Sign of the times EP - instrumental music

What Are Guitar Exams All About?

What are guitar exams all about?

Guitar Exams - Taking your guitar grades

After receiving my students’ latest guitar grade results it got me thinking about guitar exams. I wanted to share some of my incites into what is involved in a guitar exam and the reasons and motivations behind why some students like to take them periodically.

Why do students take guitar exams?

Guitar exams are essentially a way for students to be able to recognise their level and ability at various stages of their learning. For those of your who like to set goals and aims guitar exams are a really good way to do this. By preparing for a guitar grade you are given a time frame and a set syllabus to learn in that period. It can give you focus, motivation and an ultimate destination to your practise. There is also a self satisfaction that students get when they take time to prepare for something and then are rewarded with a grade certificate.

What is involved in a guitar exam?

Guitar grades are split into different sections. One part of the exam is a performance section which relies on heavy preparation. You have to learn a set of pieces which you then perform in front of an examiner. Each examining board has a slightly different marking system and criteria so be sure to look at the syllabus first before you set off.
After the performance section there is another prepared section for scales, arpeggios and exercises. Here you must learn a set of scales etc in various positions on the guitar.
You then have a section called the aural test which involves listening and answering some questions related to what you’ve heard. These may involve rhythm, time signatures, intervals, key signatures and various guitar techniques.
As a general consensus the least favourite section is generally sight reading. This is a piece of music you will not have seen until the exam. You will then have to perform the music after a short time of preparation.

Once you’ve gone through these core sections the exam is basically over and it’s then a waiting game for your results.

What type of guitar exams can you take?

At the moment for guitar you have a nice mix of guitar exams on offer. You can take grades for rock guitar, classical guitar, acoustic guitar and jazz guitar. Different examining boards offer different types of grades so it’s important to know which examining body to use for your guitar type.

What examining boards are there?

The main examining bodies in the UK are:

Where do you get the guitar exam books from?

In general the main places to buy books for guitar grades are from Amazon, booksforguitar, musicroom and rockschool’s website.

Do you want to take a guitar exam?

Have you been thinking about taking an exam for guitar and need some help? As a guitar teacher for over ten years I have guided a large amount students to successfully passing their grades. With regular weekly guitar lessons and the right type of encouragement you will find yourself passing even the most challenging guitar exam. If you do want to take a grade or just start up guitar lessons for fun feel free to get in touch.

Jazz Music - The whiskey bar

Unique Wedding Ideas – Make your special day truly unique

Unique Wedding Ideas

The priory

Last week I talked about some fun wedding ideas that have been trending in 2016. This week I wanted to discuss some more unique wedding ideas that will help your wedding stand out. If you’re someone who is looking for something a little different then the more unique the idea the less likely someone else will have done it.

Unique Cake ideas

Last week I mentioned people have been switching to cheese or alternative types of cakes. If you and your partner have different cake ideas then why not try two cakes in one. The traditional cake is so last year….This unique approach to your wedding cake will certainly have your guests talking.

Unique wedding cakes 2 Unique Wedding Cakes 1

Unique Table Names

Rather than naming your tables from 1 to 10, it’s time to bring some unique wedding ideas to the table! Try thinking of some quirky themed names that will bring a smile to your guests faces. In this unique table naming twist the couple decided to pick wrestler names for each table.

Unique wedding ideas - Table names

Surprise Speech Moment

The Wedding Singer

It is customary for the groom to make a speech at the wedding and these days grooms are looking to surprise. One way to bring a unique moment to your wedding is by introducing something unexpected during the speech. At this weekend’s wedding the groom definitely embraced this idea asking us to perform during his speech ‘I wanna grow old with you’ from the Wedding Singer film.

Unique Colour Schemes

Unique wedding ideas - colour schemeAs a couple you may have differing opinions about what colours work well for your wedding. If you want to add some more unique wedding ideas to your special day then why not try mixing up your colour scheme? Traditionally couples use whites and golds, or even royal colours. In this wedding they used a more pastel pink which is very modern and shows the couple are definitely into current trends. I did see at one wedding a mix of white, blood red and black. These colours will definitely stand out.

