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

How to master bending notes

We all know the feeling of that bended note hitting us right in the chest at the climax of a great guitarsolo. There is no greater feeling in the world. This technique is a make or break technique for any guitar solo. If its done right it can be fantastic, but done wrong it will make your playing sound amateurish and it will not provide you with the satisfaction of of bitchslapping your audience with your guitarsolos. For the purpose of you doing so, I have written this article to explain the in’s and out’s of making your bend notes sound truly kick ass.

Use your ears.

Bending out of tune is the number one mistake I hear beginner and intermediate guitar players make and it is causing their playing to sound amateurish. There are two major

 reasons for this happening. The first one is the actual physical ability of bending the string high enough to produce the desired note. The player may not have practiced this enough, but it is fairly easy to overcome and I will return to this point later on in the article. The second reason is, that they simple don’t hear that the note is bend out of tune. They haven’t trained their ears along with they physical skills. This is critically important. So don’t be that guitarist. This is not hard to do, but it does require that you spend some time practicing it. Here is a great way for you to this. It will have you master you in tune bending in no time. Watch this video:

Video 1: https://youtu.be/5eUMUCtTq0s

The physical technique of bending.

A common mistake that guitar players make is trying to bend the not with their fingers only. The fingers are actually not very strong and trying to bend with your fingers only will make it hard for you to get the technique under control. Instead you need use a combination of your forearm and your fingers to bend the note. The muscles in your forearm are strong compared to the muscles in your fingers. Using these will give you the strength you need to bend in a controlled way without getting injuries. You also need to support you bending finger with the other fingers your are not bending with. Lets say you are performing a bend with you ringfinger. Then your index and middlefinger needs to be on the string as well to support the ringfinger in the heavy lifting so to speak. Note that I haven’t talked about applying vibrato to your bend. If you are not able to control your bends you will not be able to apply vibrato either.

Muting the strings.

A very important aspect of string bending is the ability to mute the strings around the string that you are bending. This is done in a combination of both the fretting hand and the picking hand. The fretting hand will be muting all the strings that are higher than the string that you are bending, while the picking hand will be muting all the strings below the string that you are actually bending. For an in-depth look at the nut’s and bolt’s of the physical bending technique, take a look at this instructional video:

Video 2: https://youtu.be/I753f2HSRVk

By applying the principles in this article you will be able to greatly improve your control of the notes that you bend. Doing so will improve you overall playing greatly. 

About the author: Janus Buch is the founder of the Guitar Academy in Vejle. Here he teaches, coaches, and trains his guitar students into killer guitar players. If you are serious about improving your guitar playing you will want to check out the guitar academy. No if you are experienced og searching for Beginner Guitar lessons in Vejle the guitar academy is here to help

5 Benefits Adults Will Receive By Learning To Play The Guitar

By Maurice Richard

Learning to play the guitar is probably one of the most desired things in the
world.
Let’s face it, we view people who can play the guitar as pretty cool people in
general.
Aside from the coolness factor though, there are other benefits to learning
to play the guitar if you are an adult which should give you extra motivation
to want to learn to play.
Here are 5 reasons why you should invest the time, money and energy to
learn how to play the guitar no matter how old you are as an adult.

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1. Learning To Play The Guitar Keeps Your Mind Active
There are many things in life that we consider a left brain or right brain
activity. Math is left brain and art is right brain for example. Most of us
learned this is school.
However, one thing we never learned in school is that learning to play an
instrument, and guitar specifically, uses both the left and the right side of
the brain simultaneously. There are not many activities that can claim this.
As a matter of fact, studies have shown the entire brain tends to be active
while playing the guitar. This is amazing and it is great news for you if you
are learning how to play the guitar!
Because of this learning how to play the guitar helps keep your mind alert
and remain active and can help sharpen memory as well as help you be
more creative.

2. Learning Guitar Relieves Stress And Improves Your Health
People these days are busy. In a typical family both partners have jobs, and
the kids have activities they participate in, and so on.
All of this busyness comes with stress and with stress comes negative
consequences to your mental, emotional and physical health.
Learning how to play the guitar is a great way to relieve this stress. It fully
engages your mind so you have to focus on what you are doing at all times
and allows your brain time to breathe.
This is assuming you go about learning to play the guitar the right way. If
you try to teach yourself or get a buddy to help teach you or even just pick
the cheapest or any random online or local guitar teacher, you may end up
with more stress instead.
The key to learning to play the guitar in a stress-free way is to find a
professionally trained and qualified teacher who has proof that they have
helped others just like you.

