Touring guitarist Peter Thorn (Melissa Etheridge, Jewel, Chris Cornell and more) writes a great column for Premier Guitar magazine, called “The Working Guitarist”. All of his pieces are terrific and the focus is on gear, attitude, performance, etc. for the guitarist with a gig. But my favorite article by Peter is called, “You’ve Got the Gig, Now Learn Those Songs!” The focus here is on learning new material efficiently, which is great information for any guitarist, not just those with a steady gig.
If you’ve ever found yourself in the position of “new guy” (or girl) in a band, you know that there is quite a challenge in learning all of the band’s material quickly and accurately. Peter’s article covers all of the options he uses; interestingly, none of them involve internet TABs! He does mention using a particular transcription software, Transcribe! , which I’m going to check out for myself. I’ll write a review of this software in an upcoming post once I’ve gotten familiar with it.
The Working Guitarist: You’ve Got the Gig, Now Learn Those Songs!
I figured that title would get your attention! Especially if you belong to the group who believes that learning entire songs is the best indicator of your progress on guitar. Is learning a whole song good for you? Sure. Is it absolutely necessary? It depends. Can you make tremendous progress as a guitarist without learning entire songs? Absolutely! Think I’m crazy? Read on, young rock and roller…
Scenario 1: Concerned parent comes to me and says, “Johnny Guitar practices a lot and plays a bunch of parts of songs, but I never actually hear him play a whole song through! It seems to me that he should be playing the whole song, right?”
Scenario 2: Concerned student, Suzy Q, says to me, “Doctor J, I really want to be able to play a whole song. I know lots of bits and pieces of songs, but I never play a song from beginning to end. What do you think?”
Wanna know what I think? Continue reading “Songs Are Overrated. Riffs Rule.” »
Strumming chords is at the heart of all guitar playing. And experienced players make it look so easy! But without a doubt, one of the most difficult things for beginner guitarists to execute is a clean chord change, in rhythm.
After all, there are multiple “moving parts” in every chord change – fingers move in various combinations to different strings and with different placement, the thumb changes its position for maximum stability, the wrist relaxes or bends in relationship – so it’s easy to see why the rookie guitarist would struggle with this: there’s an awful lot to process! And we’re only talking about the left hand…
While I employ a few different strategies for helping my beginners through the technical difficulties of playing chords (“leading” with certain fingers, visualization of the chord shape, using common fingers/strings as “anchor” positions), one of the simplest methods to deal with chord changes is more a matter of attitude than technical ability. Continue reading “The Obstacle Course” »
Dan in 2011, ready to take on the world!
Well, it feels like the end of an era. After 4+ years as my guitar student, Daniel Walsh moves on to an exciting new chapter in his life, as he prepares to graduate from high school and head off to college. My guitar studio’s loss is Uncle Sam’s gain, though, as Dan will soon be leaving Maryland for Colorado and the United States Air Force Academy!
It’s been a thrill to watch him go from a young teen playing his first chords to a young man with serious chops! But more than being a fine guitarist, Dan is a quality dude – humble, coachable, kind, polite, and quick to smile. We’ve had a lot of fun jammin’, but even more fun just hanging out and talking about sports, school, travel, family … life!
Daniel, it’s been an honor to share in your musical journey and your passion for guitar. Here’s to health, happiness, good music, and some great, high flyin’ adventures in the years to come! jb
Please check out my upcoming blog, “Six String Life” – where it’s all about the music. And some other stuff. Six String Life
I’m Jim Bowley and I’m happy to be your guitar teacher!
Whether you’re a beginner strumming her first guitar chords, an intermediate student aiming to take his guitar technique to the next level, or a 20-year veteran looking for new musical inspiration, you’ve come to the right place.
Whatever your goals are, I’m confident I can help you reach them. And when you learn to play guitar with me, you’ll not only reach your goals, but you’ll have fun in the process!
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If you’re local to Harford County, Maryland, contact me for guitar lessons at my studio in Bel Air. In addition to private guitar instruction, I also offer ukulele and bass lessons, as well as small group beginner guitar classes when scheduling allows.
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Whichever road you choose, I look forward to helping you along your musical journey!