Unique Wedding Food

Restaurants with live music

We all know the food at a wedding is really important. Caterers can bring a smile to everyone’s face if they’re being fed well. Traditionally the food at a wedding tends to be high end cuisine so why not try serving everyone something unexpected like a delicious burger and chips. If you’ve been introducing unique wedding ideas throughout the day then this will definitely be in keeping with your theme.

Drinks are on us

Jazz Music - The whiskey bar

Are you a drink lover? Do you have a particular wine or spirit you love? Try this unique wedding idea by theming your bar entirely with your favourite drink. The couple at this wedding had a mutual love of whiskey and felt it was only fair to share this with the rest of the guests. Needless to say there were many more whiskey connoisseurs leaving the party than when they first arrived.

It’s Your Wedding

What ever you decide to do for your wedding the most important thing is that it’s your day. If you have a say in how the day is put together it will always have your own personal and unique essence. If you’ve covered all your bases but you’re stuck for music on the night feel free to get in touch. I can help you come up with a personalised set of wedding music for your ceremony, reception, during dinner and for the party.

Dj at your wedding

Fun Wedding Ideas – Music and Entertainment

Fun Wedding Ideas Trending in 2016

Somehow we’ve got through to the first third of 2016 and it’s been a busy year so far. As a musician I’ve noticed a few different trends that are appearing at weddings that are bringing a fun element to the day. For those of you looking for some fun wedding ideas this may help you with your search.

Wedding Website

Fun wedding ideas - Wedding wedbsite

This year has seen the wedding website appear in place of the traditional invitations. You can actually throw a huge amount of info on the site and can constantly add to it leading up the wedding. It’s definitely a quirky little wedding idea if you want to put fun photos of the family, introduce your wedding colours early and save money. Traditionally sending invitations can be expensive. The design and then postage costs can easily rack up so it’s both a fun and cheaper alternative for weddings in 2016.

The Cake

Macaron wedding cake

In 2016 I’ve seen an array of unique cakes. It seems like the traditional wedding cake is out of the picture now. I managed to take a snap of a cake which was actually made of hundreds of French macaroons. I’ve also noticed a lot of people choosing a large piece of cheese which makes for an interesting cake cutting picture. If you are into quirky cakes then having a different cake design may be one of your fun wedding ideas for the day.

Quirky Wedding Venues

Springs hotel and golf clubIt seems couples are trying to find interesting and quirky wedding venues in 2016. This wedding I performed at had a guitar shaped swimming pool sitting outside the back garden. If you’re looking for some fun wedding ideas then have a good look around for venues. The traditional hotels and wedding venues are a good option but some of my most memorable performances have been in unique settings. I also remember performing at a musical festival style wedding where they’d set up tents around a small pub. The pub on it’s own may have been a little bare but with the introduction of the festival feel you knew the day would be fun.

DJ live wedding music

I believe 2016 is the year for DJ live. DJ live is a relatively new but fast growing form of music entertainment at weddings. Instead of the traditional wedding bands couples can have a DJ with musicians performing over the top of backing tracks. This is certainly a fun idea for your wedding as you see the DJ mixing your favourite tracks as the live musicians perform over the top.


Marryoke is a fun way to get your guests involved in your special day. Marryoke seems to be slowly replacing the photobooth and will be very popular throughout 2016. A dedicated video team will film your guests in a variety of settings throughout the wedding day as they mime to your favourite song. After the wedding you are handed your very own marryoke music video featuring your nearest and dearest.

Whatever you choose to do for your wedding in 2016 I hope these fun wedding ideas will help bring your special day to life. If you’re looking for music for your wedding or any more fun ideas feel free to get in touch.

jonny lang - guitar star

Find your inner guitar star – Guitar tips

Developing Your Inner Guitar Star

becoming great guitar star

What is it about Eric Clapton that makes him so recognisable as a guitar star? When you hear Slash shred through a solo, how can you instantly know it’s Slash? Why does Jimi Hendrix almost always come top of polls as a great guitar star? The simplest way to answer this is down to their musical identity.

