Here’s to a Musical 2014!

Been a great year on many fronts. Day to day it was great, life and work, enjoyable and getting better, although, overall it was a weird year and I can’t really say I am sorry to see 2013 in the rearview mirror.

Blogging was waaaay in the backseat this year, for many reasons. To ALL my fans and followers(mom) I greatly apologize.

Still there were a few interesting trends at 12 Notes & the Truth!

-The little Michael Schenker post I wrote a couple of years ago continues to get hits all the time. Personally I am glad to know there is so much interest in one of my all time favorite guitarists!

-Folks are interested in 12×12 Sudoku, lots of continued hits there, as well

-Malaysia found its way to 12 Notes ALOT. In fact more than any other non-English speaking country. And I know my mom was not in Malaysia this year. Welcome and hope you keep visiting!

-Allegedly Google’s privacy policy has blocked  the ever valuable resource of knowing the ‘search terms’ that led visitors to websites. I am SURE they didn’t mine your information any more either…right?!

-One thing that has not changed is my lifetime love of music. Creating, performing, listening, studying and discussing the effect these 12 Notes have on our lives!

Soon this blog may split between another website http://www.guitarguys.com keep an eye out for it as the year develops and I am sure I will let ya know, as well!

Well that’s it short and sweet…

I am looking forward to many great projects and wish you all a prosperous and healthy New Year 2014!

I always teach my kids/students, major, sounds happy and, minor, sounds sad…with that in mind…

Keep life on the Major Sonority side of the street!

Peace,

Mike

Guitar Practicing Tips-Cheetos and Arpeggios Don’t Mix

Here is an obvious tip…wash your hands before you play your guitar!

Super obvious, but, I bet you don’t do it all the time!

If you are on a budget or a beginner that doesn’t know how to change your own strings…your strings need to last you for as long as possible. The more filth and muck that get on your strings the shorter life they have.

Cheetos Guitar FingersThe worst offenders are often kids. Guitar teachers will have surely seen this one…the occasional student walk into class with orange finger tips? Covered in gunky cheese powder from some kind of crackers…yuck! Or something even stickier or grosser…

For the rest of us it is just daily activities that keep our hands less clean than they seem to be…so scrub up and save a buck or two on strings!

Guitar Practice Tip, It Ain’t Like That…

This guitar practice tip may be one of the most important to keep in mind when learning the instrument(or anything new). Unfortunately, for some it might be one of the hardest pieces of advice to truly grasp and put in your tool box.

Recently, I’ve been reading about how adults learn vs. how children learn, not just guitar, but, in other areas like language, as well. As is often suggested, do kids really have a larger capacity to learn than adults? Looking back upon my most successful students over the years they all have had one thing….

As previously mentioned, it is often said that kids learn things so much easier. Brain science and genetics aside this may not be a true statement. In my experience teaching both adults and kids it has a lot to do with learning style.

Adults have learned how to learn already. We learn how to study, play sports and drive for success. There are as many strategies for tackling new things as there are people trying new things.

Kids are more pliable in their learning styles. More willing to take to heart what teachers suggest. Without as much life experience, they are more open to just purely DOING something new and seeing what happens.

By the time we are adults we have developed certain preconceived notions how to learn  things. An athlete may learn by taking new experiences head on with brute force and strength. An engineer may face things analytically, breaking down problems, systematically and logically solving the unknown.

How we were brought up determines how we learn, as well…good ol’ nature vs. nurture.

Athletes pound it out, music ain’t like that…

Salesmen don’t take no for an answer, music ain’t like that…

Students work extremely hard studying to do well on tests, music ain’t like that…

Where am I going with all this? Teaching thousands of students from 4 year olds to elderly and all ages in between over the past 20 years one thing stands out.

To go Yoda on you, …”Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Yeah it is kind of ‘use the force’ when learning music.

-You may need to check your learning and drive for success styles at the door when trying an instrument. (Although they may help some they may ultimately hinder you, as well)

-You need to be open to exposing yourself a bit by dropping your pre-conceived notions for success in other fields.

…So what is the one thing my most successful students possessed?

They had an adaptable approach…They knew when to push hard and when to let off the gas. When to listen and when to attack. On and on…

In essence they had a flexible approach rather than a rigid pre-learned approach to learning and achieving musical success.

Bottom line approach the guitar with an open mind!

Be willing to learn in a different way than you’ve previously had success in other areas of life, when needed.

Above all, at all levels of your journey enjoy playing!!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Well it’s definitely that time already in the music teaching biz!

If you are like me, you know it is way too early for Christmas music, at least for listening. However, with student performances and CD recording projects coming up SOON it has been my experience that the day after Halloween needs to be the official start of practicing holiday music.

Gotta love the Frank Sinatra Christmas Songbook…has NOTHING to do with him other than the picture on the cover.

 

For those looking for music I strongly recommend the FJH series of Methods and Xmas books. I’ve been using them for 7 plus years now. Their books are a bit more contemporary than the ol’ standards. My students laugh cause I know what page every song is on….they test me but they never trick me.

Tips on practicing for the holidays…

-Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Pick one or two songs with arrangements at your skill level. Learn those and then dive into another. If you start too many at one time you might burn out and lose your steam.

-Practice at least one song you play the notes or tab and a couple with just chords. People love to sing their favorites this time of the year and you can strum away and accompany them.

-Have fun!! Making music with others is a blast. Be confident, but, don’t take it too seriously!

BONUS TIP: Unless you are really comfortable sight-reading make copies of the songs you intend to play and leave the book at home! If you have the book people WILL start to browse and make requests which can be an uncomfortable situation for beginners.

Good luck with the guitar this holiday season!

