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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.

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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.

Practising

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.

Gigging

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.

Blogging

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.

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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?

Isolation

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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

Top Ten Bad Habits While Learning To Play Guitar

Top Ten Bad Habits While Learning To Play Guitar

Learning to Play Guitar

As a guitar teacher I get a lot of students coming to me after teaching themselves. Generally these students have reached a point where they can’t take themselves any further and thus need to guidance and direction. But generally I find there are some common bad habits that appear when learning to play guitar. So here are my top ten guitaring bad habits.

Guitar Tips – Lose the bad habits

  1. Hand position – Generally people who are self taught aren’t thinking about their hand position. A lot of the time the thumb position, or wrist position are out of sync. This causes note buzzing, cramping and the inability to find simple chords quickly.
  2. Finger positions – If you’re learning to play guitar by yourself then your finger position technique will invariably be quite random. You’ll use whatever finger you want for a particular note. This is fine until the more advanced stages and then good positional technique is needed. If you want good finger speed or to not have to look at the guitar while you play then be aware of your finger positions.
  3. Tone quality – When you play a note on the guitar the tone relates to the quality of that note. How does it sound? If there is buzz, or a sharpness to it then it’s generally not a great tone. Bad habits are where you produce this type of tone but can no longer hear that it sounds bad. Keep listening and refining your tone at every stage.
  4. Timing – If you’ve only played by yourself chances are you may have an interesting sense of timing. This might mean that some times you speed up and slow down without realising it. There are a few solutions to this bad habit. Firstly use a metronome if you can’t play with a track. Secondly play with the track you’re learning. And lastly play with other people.
  5. Strumming technique – Initially you may want to strum a rhythm in any direction. This is fine but as mentioned if you’re learning to play guitar properly you’ll get a sense of when to strum down or up. Just be careful that you watch your strumming pattern directions from early on so that you don’t build unbreakable bad habits.
  6. Wrong chord names – When new students come to me I will ask them to play certain chords. Some times I’ll say play an Am and they’ll play an A7. It is useful knowing both the chord name and correct chord shape. It will help strengthen your memory of the chord and help when converting it to a barre chord.
  7. Picking technique – If you find yourself picking everything down all the time I hope you have strong forearms. Having a strong picking technique for those learning to play guitar will help massively with complex solos. A simple tip is to look into rotational picking.
  8. Pull offs – The pull off technique is actually quite simple but I find a lot of students initially trying to pull their fingers up and out. You may have some success with this but think about the tone quality of the note. Watch some YouTube videos of great players when they pull off and you’ll notice the difference.
  9. Only playing the open position – It’s fun to strum open chords but the neck of the guitar is quite long. This gives you lots of places to play notes and chords. Be careful not to get too comfortable with playing in just one area of the guitar
  10. Tuning – A more simple notion but try to avoid getting into this bad habit. Make sure you’re guitar is tuned before you play. Don’t get used to playing an out of tune guitar. Buy yourself a decent guitar tuner or use the online guitar tuner sites. You and the people around you will appreciate it, promise.

If you are looking for some more advice on learning to play guitar or would like some guitar lessons with me feel free to get in touch.

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Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners

This blog is for those of you who are just starting out on the guitar and are looking for easy guitar songs for beginners. One of the biggest mistakes beginner guitarists do when they first start out is to learn songs that are too difficult. This can lead to a load of frustration and ultimately slow the learning progress. It can also dent your self confidence as a player. So in this blog I am not going to list off a load of easy guitar songs. Instead I will be helping you create a criteria for choosing your own easy guitar songs.

Six Things to Avoid

  1. Don’t go all over the fretboard. If you’ve just started playing the guitar then chances are you won’t have much knowledge of the fret board. Early on you want to focus on the first five frets of the guitar. You’ll spend a lot of time learning one song if you go all over the fret board too early.
  2. Don’t pick songs with obscure chords. If you have only a handful of chords under your fingers then it would make sense not to choose songs with awkward finger positions. Allow your fingers to adjust to simple shapes first before tackling complicated ones.
  3. Don’t pick songs with lots of chords. A lot of guitar playing comes from muscle memory. If you have very little muscle memory then your playing is through conscious control. That means each note or chord has to be thought out before you play. If you are still at this stage then choosing a song with fifteen different chords will prove difficult and time consuming
  4. Don’t choose the most rhythmically challenging songs. To begin with you will be developing your strumming techniques and guitar rhythm patterns. Taking on songs with semi quavers, triplets, with lots of off beats at an early stage will be a long and painful process. Keep your rhythms simple at the early stages.
  5. Don’t choose barre chord songs. Barre chords generally require a certain amount of guitar trained hand strength. If you choose these types of songs too early all you will get is cramp in your hand and a large amount of buzzing.
  6. Don’t try a slash solo on day one. So you love Guns ‘n’ Roses and Slash is the reason you decided to play guitar. Does that mean you can play like Slash from day one? Nope. So rather than trying to play his solos which require a strong technique, finger speed and knowledge of scales focus on simple melodies.