3. Learning How To Play The Guitar Creates Discipline
You would think that this would be a requirement to learn to play the guitar.
And in many ways, it is.
If you find the right teacher, they can help you learn how to play the guitar
and at the same time teach you how and motivate you to have more
discipline.
Even if you are a disciplined person already, you can learn to be better at it.
This is crucial because learning to play the guitar is not the easiest thing in
the world. Especially at the beginning. This requires you to be consistent
and disciplined in order to be successful.
The coolest thing is that when you apply yourself and increase the discipline
when learning to play the guitar, it creeps into other areas of your life and
moves beyond just helping you with the guitar.

4. Learning To Play The Guitar Gives You A Sense Of Achievement
There may be people out there who claim they do not like to achieve things.
However, if you want to learn to play the guitar then you do not belong to
that group of people.
This is one of the best parts of learning to play the guitar if you do it the
right way.
If you are learning to play with a really good teacher they will have created
a plan for you that will build from success to success. As you work through
the plan you will continuously achieve new things.
Actually, when taught right your achievements will occur a lot more often at
the start because you will be learning all the skills you require to lay the
foundation for the future.
Each new achievement is fuel to help propel you forward. This feels good
and will help you feel accomplished in your playing often and consistently.
The cool thing is this is also something that creeps into your life. You may
not notice it but you will gain more confidence and your general mood will
be better throughout your life.

5. Learning How To Play The Guitar Is Fun
Learning how to play the guitar is something most people have always
wanted to do. It’s something they see as cool and as fun.
Once again, that’s only if you do it the right way. There are many paths to
learning to play the guitar, but most are not fun.
That’s because learning how to play the guitar is most difficult at the
beginning. This is where you need to create new skills you do not yet have.
If you do not know what to do and in what order to do it in you will run into
frustrations and get stuck. This is far from fun.
Success is fun and when it comes to learning how to play the guitar is the
one of the most important keys to reaching your goal.
The best way to learn to play the guitar and enjoy the process at the same
time is to find a qualified teacher who is trained to teach you the right
things at the right time and in the right order.
That will give you a better chance at success and fun along the way!

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No Matter How Old You Are You Can Benefit From Learning To Play
The Guitar

Those are only a few the benefits that learning how to play the guitar can
give you as an adult. There are more.
You may think you are too old to get any benefits from learning to play the
guitar but that is totally false.
Although not conclusive there is evidence emerging in studies that learning
how to play the guitar can help stave off problems later in life like dementia
and cognitive impairment.
In order to get any of those benefits though you have to get started! Go out
and learn to play the guitar and have fun doing so!

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 play the guitar. Go to his website to learn how to play the guitar
and have fun.

How to improve your chord playing

by Sam Russell

I know that something a lot of beginners struggle with is their chord playing. This can be especially frustrating for beginners, because often, this is the one area of guitar that they really want to get the hang of, so that they can play all their favourite songs.

But the same problems almost always come up:

·      The chords make a weird buzzing sound

·      The chords have a weird thonk noise to them

·      They can’t get the chords on their guitar to be in time

·      The chords sound “thin”

·      There are extra strings ringing out

And being unable to solve these problems leads most beginner guitar players to one of two situations:

·      They quit playing guitar, thinking that it isn’t for them

·      They put up with it, and accept being a mediocre guitar player

Neither situation is ideal. Fortunately, there are solutions and this article is going to walk you through some of those solutions.

These solutions do not relate to just one problem. Each solution can fix one problem, or a few problems. Equally, each problem does not have a single solution. Do not think about solving your chord problems in the following way:

Problem X requires Solution Y

Instead, think of it in the following way:

Problem X requires running through a checklist of solutions A, B, C and D to discover which one is causing the problem

That being said, let’s start looking at some solutions so you can fix up your guitar playing:

Pre-Solution – Problem Finding

There is a step we need to take before we start finding solutions and that is, problem isolation. We have to find out where the problem is. Hold your chord down and pick through the strings one at a time, SLOWLY. We are not looking at ‘playing guitar’, here we are trying to work out which strings need attention and which don’t. If the string rings out fine we can ignore it. If it makes a weird sound, then we start running through the following solutions looking for a fix.

