How To Stay Motivated To Play Guitar

How To Stay Motivated To Play Guitar

Everyone who plays guitar will at times lose motivation. To some this sounds depressing, but this is a good thing. We all go through it. If we are ready for it, we can use it to our advantage.  

You are making a mistake if youre waiting until you feel motivated to actually take steps to get better on guitar. We can not control whether we wake up one day and feel ready to do all the things weve been thinking about doing. It doesnt work that way. Dont feel bad about not feeling motivated. It is not possible to feel motivated every single minute of every single day. It is difficult to maintain motivation by yourself.

Find An Expert 

Its challenging enough to try to figure out what you should be playing in order to actually get better. You just dont know what you dont know. So, what do people do when they are serious about getting better? It is the same as any area of life. They get a coach, a mentor, or a trainer. They hire a pro with experience getting people results who can lead them down the path to success.  

When you have a pro level guitar teacher, you can rely on them to help you on the days when youre not feeling it.” An experienced guitar teacher helps you re-focus on what is important, on what you should be doing. Part of their job is to remind you of the reasons why you started taking lessons in the first place.

You’re Not Being Challenged

What Ive seen in my students is that the problem isnt a lack of motivation. The problem is that we easily get stuck in a counterproductive thinking pattern. This keeps you trapped in the same place even though you feel motivated to want a different future. A great guitar teacher should deliver playing breakthroughs and change the way you think. A good teacher helps you achieve your goals as well as develop and maintain a healthy mental state. They understand that negative beliefs about your playing will hold you back. If youre feeling stuck right now, youre not being challenged in your skills or in your mindset. They help you see what you can become. 

It’s About You

If you need motivation, look for a teacher to train you according to YOU and not the same old curriculum used on everyone. Playing scales for an entire class is boring. Playing classic rock music when you dont care about that style is boring. Learning becomes fun when its specific to your needs and musical desires. You see yourself making progress because you feel like playing more and more. With an experienced guitar teacher, there is no end to how much you can learn when you are ready for it. If they are good, they will constantly have more for you at each level and it never gets boring!!! Why? Because they know you. And because they are always going to challenge you to do better. A good teacher will help you see things in a different light so you can apply it to your playing.

 

All in all, how do you stay motivated with your guitar playing for the long term? Finding and sticking with an excellent guitar teacher is half the battle. They will be coaching you and supporting you every step of the way. Whether you have a bad day, you have a busy work load and any other reason that cause you to just not feel like it. Consistency over time is the key. So when life happens, lean on your guitar teacher for the motivation you need to keep moving forward.


 About The Author: Ryan Duke is a professional musician, songwriter, and owner of Supertonic Guitar serving up guitar lessons in Franklin, TN.

4 Beginner Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

4 Beginner mistakes and how to avoid them

By Miika Korte


When you are starting your journey with your new guitar, there are a lot of pitfalls, that you can encounter, which could discourage you from keeping on playing, because ultimately you might realise, something sounds not quite right, but you cannot point your finger on it.

To help you to avoid this really frustrating experience, I summed up a few potholes, that you can avoid right from the start, so that you can play comfortably, even if you are only playing the simplest melodies and chord changes.

Rhythm

A lot of beginners (and intermediates, too!) struggle with keeping rhythm perfectly in time. That means, being able to play every stroke with the exact same time difference, as all other strokes and as they are meant to be played.

A lot of people hate it, but the metronome is a really useful tool, to get rid of such problems. What is more important? An annoying sound every now and then when you are practicing or sounding annoying, when you are playing in front of others?… Right. Thought so 🙂

What you need to do, is pick something you struggle to play, set the metronome to a low speed and just sit there and THINK! Do not play yet. Just try to imagine how what you are playing should sound in synchronisation with the metronome beat. Once you are 100 % clear on that, you can proceed to playing your piece or section of a piece or exercise.

And here is the most important part: Record yourself while playing and before listening back, try to imagine what you want to hear, or if you already have a perfect recording either from the music file or the CD or from your teacher, listen to that first and compare. Then try to adjust your playing and get it closer to what you want to hear.

This should get you at least a little bit further, than where you are now.

Flying Fingers

This is a problem I often see with guitar players, who never had any teacher or had lessons a long time ago, most probably with a less experienced or less engaged teacher.

