Monthly Archives: June 2012

Why we practice every day

Colorado Springs Gary allen Guitar Studios

Colorado Springs Gary Allen Guitar Studios

The musical world is like a bowl. It holds all of the notes that a player will use. They can come to the bowl and take whatever musical sounds that they want to play with. The irony of the bowl is that a player can only take out what they have been willing to put into the bowl.

Players invest time in the study of scales and rhythm. Their daily practice routines fill the bowl with technique and musical ideas. The rewards are small at first and may seem unnoticeable. There will be some practice sessions where everything seems perfect and suddenly guitar playing becomes very easy. Then there will be days where the amp sounds like glass breaking and the guitar feels like a piece of salvage wood. Players have to remember that it doesn’t matter if the practice session feels good or bad. The end result is that you put something musical into the bowl.

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Practice time


Play by ear

Guitar colorado springs

Martin guitar

Guitar players and musicians in general have to learn how to play by ear. I think people get confused sometimes about music. They think that music is about black dots on paper. It’s not. Music is what happens after the black dots are translated into sound.

Music is an aural language and part of the fun of playing is trying to figure out what another player is saying. My friends and I as kids used to sit in front of the t.v. and try to play along with the music that was on our favorite shows. I still do that as a form of entertainment.

If you would like to try  it here is my approach. You have to know at least one major scale shape that is movable.  Begin to play your major scale shape when the music on the t.v. starts to play. Move up or down a whole step if your first key doesn’t work. Continue this process until you find the right key. After you have done this a few times you will get much faster at finding the right key.

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Practice time


Why should guitarists learn about music?

The awesome thing about guitars is that a person can pick one up and in a short time, start rocking like his favorite rock star. The drawback to guitar playing is that a lot of bad publicity has been attached to”learning”. As if knowing something about music will stunt your growth. I have always loved how people say that Eddie Van Halen never took guitar lessons. True, but he took piano lessons for years and his father was a talented jazz clarinet player. The point is that he was indoctrinated, steeped, and highly educated in music theory and technique before he ever picked up a guitar. He knew all of the musical rules before he ever went breaking them.

The first thing to do is learn a scale. Then learn how a scale is built. What is the combination of whole steps and half steps that make up a major scale? What are the chords that can be built on each degree of the major scale? Since you are a guitar player chances are that you will bump into the pentatonic or blues scales. Learn some licks from Albert King and see how notes of the scale belong to the chords that are being played. Rules are being followed and broken, and it helps to understand what’s going on. Albert King may not have been educated but trust me, he was schooled.

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Practice time


How to fix a guitar playing problem

The first step to fixing any problem in your playing is to be aware that one exists. Listen carefully when you practice for any unusual sounds. Buzzes, pops, and rattles in many cases are player related and can be eliminated. Other problems can be traced back to the instrument. Take your guitar to a repairman if that should be the case.

Today’s post is about player error and how to track it down and fix it.Once you become aware of a problem the next step is to fix it. The key is to play the problem part as slow as possible and listen carefully to the nature of the sound. Is it finger noise? Maybe it is fret or string noise when the string bounces off of the fret.

Another area of concern is called the flam. Flams occur when the left and right hands are not synchronized. If the right hand picks the string before the left hand has completely fretted the it will result in two sounds. This is undesirable and has to be fixed. Many times the only way to become aware of playing problems is to slow down, The only way to fix them permanently is to slow down so that you can fix the problem and then bring the phrase back up to speed.

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Practice time


Learn Riffs and Licks

When a person begins to learn how to play guitar it is like filling a dresser with clothes. Several pieces of clothing are purchased. Many different styles and and colors will make up the foundation of their wardrobe. They won’t use everything on a daily basis, but they buy extras so that they have choices.

The beginning guitarist builds his musical chest in the same way. They acquire licks and riffs. Instead of spending money at the store they spend hours in a room. Just as they won’t use all of the clothes in their their dresser they won’t use all of the licks and riffs that they learn. In fact, a lot of what they learn will be forgotten. The end result will be a collection of musical ideas that can be used for improvisation or composing new songs.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Practice time