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.

Quick Tip For Building A Guitar Solo

A guitar solo is like building a house.

A guitar solo is like building a house.

Every good guitar solo has an outline. This outline could be done in many different ways, but this outline is fundamental to building a good solo. Building a good solo is like building a house. Lets take a look at the quick tip for building a guitar solo.

  1. Foundation. The first thing you need to do in your guitar solo is to create a foundation. This can be done using motives, or using a lot of space.
  2. Frame. This is where you start to build the shape of the solo. You can start to build the solo up using more notes or embellishing the motive you used in step 1.
  3. Walls. This is where your solo is actually in place. Listeners know what you are trying to say. They will comprehend your approach to the solo.
  4. The roof. this is the apex of the solo. You will play the fastest or most embellished part here. You can accomplish this by playing the highest note of the solo here.
  5. Furniture. This is where you bring the listener into comfort again. Bring the solo back down a little bit from the apex. You can still play cool ideas, or may revert back to a previous motif.

There are many ways to follow this outline, but you will notice that every great improviser knows this outline. This outline is usually for longer solos, sometimes a guitar solo is too short to use this outline. This can be used in any genre that you play. Best of luck, and sign up for the email list.

Quick tips for guitar speed

 

guitar

guitar

Are you trying to build up your speed? Here are 3 quick Tips to teach you how to quickly improve.

 

  • Stay relaxed. This is one of the most important things to gain speed. If you watch the Olympics and you see a sprinter running, are they flexing every muscle as they run? Bulging neck muscles do not provide the ability to run faster. The guitar is the same way. Stay loose and be relaxed. Over time, the fastest guitarists are the most relaxed.
  • Minimize movement. The more you move the slower you become. Keep your fingers close to the strings, keep your pick close to the strings. I often watch people play acoustic guitar, but while they strum their whole arm is swinging away using the full length of the arm. If you watch a professional guitarist however, you will notice that they barely move. The exception to this is to provide entertainment.
  • Utilize efficient picking habits. The hand that causes most difficulty in building speed is the pick hand. This can be improved by using a different picking style. Many guitarists learn how to alternate pick, and this is great, but there are other techniques that should not be avoided. Each picking style is useful and brings a slightly different sound. Some picking styles are also faster than others.

Use these tips and you will start to notice an increase in speed. If these are not already familiar to you, it may feel strange at first. Keep at it, this uncomfortable feeling means you are learning something new. Good luck and join the mailing list for more lessons!

The Easiest Way to learn Melodies

Do you want to learn more about guitar than open chords? The next step is to start learning some melodies. There are many different ways to learn melodies. I am going to give you two ways to learn melodies quickly.

  • Pick a song that you know well. The better you know the song, the easier you will learn a melody. The better you know the song, the longer you will remember it. This Is the most basic foundation to learn any song. Tomorrows post will be about learning a new song better.
  • Go on YouTube and look up a lesson for the song you are learning. You can look up “How to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on guitar”. There is pretty much a lesson for every song you will ever want to play in your entire career. This is an easy way to learn, because you can visually see someone’s hand and they tell you what they are playing.
  • Memorize the melody. This is the most important part of learning guitar. Everything you work on should make its way to your memory.
  • Practice it over and over. The more you practice it, the better you get at playing it. The more you repeat it, the better you will remember it years from now.

 

Here is the second approach to learning a melody. This approach is a little bit harder to learn at first, but will make learning faster in the future. This approach will also make it easier to reference a melody you once knew, but forgot.

  • Pick a song that you know well. This is for the same reason mentioned above.
  • Print off guitar tab for the song you want to learn. This is for two reasons. First: It is there for you to easily access while you are learning it. Second: Store it in a 3 ring binder with a paper protector so that you can keep it for years. You can see your progress and it will be a easy reference if you forget it.
  • Memorize the melody. This is for the same reason mentioned above.
  • Practice it over and over. This is for the same reason mentioned above.

As you see, the two approaches are very similar. These are both easy to do, and it will be fun. Enjoy!

The Easiest way to memorize open guitar strings

Howdy! Are you brand new to guitar? Are you a guitar teacher looking for the easiest way to teach beginning guitar ideas? Read over this blog post and check out some of the other posts in this series. Here are 3 tips to memorize the names of the strings on the guitar. If you follow these 3 tips you will memorize them quickly, and never forget them.

