The Importance of Goal Setting

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Music Goal Setting

In this article I would like to talk about setting ‘SMART Music Playing Goals’. If you have not heard of “SMART” goals before, this is your time to find out about them! And if you have, this is your time to revise them.

Why Set SMART Music Playing Goals?

‘’Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them’’ Jim Rohn, Motivational Speaker

Goals when written down can be powerful compasses to keep us on track and motivate us to achieve the results we want for ourselves. Each time we set, work towards and achieve our own goals we not only benefit from the feeling of success, but we will develop more self-belief, persistence, patience, resilience and self-accountability along the way.

Goal setting is an under taught but valuable skill that can be used in so many areas of our lives.

You set your own music playing goals and choose things that you are genuinely interested in and want to achieve. Deciding goals might be a bit hard at first, but if you have a teacher, they are there to help and like any new skill goal setting gets easier with repetition!

The best way to set goals is using the SMART format:

S= specific
M= measurable
A= attainable
R= relevant
T= time-based

Sometimes goals will be achieved as planned - be proud when that happens! Other times a part of the SMART goal might need adjusting - so rather than being disappointed in yourself, be patient. Just adjust the plan and keep persisting. And remember what Bruce Lee said:

“A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at”

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At Ultimate School of Music, we teach our students how to set and reach goals for themselves. Contact us for the best guitar lessons in Dublin

How Do I Know Whether I Should Send My Child To Guitar Lessons?

So you’ve been thinking about your child going to guitar lessons? Are you wondering if that’s the right instrument for them? Are you wondering whether it will be worth them learning an instrument at all?

This article will give you a few things to think about whether guitar lessons will be right for your child and also for you too.

Does your child want to play the guitar?


The most important thing is does your child want to play the guitar. You may be the most supportive parent in the whole world. But if your child wants nothing but to play football all day. Then it may be difficult to encourage them to sit down and play. However, if they have shown an interest in it themselves. Whether something has inspired them or someone they know plays the guitar. Then that is a great start.

What age is your child?

We normally recommend children to learn how to play the guitar is around seven or eight. This is because by then they have reasonable dexterity and concentration. They can have a tonne of progress in a short space of time.

The guitar is a little harder than some other instruments and requires good two hand coordination. Every child is different, so it’s worth taking your child to a guitar teacher. When they are below that age, they can start playing very simple things on the guitar. However, many parents prefer to save their money and have their child make tonnes of progress when they are a little older.

Beyond that age, anyone can learn how to play the guitar! Even adults in their 60s. So if you want to learn how to play too, there’s no reason why you can’t.

Does your child have time to learn?


Occasionally, we meet a child that has about 10 different hobbies, and they have a schedule that most adults would be afraid of. Learning guitar does take commitment, we recommend your child to have at least 10 minutes a day to practice. More if they are older. If they have a lot of other commitments, then trying to fit something else in might overwhelm them.

Guitar Vs other instruments

Guitar itself has many benefits compared to learning other instruments.

The guitar is the most popular instrument for adults to play in the UK. This means that if your child learns how to play the guitar that they are a lot more likely to carry on playing when they are adults. This is because the guitar is present in a lot of popular music. It is also very portable and can be kept even in small apartments. You can also pick it up at a reasonably small amount of money compared to many other instruments.

Lots of children learn classical instruments and encouraged to do grades. But end up never playing the instrument when they are older. Guitar definitely has a “cool” perception that may attract your child to enjoy playing it more.

And that’s the most important thing. If your child enjoys playing the guitar and has fun in the lessons. They are a lot more likely to carry on playing it as they get older. So that they can enjoy the benefits of learning music and playing the guitar.


I hope this short article has given you a few ideas on whether you want to send your child to have guitar lessons. It is a commitment, and it takes hard work and effort for your child to master the guitar. But it is a lot of fun and can bring your child a lot of enjoyment and improve their confidence.

About Darryl Powis:

He is a dedicated guitar teacher and guitar school owner of Guitar Tuition East London providing children’s guitar lessons from London, England. Experienced in helping both children, teenagers and adults with learning the guitar and giving them results while having a lot of fun learning the guitar.

Fun ways to quickly improve Strumming and Rhythm skills

Dhanesh Sarangadharan 

Most beginner to intermediate guitarists want to play popular songs on Guitar effortlessly.