When changing chords or fretting single notes, the fingers fly uncontrolled away from the fretboard when lifted.

That is due to a habit, that developed, because nobody ever told them, how to move the fingers, when they are done with playing a note.

Instead of actively lifting the fingers away from the fretboard, it is enough, to just relax your fingers, so that they now merely float approximately half an inch (1 cm) or less above the fretboard.

Record your left hand on video to be able to analyse your motions properly.

Posture

If you do not get used to the right posture, you open yourself up for tension in your body, that can stand in the way of playing comfortably and without strain in your shoulder.

You do not need to get this perfectly right away, but simply try to pay attention to the following guidelines:

Keep your guitar on your left leg (if you are a left hander, keep it on the right leg) and keep your neck in a 45° angle to the floor pointing upwards.

Your elbow should be relaxed and hanging downwards loosely.

Now one important part about your fretting hand:

Keep the thumb perpendicular in the center, width wise, on the back of your fretboard. Never ever have it parallel, pointing towards the headstock. As a general guideline, your thumb should be opposite to your middle finger.

Lifting fingers of a chord uncontrolled

When playing a chord for a longer time, some students oddly release their fretting hand fingers a little bit in between some strokes, to get some kind of muting effect, but I would recommend not to do so, until somebody who is knowledgeable about it, shows you how to do it properly. Until then, just keep your fingers on the fretboard as long as you do not change a chord and focus on getting the chord changes right!


About the Author:

Miika Korte is the most sought-after guitar teacher in Tampere, providing kitaratunnit tampere for electric and acoustic guitarists, who are looking for lessons, that are based on creative application.

3 Things I Did That Made Learning Guitar Harder And Take Much Longer

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3 Things I Did That Made Learning Guitar Harder And Take Much Longer

By Maurice Richard


 

Now that I have learned to play guitar at a good level I can look back and reflect and realize I could have made it much easier on myself.

My goal today is to help you avoid the things I did that made learning guitar harder for me and will do the same for you.

I have been teaching guitar for many years now and I see people that still make the same mistakes.

You would think the internet would have made things easier but from my side of things I think it’s made things worse.

Here are 3 things I did wrong that made learning to play guitar much harder than it should have been.

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  1. I Tried To Teach Myself

That was the biggest mistake I made by a long shot.

Sure, I eventually figured it out, but it took years to get to a place where it should take months.

Because I chose this way to learn I ended up taking a very very long time to get where I am today. I still managed to develop my skills to a high level but they could be so much better by now.

Now, it’s not like I did not want to have someone else teach me or that I did not want to pay for that, I actually had no clue you could get guitar lessons.

Everyone I ever knew how knew how to play taught themselves and so I thought that was the only way to do it. I was clueless!

Do not make the same mistake. Find someone to help you as soon as possible!

 

  1. I Used A Low Quality Acoustic Guitar

This really slowed me down.

Using a low quality guitar is a sure way to get frustrated and slow down your progress.

The guitar I used to learn with was free, but it cost me a lot. What am I talking about? It cost me years of progress and a lot of frustration.

Imagine trying to ride a bike that has mostly seized bearing in the wheels, with pedals that are just a little too far away and a seat that is slightly too high.

Can you learn to ride on such a bike? I am sure it is possible but it will be very difficult to make any progress and could take along time. That’s pretty much what happened to me with this guitar. It was THAT bad.

Even though I was determined to play guitar I did end up quitting/stopping several times out of sheer frustration. I even started to think I did not have the skill or talent to ever learn.

Fortunately, the desire was very strong and I never totally gave up trying.

If I was to start all over I would do it with an electric or at the very least a high quality thin-body acoustic guitar. I highly recommend this for you!

 

  1. Hired Untrained Guitar Teachers

When I finally clued in that you could hire people to teach you how to play guitar I did not do it right away.

I had other priorities and for whatever reason, I honestly can’t remember why, I chose not to get a guitar teacher.

It wasn’t until I started to put my kids into music lessons that I finally decided to give it a try.

I found out very quickly that not all guitar teachers are the same and that they do not always know how to help someone reach their specific goals. My experience was not good.

I later found out these guitar teachers were not trained. They were really good guitar players but they did not learn how to teach from anyone and just tried to figure it out on their own.