Solution 1 – Finger Position

The ideal place to have your fingers positioned on the strings is close to the fret, but not quite touching. So keep your fingers 1mm-2mm from the fret. If your fingers are too far from the frets, you will find that you get a weird buzzing noise come out of the guitar. The buzzing noise is caused by the string ‘bouncing’ against the fret. If your fingers touch the frets, you will find the strings sound very muted.  This is caused by the skin on your fingers going over the fret and muting the string, causing that part of the chord to not ring out clearly.

Another common problem with finger position is students have their fingers at a jaunty angle to the strings. You want your fingers to be perpendicular to the strings, at 90 degrees. Pretend your fretboard is a piano… that is how you want your fingers positioned.

Position your fingers 1mm-2mm behind the fret, keep them perpendicular to the neck, and the notes will ring out beautifully every single time.

Solution 2 – Finger Pressure

When playing guitar, we want to use just enough pressure to hold down the strings, and no more. If you have checked Solution 1, corrected your finger position and the notes still don’t sound clear, try holding the strings down a little bit harder. I know that for beginners this can be a little painful in your finger tips, but you have to get used to it sooner or later! If you are already applying a large amount of pressure, then try relaxing your fingers until the note loses its clarity. Use a tiny amount more pressure than this.

Just enough pressure – that’s all we need.

Solution 3 – Quit Using the Pick Like a Shovel

If you are getting all sorts of additional and unwanted open strings ringing out, this is probably the cause. Strum your chord and watch you pick hand. Is it moving in a nice and controlled manner, or are you waving it around like a shovel? If it is the latter… then we need to fix that. Practice just moving the pick hand in a more controlled manner and you will clean up your chord playing in no time.

Solution 4 – Leaving the Strumming Hand in the Wrong Place

This is very common with beginners and intermediate players. This is often the cause of why your chord changes are not in time. Most people, when they strum and there is a pause in the music, or a longer note ringing out, or between a chord change; will “leave” their strumming hand at the bottom of the strings (the ‘floor side’ of the guitar). They then change chord. And THEN they have to bring their hand back up to strum the chord.

Often, a beginner guitar player gets the hang of the chord change with the fret hand, but they can’t work out why it is still out of time when they strum. They change chord in time with the left hand, goto play the chord, and then have to bring the strumming hand back up. This process of bringing the strumming hand back up takes additional time which has not been accounted for, throwing the whole process out of time.

To fix this, pretend your strumming hand is on a big rubber band connected to your neck. Every time you finish a strum, even if it is not necessary, bring the strumming hand back above the strings. This will mean that it is ready to go the split second you need it. This one change can help you get your chords changes wonderfully in time.

This article was written by Sam Russell who teaches beginner guitar students in Ickenham how to rapidly improve their guitar playing

Do I Really Need To Practice With A Metronome?

By Jason Wilford

A question that I’ve received from many students over the years is whether or not they should be practicing with a metronome. Practicing to a metronome can definitely help your playing in many areas, but the answer to this question is a little more complicated than just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Whether or not you should practice to a metronome depends on individual circumstances, the level of the player, what they are working on, and much more — so in this short article I want to lay out the reasons why you would — and wouldn’t — want to practice to a metronome.

First off, if you don’t know what a metronome is, the short answer is that it’s a device that produces an audible beat at specific intervals of time. If you’ve never heard of one before, it’s a good idea to search for ‘metronome’ online and watch a video about what this can do for you. You can get standalone metronomes, apps for your computer/phone/tablet, as well as online webpages that will act as a metronome for you.

First off, let’s go over some reasons why you’d want to practice with a metronome. This is just a starting point, so feel free to add your own reasons of when using a metronome can help you achieve your individual guitar playing goals.
 

  • When you want to build speed — using a metronome can help you slowly push your speed higher and higher, provided that you ensure you’re staying in time with the metronome.
  • When you want to track your progress - Keeping a log that tracks your top speed of specific scales, arpeggios, or exercises can really help you see how much you’re coming along in specific areas.
  • When you want to improve your timing for a exercise or song - it’s great to have something to help you keep your timing in place when you’re working on a piece that you’ve already memorized. Record yourself as you play along, and listen back: you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn by doing this

 

  • If you’re going to be recording - playing to a metronome is essential if you’re going to be recording. Nowadays most recording is done to a ‘click track’ using recording software. Being able to stay in time with the metronome should be your number 1 priority when preparing to record.