What is your musical identity?

You musical identity is something which is intrinsically linked to your own personality. When you meet someone for the first time you will invariably make a generalised judgement on their personality. For example you might meet someone and think they’re shy and quiet. Alternatively you may feel someone is extrovert and the life of the party. You will also notice that the more you meet someone, the more intricacies you notice about them.

This is the same idea when it comes to a musical identity. Often a unique personal identity will come out in someone’s playing. For example a very chatty and friendly person may perform their solos and melodies in a very busy manner. And a slightly more socially awkward and angular person might choose notes and chords which are quite dissonant and tense. Wayne Krantz comes to mind when thinking about the latter musical identity. It didn’t surprise me when seeing him live that he’s quite an odd character.

Wayne krantz - guitar star

How do you develop a musical identity?

The key to developing an authentic musical identity is hidden in the subtleties of the way you play. Let me say that your musical identity will morph, change and develop through time much like your personality. But for me one of the best ways to develop a musical identity is to refine the way you listen to music. There is a famous saying which is ‘First you must imitate and then you can innovate‘. If you take this literally as a musician then you’ll be listening and copying musicians and music you like. This notion keeps you connected always to the reason you love music. By copying your heroes you will start to pick up their natural characteristics.

In a guitar sense that might show in the way you phrase your melodies or the tone of your playing. Some times a recognisable part of your playing is something as subtle as your vibrato. Jonny Lang comes to mind when thinking of a memorable vibrato. That guy is one cool guitar star.

jonny lang - guitar star

Listen, listen and listen again

If subtlety is the real difference between two musicians then for me a truly great musician is someone who knows what to listen for. There are so many elements going on throughout a song – melody, harmony, rhythm, texture etc. If you listen to a song once you may pick up the odd melody or chord progression. You may even be able to play the whole song after one listen…fabulous. But you didn’t hear the song. To absorb the nuances of track or a solo you’ve gotta hear it over and over again. You need to focus in on different musical elements every time you hear the track. So you might just concentrate on a guitar player’s tone the first time. Then you might listen for their phrasing. After that you’ll listen for their note choices etc. If you break it down in this way you will notice these elements creep into your own playing very quickly.

Find your musical identity

How to learn an easy guitar solo

You may come to the end of this blog and think…hmm ‘I still don’t really know what a musical identity is or how to develop one’. But if you take anything from this message it’s to improve the way you listen to music. If you need any help developing your musical identity (on guitar) or have aspirations to become a true guitar star then feel free to get in touch. I’d love to help point you in the right direction.

Aesthetic Dentistry Awards

A week in a musician’s life

A week in a musician’s life

Aesthetic Dentistry Awards - A musician's life

You may have thought to yourself ‘What’s a musician’s life like?’. What do musicians actually do on a weekly basis? Are they sleeping all day and then playing the odd gig? What’s a musician’s life all about? And for those who are looking to have a career in music this may interest you. So for that reason I thought I’d share my week to give you an idea of what goes on in a musician’s world.

Music Lessons

Part of a musician’s life (not all musicians) will be spent teaching their chosen instrument. For me I have a studio that I use to teach students guitar and piano on a weekly basis. Typically I’ll teach Monday to Friday – not all day – but that will depend on my gigging and writing schedule for that week.


A chunk of my mornings is spent sitting down in front of the computer, listening to music and trying to figure out what’s going on? Some times it’s purely learning a song for a function or student. Other times times it’s going over new ideas and concepts about music that I can add to my current musical ability. If you’ve stopped practising as a musician then you’re not a musician. Fact. If you still think you’re a musician when you don’t practise then you’re mistaken.


David's Marraige proposal

So this week I had a nice variety of gigs which for me is important. It’s nice to perform in different environments and occasions. On the Thursday I was part of a flash mob marriage proposal in King’s Cross. It was an absolute pleasure to help this couple get engaged. Although it could’ve gone horribly wrong had we not had applied for permission to the council weeks in advanced. On the Friday I was performing at the Aesthetic Dentistry awards with the function band DJ live. All I can say is that the guests were beaming throughout the night. Not a single glass of coke could be seen all night. On the Sunday I was part of a six piece DJ live band for Mel and Sam’s wedding in Essex. We performed at the Three Rivers Country Club which has some beautiful grounds and a large golf course.