What people fail to understand is most of the effortlessness comes from a free flowing right hand, that can play any rhythm without too much conscious effort put into learning the rhythm. This is especially effective when it comes to strumming.

Most Guitarists resort to the age old methods of first getting their hand going and then playing some predefined patterns in order to get better at strumming.

The problem with this approach is that you get limited by the strumming patterns you learnt and tend to use it on all of your songs, with very less variation. It also makes your strumming sound very robotic for a long time till you completely internalize the art.

This also makes the listener feel bored easily and turn away from what you are playing, whereas you could do so much more to ensure that they enjoy each and every song that they play.

There’s nothing wrong with consciously learning a lot of different strumming patterns. However, strumming is at it’s best when it becomes an internalized activity that happens on auto-pilot.

Here we’ll look at a totally fun way of developing your strumming and rhythm skills and take it to a very high level in shorter time.

This exercise can be practiced at any level, but is highly recommended for Guitar Players who have basic strumming skills and know a few strumming patterns, but want to expand their strumming and rhythm skills to higher levels faster.

Before we get to the actual method, let’s review the important aspects of ensuring that your Strumming always sounds natural and free flowing.

It’ll also help you if you have never been introduced to these concepts before.

●    Keys to Great Strumming

a.  Grip on the Pick

This applies to guitarists who use a pick to strum the Guitar. Ensure that you hold the pick firmly enough to not drop or twist it in the process of strumming. This strength should only come from your fingers and not your entire wrist or arm.

You can practice this even when you are away from the Guitar, by just pressing on the Pick firmly with your Thumb and Index finger of the strumming hand and keep holding onto it for 5 to 10 secs. Relax after that and repeat it as many times as possible.

Remember that you’ll only apply strength from the fingers here.

b.  Loose and Free Flowing Wrist

This is slightly challenging, because it’s contradictory to the motion described in the previous step. However, it gets easier and easier the more you do it consciously. For best results with Strumming in the initial days, it helps to keep the wrist loose and free flowing in both directions. You can imagine as if there’s something on your wrist that you are flicking away.

c.  Downstroke and Upstroke

This can be developed slowly, but doing this consciously will help you get there quicker.

Keep your downstrokes accurate. E.g. If the chord requires you to Strum only 5 strings, then try to start your downstroke at the 5th string and only hit 5 strings. As you go along, you’ll develop high levels of accuracy with this, but do not get discouraged if it doesn’t happen the first few occasions. You’ll become completely accurate and also utilizing muting the strings in future to enhance this further.

Your upstroked will be completely

d.  Zero Hesitation

Your focus should be on continuous down-up motion, without any hesitation. Even if you miss a few downstrokes or upstrokes, you should not care to stop and think about what your next move should be. Your hand will be like a wiper, once turned on, it only stops when you want it to stop.

●    How to Develop your Strumming and Rhythm skills at a rapid pace

This is going to be a totally fun lesson to work on. Here there are no set instructions or Steps to follow.

This lesson is completely subjective to each individual's perception of Rhythm and ability to recreate that on Guitar.

But don’t underestimate the value of this lesson as this can be another tool in your arsenal of creative expression and song writing.

Even if you don’t want to do all that, this still serves you well when you just want to entertain an audience that comes up with weird song requests.

e.  The Assignment


i.        You’ll pull up Chord Progressions for completely unusual popular songs, which were never played on Guitar or never meant to be played on Guitar.

ii.       Listen to the Rhythm of the song, and then you have to imitate or copy that Rhythm on Guitar. Do not shy away from picking rhythmically odd or complex songs, slow songs, fast songs etc… Anything goes for this exercise.

iii.      I’ll give you a trick to get this going. Try to figure out the drum part or percussion in the song and just imitate that rhythm on the Guitar.

iv.     Try to not think too much about the down-up movements as you try to imitate the rhythm

v.       Do not get discouraged in the beginning, this might take a while before you master the art of imitating odd rhythms on guitar

vi.     Add this to the fun part of your practice routine and experiment with these rhythms

vii.    Try to interchange the rhythm between songs and see how the chord progression sounds.

viii.   Play different drum parts from a drum machine or get a drummer friend to play along with you. Your job is to imitate the rhythm played on the drums on your Guitar

ix.     Once you feel comfortable doing this with strums, apply the same concept to Lead Guitar

x.       Play different scale fragments or melodic lines, which trying to imitate the odd rhythms played in songs or drums.