 

  • When you want to get better at note divisions

- being able to divide a beat into 2,3,4,6 etc is really important if you want to make your playing as interesting as possible. Practice playing to a metronome at 60bpm, and pick a single string. Practice dividing it into groups of 2, then 3, then 4, and finally 6. There are many other divisions you can work on, but this is a good start.

Now let’s go over some reasons why you would want to practice without a metronome.

  • When you are first learning a song, exercise, or piece of music - At this point you don’t know what you’re playing that well yet, so playing with a metronome will only add frustration. Wait until you have memorized the piece until you start using the metronome.

  • When practicing for a gig - you should balance playing with a metronome vs. not playing with a metronome so that you’re comfortable with both situations. Odds are that you don’t want that metronome clicking when you’re up on stage playing with a band, or performing a solo gig. The metronome can help you practice staying in consistent time, but ultimately you want to be able to stay consistently in time without a metronome as well.

  • When playing for fun - playing the guitar isn’t all about practicing every minute of the day! You need to have fun too, so make sure to set aside some time where you just playing the guitar without anything else playing.

  • When playing with a band or along to a recording - This should be self explanatory, but if you’re practicing with a band or playing along to a song, you don’t need that metronome on!

  • In the end, there are many reasons to play with or not to play along with a metronome. In my experience, it’s best to practice in as many ways as possible. Play with a metronome, play completely solo with no backing at all, practice along with backing tracks, practice with other musicians, and play along with recordings of actual songs. The best way to be a well-rounded guitarist is to practice in a well-rounded way, so as you can see, the answer to the question ’should I practice with a metronome?’ doesn’t have just one answer — the answer is to practice with and without a metronome.

    About the Author:

    Jason Wilford is a musician and guitar instructor in Mississauga (Ontario, Canada).

Easy Ways to Maintain Forward Progress in Your Musical Growth and Mastery Without Wasting Past Victories

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue... Easy Ways to Maintain Forward Progress in Your Musical Growth and Mastery Without Wasting Past Victories

The struggle is always the same, right? How does one balance on the tightrope of maintaining musical growth and mastery momentum while not allowing what’s already been learned to become a distant, not so clear, memory?

There have been many instances in my life as a musician where I’ve dug through boxes and boxes of books, dvds and old lessons and become very disappointed at the amount of material I’ve worked hard to learn and totally forgotten to apply...

A very simple idea I’ve used to overcome these disappointing times is based on the old wedding adage of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” It goes something like this...

Something Old (Review)

Within each practice session I dedicate a percentage of time to reviewing older material. This material could be past songs I’ve learned for gigs, techniques I’ve learned and haven’t been able to utilize in a while, old scale patterns and positions, chord shapes, phrasing tools, etc. I usually keep a list of things I want to review in my practice journal and simply refer back to the list when I’m planning my weekly practice sessions.

Something New (Learning)

I also dedicate a percentage of my practice session to learning new material. There’s no mystery here. This material consists of songs for upcoming gigs, techniques for styles I’m interested in adding to my playing and specialized content I develop for my students (yep, I actually go through the learning process for all content I provide to my students so I can help them avoid an unnecessary pitfalls that might occur.)

Something Borrowed (Finding Inspiration)

A small percentage of practice time is dedicated to finding inspirational playing. This could be the most important element of my practice sessions because it continually motivates me to get better and improves my learning abilities as I “borrow” techniques and ideas from online performances, recordings, method books, dvds, etc. While a lot of the ideas I find get placed on my “review” list mentioned above, I still gain the benefit of being inspired in the current moment... Win-win!

Something Blue (Going Back to Your Roots)

Another incredibly important part of staying motivated to push forward and maintain momentum is simply going back to what originally inspired me to begin playing in the first place. For me, it’s the Blues. It may be something different for you. Regardless, I always take a bit of time during each practice session to play some blues guitar. It may be specific songs I loved as a kid. It may be a 10-minute jam over the changes to a Hendrix tune... It’s always different, but it’s consistently fun and invigorating.

Take away:

While everything in this article is common sense, it’s the simplicity of each element combined with the synergy between these elements that provide massive results. I would encourage you to try separating your practice sessions into similar sections for a week or two and experience the benefits an old marriage saying can add to your success as a growing musician.

