Guitar lessons in Edinburgh
Welcome to the guitar lessons in Edinburgh blog! Here we've got some lesson material mixed in with some musings on learning music in general. Feel free to join in!
By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Oct 19 2017 02:00AM
John Scofield played the festival theatre on the 14th July, and it should have been a mandatory attendance for every guitar teacher in Edinburgh. Aside from his incredible knowledge of harmony and sense of melody, it was a real lesson in tone and phrasing. Scofield studied at Berklee college of Music, where learning scales and arpeggios were seen as a means to an end and a lot of work was on ear training and phrasing, definitely an aspect of teaching that most Edinburgh guitar lessons could benefit from. It's a trap that most teachers/lessons end up in: teaching scales and technical material because it's easy to teach, easy to learn and comes with a more immediate sense of achievement. You can't avoid learning this stuff of course, but it's important not to play any of it like a robot, and that's one thing that really hits you when watching Scofield play; from the first couple of notes you can tell it's him and it couldn't have been anyone else. If you really listen to his playing, key aspects about his phrasing are his use of dynamics and accents; it's rare that he'll play more than a few notes without subtly varying the volume of each one. Combine that with giving every note it's full value and you've got the makings of some hip guitar playing, and that's before you've had to worry about reaching his near perfect level of groove. His individual sound and tone isn't reliant on amp settings either, when you here him play acoustic it's the same sound that comes out. Being able to develop that level of distinction in one's own sound is rare, but it's something we should all be striving for. Compare John Scofield with Pat Martino; their sound is heavily linked to their technique. Scofield uses lots of slurs and picks when he wants to accent, Martino picks almost every note and uses crescendos and diminuendos (as well as accents) to create movement in his lines. So, when you're practice technique, remember you're practising your feel as well!
By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Mar 1 2017 03:00AM
We've all heard someone say it (teacher, friend, guitar shop employee) but as annoying as it may have been, there's certainly some truth to it. One of the main goals of seeking Edinburgh guitar lessons should be improving your tone, which is more to do with technique than amp settings. Technique can be a tricky subject too though. For some people focusing on technique means playing fast, which is a divisive topic among guitarists (I once heard of one Edinburgh guitar teacher who thought that playing faster was the only way to get better!). However, whether you have shred guitar aspirations or not, technique really means everything about the physical aspects of playing the guitar. Giving every note it's full value and playing slow enough that you make sure to achieve this. Getting every note to sound the same, with equal volume, then practicing varying the dynamics (volume) and using accents creatively. This can be pretty difficult for your picking hand to begin with, so you'll need to practice slowly. Try this: play a technical exercise (scale, arpeggio etc.) in semi quavers and try accenting on the 1, then 2, then 3 then the 4. Then try writing out 2 beats worth of semi quavers (so 8 notes) and circling a few randomly. Then try and accent these notes in your exercise. Using volume in your practice routine is important and it isn't limited to accents, using dynamics and feel within your technique practice (as if you're playing mozart or your most heartfelt solo) is the best way to get the most out of your practice routine. It's tempting to just let your fingers run through stuff and sometimes that's fine, but most of the time try and make everything you play sound as musical as possible, even if it's just a scale. As always, to get into any of this stuff in a bit more detail, please don't hesitate to get in touch to book a lesson at www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com/contact. Happy playing!
By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Jan 31 2017 03:00AM
Where is your guitar right now? In your hands?? No-one practices as much as they think they should and it's easy to get frustrated if you feel you don't have the time to spare. Finding a guitar teacher in Edinburgh is a good start as it means you've at least got an incentive to learn the material before the next lesson. At Guitar lessons in Edinburgh emphasis is given to the importance of practicing the right way. Play things slowly and don't get frustrated; if you practice slowly and carefully for 15 minutes, even if you can't hear any difference then you will still have gotten 15 minutes better at guitar. Do that everyday and over time you are gauranteed to improve, the only way to fasttrack it is to spend more time practicing. This sounds obvious, but what 99% of guitar players do is try and play everything they learn perfectly at full speed the first time they try it, which always has either 2 results: A. you can play it perfectly at full speed first time, which means it wasn't challenging enough for you to begin with, or B: you play it badly and then continually get frustrated that you can't play it and you're not improving, which results in a rut that many of us have found ourselves in. A great principle to practice by is: everything you play, you have to play perfectly every time. Now that sounds like a tall order, but if you allow yourself to slow it down and slow it down until that's achievable (and there is NO limit on how slow it might have to be) then it's really not hard at all, and it never should. Practice should NEVER be hard, though it might take a lot of time. Remember that every time you make a mistake, whether it's playing out of time, playing the wrong note, not giving each note it's full value, whatever, then you are learning that mistake, and all that achieves is making that whole process much longer and more frustrating. So try it, whatever tune you're working on, be honest with yourself and slow it down till it's perfect, practice it for a while and I gauruntee when you speed it back up you will have made serious progress from where you were before. Unless you're doing this already in which case, congratulations! You're probably already great, keep up the good work!
By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Dec 30 2016 03:00AM
Do you have the blues? No? Well learn some! Blues is the thread that ties together so many styles of music, it's something that every Edinburgh guitar teacher should focus on at some point. If you want to be Do you have the blues? No? Well learn some! Blues is the thread that ties together so many styles of music, it's something that every Edinburgh guitar teacher should focus on at some point. If you want to be a modern guitar player, you can't avoid it. At a minimum make sure you can play through a standard 12 bar blues rhythm part, but this is itself is a pretty big topic. You can play the basic chord progression (so for a 1-4-5 blues in E that's E7 – A7 - B7 - ) with a downstroke on every beat, you can do a rock n roll shuffle style groove adding the 6th onto your power chord, you can go much further and learn a few dominant 7th chord voicings and inversions and move through your rhythm part melodically, the possibilities are endless. So once you've done at least a BIT of that (maybe the 1st two would be a good start!) try learning a scale to play over it (hint: pentatonic or blues scale). Then you'll want to have a go at a solo. Start with trying to put together something that goes over the whole 12 bars. A good way to approach this is to pick a beat to start on, figure out (or copy from someone else) a simple lick then repeat it on that same beat throughout the 12 bars (this is best done through feel, you'll know when it sounds right). The key is to have phrasing, don't be afraid of having some space in there, especially when you're getting started. Once you've got that, try tweaking the lick a little bit when you get to the chord change. There is a defined theory to this, but to begin with it's probably easiest to just use your ears and a bit of trial and error! Once you're at this stage, you've at least got a blues foundation to work on and you'll be a better guitar player for it. At guitar lessons in Edinburgh blues is always encouraged to be at the very least a small part of every students repertoire and once you're past the beginner stage the sky is the limit on how advanced you can go. Check out Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford and Scott Henderson to name a few! As always if you'd like to learn a bit more then check out: www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com