That would explain things.

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One Thing I Finally Did To Help Me Learn To Play Well

Yup, I made a lot of mistakes trying to learn to play guitar. I’d like to say I made them all but that would not likely be accurate. But I made more than my share of them!!

Once I did that long enough and got so frustrated that I was ready to quit guitar for good, I finally sought out a great guitar teacher.

It was out of desperation because in the back of my mind I suspected I would just find more of the same teachers I had already had experience with.

Fortunately, that was not the case. This time I sought out someone who had a lot of experience teaching a lot of students already. Someone who had helped people like me and which implied he could help me.

After some time, I found what I was looking for. This teacher understood me, could relate to me and my struggles, was trained as a teacher and had already helped many others do what I wanted.

So, I signed up and the rest is history! He is still my teacher today and my playing keeps improving!

You need to find this kind of teacher!

 


About The Author:

Maurice Richard is a professional guitar teacher that operates out of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has been a member of an elite guitar teaching mentorship program since 2007 and has taught many people how to learn to avoid things that make it harder to learn guitar.

A Good Way To Understand Rhythm Notation

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A Good Way To Understanding Rhythm Notation

Ever thought to yourself ,is rhythm notation is important to learn? Today I’m going to talk about how to understand certain rhythm notations. First, let’s talk about quarter notes, a quarter note is a note that has a value of one beat. Here is an example of what quarter note looks like:

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So now we’ve talked about quarter notes, let’s take a step back and talk about whole notes. What is a whole note? A whole note is a note that has the value of 4 beats, this means you play the note and let it ring for 4 beats.

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You’re probably wondering, why rhythm notation is important. A couple of things that make rhythm notation so important are, you will know at the exact time when a note needs to be played, this will make it so you don’t have to keep listening to that part of that song that you’ve been trying to nail for weeks. Also over time, when you learn enough rhythm patterns will be able to pick them out of your favorite songs. This in terms, means that you will be able to learn songs much faster.

Here is what is called a half note, a half note is a note that has a value of 2 beats.

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A way to look at this is to take the duration of a whole note and cut it in half that’s how long you should play a half note for. Next, let’s talk about eighth notes, eighth notes are a subdivision of a quarter note. What that means, is two eighth notes equal one-quarter note, here is an example below.

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Now we’re going talk about time signatures, today we’re just going to talk about 4/4 timing, this also called common time. So let’s talk about the top number, the top number four means there are four notes in a measure and the bottom number means what kind of note value gets the beat, which in this case, the note value is a quarter.

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Let’s talk about now another time signature that is very common, this is called 3/4, this time signature is known for having a waltz type of feeling. The top number means there are 3 beats in this measure and bottom means the value of those beats are quarter notes.

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One last thing I want to talk about today is quarter rests. What is a quarter rest? A quarter rest is a period of silence that lasts the same length as a quarter note.

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So why is this stuff above important? All of the things that we talked about today is important because it all relates to rhythm and understanding how to read rhythms. Rhythm is by far one of the most important subjects in music. So here is an exercise you can do and you won’t even have to have your guitar to do it. Take the material above and write out as many variations you can think of.


About the author, Zach Payton is a guitar teacher based out of Lewiston Idaho, that likes helping his students become musicians.

Major Guitar Teaching Mistakes Great Teachers Don’t Make

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Big Guitar Teaching Mistakes That Great Teachers Don’t Make

It is important to work with the best guitar teacher possible to ensure you don’t waste time learning from someone who doesn’t get you the results you want in your playing. Additionally, when you take lessons from a mediocre teacher, you put yourself at risk of learning poor playing habits that may hold your playing back for many years to come. This makes it critical to be able to spot big guitar teaching mistakes and know when to look for a better guitar teacher. When you take lessons with a great teacher, you become a better player and reach your musical goals much faster.

Here are a couple of the most common guitar teaching mistakes great guitar teachers never make:

Mostly Teaching You With Songs And/Or Using A Generic Teaching Approach

If your guitar teacher is primarily teaching you through songs, it is a good indication that he doesn’t have a strategy for helping you become a great guitarist. Teachers often teach through songs because they don’t know how to focus on a student’s specific needs, goals and learning style in order to get them the exact results they want. Eventually, the student grows bored of learning these songs, or fails to see any reason to continue lessons once they have learned them (because they feel this is the highest goal that lessons achieve for them). This leaves the student either without a teacher, without any idea of what to do or without motivation to get any better (because they are bored practicing the same song over and over).

