Category: Being Awesome Archives - Jim Bowley

January 11, 2015

Guitar Goals for a New Year (2015 Edition)

Happy New Year to all my guitar ninjaz out there!

The first guitar lessons of a new year always find me asking my students what their goals will be in the upcoming months. It’s nice to feel freshly inspired and to get our minds right in January.

Some of their goals will be stylistic (“I’d like to learn how to play blues better”), some will be technical (“I need some serious practice on my string bends”) and most will be repertoire (“This year I’m gonna learn the entire Led Zeppelin catalog note for note”).

Those three things are “big ticket items” to me; you can never go wrong with this approach and you’ll get lots of bang for your musical buck here. But there are a number of other, less obvious, things that you can resolve to learn as well.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started – a dozen big and small ticket items, if you will. It’s a grab bag of stuff to inspire you and give you some clear direction in the months to come. (more…)

September 5, 2014

The 3 Biggest Mental Battles Every Guitar Player Faces

Today’s post is directly inspired by another post that has nothing – and everything – to do with guitar.

As a matter of fact, I shamelessly ripped off the title and substituted “guitar player” for “blogger”.

It was just too perfect.

The post in question is written by Michael Hyatt, a top blogger in the field of leadership. His latest post hit my inbox just one day after a conversation with an adult student who was having a tough time.

As I was reading his article, I kept substituting the mental battles we face as guitar players for Michael’s blogging experience. In my head, I was agreeing, “Yes, yes…and YES again!” (more…)

August 11, 2014

The Obstacle Course Approach to Changing Chords

obstacle course approach to changing chordsStrumming and changing chords is at the heart of all guitar playing.  And experienced players make it look so easy. 

But changing chords in rhythm is one of the most difficult things for beginner guitarists to do.

After all, there are multiple “moving parts” in every chord change. Fingers move in various combinations with different strings and different placements to figure out. The thumb changes its position. The wrist relaxes or bends.

It’s easy to see why a rookie guitar player 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, one of the simplest methods to deal with chord changes is more a matter of attitude than technical ability. (more…)

May 5, 2014

Three Practice Strategies for Serious Guitar Progress

by jim — Categories: Beginner, Being Awesome, Intermediate — Tags: 11 Comments

It’s always satisfying when you find an article or some research that confirms for you that what you’ve been doing is legit.

This has happened to me before with particular techniques (the pinky power chord, for example). But recently I’ve run across a series of excellent articles in a favorite site of mine – The Bulletproof Musician – that lends some credence to drills and practice suggestions I’ve been making to my students for some time.

And make no mistake, having a strong concept of HOW to practice – not just WHAT to practice – is the key to consistent gains in the practice room.

So, in conjunction with The Bulletproof Musician, I’ve put together three basic practice strategies that will help you to make some serious progress in your guitar playing.

These strategies are especially helpful for translating your work in the practice room to the stage or bandstand. But of course, they’re money even if you’re just a hobbyist wanting to be an all-around more awesome guitarist. (more…)

April 29, 2013

Practice Is Optional: An Open Letter to Guitar Students Everywhere

“Practice, practice, practice!” – every music teacher ever.

“Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” – Arnold Jackson, legendary TV sitcom character, whenever his brother would drop a truth bomb on him .

Dear Guitar Student,

You’ve probably heard that you must practice diligently to become a good musician. This is a time-honored concept that has been drilled into the brains of music students for centuries.

But did you know that practicing is optional?

Really, it is.

This may seem like sacrilege coming from a music teacher, but there is no rule anywhere which states that you have to practice your guitar. (more…)

April 3, 2013

Student Success Story: Jeff Gover

It’s not every day that you get to brag about one of your students being accepted to Berklee College of Music. But today is that day for me.

One of my hardest-working pupils, Jeff Gover, was accepted to the prestigious music school in Boston, MA. He couldn’t be more excited and I couldn’t be prouder or more excited for him. He’s put in a tremendous amount of time and effort working toward this goal and it’s paid off big time!

Jeff’s musical journey has been an interesting one. I first met him when he auditioned for the vacant guitar spot in the teen band I directed, Cryin’ Out Loud. It was clear that Jeff’s fingers could move – he has natural lead guitar chops – but he didn’t really understand what he was doing! And his rhythm guitar playing needed a lot of work.

Long story short, he didn’t get the gig.

But Jeff exhibited a ton of raw potential in that audition. He was also a very friendly and humble kid, so I requested of his parents that they allow me to teach him. (That’s the opposite of what usually happens.) (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.

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