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Is it o.k. to look at my hands when I play?

Posted on May 24, 2018 at 1:12 PM Comments comments (7549)
   Is it o.k. to look at my hands when I play? This is question that comes up with newer students. My quick answer is "never at the picking hand and occasionally at the fretting hand". In the beginning a student will do more looking as they are getting used to playing the guitar but you want to learn to find the strings and frets without looking as soon as possible. When? That's a fine line sometimes. The more students develop the habit of looking the harder it is to break.
   I recently had a student come in after practicing a blues piece all week. He had obviously worked hard on the song but before he would play any note he would look at both hands to make sure they were correctly positioned and proceed. I had to carefully break the news to him that he will never be able to play the song that way and had to learn how to find the strings without looking. You will make mistakes in the beginning but it will get easier. Looking at your hands when you play is comparable to looking at your feet when you walk and it won't work! The picking hand serves the fretting hand and as I mentioned you will need to peek at the fretting hand now and then, but not the picking hand. 
    If you walk into your  house at night and the lights are out you will know precisely where everything in the room is placed and avoid the desk, couch or whatever. Even in the dark. It's because you are seeing it in your mind. This is the same thing that happens playing an instrument. You learn to see the neck in your mind and the spacing etc. In the end it makes playing much easier and more enjoyable. Before going to bed at night I often go into my office and pick up my guitar and play in the dark as an exercise to keep myself senses sharp. Try it!

The Best Way To Practice

Posted on August 18, 2017 at 1:21 PM Comments comments (1595)
The best way to practice is a little each day, even 10 or 15 minutes! The key to success is not how long you practice but how often. A little each day is better than an hour on Monday and not picking it up till the end of the week. Keep it fun, keep it musical. I've had students tell me they were going to practice hours a day and I tell them to start with 15 minutes a day and gradually work up to more time if life allows. Make easy, attainable goals otherwise you're going to get frustrated. If you can, keep your guitar out of it's case where you can quickly grab it, having to get it out of it's case can be another obstacle to playing. Work it into your life a little at a time, don't make it a job! The students that I've seen have the most success are the ones that chip away at it, a little at a time. It takes time to master things, and it's important to understand how we learn something new. We always understand more than we are able to do. For instance, it might be easy to understand how to play a new chord, but playing it clearly and consistently might not happen for awhile. That's o.k.! Stay with it and you will be amazed at what you'll be able to play, usually in far less time than you imagined.
Encourage yourself and stay positive, the rewards are well worth it. 

Soloing Ideas

Posted on October 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM Comments comments (1431)
Soloing ideas.
Ideas often come from concepts i.e. play this scale over that chord or play alternate chord changes when soloing.
and combining scales, arpeggios, chromatics.
It's not just pulling things out of the air but finding ideas in these concepts.
That's where many ideas originate from with many players.

Music imitates language in this way. We learn a new vocabulary word and see an example of it being used.
Over time we incorporate that new word into our conversation.
Soloing is very much like building a vocabulary of musical ideas to play from.
After awhile it becomes the way we hear and create.

Also, I have found scale patterns and intervals very useful to unlock ideas because, melodies are made of rhythmic, melodic and harmonic patterns.

It's all about incorporating all of this into one stream of flowing ideas.

Tons of tone in tubes

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM Comments comments (1895)
I have nothing against non tube amps but the truth is all amps whether digital, solid state or software based are all trying to accomplish one thing: trying to sound like one tube amp or another or, all of them!  New technology brings new sounds which is important but it has also helped define what it was players loved about those old amps. At the heart of the tone in those great amps are the tubes. This article explains clearly and simply the popular tubes and they're tonal differences.

Brad Paisley

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (4663)
Jazz is really important to country guitar. Country is jazz on the back pickup.When you switch your Tele from the neck pickup to the bridge pickup and play the same lick, it's instantly twang.

Amy Adams on Playing Guitar!

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 11:21 AM Comments comments (1478)
When I look at my 20s, or when I look at any period in my life, I think about how much time I've wasted trying to find the right man. It's like, if I could go back and do it again, I would have taken guitar lessons. I would have put my energy into something that paid off in the end, instead of trying to improve myself for men. Oh, the time and the energy, trying to impress somebody who was actually a big jerk, you know!

Pick Up Adjustments

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 3:13 PM Comments comments (4193)

I was scared to make any adjustments on my instruments when I started out. I got tired of paying for neck adjustments and made the decision to figure it out and I'm so glad I did. I want my students to know how to change strings, adjust the neck and do overall simple maintenance on their instruments. It will allow you to have the instrument sounding it's best and have you playing your best. No more waiting for you guitar to be ready at the shop.  It will save you a lot of money too. Adjusting your pick up height is not something you'll need to do often but if you do there are a few things you need to know. I think this post is a good one without being too technical. Be fearless!

Music: A Therapeutic Release

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (880)
Music is the best outlet for releasing emotions and dealing with your inner turmoil. It is also a way to bring life to the child and artist inside of you. Each person will have different talents and interests that determine the form of art that is best for them. One thing that ties us all together regardless of age, gender, or culture, is music. 

Maybe you cannot teach old dogs new tricks, but that does not always apply to humans. You can pick up music at any age because the talent lives within your heart. You will need to learn technique and music theory, but the passion comes from what is already present within. Music enhances the natural beauty and emotion that lives in everyone. 

"My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am".    -Joan Jett 

Releasing creative energy when playing the guitar will actually reduce stress in your life as well. Some say that playing the guitar is even more relaxing than fishing on serene waters. This stress-relief boosts the immune system like nothing else. Ultimately, everyone should have some form of artistic release, and music is by far the most effective. 

How to change guitar pickups.

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM Comments comments (1597)

Adjusting your neck.

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (4998)