●     What should you do with this information ?

1.   Don’t just read the steps.Implement them one by one. You can begin with any song that you feel is easy to play.Even if you try these steps with only with 10 -15 songs, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this art of strumming in the shortest possible time.

2.   Don’t just stop at this, once you feel you have practiced this over 10-15 of your favourite songs, pull up chord charts for any song and start playing on the fly without stopping or judging how well you are playing. Here you should only worry about how carefree you are while trying to bring out the rhythm of the song.

3.   Enjoy the process as this is the most fun aspect of learning Guitar.

4.   Create opportunities for yourself for short Gigs with Friends and Family where you can test yourself without being judged too much. Test yourself to play some really odd rhythmic pieces live.


About The Author:

Dhanesh Sarangadharan is a certified guitar teacher in Pune, Maharashtra India, who is passionate about helping students progress faster towards their guitar playing and musical ambitions.

How to end a phrase in style

No matter what style you are you are playing in, there is one note that has a very special position and will keep in the listeners perception clearer than the rest. What note you play and how you play it will certainly affect this perception and will decide whether the listener likes that note but it’s position alone will make it stand out. I am talking about the last note you play. The contrast to the following (if brief) silence will make that note stand out like nothing else can. In fact the notes you play before are not nearly as important as this note. A small mistake in one of those notes leading up to the last note will usually not matter much, but if you play a wrong pitch and end on it you listeners will notice that. Without further introduction let’s talk about what you want to achieve with the last note and what you can do to emphasize this note.

What is the purpose of the end of a phrase?

Because of it’s special position in the phrase the last note is the one note that people will remember the best. So if you want people to remember your playing as great the first step is to focus on the last note. If they hear a great note at the end they will more likely judge the rest as great, too. So your purpose is to play a really expressive note at the end.

What can you do to achieve that?

Now that we know what we want to do (i.e. emphasize the last note of your phrase) let’s look at techniques that have this effect. Here are my three favorite methods:

Before you play the last note incorporate a bit of silence into the phrase. This will get the listener to think. Especially if you play a strong dissonance before the pause the listener will think: “Is that it? That does not sound right.” And just as he thinks that you resolve the dissonance and show that you knew what you were doing.

Employ vibrato. If I had to name one technique that made me fall in love with the guitar is the power of a nice vibrato. This is one technique that give the guitar a voice like expression which some instruments simply cannot achieve.

Slides – Mastering the skill of playing a really pleasing vibrato takes time, but I want to give you some elements that you can use to improve your last note today. Sliding into a note is much easier to do and can sound really good, too. One possibility is to play your target note and immediately jump down a few frets and slide into it again. If you do it right this can feel like a full stop at the end of a sentence.

Getting these techniques to work in the way you want them to work takes a bit of deliberate practice but the result is well worth the time. Have fun!

To get to know more about the author follow the link to Hildesheims first guitar-only school: Rock Gitarre Hildesheim. In his school René Kerkdyk teaches guitar and helps students of all ages to express themselves with the guitar.

Beginner Steps To Make Learning Songs On Guitar Easy

One of the first things you will want to accomplish on guitar is learning some songs. There are many reasons for this, but I’m sure if you are a beginner you already want to know the beginner steps to make learning songs on guitar easy. Let’s let look at how we can make this a simple and organized process. Then we can get to playing real music and having more fun.

I would highly recommend writing out a simple list. you can use pen and paper or if you prefer a spreadsheet. You won’t be writing much, but it will be very useful in the future. You will be able to quickly find the information you want on what you have learned.

First write a column for song titles and the name of the artist who song it is. The next column will be called Tempo. This is the speed the song is or how many BPM(beats per minute) the song is. The beat of a song is the most foundational aspect and knowing it will help you understand tempo and rhythm on a deeper level. This will make it much, much easier to learn songs in the future.

The next column will be called Time Signature. This is how many beats are in 1 measure. The most common time signature is 4/4 which is 4 quarter notes per measure. Think of it like 4 quarters in 1 dollar. Most music is in 4/4. This will help you count the beats; 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4, etc.

Next you will want to write down the key of the song. As a beginner you might not know how to figure this out which is fine. This can get filled in later when you learn how to do this. But for now just write in all the chord names you find. This let’s us know what the song contains on a basic level.