 

A great guitar teacher will learn how to teach guitar using a goal-oriented approach. You know your teacher does this if they asked you about your musical goals before lessons began, and then designed a specific plan to help you reach those goals. Guitar teachers who do this help you get the specific results you want without wasting time practicing songs or doing things that don’t seem to take your playing where you want it to go. This makes guitar lessons more fun, because you know every lesson brings you closer to your ultimate musical goals.

Note: This same idea also applies to things like teaching music theory early on in lessons without showing you how to play actual music. Or teaching you things like how to read music when it has nothing to do with what you want to accomplish. Great guitar teachers never make these mistakes.

 

Not Showing You How To Practice What They Teach

It is a huge mistake to not show guitar students how to practice. Many guitar teachers only show you exercises, licks or other ideas during lessons… then they expect YOU to know how to practice them at home. This is the job of the teacher, not the student! Great guitar teachers always show you how to practice so you get results at home.

Guitar teacher trainer, Tom Hess says, “A great guitar teacher doesn’t just show you cool things during the lesson, he shows you how to practice them on our own. He shows you how to practice right there in the lesson, observes you practicing and corrects mistakes you make. This way you know for sure the best, most effective way to practice what is taught so you improve faster when practicing at home.”

Now that you know what mistakes great teachers don’t make, evaluate your current teacher (or anyone you are considering taking lessons with if possible). If they make these crucial mistakes, consider finding a new teacher who doesn’t. Take your guitar lessons seriously!

Your first Steps On Guitar PT 1: Playing Basic Songs

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Your first Steps On Guitar PT 1: Playing Basic Songs

By Chris Glyde

When it comes down to it, your goals will determine the subjects that you will need to focus on. So, if you’re a beginner guitar player, the best thing you can do is to create a mental image of what it is that you want to achieve. This article will be addressing one particular goal that most beginners have, which is to be able to play some easy chord-based songs.

This is an important article for everyone, because every song has chords in it, no matter how simple or complex. If you have a desire to play lead guitar, I will be addressing that in another article entitled “Your First Steps On Guitar Pt 2: Learning Lead Guitar.” Just search for my name and the title of the article, and it should be easy to find.

The point of this article is to provide you with an outline for what you should be working on first in order to help you reach these milestones towards becoming the player you want to be (in this case, putting chords together and playing some basic tunes). It’s not going to instantly provide you with all of the details to master each of these subjects. Instead, you can consider it a map. It is then up to you to take action and find the information that you will need to master these subjects.

If you want to get the most out of this article and your time when playing the guitar, I would create a checklist with all of the information listed below. As you begin to memorize, learn, and master these skills, simply check them off the list to record your progress. This will be a great way to track your progress and keep you motivated.

Here are the subjects you will need to familiarize yourself with and master:

1) Chords: Open chords, Power Chords and Integrated Shapes

Chords are the subject that most students need help with. Your job at this point will be to memorize all the basic open chords, the one basic power chord shape (this is the shape you can find in any punk tune, for example, although it’s also used in more than just rock music), and then practice playing those types of chords together as a unit. When you get this down, you will really be ready to play some songs. In order for these chords to be mastered, you must be able to switch between them smoothly and effortlessly. If you still have to think about fingering patterns, then the chords aren’t yet fully mastered. Again, just to be 100% clear, these chords aren’t mastered if you need to think about them. Playing them should be effortless.

2) You can play rhythm structures that include eighth notes, quarter notes, and the four basic

16th note shapes and rests (eighth note rests and quarter note rests).

Reading rhythmic notation is very important. This is not the same as reading music.

Would you like to know how you should strum the guitar? Would you like an easy way to know when you’re playing on the wrong beat? Would you like a leg up on just about 90% of all other guitar players? Great! Then you will want to learn rhythmic notation. This will make your guitar playing career much more fun, entertaining, and fulfilling.

If you’re unsure what these rhythmic structures are, you can find them explained in just about any book about playing the guitar. I suggest you go take a look and read up on this subject. If you’re not confident that you can figure out rhythmic notation on your own, invest in a teacher. This will save you a lot of frustration, and a lot of time.

