What It Takes To Release An Album

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What It Takes To Release An Album

Are you a musician, looking to release an album or an EP?

If the answer is yes, then roll up your sleeves, because a lot of things will have to get done before the release will actually happen.

First off, I am by far not a music marketing specialist. But I am a part of two active rock bands, who regularly release their music. And I am writing from our first-hand experience about what was needed from us, before the album was actually released.

The choice to be a musician can be scary to some people, especially because most musicians over-dramatize the effort you need to put in to make it work on even a smaller scale. 

But music is a business, just like any other business, where – believe it or not – you have to put in the work.

To not turn anyone away: the work itself can actually be very much FUN. The fact is that most of the stress is caused by: over-thinking, no planning and confusion. Write things down, have it all planned out beforehand, and stick to the plan. If you don’t have 8 hours per day to work on your music career, that’s okay, plan your work to get it done in the few hours per week you actually have.


Photo by Ron Lach

From experience, I can tell you that the most stress for us was caused by not having things laid out in front of us. That made us forget important things, and chase last minute solutions.

And trust me, when you need a designer to create an awesome album art, or a filmmaker to make your music video in the last minute, everyone is busy working on other projects. Most of them do not even pick up the phone. It’s like the universe is working against you.

That being said: write things down. This action itself will put your mind at ease and lower the stress. Then you simply start working on it and enjoy the work. Every task you complete, will bring you closer to your goal.

Yes, there will be days, when you will have to shoot music videos for more than 16 hours, but it’s going to be a thrilling experience. You could be at home watching TV, but no, you are actually creating something awesome that will last a lifetime. With that mindset, it’s very easy to get things done and feel good about it.


Before you release an album, make sure you have the last versions of master tracks on your hard drive. As obvious as this one is, it’s very easy to be chasing after any last minute improvements, run late or miss the deadlines. Remixing, mastering and exporting tracks takes time. And if you are working with professional studio personnel, they might not be available at all times.

To ease the stress, have the tracks in your hand at least 3 weeks before you plan to release your album.

Names of the songs

Have all the names for the songs figured out, including the syntax. You might want to capitalize each letter in the name, or write everything capitalized, or maybe do something more creative in between.

Plan to have this figured out at least 3 weeks before the release.

Name of the album

Again, an obvious one, but plan to have this one ready beforehand. You will probably need the name of the album for your cover art and PR.

Have this one ready at least 4 weeks before the release.

Order of the songs

Order of the songs is important. It will make your album flow seamlessly, or make it sound repetitive and dull.

One good idea is to try to break similar songs apart. Listen to the end of one song, and the start of the next song. It’s good for them to have different tempo, key, rhythm, and instruments.

Also think about the energy you want the album to have throughout. You usually want to start with some bangers and sneak some slower songs later on. More complex songs work best in the second half of the album. But you can do whatever you want here, it’s your creation. Just think about how the order of the songs will improve upon it.

If you are planning only a digital release, have the order figured out at least 2 weeks before the release. But if you are also doing physical copies, you will probably need the order of the songs printed on the cover, so keep that in mind.

Length of silence between the songs

The silence between the songs is very important for the flow of the album. Once you have the masters, simply listen to the songs in the correct order and think about how shortening/lengthening the silence can improve the flow. 

If you want to make any changes, you can do them by yourself using a DAW. Just make sure you export the same format as the files you have received to avoid lowering the sound quality.

Have this done at least 2 weeks before the release.

Album art

You should start working on this as soon as you get the resources you require (album name, song names, order of the songs). This is how your album will be presented to the audience on digital platforms as well as physical copies. Have this one ready at least 2 weeks before you plan the release.

Other resources

Here are also some things you might want to think about before releasing the album. These resources help you promote your album and make online distribution complete.

  • Photos of you or your band
  • Singles (pick your singles and plan your release before/after the album)
  • Music videos accompanying single releases
  • Lyrics written out (these are usually uploaded to online music platforms)
  • PR text to send out to the media
  • Other content for promotion (interviews, reviews, remixes, different song versions – use these to promote the album)


Now that you have thought about all of these things that need to get done, put them on a timeline, and stick to the plan. Simply put the deadlines into an Excel file and share it with your crew if you have one.

And that’s it. I hope this gives you a better idea on what needs to be done before you release an album. The key here is to plan your work and work your plan.

 About the author

Janez Janežič is a creative guitar teacher, songwriter, and guitarist from Novo mesto, Slovenia. If you are looking for quality, fun and effective guitar lessons in dolenjska region, be sure to look up his guitar school.

Why your music teacher can’t tell you what guitar to buy

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Why your music teacher can’t tell you what guitar to buy

As a guitar teacher I teach a lot of beginning guitar students. All of these students are eventually faced with the decision of witch guitar to buy. Maybe it’s their very first guitar or they started out on some cheap crappy guitar and now they want something better. The question of “can you recommend a guitar for me to buy” is sure to pop up sooner or later from these students. 

Basically, they want me to recommend a specific brand and preferable also a specific model. Most beginning guitar students don’t feel, they possess the knowledge or skills to pick out their own guitar. This question is fear based at its core. Fear of making a bad purchase, loosing money and not getting a good guitar, but it’s also a fear of simply being in a guitarshop and “exposing” that they are newbies on the guitar. That is the real reason, they want me to recommend a guitar, but the problem with recommending a guitar is twofold. 