The reason we want this to be a list is so that we can quickly find and see all the general important information about a song write away. It will also help us to compare songs and see similarities and differences. Remember that when learning a song or anything for that matter, we aren’t only learning to have fun, we are learning so that it is easier to learn in the future and have a lot more fun for the rest of our lives.

Now that you have some basic information about your song, begin to learn the first section. This could be just the first measure or first couple of measures. When practicing a new song it will be slow and not in rhythm. This will not sound like the song, so don’t get discouraged or worry about how it sounds. Just keep at it until your hands can move quickly enough to play it at the correct speed(tempo) or at least until it starts to sound familiar.

Once you have the first part memorized and it is sounding somewhat like music, add in the next part. Practice the 2nd part by itself until it is memorized and then play both the first and second part in order. It should now sound a little more recognizable.

You would now expect me to tell you to continue this until you are done and that would be fine, but there is another step that is very important. Stop after you have learned a little and recognize that you now know more and can do more than you could before you started. Make sure to do this step and keep doing it after every section is learned. This allows the mind to

keep progress in context. When this step is skipped many beginner or even advanced guitar players get discouraged or overwhelmed and can give up on what they are doing. Giving up never leads to fun. So, let’s keep a clear and rational perspective on our progress and give credit where it is due.

Below is an example of what the list might look like.

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About The Author: Ryan Duke is a professional musician, guitar teacher, and owner of Seattle Guitar Mentor providing Seattle Guitar Lessons in Seattle, WA


By Aldo Chircop

Yes, this is about the dreaded F barre chord, the nemesis of many guitar players who’ve just started getting to grips with chords.

Many people seem to struggle inordinately with correctly holding a barre chord on the first fret. If this is or has been the case for you, have you ever stopped and asked yourself why? If you want to know the answer, then read on.

First, we need to understand a basic physics principle. When you have a piece of material under tension, such as a guitar string, and want to deflect or bend it by applying a sideways force to it, the amount of force required to obtain a certain deflection will vary according to where the force is applied along its length.

You can easily picture this by imagining a tight rope walker. The rope will feel much stiffer very close to the supports, than at the centre.

The exact same thing happens with a guitar string, which feels harder to bend or even press down on a fret in the area close to the nut, than somewhere around the middle. This is to a degree unavoidable.

However, on at least some guitars, this problem is made a lot worse by a nut that is way too high!

By increasing the distance by which you must deflect the strings at the point where they are already at their stiffest, a nut that is too high will make barre chords on the low frets – chief among them the F barre chord on the first fret – feel a lot harder than they should.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, might be the ‘silent killer of F chords’ which is making it so hard to play an F chord on your guitar. Yes, this is one of the few cases where the blame could lie squarely on the instrument rather than the player.

If you are currently struggling to play F barre chords correctly, you owe it to yourself to check whether the nut on your guitar is too high. If this is the case, you will save yourself a lot of grief by having a guitar tech replace or file down the nut or getting a guitar with a properly adjusted nut.

Here’s a very simple and sure-fire method to check if the nut on your guitar is too high.

First, simply form and hold an F barre chord at the first fret and take a good mental note of how much effort it requires.

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Next, place a capo on the first fret and hold the barre chord at the second fret. Again, take a good mental note of how much effort it requires.


Now here’s the golden rule:

If holding the barre chord at the second fret with a capo at the first fret, feels much easier than holding the barre chord alone at the first fret, that is a sure sign that the nut is too high and must be filed down or replaced.

On a guitar with a properly adjusted nut, both tests should feel very near to identical, and any increase in effort required at the first fret should be almost imperceptible. If the difference is significant, then your guitar needs some work.

And there you have it. The silent killer of F chords finally unveiled. Do this test if you have been having trouble with F barre chords. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that a little maintenance work on your guitar is all that’s needed to solve the problem.

Happy chording!

About the author:

Aldo Chircop is a guitarist, composer, producer and guitar teacher based in Malta. He is president and chief instructor of Malta Rock Academy, home of the best blues, rock and metal guitar lessons in Malta.

How To Sound Like Your Favorite Guitarist

Guitar students frequently ask the question, “How do they do that?!” when they hear their favorite guitar player rip an amazing line. In response, veteran guitarists usually say, “It’s all in their hands,” or something similar. And they're generally right. However, this does not always help the guitar student who is trying to figure out the specifics of how to mimic their favorite player.