Three Rivers Country Club

My Birthday

This week also happened to coincide with my birthday. And it just so happened that I wasn’t working on Saturday which gave me the day to hang out with friends and family. You can’t go wrong with a good old meal and a catch up with the ones you love.


Part of my week is spent writing about things that interest me. I quite enjoy finding different topics to write about, whether it’s related to weddings or teaching guitar or music in general. I usually sit for a few minutes having a think about a topic that’s relevant to me that week and away I go.

The Wife

And finally a musician’s life would not be complete without their very understanding partners. We often come home very late from gigs (1.30/2am) and relatively late from weekly teaching. So being able to spend some quality time with my wife is a joy after a long day. I can only commend her for her patience and understanding.

That’s all folks

And so you have it – a typical (ish) musician’s life. Now some musicians spend their entire weeks touring and gigging. Some like to sit in the studio all week writing and producing and others focus on teaching. Whatever a musician chooses to do on a weekly basis I hope you have a little more incite into our lives. We are very fortunate that we get paid to do something we love. And whilst that remains the case we’ll wake up with a smile on our faces every morning.

If you would like to speak to me about music for your event or guitar lessons feel free to get in touch.

How to learn an easy guitar solo

Learn to play guitar like a pro – Guitaring Secrets

Learn to play guitar like a pro

Learn to play guitar like a pro

When you buy your first guitar it’s a truly exciting moment. You have a great vehicle for endless joy sitting in front of you. But you slowly realise that you have no idea what you should be doing to learn to play guitar. This realisation is completely normal and it’s usually where the novice will head over to YouTube for some guidance. Now YouTube is a wondrous tool and a huge resource for learning so many things. But it can also be detrimental if used in the wrong way.

Learning guitar through randomness

As I mentioned if you are a novice you are not likely to know where to start when learning the guitar. The problem with the YouTube route is the randomness and bittyness you get by following loads of teaching channels. Imagine learning a language and being taught by five different teachers. Each teacher has their own methods, processes, accents etc and some times these can directly clash with each other. It’s the same with guitar teachers on YouTube. I know you want to learn to play guitar as quick as possible but be careful how many guitar teachers you follow. This is what I mean by learning guitar through randomness.

How the pros do it

Good guitar players always rise to the top of the pile eventually. Why is this? Simply put because they keep improving. Day in, day out their skills get better and better. Their playing just seems to improve every time you hear them or see them perform live. It’s like an enigma and whilst the good players stay good, the average players start to become good players. And then they become really good players. And suddenly they’re ridiculous and doing things that good players can’t actually understand. So what’s going on? Why are they improving so much and so regularly?


If you want to learn to play guitar at the highest level then you have to be willing to isolate. I don’t mean stick yourself in a cave and disappear for months on end. No no, that would be weird and maybe interesting but ultimately pointless. Isolation in this sense means focusing on the core elements of both music and guitar technique. If you know what music is built on and what techniques are specific to guitar then you can isolate and improve each element consciously. That is the reason why great players become great and good players stay only good.

What should you isolate?

First of all the type of isolation that goes on at beginner level is unrecognisable to the isolation that goes on at the advanced stages. So it’s hard to make this a generalised isolation plan because what I do in my practise is very different to say what my average student might do. But I still want to outline a few common things to look at:

  • Melody – Intervals shapes, scale sounds, mode sounds, arpeggios, transcription (learning specific solos and melodies), improvisation, counter melody
  • Chords – Triads, inversions, extension chords, super imposing chords, drop 2s, drop 3s etc, chord theory (what makes up chords), quartal harmony.
  • Rhythm – Simple strumming patterns, quaver rhythms, semi quavers, demi semi quaver rhythms, stylistic rhythms (latin, funk, blues, rock, reggae etc), swung, triplet, sub divisional, poly rhythmical, accented, reverse strummed,
  • Techniques – Finger positions, hammer ons, pull offs, slides, double stops, bends, harmonics, pinch harmonics, sweeping, string skipping, tapping, slide guitar, percussive guitar (using the body of of the guitar), slapping, muting, palm muting, 3 note per string ideas.
  • Songs – Simply put learn a variety of songs in a large range of styles – pop, rock, blues, funk, soul, reggae, classical, jazz etc. The more styles the more fusiony your playing becomes.

