Archives: October 2011 - Jim Bowley

October 28, 2011

Free For All Friday, October 28, 2011

Food Fight!

Hey, kids! Welcome to Free For All Friday, where we throw random stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s like a musical food fight! What’s on the menu today, you ask?

Today we feature the Bar Band Edition! Our selections include:

1 – A hilarious guide to audience cover song requests
2 – A funny but true-to-life timeline of how every bar gig ever has played out
3 – The best bar band in America

It’s only rock and roll, but I like it! (more…)

October 25, 2011

The One Inch Punch or What Bruce Lee Can Teach Us About Guitar

Bruce Lee punch

Years ago I studied Kenpo karate.

I made it all the way to 3rd degree brown belt before my music travels started to really conflict with my karate studies. Unfortunately, that meant it was bye-bye Kenpo.

But like most students on a martial arts journey, I had spent quite a lot of time learning about the legendary Bruce Lee.

Now any serious martial artist has studied and dissected the teachings and techniques of Bruce Lee. He’s required knowledge, like reading the works of Plato and Socrates for philosophy majors, or learning “Johnny B. Goode” and “Smoke on the Water” for rock guitarists. It’s what you do.

Fast forward to a guitar lesson with a student. We were working on a particular technique when, all of a sudden, the spirit of Bruce Lee entered the room. He said, “Teach this guitar player about the One-Inch Punch.”

So I did. (more…)

October 18, 2011

The Lost Art of Learning by Ear

Stone Age Record Player

Here’s the scene: It’s summertime in Baltimore and the living is relatively easy. A future rock star sits at his record player (or cassette machine) as Mom goes off to work in the morning. Mom returns in the late afternoon and the young rock and roller is still there, learning songs and solos by ear with varying levels of success. Put the needle back and try again. Hit rewind and try again. Trial and error.

Back in the days before the Interwebz – aka, The Stone Age…you know, the 70s and 80s – we learned most of our music by ear. Sure, there was “sheet music”, but this was often written for keyboard players and singers. If you were a budding rock guitarist, you had to learn most stuff by ear, or from the guy down the block. He learned it by ear also, or from the other guy down the block from him. You get the picture.

Nowadays, there is a proliferation of information at our fingertips. Any guitarist looking for TABs can find plenty of high quality ones for sale in books and magazines as well as tons of mixed-quality TABs – mostly of the very low variety – for free online. The musical casualty of this Information Age – besides the neighborhood record store – is the time-honored art of learning music by ear.

This is a shame, because nothing quite empowers you on your instrument as the ability to decipher a tune, chords, or a riff by ear and then play along with it. And my students who have done this can testify to its power. Transcribing songs by ear is, at minimum, a fun challenge, and for some students, an addiction! (more…)

October 14, 2011

Free For All Friday, October 14, 2011

by jim — Categories: Free For All Friday — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Food Fight!

Hey, kids! Welcome to Free For All Friday, where we throw random stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It’s like a musical food fight! What’s on the menu today, you ask?

Today’s selections include:

1 – “Disappointing” facts about pop music
2 – A belated “Happy Birthday” to a blues giant

Rock and roll! (more…)

October 12, 2011

Reverend Jim, Yellow Lights and You

Reverend Jim Ignatowski

Dear Guitar Student:

I like you.

You’re pretty cool and you sometimes say funny things. You’re also typically happy to see me, which is always nice. And more often than not, you’ve put in some decent practice time in the days since our last session. For this I thank you, because it makes our lesson much more productive and moves you forward nicely.

You will cheerfully tolerate my lame attempts at humor and only a small minority of you will show up to your lesson in something resembling pajama bottoms. Some of you turn me on to great new music. And for all of these things, I thank you as well.

But for the love of God, slow down.

In the name of one of the greatest Taxi episodes of all time, slow down.

(If you’re over 40, you’ll remember that when the Reverend Jim asked the group, “What does a yellow light mean?”, they replied – you guessed it – “Slow down”. If you’re under 40, just watch the video below.)

I’m asking you to consider taking your foot off the accelerator and tapping your brake a little. Treat your guitar path as if it’s littered with yellow lights and slow down. You’ll thank me later.

Your humble servant,
JB (more…)

October 5, 2011

Songs from the Guitar Studio, Vol. 2

guitar student

Welcome to Songs from the Guitar Studio, Volume 2!

As you might remember from Volume 1, this series is dedicated to songs featured in my guitar lessons. Instead of picking a technique or concept and finding a song to match it, we’ll sometimes pick a song first and see what we can learn from it.

Listed below are some of the songs my students have worked on in the past few weeks. I’ve outlined some of the main elements and takeaway points from each one. Hopefully you’ll see something here that may inspire you.

Let’s check out some tunes! (more…)

Jim Bowley is a professional guitarist, teacher and blogger. A native of Baltimore, he has over 30 years of playing experience and an advanced degree in Music Education from Towson University. Jim lives in Bel Air, MD where he maintains a thriving private lesson studio and performs with his band, Remains of Radio.

© 2012 Jim Bowley All rights reserved.
Custom WordPress theme by
Hairy Dog Digital