So, today I am going to share with you a very simple exercise that will help you begin to understand what it is you like about your favorite guitar players and how to start emulating them. The process is simple— choose your favorite guitar solo or melody performed by this artist (15-40 seconds) and begin listening intently for these individual variables separately:

1.    Vibrato
2.    Bends
3.    Slides
4.    Legato vs. picked notes
5.    Speed picking
6.    Harmonics
7.    Special effects
8.    Whammy bar
9.    Double stops
10.  Two-hand tapping

These phrasing elements likely make up the majority of what your favorite guitar players use to sound really fantastic. If there is something they do that is completely different then anything listed, find out what it is and add that to your list of things to listen for when analyzing their playing.

Listen to your selection one time paying attention only to how many times you hear vibrato. Write it down. Now go back and listen again, this time only paying attention to bends. Go back and listen a third time and listen carefully for any slides.

When analyzing legato vs. picked notes, you do not need to make a note of every single pitch that is performed with the legato technique versus how many exact notes are picked— instead, focus on sections or groups of legato or picked notes and write down that area as one set. If your favorite guitar player combined a mixture of legato and picked notes in a short flurry of notes, make a note of that as well.

For speed picking, note any time it sounds like the picking hand is moving as fast as possible. This may include sweep arpeggios as well, or you may choose to make a separate section for sweeps.

Regarding harmonics, this can be natural harmonics or artificial harmonics, but with most lead guitar players in rock music, it will be the latter.

Special effects can be either weird, bizarre sounds the guitar player makes that is unique to them (for example, Buckethead’s frequent use of a killswitch or Joe Satriani’s crazy whammy bar harmonic dives— which could also go in the harmonics section, you decide!), or more common “in-between-note” ideas like picks scrapes or raked strings.

A double stop is a fancy way of saying, “Play two pitches of the same time.” This is a common lead guitar phrasing element, so listen for multiple notes being played at the same time throughout guitar solos and lead lines.

Your list might look different from the one I have provided. The point is not to strictly adhere to my guidelines. Rather, the purpose is for you to start listening with a critical ear to individual elements of your favorite guitar players.

Now, this is where it gets really fun. Tally up each section’s total, then craft your own solo using the exact number of elements from each section. For example, if you heard 2 slides in the solo you analyzed, include 2 slides in your solo.

Most guitar players will never engage in this exercise, which is why most guitar players are average. The best guitar players are those that listen with a keen ear and spend more time analyzing what is happening than they do mindlessly searching for more licks to play on YouTube. Which kind of guitar player do you want to be?

About the Author: Eric Bourassa began playing the guitar at age 13. He mindlessly searched for more “stuff” to learn for years before discovering that the key to great playing lies in using your brain as much as it does your fingers, much of this under the tutelage of Tom Hess. Now, Eric helps guitar players in Fort Worth Texas during guitar lessons at his guitar academies. His mission in life is to get guitar players off of YouTube and thinking more critically all the time.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Guitar Lessons: Taking Measurements

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If you are reading this, hopefully you are already working with a qualified instructor to reach your goals. If you have not already done so, you should set some short-term goals for yourself. As you continue to work toward achieving these goals, I want you to take into consideration the fact that guitar progress in not linear. Some skills you will pick up very quickly. Others will start off very slow then gradually increase. Some skills may feel like they even slip backwards a little bit.

These things will happen and it is important to prepare yourself for this. Some days you may be faster than others. Other days you may not be able to focus. When you look at any one practice session in isolation it is easy to get discouraged. Okay, so maybe today your improvised scale sounded basic and forced. How did it sound compared to last week? Last month? Musical ability takes patience and the ability to play “the long game.” So today I want to talk to you about a great tool to keep improving and keeping your morale up:

Taking Measurements!

Progress moves incrementally. Sometimes those increments seem to be microscopic. This can be frustrating for those that want immediate results. Understand that you ARE getting better even though it may not be as fast as you’d like. This is why taking measurements is so important. These measurements are things like:

1.       Reps: How many repetitions can you do without mistakes?
How many reps can you do in 2 minutes?

2.       Quantity: How many scales can you play now (the same scale in 3 different positions counts as 3)? How many chords can you play now?