Related posts:

Guitar for your holiday events

Bing-a-Ling-a-Ling

Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Tonight’s Practice Session

 

Tonight’s practice session… I am re-working a couple old pieces “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” by Francisco Tarrega and “Scherzino Mexicano” by Manuel Ponce.
Two great pieces in the classical guitar repertoire.

Then, yes, I plan to mash the high strings and work on some scales and improvising!

This is great cause I dont often enough get a night to practice what I want. I’m usually working on music for a specific wedding or event.

 

Guitar Practicing Tips – Know Your Open Strings

One of the first things you will want to learn as a guitarist is the letter names of each of the six strings.  Sure you can learn a bunch of tabs and chords and play songs but what about when you are jamming with your friends and they say something like, ‘your D string is out of tune?’ It sure would be embarrassing if you didn’t know which string they were talking about! I actually remember in college we had composer John Duarte pay us a visit. Some of the students who were playing his pieces were asked to perform for him in a master class setting. One student did a great performance of a Duarte piece. As is custom in a master class the composer/guest is to give some helpful critiques and suggestions. Mr. Duarte suggested the student play a certain passage on a different string to achieve a desired sound.

The student froze. In front of the composer, his teachers and an audience full of guitarists he froze. He couldn’t find the notes he needed and it was embarrassing for everyone there let alone the poor guy on stage.

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! The first step you need to take is to know your open strings! Once you memorize these there are easy ways to find any note you want on the guitar. If you want to play bar and power chords knowing all the notes on the 5th and 6th string is essential and again it starts by knowing the open strings.
Here are two acronyms that are helpful to remember your open strings. Both were created by students of mine. One from over 15 years ago and one from a recent class.

Here are the open notes starting from the 6th string(thickest) to the first (thinnest)

E   A    D    B    G    B    E

Starting on the 6th(thick) string to the first(thin) string …by Patty

Eat    A    Darn    Good    Breakfast    Everyday

Starting on the first(thin) string to the  6th(thick) string …by Orlando

Easter    Bunny    Gets    Drunk    At    Easter

Don’t like these? Create you own version, whatever it takes to get you to memorize the open strings!

Click here for past practicing tips.

Guitar Practicing Tips – A Secret to Changing Chords

For you beginners out there learning to play chords you are going to love this!

So you’re struggling making that dreaded change from C to G!(or any tough change). What are your options….practice over & over & over…best option! Practice slow and keep your rhythm…great option. Get frustrated and throw your guitar against the wall…not recommended, condoned or liable if you do try it!!!!

The not so secret is if you keep practicing you WILL get it!

The secret is there is a ‘cheating’ technique, although it is not cheating because guitarists do this all the time. Even arguably the greatest rock song of all time Stairway to Heaven employs this method.

Use a strum that ends in an eighth note, i.e., 1 2+ 3 4+ where the numbers are strummed down and the +(ands) are strummed up.

On the very last strum, the up stroke of beat 4, take your left hand off the neck and strum the open strings. Use this ‘free time’ to get to the next chord on rhythm for beat 1.

So the strum would go 1 2+ 3 4-(open strum), 1 2+ 3 4-(open strum)

Try it out it makes life much easier to change your chords and sounds stylistically correct.

Good luck and keep at it…it WILL come!

Beware of the Pick Gremlins!

My friends we are facing an epidemic! It’s brutal some would say unnerving!

Cool Skull Pick
Cool Skull Pick

If you play guitar with a pick, you know what I’m talking about. You go to your local guitar store drop a few bucks and, in theory, have enough picks to last you for awhile.

You know you bought a few of the cool ones with skull designs on them, a few heavy ones for fast picking and that one thin one for strumming some folk songs.

Get home and it’s time for a practice session. You start jamming then a distraction, maybe the doorbell rings. You put your new skull pick down in a precise spot on the coffee table so you remember exactly where you left it so you don’t lose it. You dispatch the salesman at the door only to return to your rockin’ out and cue the theme from “Psycho” as you look down and that shiny new pick is gone.

“What the heck!?, I left it right there on the coffee table…right there in the corner!”  Too late! …It’s gone…like a swimmer in “Jaws”, like a camper in Mike Myers’ neck of the woods, like one of Sigourney Weaver’s buddies in “Alien.”

Get a glass of water…Bam, another one gone! Go to the bathroom…ChaChing, your thin pick is gone! Picks disappear like crazy. Where do they go? It doesn’t make any sense.

Over the years I’ve come to one conclusion. There are Pick Gremlins amongst us. It doesn’t matter where you live or how careful you are with your picks they are gonna disappear on you.  You can even check your pockets and the laundry, but, they’re gone!  It’s the pick gremlins no other possibility.

For those of you who play guitar you KNOW what I’m talking about. For those that don’t…well you probably think all guitarists are nuts anyways.

Beware of the Pick Gremlins!

12 NOTES & THE TRUTH!

Our music is based on 12 notes!

That’s it!

No more!

“12 Notes & the Truth!,” this blog,  focuses on everything those 12 little notes offer.

These 12 notes not only make up the music of every band and artist we listen to but make the world go ’round, as well.

“12 Notes & the Truth!,” will cover anything and everything in music that strikes a chord

with myself and hopefully you, as well!.

Guitar music, pop styles, jazz, classical and the social issues attached to them all will be featured in the blog.

Expect a little high brow education,  low brow comedy and anything between that helps convey the world of music

in my head. Of course I will let you know what I am up to from time to time, as well, performances, projects, etc.

You can follow the blog:

from this site or on

Facebook: Mike Slayen Studios

Twitter: @mikeslayen

However you do follow come back early and often to check out “12 Notes & the Truth!” and feel free to comment on the posts.

From one music lover to another I will try to live up to these 12 notes and their truth.