Friday, September 30, 2011

The "Ah-Ha" Moment

I wanted to get this little post written before I forgot about it. This is the "ah-ha" moment. I was talking on Thursday to my 430 student Alex Cooke about it when his lesson ended and my next student, Steve Champlin, over heard and actually named this piece for me. The "ah-ha" moment is when something you have been working on and trying to figure out finally comes to you and you get it. You finally understand it and go "Ah-Ha", I got it!. Lots of things we will go over in lessons you wont fully understand until way after we have parted ways. The same thing happened to me. In all of my musical education I had when I was younger I had lots of things I did not get until way way after my schooling was done. One of the big things I never got was modes. I just could not grasp what they did or how to use them , how they worked or any of it when I was getting taught them. I was driving in my car one day many years after having been taught them, not even thinking about them or even music when it finally dawned on me what they did and how to get to them easy. The whole time in between my "ah-ha" moment and the time I was taught them I still did work with them. Still did all my "homework" over and over to try and understand them. It was the countless work I did with them that finally paid off so that I could understand them in an "ah-ha" moment. I had Alex Cooke finally have an "ah-ha" moment in lessons Thursday. We have been working on various licks, changing their keys and "milking" them over and over. We have been doing this for around 4-5 months now. He finally got it in that last lesson. Everyone of you students are going to have these "ah-ha" moments for the entire life of your musical endeavour. You got to keep pushing with "the drive" to keep wanting to get something and understand it. It might take a month or two or even years for you to finally get it. You keep on truckin until you do though. Keep working until that "Ah_Ha" moment occurs.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Importance Of: " The Drive"

This edition of the "Importance Of" is on "the drive." What is "the drive" you ask? It is that inner feeling of pushing yourself to get better. The feeling of wanting more for yourself as a musician. Every player is going to come across this. It's almost like an addiction. You wake up every day and all you can think about is playing. This is a great thing. Its a healthy release. Every day you will wake up and want to do better and you go for it. I see it in alot of my students and in alot of musicians I encounter. One of which is former columnist Michael "Dork" Dinkins. When you get to practice with him you see it. He gets up early on a Sunday, ready to jam, ready to create something new and ready to improve on something that he has been playing for a while. This drive has made him a hell of a musician. i have watched him over the years go from an ok drummer to a musician with the abilities to hang with the big boys. He could very easily be a professional musician. Another person with the kind of drive is Rob Boggs from Quest Sound and Productions. He has a love for music and mixing like no other. I have watched Rob over the years go from an ok mixer and a weekend warrior soundman to a full blown sound company that mixes for tons of national bands that come to Augusta and around the south east. He is always working to improve his mixes and make a band sound like heaven from a speaker. He does this sometimes with no sleep and nothing but "The Drive" to kick some ass and make a show spectacular. I have watched my students do the same. One example as of late is Blake Sloan. He came with not a song he could play. Through his hard work he is tackling Randy Rhoades solos and improving every time I see him. "The Drive" is something every person must harness and use to make them the best they can be as a player or in any musical endeavor they choose to take on. There might not be a single thing more important than "The Drive" you have. It will make you learn songs, scales, do finger exercises and anything else it takes to be a champion player. The best get to be the best because they put in the time and effort. I have given you a few examples of people with the drive. Its your turn to get it and roll with it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Student Spotlight: Grace Dickens

This edition of "Student Spotlight" is on 14 year old West Side High School student Grace Dickens. Grace is a mild mannered shy girl who is really kicking some butt as of late. She comes from a very musical family.Her Grandma plays banjo, her aunt plays guitar, hers sisters play piano, her uncle plays guitar and thats just to name a few! I asked Miss Grace why she chose to play guitar. She told me she just wanted to learn an instrument and the guitar was it. Her favorite bands right now are Black Veil Brides and My Chemical Romance. I would say that Grace is the biggest My Chemical Romance fan I have ever seen. Grace's dream guitar is a vintage Fender Stratocaster. She just happened to get her dream guitar too! Her aunt (who must be amazingly awesome) gave her a 1973 Fender Strat! If Grace could play a gig anywhere in the world it would be anywhere in California. Why? Because California is just awesome! Right now Grace enjoys learning new songs and jammin with her best friend and jam buddy Sydney. They jam on My Chemical Romance songs together. If she could play in any band in history it would be guessed it.....My Chemical Romance!!!! My Chemical Romance is also the home of her favorite guitar player, Ray Toro. She loves the way he plays and says "He is just a beast!" In 5 years she hopes to be playing in bands, jammin around and playing a gig or two. In the long term she hopes to be a professional musician. She plays guitar everyday, around 1 to 2 hours everyday. The thing Grace said she has most got out of lessons is how to play the guitar in general. The advice Miss Gracie has for any new players or new students..."Practice everyday, try hard and have fun. And have fun because it is fun." The most embarrassing thing on her Ipod? It's the First Piano Adventures Cd! Grace Dickens is a smart girl with a ton of raw talent. She works hard and is on her way to being a good player. She is makin me proud. Here is to you Grace.....Keep Rockin......Keep Playin'.......and Keep Having Fun!!!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Art of Ear Training: Part 2 Hum In Uh Hum In Uh Hum In Uh