Five Things to focus on

  1. Choose simple chord songs
  2. Choose songs with simple and slow rhythms
  3. Choose songs with short simple melodies based on the first five frets of the guitar
  4. Simple chord shapes are the way forward at these early stages
  5. Pick songs you know well. A song is a lot easier to play when it’s familiar to you.

I hope these tips will help you find more easy guitar songs for beginners. I wanted to give you these ideas so that you could pick and design your own learning path. Every person has their own unique musical preferences. So with these tips in mind you’ll be playing your favourite songs in no time. There are plenty of tab songs written out for you on Ultimate Guitar Tabs. This is a great resource for early stage guitarists.

If you still want some definite easy guitar songs for beginners then check out my simple guitar songs blog. If you’re looking for a guitar and would like some guitar lessons with me feel free to get in touch. I teach at my studio in Borehamwood or via Skype.

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Top ten easy guitar chords for beginners

New Years Resolution – Learn the guitar

New Years Resolution – Learn the guitar

New Years Resolution - Learn the guitar

Another year has passed and it’s time to think of some new years resolutions. Some of you will want to quit smoking. Others will want to start a gym membership. Mine is to become fluent at Italian – nothing major! For those of you who’ve thought about picking up an instrument why not try learning the guitar?

What do you need?

To learn the guitar you’re going to need a few guitarist essentials. The first and most important thing will be the guitar. It is important to decide what type of guitar you want to learn. Are you a fan of classical music – Mozart, Beethoven, Bach etc? If so then you may want a classical guitar. These guitars have smaller bodies with nylon strings. If your preference is more pop, country or folk music then you may want to get an acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars have a larger body and metal strings. Alternatively if you love rock and solos then you’re probably suited to learning the electric guitar. Just remember if you learn the electric guitar you’ll need an amp and lead to compliment the guitar.

Some things you’ll need regardless of the type of guitar you decide to play are:

  • A guitar tuner
  • Spare strings
  • Capo
  • Plectrum
  • String winder and cutter
  • Guitar cleaner and cloth
  • Strap (for acoustic and electric)

How much will it cost?

So your new years resolution is to learn the guitar. That notion means you will invariably have to spend some money. You can get a cheap acoustic guitar for around £60, and cheap electric and classical guitars for around £100 – £150. I would suggest doing a quick google search to get a feel for the sort of prices guitars and guitar accessories cost.

You may also want to buy a few starter and chord song books. These will definietely compliment any lessons you have with a teacher. Speaking of guitar lessons….In the London area you’re looking at around £30 to £50 an hour for a lesson depending on how central you go and the experience of the teacher. It is recommended to have weekly lessons especially at the beginning to keep you from making bad habits.

As a guitar teacher I often get students come to me for lessons who’ve taught themselves. We have to spend quite a few lessons working on ironing out bad habits, so be careful!

Some advice for you

If your new years resolution is to learn the guitar then remember music is a language. If you have the mind set that you’re trying to communicate as you play, it will help you to focus on how you’re playing and what you sound like. A lot of people don’t listen to themselves as they play and thus aren’t aware of what they’re doing right or wrong. Don’t be afraid to try things but make sure you’re listening.

If you would like to learn the guitar with me feel free to get in touch. I teach guitar at my studio in Borehamwood.

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Sign of the times EP - instrumental music

Why Jazz Guitar Lessons Will Improve Your Playing

Improving With Jazz Guitar Lessons

Jazz guitar lessons

We all know that jazz is a niche genre of music. It’s also a style of music that we see very little influence on the modern pop chart. If you look at modern society you can see there is very little place for bebop or ragtime so why is it a good idea to take some jazz guitar lessons?

If you’re a guitarist like me then you’re always looking for new ideas. It is true to say that songwriters in the modern pop world have had to create simplified chord progressions and melodies. The progressions are repeated throughout the song with very little variation or imagination. Obviously there are the odd pop songs that stand out and make you think for a moment. But for the best part you’re not going become a top guitarist by learning Taylor Swift’s back catalogue.

