Archive for January, 2009

So you want to be improve your guitar playing?

Well, like any thing, guitar skill progress takes time and
practice, but many of us have much difficulty practicing
regularly because it is so easy to let other things take
priority over our guitar lessons.

First, you need to absolutely make up your mind that you want to
improve your guitar playing and then make sure that your
progress is truly is a priority for you.

Make a list of the most important things that you need to focus
on in your life right now and honestly assess where guitar fits
into your list.

Ideally, you want to be engaged in a guitar lesson for at least
an hour a day in order to make any significant progress.

However, you may have to conclude that at this point you are not
going to be able to devote even an hour a week to the task.

If that is the case, try to spend some casual time reading
guitar-related publications or listening to your favorite
guitarists to nurture your love of the music. When your
priorities change and you have more time, you will then at least
still have a strong interest in becoming as good a guitarist as
you can. Listening to Eric Clapton or other greats will only
kindle your interest and may even cause you to reprioritize your
guitar lessons.

Once you see where your guitar practice fits in with the rest of
your life, make a true appointment with yourself. Put your
practice into your schedule. Get it in your planner or it won’t
get done!

Okay, now that you are regularly spending time with your beloved
guitar, what should you do?

First, make sure it is quality time. Don’t have the television
on or be hanging out with friends. Then, make sure you are
working on skills that you need to sharpen.

If you spend time strumming popular solos and cranking up your
amplifier, you may have some fun, but you will not improve your

Think about the chords and scales that you struggle with. Grade
yourself on them on a scale (no pun intended) of 1 to 10 and
then re-evaluate every week or so. Re-grading every practice or
guitar lesson is not appropriate because it is unfair to measure
progress that frequently.

No one improves in a straight line. You may hit a certain chord
great one day and then have two of the strings sound very
unclear the next day. However, if you work diligently you will
make progress when measured every couple weeks or so.

Do the same thing with scales and even notes depending on your
current skill level.

Once you have a way of measuring your progress, you will be
inspired to continue with your regular practice regimen and
guitar lessons.

As an advanced step, after you have made progress with a certain
group of chords and scales, you should find a song you like that
uses many of those elements and work on that as a way of
applying your improved ability.

This can be very rewarding.

You may even want to start with the song and work backwards, but
make sure that you do spend a great deal of time on the
fundamentals before you get serious about the song.

The key to all this is regular consistent work and a measurement
of results. Achieve this, and you will enjoy your practice time
more and more. Challenge yourself to be at a certain grade by a
specific time.

Make a game of your practice efforts and you will surprise


You Can Learn to Play the Guitar

   Posted by: admin   in Guitar Lessons

In high school, did you ever dream about starting your own rock band? Want to duplicate the soothing sounds of folk tunes for family and friends? Does your favorite musician work magic with a Gibson ES 335? Is Jimi Hendrix your idol? It doesn’t matter the reason why you want to play the guitar – a seed has been planted and now it is time to nurture the desire.

Where to begin? Playing guitar (whether for fun or professionally) takes patience and determination. By following a few tips, you can harness your passion or interest for the instrument. You will also find that fueling your creativity and developing this new form of expression will take time. Great guitar players do not blossom overnight.

Purchasing a Guitar

Before you start learning the ropes of guitar playing, you’re going to need an instrument to carry out your lessons. The type of music you wish to play will determine the kind of guitar you require. For example, an acoustic guitar is used to generate the sounds of country, ragtime or folk. The body of the guitar is large and hollow, creating a sound that many deem “natural.” Rock music often utilizes an electric guitar, which offers a rather distinctive amplified sound. Additional guitars to look into include the steel, solid body, archtop, resonator, bass and twelve-string guitar.

With the purchase of a guitar, there are other necessary pieces of basic equipment. A guitar pick is required to help play the chords of your instrument. The size of guitar pick is quite small, prompting easy breakage and it can also be easily misplaced. This is why beginners should have a good number of guitar picks on hand. When purchasing picks, the medium gauge varieties are suggested because they are less apt to break. You should also invest in a comfortable chair.

Getting Lessons

While some guitar players are able to naturally experiment with chords by ear and strum along with less guidance, others require the assistance of structured lessons. There are numerous ways to learn how to play the guitar. If you are able to afford a private tutor, you can take advantage of one-on-one instruction, which may speed up the learning process. Sometimes, beginners benefit from group learning, which provides a wealth of constructive criticism. The Internet also offers a way for beginners to privately learn online. Some websites offer a computer keyboard lesson on learning scales, which some beginners find quite easy.

Whichever approach you take in learning to play guitar, you should know that setting goals for yourself makes the process more rewarding. Achieving personal milestones further motivates your desire to find a common ground with the instrument and who knows how far your lessons will take you.

