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…)

July 15, 2014

Money Guitar Tip #8: “Flicking Water”

One of my favorite verbal cues for strumming the guitar is based on a simple task that we perform every day: we wash our hands.

And what do we do automatically after washing our hands?

We flick the excess water off.

That, my friends, is perfect strumming technique.

“Flicking water” is a highly effective cue that will help you stay loose and relaxed while getting your strum on.

How great – and easy – is that? (more…)

June 24, 2014

The Golden Rules of Bending Strings

Bending strings is one of the most unique and awesome things about playing guitar.

Other instrumentalists may try, but guitar players are legit note-benders. We can bend a note a little or a lot or anywhere in between!

However, with great musical power comes great responsibility, so we six-stringers are responsible for making our bends as excellent as possible.

The only problem is, bending strings is hard work. And many players simply never learn the guitar technique to get ‘er done the right way.

If you’ve been frustrated with bends that are weak, shaky and out of tune, then this lesson is just what the guitar doctor ordered!

Armed with three main technique principles – I call ’em The Golden Rules of Bending – you can be confident that your bends will be strong, controlled and accurate. (more…)

June 4, 2014

Applying the Two Pentatonic Paths

In the last installment, we covered a topic that I call “Two Paths”. It’s a relatively simple, yet profound, idea for playing pentatonic scales.

In a nutshell, we learn to navigate each octave of a pentatonic scale along two separate paths. This gives us more flexibility in our approach and opens up our fretboard vision.

Today’s lesson features some practical exercises for developing your Two Paths skills. These exercises should not only help you to develop more vocabulary for your lead guitar improv, but they should also help you to understand why some of your favorite solos are played the way they are. (more…)

May 22, 2014

Two Paths to Pentatonic Mastery

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on. – Robert Plant in “Stairway to Heaven”

Learning to play pentatonic scales is arguably the most important building block for developing our soloing skills. But many guitarists only really view pentatonics in one way – along one path of notes, up and back.

To really master the fretboard and to be able to play whatever you want whenever you want, you’ve got to have more than one way to move through your scale patterns.

Think of it as having multiple paths to drive home from the store. If you only know one way to get home, you’re limited. But with multiple paths, you have options depending on your current circumstances. Traffic backed up to the left? Go right.

In this lesson, I’ll show you how to visualize two pathways for connecting the root notes of a pentatonic scale. The end result will be improved fretboard vision, longer lead guitar lines and a whole lot more awesome. (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…)

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