Sheldon Conrich - Guitar Teacher Borehamwood

There’s quite a lot I haven’t mentioned but all of these elements can be isolated and improved. So if you can imagine improving all these various elements gradually you will become an unbelievable guitarist. There’s no two ways about it. You will become great. However, it takes dedication, regular practise and perseverance because some times you will see little improvement and get frustrated. Keep going and I promise in the long run it will be worth it.

Improve your rhythm guitar playing with this free playlist of guitar lessons.

If you need any advice about learning the guitar or would like guitar lessons feel free to get in touch. My studio is based in Borehamwood and I also teach Skype guitar lessons.

Christmas Wedding

Planning a Christmas Wedding? Book Musicians Early

Are you planning a Christmas Wedding?

Christmas Wedding

If you’re planning to have a Christmas wedding then my advice would be to book your musicians early. There are several reasons for this.

Viewing your musicians

Duo Sec music for weddings and events

You’re probably like a lot of engaged couples who’ve looked online for a cool musician or band for your Christmas wedding. However, just seeing a video or listening to the audio may not be enough for you. If that is the case then you may end up heading to a band showcase, standing at the back of a function or going to a wedding fair to hear your potential musicians. All of this takes time. And you may see a band and like what you see but want a few more options just in case. This viewing process is a really good way to get a feel for your wedding band but it also means you will be spending most of your weekends watching wedding musicians. So if you are going down this route make sure you start early. It could be the first band you saw that was actually the best but by the time you want to book them, they’ve already been booked.

Know your budget and priority

Generally at a wedding the most important parts will be the venue, the music and the caterers. And thus these will likely be your largest outlays for your Christmas wedding. What you don’t want to do, is to wait until close to your wedding day for a band and then realise you have no budget left for music. Even more so for the reason that a musician or band can bring so much energy and atmosphere to your day. By booking your musicians early you will know closer to your wedding date what sort of budget is left for the small things. You may want extra decorations, flowers, cards, gifts for guests, alcohol etc. All of these things can be added to your wish list assuming they fit into your budget. But make sure you prioritise what you want from your Christmas wedding and go from there.

Giving musicians time to prepare

If you’ve picked a good group of musicians then they will likely be quite a busy band. Generally good bands get booked regularly because they’re good. And they’re good because they’ll give you exactly what you want on your special day. But remember if you have some special song requests that you want played at the wedding, give your musicians plenty of time to prepare. If you have some very specific songs and you book the band weeks before the wedding you may find these requests few and far between. For a busy wedding band, clients are booking around a year before an event to guarantee the band. That seems like a long time but you’ll be amazed how quickly that year goes.

How to learn an easy guitar solo

I hope you found this blog helpful and if you need any advice on booking a band for your Christmas wedding feel free to get in touch.


How do you learn an easy guitar solo without TAB?

How to learn an easy guitar solo – Top Tips

Rhythm guitar

If you’ve just started playing guitar and you want to learn an easy guitar solo or two, you may want to find the nearest TAB website. What is Tab? It’s a form of reading music using lines for strings and numbers for frets. So it’s a way of learning to play a solo or chord without having to figure it out yourself. I know this may seem like a simple and great option for learning solos but it can be detrimental.

Using your ears

One of the most valuable tools you have as a musician and guitar player is your ears. What you need to be able to do is convert the sound you hear to fret movements on the guitar. This tool is kind of like a muscle that you have to strengthen and refine a bit like going to the gym. If you don’t strengthen this listening muscle and bypass it by always using TAB you will find soloing very hard.

