Briefings Magazine

Rock On

Everyone wants to be a rock star—even CEOs. With these virtual classes and apps, even the most tone-deaf executive can learn how to play an instrument.

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By Peter Lauria

The lights go down. A huge roar erupts from the crowd. As the guitarist hits the first chords and the singer steps to the microphone, tens of thousands of fans start shouting back the song’s lyrics in unison.

Sounds a lot more exciting than an earnings call, doesn’t it? For many corporate executives, despite achieving rock-star status in the business world, the dream they still chase after is being an actual rock star. By day they are CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies, corporate lawyers litigating huge cases, and entrepreneur founders of hot tech start-ups. By night they are fronting bar bands or jamming on a guitar in their home recording studio.

Naturally, performing at bars has been out of the question in the past year, but fantasy rock-starring in your basement wasn’t a bad way to get through the pandemic. David Fishof, founder of Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, says he understands the link between business and music-making well. “Success in a band is about listening to each other and coming together, and performing is all about taking risks and handling fear,” he says. “Success in business is no different.” And living the dream has become increasingly easier with a flurry of apps and classes for practically every instrument and at every level.

Fender Play

It’s no surprise that one of the best guitar makers in the world also has one of the best instructional apps. Fender Play is designed for beginners, offering lessons on strumming techniques, chords, and scales via prerecorded video instruction with Fender experts. Choose from lessons for electric and acoustic guitar, bass, and even ukulele. Users can pick the style of music—rock, pop, country—and learn by playing along with songs from current popular artists like Billie Eilish and Ed Sheeran. The app tracks progress and directs users to more advanced playing levels as they improve.


Looking to bring out your inner John Bonham? Free lessons are available via Drumeo’s YouTube channel, which boasts more than 1.8 million subscribers. A monthly subscription plan offers access to a custom-created curriculum based on level and goals; live lessons with professional drummers on hand and foot technique, speed and endurance, and rhythm and timing; on-demand access to recorded lessons; and more.


While Yousician offers lessons for several different instruments, the piano is where it is strongest. The app turns a smartphone into a piano keyboard, and colored keys light up to signal finger positioning and notes to play. Songs can be sped up or slowed down to match playing tempo, and sections can be set to repeat for practicing. The app includes instruction on scales and chords, as well as note reading if users want to learn how to read sheet music. Weekly challenges add an element of competition.

Scott’s Bass Lessons

Not everyone wants to be a front man or a lead guitarist. Some people love nothing more than a sweet bass groove. For those players, there’s Scott’s Bass Lessons. Like Drumeo, it has both a free YouTube channel with plenty of video instructional content and a subscription service that features a more structured, progression-based curriculum, seminars with professional players, podcasts, interactive shows, and equipment reviews, among other programming.


Of course, music involves more than the guitar, bass, drum, and piano. Jazz- and classical-loving executives who play the saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, or other wind instruments should definitely download Tonestro. The app offers learning exercises for beginners but is geared more for people who already know how to play at least at a basic level. It provides real-time feedback on pitch and rhythm, a gamelike practice program where users advance through different stages, and weekly challenges against other users.

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