3.       Confidence Level: This one is a bit more abstract, but still measurable. Confidence levels are basically how comfortable you feel doing a certain thing on a scale of 1-10: 1 being “I’m scared to death and would prefer to light it on fire and run” and 10 being “I could play that for anyone, anywhere, blindfolded.” This number will change day to day depending on how well our practice sessions go, so take a measurement every practice then average it out for the week.

4.       Metronome markings: How fast was it this week vs last week. Using a metronome vastly improves your internal sense of timing but it is also a great tool for tracking progress. Towards the end of your practice session, play the thing you were working on along with a metronome. Write down the fastest tempo you played WITHOUT ANY MISTAKES.

5.       Recordings: Having audio recordings is a great tool to measure success. Video recordings are even better and just as easy. Is the first video you make awkward? Usually. But you know what is more awkward? Continuing to make the same mistakes on guitar. You can use an audio recording to track all sorts of things like:

*Buzzing notes
*Smooth and connected notes – eliminating the pauses
*Incorrect timing
*Inconsistent articulation (heavy picking vs light picking)
*Advanced phrasing concepts

If you can hear these things in your recording, others can hear it in your playing. Keep a tally of how often these issues occur. Aim to lower that number!

You can also use video recordings to notice technique issues that usually go unnoticed:

*Where is your thumb?
*Is your wrist bent/kinked in the wrong direction?
*Are your shoulders tight?
*Is your jaw clenched?
*Do you make weird faces or drool when you play?

The idea here is that you start measuring things and become aware of victories where they exist. By getting recordings of your practices, you will gain a deeper insight into the causes of your problems. Regardless of which methods you choose, starting taking measurements today and compare them to the measurements you get next month!

About the author:

Eric Dieter is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher in Lancaster, PA. He has appeared on dozens of international albums as a session guitar player and tours with the synth-pop band Hudson K and prog-rock band Hiding Scarlet. Eric has studied guitar at Millersville University and Berklee College of Music. Additionally, he holds a degree in psychology and certifications in behavioral health and hypnosis, making him uniquely qualified to train the minds of young musicians. Contact Eric if you are looking for guitar lessons in Lancaster, PA.

How To Tune Your Guitar The Right Way

By Paul Kleff

The most common advice I hear and see about guitar tuning is to “use a tuner.”  This is true.  However, it is only part of the story.  Learning to use an electronic guitar tuner is fairly simple, but you also need to learn the best way to tune your strings so that they will stay in tune.  Trying to play your guitar when it won’t stay in tune is frustrating.  And an out of tune guitar sounds terrible!

There are a couple good choices to look at when choosing a tuner.  The two most common types are the “clip on” tuner that clips on to your headstock and the second type is a pedal that you plug your guitar cable into.  The clip type tuner is the least expensive choice and works for both acoustic and electric guitars.  Pedal type tuners work well for an electric guitar setup—you simply plug your guitar into the input jack on the tuner and the output of the tuner into your amplifier.

Once you have your tuner, these are the steps to follow to get your guitar in tune and keep it in tune.

1.   Go through all six strings one at a time and get them as close as possible to being in tune.  Play the low E string and watch the tuner to see if the string is “flat” (below the correct pitch) or “sharp” (above the correct pitch.)  Make sure you are listening to the pitch of the string changing so that you are sure you are tuning it in the correct direction.  Repeat for all six strings.

2.   Repeat the process and go through all six strings again.  The reason for this is that the guitar neck may shift slightly as you go through the initial tuning of the guitar.  By the time you tune your high E string, your low E string (and possibly some of the other strings) may be slightly out of tune.

3.   Now go through your strings one more time to fine tune them.  As you fine tune each string, adjust each string just slightly below the correct pitch for that string and bring it back up to the correct pitch.  The reason you will want to do this is it wraps the string more tightly around the tuning post and this will help the string stay in tune and hold its pitch better.  This is the step that most beginning guitar players skip and it is the key to keeping your guitar in tune.

You to make sure that you are muting the other five strings you are not tuning as you tune each string.  Any sounds from the other strings will make it difficult for the tuner to hear the pitch of the string.  Make it easy for your tuner to “hear” the string you are tuning by muting the other strings when necessary.

Here is a quick four step summary of the steps to take to tune yur guitar and keep it in tune:

1.   Mute the strings that are not being tuned so that the tuner can accurately “hear” the string that is being tuned.
2.   Go through all six strings once and tune them as accurately as possible.
3.   After tuning all six strings, go through them again to get them fine tuned.
4.   Make sure you go slightly below the correct pitch and tune up into the correct pitch to help the string stay in tune better.