3) Arpeggio Shapes

Chords are two or more notes played at the same time. Arpeggio shapes are simply chords played one note at a time and then letting them ring together. When learning arpeggio

shapes, you will still have to learn the physical aspect of chords, but you will also need to learn a different picking technique. You will need to have a clear understanding of how to pick these notes differently than you would with regularly picked notes.

I hope you’ve learned a lot from these articles, and I hope that they have at least given you a basic understanding of the first steps you should take to move forward as a guitar player. There are lots of goals to choose from, so when you’ve accomplished one goal, choose a new one!

Make your own map and move forward toward becoming the guitar player that you want to be.

About the Author


Chris Glyde is a guitar instructor who takes pride in helping his students become the player they’ve always desired to become and guiding them by helping them design their own guitar playing maps. If you live in Rochester, New York, check out Rochester Guitar Lessons.

Using Chromatic Passing Tones In Your Lead Playing

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Using Chromatic Passing Tones In Your Lead Playing

By Matt Chanway

Playing lead guitar is one of the most fun things out there. Especially as you begin to get a handle on some scales and some common lead techniques, you can really start to wow people with the music that you create through lead improvisation. People say that the time of the guitar hero has come and gone, but there are few people that are not impressed by a well-played guitar solo.

A common question students have once they’ve cut their teeth a bit playing lead guitar, is that their solos still sound a lot like scales, and less like actual music. Now, I could write a book on this subject, and that may happen in the future, but there are many, many ways we can liven up our lead playing and make it dynamic and interesting. I’m going to focus on one technique for today though – chromatic passing tones. ‘Chromatic’ means “add colour,” and that is exactly what chromatic passing tones do. By definition, when we add an extra note to a passage that is not a part of the scale or mode we are using to improvise, we are adding a chromatic passing tone. They are commonplace in jazz music, but great guitar players in all genres use these to add some variety and, well, colour to their playing. Since this is just a short article, I’m going to outline three scenarios where chromatic passing tones can have a very cool sound, and give some specific accompanying examples as well.

 

Example 1 – Using The Flattened 5th As A Passing Tone

The flattened 5th, when played on its own in relation to a root note, can have almost a cartoonishly evil sound to it. But when used properly, it gives us a very cool, bluesy type of sound. A lot of guitarists are familiar with the flattened 5th in the context of the blues scale, but we can also use it in a lot of modal contexts as well. For example, here are some fingerings of the E Dorian and E Aeolian modes, with the flattened 5th added – you can create some very cool licks with these…

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Example 2 – Using Chromatic Notes To Connect Arpeggio Tones

This approach to passing tones is a little less targeted than adding a specific passing tone to a scale (such as the flat 5th), but is very cool in its own right. If we take any arpeggio, we can use chromatic passing tones to connect two tones of the arpeggio, such as the 3rd and 5th, or 5th to 7th, and such and so forth. In this example, I am showing a Cmaj7 arpeggio with chromatic passing tones connecting the 5th and 7th intervals of the chord.

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Example 3 – Connecting the Minor 7th and Root Notes of a Minor Scale

This is a great trick to add some unpredictability to your solos. Here we are going to add a chromatic passing tone just before the root note, which will add a little bit of suspense before resolving a phrase, or you can use it to create faster licks as well. Here, it’s shown in a short A Blues scale phrase. However, this passing tone can be tactfully used with any scale that has a minor 7th interval within it.

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Example 4 – Approach A Chord Tone With Chromatic Passing Tones

If you’ve studied with me in the past, you’ll know I tend to go on a lot about stable and unstable notes to resolve phrases on when soloing. If you have a note that you know you want to end a phrase on, playing some chromatic passing tones (regardless of what the actual intervals of the passing tones end up as) can be a great way to add some tension and release to your lines. This example ascends up an E natural minor scale pattern, and uses chromatic passing tones to reach the flat 3rd, G.

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There you have it. By no means a comprehensive look at the topic, but some licks and ideas to get you playing some more colourful phrases. Have fun!


Matt Chanway is a professional guitarist and teaches guitar lessons in Langley, British Columbia.

How to Learn a Guitar Solo

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How to Learn a Guitar Solo

Have you been learning to play your electric guitar but haven’t tried to play a guitar solo yet?