Recognizing why you want to play guitar in the first place will also help you to better accomplish your goals. Some people want to learn to play for fun, peaking with a performance in front of family and friends. Others would like to share their talents with a slightly larger crowd, probably visiting a few coffee shops or open-mic nights. Then there are the masses of learners who have bigger dreams of taking to a stage in front of thousands. No matter what the goal is, you can’t get there without loads of practice.

What You Will Learn

Guitar lessons usually start with building a basic foundation, such as how to properly hold the guitar and establishing correct posture when playing. There is a wide range of techniques involved in playing the guitar and after a few lessons, you may start to find your niche.

One of the most important things to focus on when playing a guitar is understanding and mastering the chords. There are books and charts to help you along this important part of the process. There are many different chords to familiarize yourself with and taking them one at a time will lead to better results.

Additional areas of guitar instruction may include learning how to properly hold a pick, memorizing scales, tackling music theory and selecting a music style. Instrument maintenance, such as tuning and caring for your guitar is also of importance.

Sticking With It

Staying motivated is one of the best things you can do when learning to play the guitar. It is easy to become frustrated with a new project and abandon it before truly experiencing any benefits. On some days, you may have to dig deep to reclaim your passion and dedication. Other days, you could be composing the next pop hit. Give the process a chance and remember that it takes time to get the hang of this instrument. The best thing you can do is continue to practice and soon, you will reap the rewards of hard work and focus.

It’s tough to find someone to teach your child an instrument. It’s hard to find a reputable place that has great teachers and a budget friendly program. I learned guitar in the late 1980′s when hair-do’s and technique were more important than substance. There was this place locally called People’s Music in Queens, NY that was your run in the mill mom and pop instrument retail store. I bought my first guitar there for $300 bucks which I paid for with the money from my paper route.

Now, interestingly enough, Aria Pro and paper routes for 11 year olds no longer exist. Kids today have access to Sam Ash and the like for their instrument purchases and as far as finding a job to pay for their instrument well that’s a different story. Mom and Dad probably pay for the thing.

Needless to say, I took lessons for two years and built a great relationship with my teacher. He taught me all sorts of things, or tried to, and I never practiced! Mom was just happy that I was doing something constructive and found something I liked. She was a big proponent of role models and looked to my guitar teacher as one.

After the two years, my guitar teacher told me that he was leaving and was giving me his number in case I wanted private lessons. I of course told my Mom and we obliged. Apparently everyone else did too as the store closed down soon after that.

Years later when I was old enough to understand, or care for that matter, he told me how bad the place was run and how the owner didn’t really care for his teachers. I ended up taking lessons for 4 years privately and today, almost 20 years later, I am still playing professionally I might add.

So what was it- the love of the instrument or the teacher that got me to play? It was the teacher and I’ll tell you why. Music lessons are great for anyone that want to learn the instrument of their choosing. But great teachers- those are few and far between.
When I started teaching guitar, I did it for the money obviously. I had an average of thirty students and like my guitar teacher of the 80′s, I taught in a Mom and Pop Retail store. As time went on, I realized what my old guitar teacher gave me that was way more important than my love of music: it was a friendship and mentorship that would last a lifetime.

When I started incorporating this into my teaching style, not only did I see the results in the playing of my students, but the turnover rate of kids falling out of the lesson program declined dramatically.
So what did I do that was so great?

1.I listened. We always begin a lesson with just chatter. Believe me, I remember being a 12 year old kid with divorced parents and sometimes it is just great to have someone to listen to you. A meaningful “How are you?” goes a long way.
2.Laughter. To this day, I do not take myself seriously. Yeah, I’ve recorded albums and I’ve gotten my music licensed on TV – but what does that mean to your student? I made the learning environment fun. All the pretentious babble about you and what you do and how you do it can wait.
3.Listen to what they want to do. I briefly had a guitar teacher that was all about making me a solo player- like all the metal players. He was adamant about it and made me do all these boring scales. Don’t get me wrong- scales are important but he never told me what to do with them. It wasn’t until my 80′s guitar teacher asked me “So what do YOU want to learn?” that I understood all the scale babble. He inserted all the difficult stuff in our lessons without me knowing.
4.With that said- songs, songs, and more songs! Write down what your student listens to and then make it a goal to learn the songs he or she likes. When learning those songs, pick out the little techniques in it that give it character and incorporate it into you lesson. For example, if he or she hasn’t learned a trill yet and you hear it in the song, point it out while listening to it and make it part of the lesson for that day. Hearing what something sounds like in a song they love goes a long way.
5.Have fun. When you are bored I guarantee they’ll get bored too.

Now, we all have the students that will never be able to play an instrument for whatever reason but their parents make them. I am not saying that by using these teaching techniques that every student you encounter will be a pro in no time. All I am saying is that once you build a strong healthy relationship with your student you will be their friend and that is something that lasts a lifetime no matter what.