Guitar Practicing Tips – Blues Scale in Major

Mike Slayen Studios Picks 2The blues scale is a great way for beginners to start improvising and an integral scale for all guitarists to have in their musical tool box. It is versatile and a bit forgiving in that it is basically a five note pentatonic scale with the added ‘blues’ note…the #4.

It’s easy to know which key to use the blues scale for a minor key. If you’re in A minor you play A minor blues, E minor-E blues…etc.

What is not so obvious is which major key to use the blues scale. Unless you are playing a straight ahead blues you can’t really use the same theory…G major= G blues, etc.

The answer lies with the ‘relative minor’ key. The relative minor is 3 half steps below the root of the major key. So the relative minor of C major is A minor. G major is E minor.

Once you know which relative minor you can rip away.

Here is a list of  Major keys and their relative minors commonly used in guitar.  A cheat sheet to get you started, but, you will NEED to know these intimately as part of your music theory repertoire!

Major key / Relative minor key(where to use your blues scale)

C/a

D/b

E/c#

F/d

G/e

A/f#

B/g#

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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!!

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 – 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!

Guitar Practicing Tips- Keep it Out

Have you ever been walking around your house bored and say, ‘Ooooh I am gonna practice my guitar?’ You find that it is in the case, tucked in a room you never practice in and a full stack of junk on top. You know, just like your gym equipment….’Maybe I’ll practice later…’

It happens to the best of us!

One way to avoid this is to keep your guitar out of the case, of course you want to make sure you find a safe spot for it. Also keep it in a room you frequent so you can pick it up at anytime. If it is staring you in the face you are more likely to pick it up. If you pick it up you can get in a quick practice session. If you get in a quick session who knows it may turn into a full blown practice session.

Keep your guitar out, keep it protected and keep it where you can easily pick it up at anytime!

Keep practicing!!!