It can be intimidating to learn your first guitar solo. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind. This guide will help you master that first solo and make it easier for you to memorize it for the future.

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Start with a Short and Simple Solo

You should start with a short guitar solo at first.

It’s easier to memorize just a few bars that it is to memorize a long, complicated solo. Some of the most famous solos of all time are quite short.

Here are some samples:

  • Intro solo to Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
  • Elvis – Heartbreak Hotel
  • Californication -Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  • Come Together – The Beatles
  • Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  • Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

These are a few suggestions. Try a short solo of an artist that you like.

 

What to Do First

Before you try and learn the solo, listen to it several times. You want to get the feeling of the solo in your head. You want to recreate that feeling when you play it. Spend a lot of time just listening and try to pick out some of the notes. See if you can play a few of them on your electric guitar. Don’t look at any music when you do this. This is a good ear training exercise. See if you can figure out the “key” that the song is in.

Always play a solo slow at first. Work it up to speed as you master each section.

 

Break it Down

To learn a solo, you need to break it down bar by bar. Have a look at the music and each bar of the solo. Start with the first bar, and don’t play anything else until you have mastered that one bar. Once you have mastered the first bar add in the second bar. Continue doing this until you can connect all the bars together. Don’t worry about speed or timing here, get the notes of the solo under your fingers.

 

Look for Patterns

To help with memorization, look for patterns in the solo. For example, there may be one lick that is played several times during the solo. Many solos have patterns like this that you can pick out. In some cases, the lick may change a bit or move to another place on the fretboard. Watch for this sort of change in the guitar solo.

Think of a solo as a series of licks that you need to learn on your electric guitar. Each lick connects to the next one to make up the solo. Once you can see the licks and patterns in a solo, learning it is much easier.

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What to Do if You Struggle with the Solo

Solo guitar is a lot harder than rhythm guitar. It’s easy to struggle at first. The key is to master small sections (each bar) of the solo before you try and play the whole thing. This is why you need to break down the solo, as discussed earlier. Examine the sections that give you trouble. Is it a certain bend? Fast lick? Try to isolate the section that is giving you problems and work on that part. Try to see how the other parts connect to the section giving you problems.

 

Play it with the Recording

Once you have the notes under your fingers. Play the recording and try the solo with the music. This is difficult the first few times you do it. The key is to keep practicing until you can play the solo with the recording and get the notes right.

If you struggle, try going through the motions of the solo without playing the notes. Put your fingers where the notes should be and play some air guitar to the solo on the record. See of you can then play the first couple of bars without making a mistake. Once you can do that, add in more bars.

 

It May Not Sound the Same as the Recording

Playing a guitar solo “exactly” like the recording is quite difficult. Don’t worry if it’s not quite the same. It takes a lot of practice to get a solo to sound like a recording does. Your own personality will come out in the solo that you play. For example, your vibrato may be a bit different than the guitarist that recorded the solo.

 

Conclusion

The whole idea of learning a guitar solo is to take your time. Break the solo down and work on it bar by bar. Master small section of the solo, then put it all together. Play along with the recording as much as possible. Get the solo as close to the actual recording as you can.


Learning to play the electric guitar can seem difficult at times, that’s why having a great electric guitar teacher to guide you is very important. In London, Electric Guitar Lessons, will be able to help you improve your guitar playing and your creativity.

Improvising In Different Keys With The Major Scale

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Improvising In Different Keys With The Major Scale

by Marco von Baumbach

 

Are you one of the people who have learned the major scale without being told how to use it to actually make music, or you can only use it in one specific key (probably C major)?

 

If that sounds familiar to you, than you might be very frustrated about not being able to do anything with it, especially considering all those cool backing tracks on youtube you might not be able to enjoy, because you simply don’t know how to play over them, or you are limited to those who are in C major.

 

But don’t worry, I am going to show you now how to play over any major key or minor key backing track with the major scale.

 

I know the basic major scale shape on the 8thfret, but how do I use it?

 

If you have ever learned to play a major scale up and down the 6 strings, you probably have learned this one:

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If You already know it, that’s great! If not, just take the time and memorize it. If you have learned it, or heard of it before, you might know that it is generally played beginning on the 8thfret on the low E-String, which is the note ‘C’.

