to say yes, be available and always answer the phone.

Try and make yourself available for different experiences, whether it be recording or live and take on a variety of musical styles. 

Negative experiences can help you on your musical journey

I just tried to do every single gig which came my way when I started out. And I think this stood me in great stead.

Even when your experiences might be negative, you’re still learning and can have a positive impact on you in the long run. You find out what you don’t want to do."

Practice, practice, practice 

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to learning your instrument.  Everybody wants them but they don’t really exist. I teach sight reading lessons at ICMP and these sessions are like the double maths of music. The first thing everyone asks for is a shortcut but there aren’t any. 

As a working musician, you’ve got to practice. It’s even more important to do the right kind of practice. 

As a session player, leave your ego at the door 

It’s never about you at all. If you turn up, people are employing you to make their music sound better - they don’t want you. You’re there to provide a service - like a plumber or the guy who works in Starbucks. You’re there to perform a function so it’s best to remember this if you want to get return work. 

Think about different income streams 

You need to diversify from the outset. In the past you could just be a studio musician recording all day. Now, times have changed and you have to make your living from different income streams - whether that be teaching, producing or working on remote sessions. 

Be professional and likable 

You need to remember that being professional and likable is really important. In the studio, it’ll be about these things and the musical ideas you bring.

When it comes to touring - you’ve got to be able to play - but 90 percent is about hanging out. It’s about social skills and someone who people want to be with - that’s different to your musical abilities."

I know plenty of studio musicians who are amazing players who I wouldn’t necessarily want to share a tour bus with!

Remember to do the fun gigs too

If there are any pub gigs with your mates, then carry on doing them. Playing in pubs with my friends for no money are some of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had. I used to do a regular gig at the Woodman in Highgate. Just remember that these sessions are important and will help you be a better professional player if you keep the fun aspect.   

Visit for more. Watch him in action below with Tommy Blaize.

Become one with your Guitar

If you’d love to become an in-demand session shredder, rock-solid rhythm player, or creative all-rounder, ICMP’s Guitar courses will get you started. You’ll be taught by exceptional tutors, absorbing their knowledge of everything from instrumental technique and performance to production fundamentals, theory, business, marketing and more. You’ll also get access to our studios, practice rooms, masterclasses, special events, and world-class equipment, while building your network of contacts, collaborators, and friends.

Call our friendly Admissions Team on 020 7328 0222 or email and start your career in music today.

Guitar Courses
by ICMP staff writer
December 15, 2020
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