Quick Tip – Staring at your fretboard

One thing almost every guitarist does at some point in their career is become attached to staring at their fretboard while they play. This is bad stage presence, but it is easy to fix. Sometimes, especially when playing something hard, it is necessary to look, but do not make it a habit. Here is a quick tip to fix your habit of staring at your fretboard.

TIP – Go into a dark room, the darker the better. You should not be able to see anything. This may work best at night in a dark room, or a room without windows. You could even consider putting a bandana over your eyes. Whatever you do, make vision impossible.

Once you have limited your vision start practicing guitar. Practice things you already know. Practice playing scales and chords without vision. You may find that you keep hitting wrong notes, but that is alright. Listen to what you play, if it sounds wrong, keep trying. Eventually you will become comfortable with the feeling and you will be able to perform these tasks without looking at the guitar. This may take some time, but keep being persistent.

Once you are able to play without looking at the guitar, it boils down to noticing when you start to stare. Keep an eye out on your behavior once you start playing. When you recognize yourself looking when you do not need to, stop it. After awhile it will become normal and subconscious.

Good luck, and sign up for the mailing list to get more lessons.

Music History Study Sheet

History pic

When learning about music history, ask yourself these questions. This is not a complete list, it is meant to give you an idea how you can make history come to life. Some of these questions may seem irrelevant, but the goal is to be able to picture the person’s life. The more you understand, the more you realize that they were a real person, and you can imagine them talking to people. Try to complete this list for every musician you learn about.

 

When was the artist born?

What country did they live in?

Were their parents musicians?

What Instrument do they play?

Who did they study from?

What was their main source of income from?

What Ethnicity are they?

Is their voice high or low?

Do they have any diseases?

Are there any interesting side stories about them?

Who were their friends?

Were they known as being nice?

What were their most famous compositions?

If you had a conversation with them, what would they tell you?

Did they have any children?

Were they married?

What did their house look like?

What kind of clothing did they have?

What form of transportation did they use?

Did they ever accomplish anything outside of music?

Do they have any famous quotes?

What were their hobbies?

How did they die?

When did they die?

Are they well known today?

 

Feel free to add additional questions to this. The more questions you ask, the more you will remember. Print this sheet out and try it for yourself. Try to answer each question. Use books, internet, teachers or any other resource you can find. Have fun!

The Easiest Way to Learn a New Song

Song Book

Song Book

Before anyone can learn to play the chords or melody to a song, they will need to know how the song goes. Unfortunately this is not the fastest thing to teach, but it definitely is not boring. Learning how a song goes is a skill that every musician will need to know. Professionals use this skill just as much as anyone else. So how can you learn this skill?

First let’s define what learning a song means. It is necessary to be able to hear the song internally before you will successfully be able to play it. It will be impossible to memorize a melody on the guitar if you don’t know how it goes. Try this test to see if you know a song: Sing the song out loud. Did you do it? Is there a part you couldn’t remember? Don’t worry about the words, just the sounds. If you need to learn a song better here is how you do it.

  • Pick a song you want to learn.
  • Listen to the song a lot. The more you listen to the song the better.
  • Sing or hum along with the music. I have found this to be the most important part to quickly ingrain a melody into your memory.
  • Repeat part 2 and 3 a lot. The harder the music you are trying to learn, the more you will need to do this. If you are a beginner learning Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, you may not need to listen to it as much as a professional learning a difficult jazz transcription.

 

This is simple, and fun. You will learn more songs and you will be able to apply them to your instrument. Keep in mind that an instrument is an extension of your voice. If you cannot sing it, you cannot play it. Keep in mind, I did not say sing well!

The 10 Thousand Hour Rule

Guy Playing Guitar

A very popular theory brought up when talking about learning a new skill is the ten thousand hour rule. It states that for someone to reach mastery of a skill, they must put approximately ten thousand hours of practice into that skill. Some have come out and modified this theory to say that ten thousand hours is to reach proficiency, but to master a skill one must put approximately 20 thousand hours of practice into the skill. These numbers are more of a guideline than they are facts. For someone to become very good at a skill, they must practice a lot. Everyone is different, and everyone learns at different speeds.

 

What constitutes practice is debated. It seems that the definition of practice is uncertain in this theory. Some musicians advocate that listening to music counts as practice, while other musicians deny this statement. Some will argue that visualization is practice, while others will argue against it.

 

What are your thoughts on the ten thousand hour rule?