 

  • Memorize pneumonics.
  1. Easter bunny goes dancing at Easter (From high sounding string to low sounding string)
  2. Eat All Day Get Big Easy (From Low sounding string to high sounding string)
  3. Eat Apples Daily Grow Big Ears (From Low sounding string to high sounding string)
  4. Even Average Dogs Get Bones Eventually (From Low sounding string to high sounding string)
  5. Eleven Angry Donuts greet big Elephants (From Low sounding string to high sounding string)
  6. Elves Ate Dirt getting better ebooks (From Low sounding string to high sounding string)
  7. Elvis bit grannies dog after epilepsy (From high sounding string to low sounding string)

Make up your own as well. It does not need to be good, it can be crazy. To make this process faster, try running around your house screaming the pneumonic you choose to memorize. This will activate your adrenaline which will improve your memory and recall.

This is the easiest way to memorize open guitar strings. Try it, I promise you will see dramatic improvement quickly.

The Easiest Way to Master Open Chords

Guitar Chord

Guitar Chord

Students often wonder what the best way to learn open chords fast is. They may try many different methods, but often they miss the easiest and most enjoyable way. It is very easy and simple to do. If you apply this concept you will be learning and having fun at the same time. I will separate this into 5 categories to make it as simple as possible.

  • Pick a song you enjoy. Make sure the song is enjoyable, it can be any genre and any speed. It can be a new song or an old song. The more enjoyable the song is, the better you will learn.
  • Print off the chord chart. This is an important part of the process. Using electronics to read your music will make this more difficult. I encourage you to either use a music stand, or set it up in a way that is easy to read while holding your guitar.
  • Print off an open chord reference sheet. This will be important for many reasons including refreshing your memory, and learning new open chords when you do not know the correct fingering. Keep this near you when you practice in case you need to reference it.
  • Play it by yourself, and play it with a recording. Play it by yourself and enjoy it. You can sing the song, but you don’t have to. Just have fun and make some noise playing your favorite song. Playing by yourself is great, but also play it with the recording. Playing it with the recording will push your playing to the next level. It is also a lot of fun!
  • Memorize the song. You should eventually memorize the song you are learning to play. At first, it is fine to use music. You goal should be to know the song well enough to play without the reference. This will allow you to memorize the chords better, it will also allow you to play songs for your friends!

I want to give you one additional piece of advice that will give you a sense of improvement. It will also be a way to quickly reference the song in the future if you forget it.

  • Every song you finish memorizing, put it in a 3 ring binder with a sheet protector. This will protect the music for future reference. If you every have a chance to play in front of people it will be a quick and easy reference guide that you can use.

This is the easiest way to master open chords. You will see improvement quickly if you do this every day. You will have a lot of fun, and you will learn quickly. Isn’t that what music is all about?

The secret to gaining skill

Recently I have been learning how to draw. I signed up for a class in drawing and I have come a long way in my skill since I first started. Taking this class opened up my eyes to something that I already knew, but put it in a new perspective. Repetition.

For each object we learn how to draw we spend approximately 3 – 6 hours drawing the same item over and over again. The first few times are rough, but then it gets faster and more accurate. Eventually hidden details start to show themselves. We have learned a minimal amount of techniques, but my skill has greatly improved. The trick is to pick something that I can not draw, but practice it over and over again.

This approach to learning was how I also learned music. I would learn a new chord and practice it over and over again. In college I use to turn this into a game. I would play an etude at a specific tempo and each time I played it perfectly I would put a mark on a piece of paper. I would try to play it perfectly 100 times.

Every skill we learn, we perfect it by doing it many times. This is the trick to gaining skill. Do not be afraid of wasting time by practicing something a lot. It is better to master a few techniques than to barely use a bunch. Put it this way. If you focus on 1 thing for an hour a day each week. You will become very good at that one thing. You will be very good at 52 things by the end of the year. 52 things is more than enough to play well.

How To Play Guitar

Have you been trying to learn guitar? Maybe you just bought one? Trying to understand guitar can be confusing, especially with all those blog posts out there to choose lessons from. I am here to present to you the most basic explanation for playing guitar. With this formula you will sound exactly how you want.