Until next time, stay focused, stay consistent, and expect the best from yourself.  :-)

About the author: Ty Morgan is a professional guitarist in the Phoenix, Arizona area. He also owns and operates one of the premier guitar education academies in the area. If you’re searching for rock/blues guitar lessons in Mesa, AZ  and ready to discover the science of learning and mastering guitar be sure to contact Ty!

Can You Teach Yourself Guitar From Apps?

The invention of the smartphone and tablet devices has greatly affected the world in which we live. Many industries are experiencing massive change as we now move into the digital age and spend more and more of our lives glued to our phones.

10 years ago the majority of people who wanted to learn guitar had only two options, learn from a guitar teacher or self teach from a book, DVD or VHS. These days guitarists can learn from a host of sources including smartphone apps, online courses, youtube videos and skype lessons with actual teachers online. There has never been more information available to potential students with more and more content being added every day. This is a good thing right? Wrong! There has never been so much content available but there is absolutely no quality control and the vast majority of it is garbage. Furthermore there is just so much available that you can spend an endless amount of time just learning without ever actually applying your knowledge to a practical context.

Don’t get me wrong I think there are some wonderful guitar applications and believe there many positive things that apps do. One feature that many apps do well is gamifying the learning process which makes learning really enjoyable, particularly for children. The ease of access and affordability of many apps also means that more and more people can teach themselves the basics of guitar. This means the average Joe who just wants to learn how to strum along to some of their favorite songs can do so in the comfort of his own home and can learn at his own pace. If you’re a casual player and you’re not too serious about learning an app might be just what you need.

If you are serious about your guitar playing and want to be more than a hobbyist then learning from an app probably isn’t for you. While apps can provide you with an abundance of knowledge (assuming the app you have is created by an expert guitar teacher and not just thrown together by a company looking to cash in on the app market) they don’t give you feedback on your technique. If you’re not holding your hand the right way, have synchronisation issues between your hands or a host of other problems that are faced by many guitarists then the app can’t give you that feedback. This may lead to you practicing incorrectly and developing bad habits which will be harder to break than if you learned correctly the first time.

The other big downside to learning from apps is they give you all the information you need without actually giving you the opportunity to apply it, integrate it and master it. What’s the point in learning 100 chords if you’re only going to use 12 of them 95% of the time? What’s the point in learning 30 scales if you don’t know how to improvise solos or create your own licks with them? An app can give you the information that you need but it can’t show you how to use it. You would be much better getting lessons from a teacher who can already do what you want to do and show you how to think creatively so you can avoid getting stuck in a rut.

Another point to consider is that the majority of apps are targeted at beginners and have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ format that assumes everyone wants to learn the chords to strum along to their favorite radio songs. This is mainly because the biggest market is beginner guitar players many of which will buy the app while they’re motivated and give up a few weeks later. Not only do you get severely limited in the content you learn within an app but once you’re done (assuming you haven't quit already) you’ve got nowhere else to go. If you’ve reached the intermediate phase or if you’re into heavy metal, blues, jazz, flamenco or other niche genres then you’re extremely limited in the amount of apps available to you. This is where having a guitar teacher who can create a personalised lesson program built around your own goals and musical tastes really wins out.

One final note is that the vast majority of people who try and teach themselves from apps end up quitting before they reach their goal. It’s easy to tell yourself you are going to practice 20 minutes before bed and an hour on saturday but when you have a bad day at work and a friend pops around unannounced then all your plans go out the window. By signing up for guitar lessons you automatically get a teacher to hold you accountable.

So in summary, I believe there are a some wonderful guitar applications out there that can give the casual player a great start to playing guitar. Nothing however can substitute for guitar lessons with a great teacher who can create you a program around your goals, give you live feedback on your technique and hold you accountable. If you’re content learning some of your favorite songs and don’t mind it taking the long road with the potential to develop a few bad habits along the way,, then an app may be for you. If you’re serious about guitar playing, developing a great technique and learning how to apply everything you know to real musical situations then guitar lessons with a teacher will be a much better investment of your time and money.

 

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About The Author

Michael Gumley is a virtuoso guitarist and highly sought after guitar teacher from Melbourne, Australia. His hobbies include fishing, camping and fixing bad habits that people learn from the Yousician App. If you’re serious about your skills taking guitar lessons in Melbourne will make you a better player in no time at all.