This is part 2 of the ear training series. In part one we discussed putting on the radio and trying to learn a song in the time it plays on the radio. Hope you all read it and had a good time with it. In part two we are going to go over humming a note to pitch and humming the notes of a chord.

Tune your guitar/bass up to standard pitch. What you want to do is play a note and hum that note to pitch. A good note to start on is your 5th (A) string's C note. It is on the third fret. Play the note and hum it to pitch. Once you have hummed it to pitch, sing the note, saying the name of the note as your singing word. Example: You are on the C note, sing the letter C to pitch. You can tell your in tune by listening for the "waves" to go away. You can also use any tuner that has a built in mic to help you too. After you have it right, just start working your way up the string, humming then singing every note. Do it on every string from the low E to the high E that you can. This will get you use to the way a note sounds. Doing this enough will help you be able to identify notes when you are listening to a song in your car or anywhere else you listen to music. It will "pump up" your ear. It will exercise the snot out of it!

The second thing you can do is play any chord, start with the lowest note , hum it. Go to the 2nd note , hum it. Play and hum every single note in the chord. This will get you use to the notes of a chord and how they sound. Do this one enough and you will be able to identify chords in songs like you will the notes from the previous exercise. Play major, minor, dominant 7, diminished or whatever kind of chord you want to do or that you play. This also will "pump up" your ear.

This is it for "The Art of Ear Training Part 2: Hum In Uh Hum In Uh Hum In Uh. work this one for a while and see you soon for part 3!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Learn From: Guns and Roses

This edition of "Learn From" is on the bad boys from L.A., Guns and Roses. Guns and Roses formed in 1985. They rose to prominence around 1987-88 with the Appetite for Destruction album. This album in my opinion is their best. It and the next one "Lies" were the only two with original members. Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 followed, then Spaghetti Incident and what ever else after that. Appetite broke ground and was an amazing album for songwriting, musicianship, aura and everything else that is important to making a world wide smash and all time historic album. Guitarist of the time Slash and Izzy Stradlin wove beautiful and nasty rhythm's together. They were so in touch with each others playing it is mesmerizing at times. The guitar lines they constructed are some of the best of all time. The lead lines they shared together were like one unit playing. Slash's leads on the album will go down in history as some of the best, most melodic in guitar playing history. Songs like Sweet Child o Mine have instantly recognizable guitar lines. Steven Adler's drumming had a groove like no other and he used a cowbell awesomely! Duff McKagen made memorable bass lines jumped in and out of the pocket and had a snarly bass tone like no other. Every song on the album is a classic and utterly amazing. The second album Lies Lies Lies, was a great acoustic album. Showed them stripped down and sounding like a very different band. It also had cuts oif songs they wrote and played while they were coming up. get both of these albums. They are a must have for any up and coming musician to have, learn and listen to. The next two albums , Use Your illusion 1 and 2 had some good songs but in my opinion had alot of fluff and crap too. You could take and make a mix cd of the Good songs. Slash's solo and tone in November Rain make that song. Estranged, Cival War, You could be Mine and Dont Cry are the best songs of the 2 cds. The band members were on the down slide after this and you can listen for yourself on the new Axl Roses cd that came out 2 years ago. The first 2 albums of G nR are two of the greatest of all time. Get them, listen to them, live them and learn them. It will make you better.

here is sweet child o mine

here is patience

here is estranged

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Diatonic Major Scale: Three Note Per String Patterns

By now you probably have down doing the major scales on one string. You are more than likely bored with it and are ready for the next step. The next step is the scale patterns themselves. I like to teach the three note per string patterns. There are also the generic patterns. We will save them for another day. With the three note per string patterns we end up with 7 patterns. One pattern for every note of the scale. What you want to do with these patterns is attack each one without worrying about the root. Just start on the lowest note of the tab and go up the pattern to the highest note and then back down to the lowest note. This will get you familiar with the patterns. Do it for each pattern. We will do more with them once you get these down. Holla and have a great Holiday weekend! Click on the picture of the sheet to enlarge it.