Are you ready for this?

 

Formula: play the right notes at the right time.

OK, stop screaming and waving your arms. Let me elaborate.

1: In order to play the right notes you need to be able to play a note. A lot of exercises are created to enhance your hand coordination. Getting both hands working together is a very important step.

2: Learn what the right notes are. This is accomplished by studying chords and scales. Chords and scales are what make up songs, so these allow you to play and understand songs.

3: Our whole universe has a rhythm to it. I want you to sound like a train, but vary the speed and distance  of each chooka. Sometimes put a gap of 10 seconds in there. Do you sound like a train? No! You sound like a lunatic. Music is the exact same way. This rhythm is the final part to the formula.

For those who like math here is a mathematical formula.

Hand coordination + notes + rhythm = guitar playing

This formula will simplify learning. You will understand why you are practicing certain exercises. Hopefully you now have an idea of what you need to practice.

 

Best wishes.

So, you want to change how you play guitar

You decide to put on a backing track and play to a fun song. You realize that everything you play is boring, and you know you can do better. You start thinking about what is wrong with you. The good news is, nothing is wrong with you. It is just how you hear your musical lines at the moment. If you want to change how you play guitar, you need to change how you hear music.

Our mind is what controls every single aspect of our lives. It regulates our sleep, it tells us when we are hungry, it determines our favorite movies and it tells us what we want to sound like. Our brain is powerful, and the first step to changing any aspect of our lives is to change our brain. You may be wondering how to change how we think. It is easy, read on to find out.

Human being’s are creatures of habit. We create habits because of things that we do over and over again, they become ingrained in our mind so it seems like it is second nature to us.  Our past makes up a huge portion of who we are. Things we did when we were 5 will affect us for the rest of our lives. We cannot change our past, but each day our past becomes larger. What we do today will become the past. So we can change who we become, by changing what we do today.

All philosophy put aside, if we want to change how we play guitar we need to listen to music that we want to sound like. As mentioned above, we need to do this many times, repeat it over and over. This music needs to be installed in us as if we are a computer. This is how we change how we play. You will always have pieces from music you played in the past, but you will start to evolve with time into the player you want to become.

Start working hard today, because today is our past. Today we say “Should I do this or should I do that”. Take this phrase and translate it into our past. “I should have done this instead of that”.

Chord Melody – using intervals to harmonize your melody

Mentioned previously in the last post, there are a couple of ways to add harmony to your chord melody. One of the easiest most effective ways to do this is to use intervals to build harmony. Last lesson we discussed putting thirds below the melody note. In this lesson we are going to take this technique a little bit further.

Once you are comfortable adding a third below the melody note, you can extend this interval for different sounds. Now you can experiment with putting fourths, fifths, sixths, or sevenths under your melody note. This adds more interest to the melody and can give you more options to work with. The more tools you have in your tool box, the more options you have to do something great. This isn’t a hard step to accomplish. Once you understand the concept of adding a note below the melody note, with a certain interval, this is easy to accomplish. Now here are a few ways you can use different intervals to build interesting harmony.

1)      You can use a simple scheme of just a certain interval to harmonize your melody. For example you could use the interval of a 6th exclusively. Keep in mind that chords are typically built in thirds and the third is typically one of the strongest notes to use for harmonizing. Ultimately, use your ear to decide what sounds good.

2)      Buildings your intervals through a period of time. For example for 2 measures use the interval of thirds exclusively. The next 2 measures use the interval of fourths exclusively. The next 2 measures use the interval of fifths exclusively. This could build an interesting sound.

3)      Last, but not least. Contrary motion! This is one of the most important things for good voice leading in classical music. You may be asking how you do this, it is easy. If your melody note is going higher in pitch, harmony goes lower. If the melody is going lower, harmony is going higher.  The easiest way of thinking of this is while a melody is walking up the scale, the harmony is walking down the same scale.

This is just a few things you can do to get your toes wet with this technique. With this information you will be able to create more interesting chord melodies that have movement in them. Try playing with these ideas and see what works for your own personal style. Chord melodies are very personal and can be played many different ways, so find what you like and go with it.