 

The note which you are beginning the scale with, is determining in which key you are in. So when you are starting on the ‘C’ note on the 8thfret, you are playing in the key of C major.

 

That being said, you should know where the notes are on the low E-string, or at least be able to figure them out, because as said above, the note you are starting with is determining the key you are in.

 

So, how can I play the major scale over songs in different keys?

 

If you have understood everything that we have discussed before, you are ready to play the major scale in any key you want. As said before, the note which you are starting on is determining in which key you are in.

 

So let’s say you want to improvise over a song that is in G Major. All you need to do is to find out where the note ‘G’ is on the E-string (it is on the 3rdfret) and than you simply move the major scale shape (as it is in the picture above) and play it beginning on the 3rdfret of the E-string). You can do this with any major key.

 

Just keep in mind that the scale shape always stays the same. You move it as it is up and down the fretboard to the root note of the key you want to play in. This allows you to play in any major key you want!

 

What should I do if a song is in a minor key?

 

A lot of backing tracks on youtube are not in major keys, but in minor keys. If you have a song in a minor key, you can not play the major scale, by simply starting on the root note of the minor key. So, if you have a song in A minor do notplay the major scale beginning on the 5thfret (which is the note A). This will not sound good!

 

What you should do instead, is to start the major scale 3 frets higher than where the root note of the minor key is. So, if we stick to the example of A minor, you would not start the scale on the ‘A’ note, 5thfret, but you would count 3 frets upwardsto the 8thfret and start the scale from there.

 

Just try it out and you will find that it works. I’m not going to discuss the theory behind it for now, that’s not important for you to know at this point, just take it as it is and have fun experimenting.

 


My name is Marco von Baumbach, I’m a guitar teacher in Wuppertal, Germany. If you are from that area and are interested in lessons, check out my website aboutGitarrenunterricht in Wuppertal

How to Write Music When You Can’t Play an Instrument

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How to Write Music When You Can’t Play an Instrument

By Chris Glyde

Obviously, not playing an instrument makes it a bit harder to write music, so if you can learn an instrument, I would suggest at least taking up basic piano. That being said, this article is going to operate under the premise that you’re not going to learn another instrument. How can you write songs with just a voice and your brain?

 

Singing each part with your voice:

The easiest thing to do would be to learn about counterpoint, which is the movement between individual notes—horizontal and vertical. Then you can sing melody lines and stack them together in order to write the music that you’re interested in writing.

I would also make sure that you spend time on ear training in order to develop proper aural skills.

One artist who sang all of the lines of his music when he was writing it was Michael Jackson. Now, did Michael Jackson spend time learning counterpoint and ear training? I don’t know the answer 100%, but my guess would be no. However, I’m sure that he developed a great ear for the proper melodic motions of the styles he wanted to portray from being in the studio so much as a child with the Jackson 5, and even when his solo career took off as well. The idea is that proper ear training and counterpoint knowledge can help you better understand what you’re doing, find patterns, and then repeat and/or break them when you desire to or when the song calls for something different.

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A lot of people would say that this skill is incredibly hard to develop. However, that’s not exactly true—it just takes time and patience. If you have the drive, you can learn it.

Just create a single vocal line:

I may be a tad bit biased as a vocalist, but melody to me is the part of the song that most quickly catches the ear. As such, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a writer practicing melody writing. You can put that melody to words and then give it to the instrument section. Then, it’s their job to figure out how to accompany this melody (which chords to use, etc.). From that point, you can enter into discussions about form and use your bandmates’ knowledge in order to help you work out a really awesome song!

This seems to be a more common approach. Although, oftentimes it’s done the opposite way as well. In that method, the instrument section devises their parts first and then gives it to the singer to write lyrics and melodies. I find the “instrument section first” method easier, but that’s probably because I’ve done it more frequently.

If you were to write melodies first, it would push the songs in a different direction, because the process you would be using is different, which is creativity in a nutshell. I also find that if I write the instrument section first, it tends to limit what my melodies sound like. In that situation, I’m already stuck in a key, and I can’t experiment to the same extent. More interesting melodies are not a bad thing!


about the author:

If you’re looking for help developing the necessary skills to become a strong vocalist, then check in with Chris Glyde! He’ll help you develop your voice in Rochester.