Reading TAB

When you learn an easy guitar solo through TAB you will read the notes and play the corresponding frets. What this does is cut out the process – an important process – of trial and error ear training. Interestingly a lot of these TAB sites are quite inaccurate and more interpretive. I’ve had students who’ve gone off to learn a side song using TAB and then performed it with some quite random melodies. And the thing is because you’re using TAB you will stop listening to the actual solo. So you won’t even realise how different your version is.

Listening memory

Interestingly if you can work on a process of trial and error listening, you’ll train your guitar muscles. This will help you remember solos for a lot longer. For me if I can hum or sing a melody then I can play it. That means that if I’ve never played a solo before but can sing it then I can play it. That’s because I’ve worked on the conversion process between what I hear and what that translates to on the guitar. It also means that if I haven’t played a solo in a long time, if I can still hum or sing it, then I can play it. This process doesn’t work when learning to play an easy guitar solo via TAB. This is due to the fact that you’re using a different memory centre. The TAB method is a very surface level type of memory whereas the sound and listening method uses much deeper long lasting memory.

How to learn an easy guitar solo

Soloing Tips

  • Pick simple solos
  • Pick solos which focus on close note movements
  • Try playing simple melodies like nursery rhymes first – don’t jump straight into Slash
  • Avoid the bends, hammer ons, pull offs to begin with and just get the notes
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
  • Ask a friend or family member if what you’re playing sounds right
  • Learn the intervals on the guitar. Here is an interval test for you
  • Get some basic guitar lessons and advice from a professional teacher

I hope this has helped you with your quest to be a great guitarist and I hope it will improve your method for learning an easy guitar solo. If you need any more advice or guitar lessons feel free to get in touch. I teach guitar and piano at my studio in Borehamwood and also offer Skype guitar lessons.


Events in Cambridge

What makes a good wedding band?

What makes a good wedding band?

Good wedding band

A good wedding band can actually be the difference between your special day being good and being exceptional. So it really is important to get the right type of band for your wedding. So what makes a good wedding band?


A good wedding band comes with a wealth of experience. This doesn’t mean that your band necessarily needs to have been playing for a long time. But what your’re really looking for is a large experience from the individual musicians. Invariably wedding musicians move about to different bands over a period of years and it’s this experience that makes them reliable, diverse and unique. Make sure your band fits into this category if you’re thinking of spending your hard earned cash on them.


I touched on this just before but a good wedding band must be reliable. So how do you know if your wedding band is reliable? Well first off make sure you ask for a reference or two. If you can see the band live before your wedding that is also a bonus. Small things like if the band leader responds promptly to your emails or calls is another good sign.


In any good relationship you’ll find communication. So it doesn’t matter how busy a wedding band is, they should be responding to you as if you’re their only client. You the couple are the most important people and a good wedding band will always be a phone call or email away to answer your questions


If your wedding band can only play a handful of songs in a limited style of music then that’s ok. But not great. At a wedding you have the couple and their friends, parents, grandparents, grandchildren etc. All of these age groups have varying tastes in music and it’s important that the band is catering to this. A good wedding band will have a nice mix of old, modern and niche songs to appeal to every guest on the dance floor. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample set list from your band. Not only should your band be diverse in the music they play but they should also be able to offer varying sizes of musicians to perform throughout the day. If your band can perform as a duo early on, followed by a trio during dinner and a full band for the party it will save you a lot of time and money.

Hiring Live Musicians for your wedding


Ultimately it’s your day as a couple. You may have a song or two that is special to you. You may want a special song for your first dance. A good wedding band will be happy to learn and perform this for you. Of course if you’re asking the band to learn an entire set’s worth of music then be prepared to pay extra for this. But the odd song or two is completely reasonable for a band to learn.