For one, we are all different individuals so the guitar that fits me in terms of size, sound, playability and so on, may not be a good fit in any of the categories for you. And secondly, even though a brand has a good reputation and creates a lot of quality guitars, there is always the risk, that the specific guitar you consider buying is flawed in some way. So even if I did recommend a guitar, there is no guarantees, you wouldn’t buy a bad guitar. The real value for you as a student is to learn how to evaluate a guitar and this article will give you the main points. 

Objective and subjective criteria

The objective criteria are simply “does the guitar live up to standard” meaning, does the guitar work as it’s supposed to. There is a ton of easy accesable knowledge on this online. Simply go to yourtube and write “how to buy (insert whatever guitar you consider buying)” and you will get a lot of help. You have to learn what to check for and how to do it. Then you have to go practice it on real guitars without actually buying anything yet. This will boost your confidence, when you eventually are going to go buy a guitar.

The subjective criteria

This is all the “difficult” questions. Do I like the guitar?, does it sound great? play well? and so on. These are all the questions, that beginning guitar players feel, they can’t answer. The truth is, they are the only ones who CAN answer that, as this guitar is for them. We are only judging what you think of the guitar and not how it compares to some kind of arbitrary standard. You are the one who are buying the guitar, you are the one who will be playing it and therefore, only your opinion matters. Start assessing guitar and ask your self three question. Do I like the way it looks, do I like the way it sounds and do I like the way it plays. Rate the guitar on a scale from 1-5 in all cases and you will slowly begin to pinpoint what you feel about a certain guitar and this is what builds your confidence. What you feel, is the truth about that guitar for you and the only difference between a newbie and a pro buying a guitar, is that the pro has learned to trust in whatever they feel or think about a guitar. This is what you need to develop as well. When you have done this, you will never have to ask advice on buying a guitar again.

About the author: Janus Buch is the head teacher and founder of Bredballe Guitarskole in Denmark. Bredballe Guitarskole is located near Horsens and we offer a wide verity of programs to take your guitar playing to the next level. A lot of guitar players find them selves stuck in a rut when it comes to their progress. Even though they do practice and spend a lot of time on youtube lessons, they don’t feel like they are getting anywhere. If this sounds like you, we are able to help you. If you are native to the area, seek you Bredballe Guitarskole for the best value for money guitar lessons in Horsens.

Essential Items You Need When You Buy Your First Guitar

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Essential Items You Need When You Buy Your First Guitar

When you purchase your first guitar, you should plan on buying a few other things too. These essential items make starting to play and care for your guitar much easier.

1. Pen and Paper

Pen and paper is a simple thing that is often overlooked. As you learn, you want to get in the habit of writing everything down. You will learn much faster if you write out chords and scales yourself instead of just printing diagrams you found online or constantly looking at books. 

Notebooks are also a great place to keep a list of what you would like to learn to play or any musical ideas you have. Keeping a practice journal will also help you see all your progress.

2. Picks

You can never have too many picks. Losing and misplacing picks happens to everyone who plays the guitar. Beginners should try picks with different thicknesses. Most beginners like the feel of medium picks. Many guitar players like thicker picks once they have some experience playing. It is OK to try picks made from different materials and different sizes. Finding a pick you like using usually takes some time and comes down to personal preference.

3. Tuner

You will want to tune your guitar every time you play it. An out-of-tune guitar sounds awful and is no fun to play. There are many different tuners, but all you need to get started is a cheap clip-on tuner like a Snark.

4. Extra Strings

Strings will break. It is not a big deal, but you want to be prepared and have extra strings handy. Even if you are lucky and don’t break any strings, you will want to get in the habit of changing your strings every three or four months. A fresh set of guitar strings will make your guitar sound fantastic.

5. Metronome

Learning how to play in time is essential. The sooner you learn how to use a metronome, the better you will sound. A trained teacher will be able to help you learn how to use your metronome properly.

6. Case

You want to have a safe place to store your guitar. A hardshell case is the safest way to transport and store your guitar. A case allows you to control the environment for your guitar, protecting it from drastic temperature changes, humidity, and dust. You can keep your guitar on a stand or wall hanger, but make sure it is not stored in direct sunlight or by a heat source.

7. Cleaning Cloth

You can buy a cleaning cloth or use a soft material like a t-shirt. Wiping down your guitar after using it will help it look better and make your strings last longer.

8. Amp (optional)

As a beginner, all you will need is a small practice amp. You want to be polite and play at a reasonable volume initially. Many of the sounds that a beginner guitarist makes are not pleasant, but that is just part of the process. Playing through an amp will help you learn how to mute unwanted noises and control what sounds come out of your guitar. You can always buy a bigger amp once you are ready to start playing in a band or doing solo performances.

 About the author: Brian Fish is a professional guitarist living in Northeast Ohio and is an expert guitar instructor at  Guitar Lessons Geauga.

How To Stay Motivated To Play Guitar

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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

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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.


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.


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

Guitar Teacher in PJ

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…



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.



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.



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.



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.