Are internet guitar lessons leaving you disappointed?  Then it’s time for you to get online guitar lessons that will get you moving ahead fast.  Get tips, articles, videos and beginner guitar lessons that work.

Japanese scales – The hirajōshi scale

By Max Canonaco

In this article, we will see one of the most used Japanese pentatonic scale, the hirajōshi scale, and I will show you some ways to use this scale.

There is a lot of confusion around on that topic, so a little premise on Japanese scales in general is necessary.

Japanese scales are exotic scales. But what does that mean really? In general, it is important to remark that in Eastern music, notes are often more important than chords, that are not used in that context as we use them in Western music, strumming an Am or a C chord on the guitar. Melodies played on instruments such as the Shamisen or the Koto are the most important musical component in Japanese music, together with the rhythm.

The scale we are about to see is so peculiar, because it is a pentatonic scale containing some notes that are only a fret a part, and therefore it is a hemitonic pentatonic scale. This characteristic is very different from our Western pentatonic scales. By the way, not all Japanese scales have hemitonic attributes.

To emphasize this hemitonic parts of the scale, is one of the easiest and effective ways to use the hirajōshi scale. And because this scale is hemitonic, it is a good way to substitute modes commonly used in rock or metal music, like the Eolian mode (natural minor scale/key) and the Phrygian mode. What do I mean by “substitute”? Since all the notes in the hirajōshi scale are included in those modes I mentioned, the hirajōshi scale can be played, over the same chords, instead of the mode that contains all the notes of the hirajōshi scale.

Now let me resume for you the principal musical categories of Japanese music. One specific scale corresponds to a specific category in Japan. Every Japanese scale is a group of five notes with a unique color, and each scale is associated with a specific social, popular, ritual function, or to a specific geographic area in Japan. We can split the Japanese scales in four categories:

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The Miyakobushi scale contains the same notes as the hirajōshi scale in the fourth mode, as we will see in a moment. Normally, the term hirajōshi is used to describe the tuning of the Koto, not the scale itself. In modern music theory, by the way, the term hirajōshi seems to be commonly used for that scale instead, and not many people use the term Miyakobushi to define that scale in Western countries.

Please also note that the minyô scale is the same as our minor pentatonic scale, and the ritsu scale is identical to the fifth mode of our minor pentatonic scale. That said, I have chosen to show you one of the most used Japanese scales in the rock-metal music.

The hirajōshi scale

This is the most used Japanese scale in metal music, because it is easy to use as a substitution for the Eolian mode (natural minor scale) or for the Phrygian and Phrygian dominant modes (depending on the mode of the hirajōshi scale you use).

Hirajōshi scale - first mode:

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As you can see all those notes in the example are notes of the A natural minor scale:

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Since the two modes are superimposable, you can use the first mode of the hirajōshi scale, instead of using the natural minor scale or the Eolian fingering.

Hirajōshi scale - fourth mode:

But let me show you the scale in its fourth mode. I am starting from the fourth note of the scale we just saw. But since that note (E in the example) is supposed to be the most important, it becomes the first of that mode:

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All those notes in the example are notes of the E Phrygian mode and of the E Phrygian dominant mode:

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Since the notes of the fourth mode of the hirajōshi scale are included in the Phrygian and in the Phrygian dominant mode, you can use the fourth mode of the hirajōshi scale, instead of using the Phrygian mode or fingering, over the same chords you were using. The same applies for the Phrygian dominant mode.

But there is something more to say about this fourth mode of the hirajōshi scale. This mode does not have a third, as an interval (in E, the scale does not contain G or G#). This means that you can play the fourth mode of the hirajōshi scale over a major AND over a minor chord with the same tonic note. So, if in the example above the 4th mode of the hirajōshi scale contains E, F, A, B, C, it can be easily played over an E major chord AND over an E minor chord. When you do so, make sure you start and end your phrases on E or B over those two chords. Also, by playing this scale, you want to emphasize the parts of the scale where the notes are one fret apart.

I hope that this article will help you to understand better the potential of this exotic scale, to enrich your arsenal of expressive tools.

About the author: Max Canonaco is a professional guitar player and guitar instructor, based in Locarno, Switzerland. If you are looking for guitar lessons in Locarno, please be sure to contact Max