This is an interesting subject. How much should you pay for a good wedding band? Well ultimately if you accept that a good wedding band will transform the energy and atmosphere on your day then I would say you shouldn’t just look for the cheapest option. It’s important to shop around but if your wedding band is ticking all the boxes mentioned above then it won’t be cheap. I’m always suspicious when I see a performer charging ridiculously cheap fees for a wedding. The general thing would be to look at what your’re asking from your band and then to make an informed decision. If you are looking to book an eight piece band and only want to spend £1000 then you will struggle to find reliable, experienced and diverse musicians. Production, PA systems, rehearsals and musician fees are going to bring the costs up. So if your budget is £1000 I’d look closer to a trio.

I hope that has helped give you some pointers when looking for a good wedding band. If you have just got engaged and have any questions about hiring a musician or band feel free to get in touch. As a wedding musician I have various musical set ups including solo, duo, trio, DJ live, DJ and full band.

Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

How to track your progress on guitar

How to track your progress while learning the guitar

Track your progress on guitar

If you go to the gym you can add more weights to your work out, run for longer distances or do more circuits. If you do this every few weeks you know you’re making progress. But as guitarists we don’t have such obvious ways to track our progress. As a guitar teacher I can tell my students exactly what they’ve been doing and how they’ve improved. But for someone learning the guitar on their own how does one track your progress?

Technique Isolation

There are a huge amount of techniques to be learnt on the guitar. These vary from basic rhythm playing to guitar specific techniques like hammer ons, pull offs, bends, chord variations etc. If you want to learn a song on the guitar you are likely to need at least half a dozen different techniques. It would make sense at the early stages to start playing songs with relatively few techniques involved. For example you could find a song with a small amount of chords and basic rhythm patterns. Also you could concentrate on the first few frets of the guitar (the open area). A really simple way to track your progress is to learn songs with increasingly harder techniques. So once you feel confident with basic chords and rhythms try learning songs with harder stretches, more chords and more intricate rhythms. If you are able to play these harder songs with confidence then you will be tracking your progress through the song’s difficulty.

Some of the techniques to isolate would be:

1 – Right hand technique – so picking techniques (alternate, sweep, hybrid), finger picking patterns (PIMA)
2 – Position playing – work on moving your hand and fingers as a team. Don’t just choose a random finger for a melody note
3 – Chords – pick simple chords to begin with (majors and minors). Learn their names. Then venture into more advanced sounds like m7, 7ths and maj 7ths. I have actually recorded a little playlist of basic chords for those looking to improve their chord playing.
4 – Scales – I wouldn’t spend ages learning scale patterns but learn to recognise important scales like the major scale, natural minor, minor pentatonic, major pentatonic, mixolydian. If you want to learn some simple scales and modes check out my modes of the major scale playlist.
5 – Rhythm – This one is tricky but I would say start with simple crotchet and quaver rhythm songs. Get your directional strumming down. From there you can venture confidently into semi quavers, triplets and swung rhythms. Use a metronome. Don’t be a hero. If you don’t know how to improve your rhythm I have recorded quite a comprehensive playlist of rhythm guitar lessons. Feel free to check them out.
6 – Soloing techniques – If you want to solo well then look into pull offs, hammer ons, sliding, bends, double stops, harmonics, and counter point melody.

Ok there are more but that’s a good starting point for you.

Revisit some of your earlier guitar songs

Here’s a great way to track your progress. When you first learn the guitar you should be learning simple songs. This is because you are still refining the core foundations of your playing. So these songs are your learning tool. As you get better you’ll be pushing yourself by trying more complicated guitar songs with more chords, melodies and techniques. If you have improved you can test this by going back to your earliest songs and trying to modify them. What do I mean by modify? Well you want to see what new and advanced techniques you can incorporate into these simple songs. If you can throw more complicated rhythms, interesting chords, more of the fret board and other techniques into the song you’ll know that you’ve improved. And this I feel is the greatest way to track your progress. Always revisit your simple songs. I’m even talking about when you are super advanced. Look for as many ways to supe up the songs to show you just how good you’ve become.

Ok so I’ve given you some ideas about keeping in touch with your guitar playing ability. If you have any questions about learning the guitar or would like some guitar lessons with me feel free to get in touch. I teach in Borehamwood and via Skype.