Why Jazz guitar lessons?

When you look into jazz guitar, you’re actually delving into something far greater. You’re looking into a style of music which was invented over a hundred years ago. It was at a time when the industry wasn’t tainted by the most record sales but on artistry. An interesting and clever chord progression with melodies to suit was the first thing on a songwriter’s mind. Arrangements were also different. Yes there was song structure – A B A etc but writers weren’t afraid to look for alternative song formats. Melodies weren’t safe. If you weren’t a good musician then it was pointless tackling a Charlie Parker standard. Musicianship was at it’s peak as was the quality of the music.

So why do I think it’s important to at least venture a little into jazz guitar lessons? Well it’s pure and simple. By learning the fundamentals of jazz you’ll learn everything you need to play other styles of music (with the exception of genre specific rhythms). On a harmonic front you’ll learn about chord structure, varying ways to use chords and why they sound the way they do. On a melodic front you’ll delve into sounds other than the traditional major scale. Modal thought processes will shift you’re solos from predictable melodies to licks with class.

Do you need to love jazz to learn it?

This is a tough one. I’d say that developing your chops as a guitarist means allowing yourself to be influenced by many styles of music. It’s the fusion or hint of another style into your playing that creates originality. You don’t need to be a great lover of jazz to take jazz guitar lessons. You just need to be someone open to the idea that the lessons will ultimately broaden your musical understanding. And ultimately make you a more rounded player.

Take a look at my short series of the modes of the major scale. If you find some of those sounds to be interesting then I think you’d enjoy tackling a few jazz guitar concepts.

If you want jazz guitar lessons or just guitar lessons in general feel free to get in touch.

 

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Learning to play the guitar - Making mistakes

Learning To Play The Guitar – Making Mistakes

Learning to Play the guitar – Making Mistakes

Learning to play the guitar - Making mistakes

The first thing to know about learning to play the guitar is that you will and must make mistakes. Making mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. I see a lot of my students get frustrated and stressed when they hit one wrong note or incorrect rhythm in a progression. I can see the intensity on their face with the fear that they’ll make a mistake. The realisation is that most of their learning comes from the wrong notes they play or hitting the wrong string.

Why should we embrace mistakes?

The best way to think about it goes back to us as babies. If you look at how babies operate they are like a walking time bomb. They fall over, bump their heads, stick things in places they shouldn’t be and all in the name of progress. If a baby was to think to them self ‘I can’t do this because it might hurt’, they’d never take a step and thus never walk. This notion of trying regardless of any mistakes made is something that schools make you unlearn. They are always looking for perfection. If you don’t do this homework perfectly then you’re a bad person. If you don’t get any amazing grade you won’t go to uni etc. And this follows us into work life and finally to our hobbies like playing the guitar.

When you’re learning to play the guitar it’s like becoming a baby again. Suddenly there is a huge fretboard in front of you which will eventually allow you to produce some amazing sounds. But before you become the next Jimi Hendrix or Wes Montgomery you will throw out some of the worst sounds you’ve ever heard. Buzzing, wrong notes and odd timings will appear out of nowhere and you have two ways to deal with it. The first is to tense up, get angry, frustrated and invariably put down the guitar in protest. The alternative is to accept the process and see the bigger picture.

Kids vs Adults

How do I know this is absolutely true? I teach guitar to a large range of a ages. On a weekly basis I’ll interact with students from the early ages of 6 years to the tender age of 86. And what I notice is that the kids generally play with no fear. Some times this means that the sounds coming from them can be all over the place. But these sounds regardless of how bad they may be are played with a smile. The older students tend to think too much. They ask themselves ‘why does this sound so buzzy?’ or ‘why can’t I play the damn note?’. If they’re on that pathway you’ll see the frustration build and build. And it is my job to help them as they’re learning to play the guitar but also break the frustration cycle.

In conclusion

Whether you’re learning to play the guitar by yourself or via a guitar teacher be realistic. Strive to improve. Perfection is a very subjective thing. One person’s great solo is another person’s idea of white noise. Mistakes are good even if you don’t want to hear that. So next time you’re practising and you hit a bum note do it with a smile. The next time you forget to play a chord on bar three, breath and remember next time round to throw it in. If you do these things you’ll be well on your way to being a great guitarist.

If you’re looking for guitar lessons feel free to get in touch. I’ve posted a load of free guitar YouTube lessons so check them out when you have a moment.