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.
The 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!
The 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)
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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!
Guitar for your holiday events
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!
Last night I was working on some music and decided to find some of the pieces I played for my college recitals. Found the folder and could not believe my eyes. There was SO much music. Music I haven’t played in years. Great music that I need to start playing again! Ponce, Villa-Lobos, Bach, Scarlatti just to name a few.
Excited to play these pieces again I dug into the thick stack of sheet music. I must of spent a few hours easily sight reading. Amazing that I forgot all about so many of these great works. Not only do I need to re-learn them but I completely forgot that I ever played many of them.
So here is the ‘Use it or Lose it’ lesson. As musicians we spend a lot of time on our craft, novices to professionals alike. No one wants all that time to go to waste! This is something I preach to my students. Work on new music as your main practice items but everyday work on some old music, as well! Play a few old pieces every time you practice and they will always stay in your head and fingers. It’s when a piece is tucked away, not seen or heard that musical atrophy sets in and although anytime a guitar is in your hands is a good thing, it is NO fun to have to re-learn something you already worked so hard on in the past!
Another advantage to practicing many songs weekly is to develop a full repertoire. When friends and family know you play guitar they WILL ask you to play for them. So you get set to perform and realize you have only been working on a couple of pieces and they are in the development stage, not really ready for prime time. But if you have a handful of songs ready to go you will be the life of the party!