By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Jun 12 2018 12:19AM
So we've been talking a lot on the guitar lessons in Edinburgh blog about studying jazz and how much of a bloody great idea it is. However, we can take most of the same concepts and apply them to other pop music styles. A common one for most Edinburgh guitar teachers would be blues. If you want to be the best blues player you can be, you should start by learning the pentatonic scale in all 5 positions of the neck. Then practice it in every conceivable pattern, such as: ascending 3's, 4's, 5's, 6,s etc. up and down the scale. Then try connecting these patterns from the lowest note on the neck to the highest (within the scale). So, now you're done with scales, let's move on to blues progressions, the most common one being a major 1-4-5 blues (the one everyone knows). One way to get VERY comfortable with these chord changes is to play through them with a bunch of limiting parameters. How about picking one position (and as always, when we say pick one position, that means eventually doing EVERY position) and sticking to using the arpeggios in that position, keeping a constant quaver rhythm. Then how about playing the arpeggios up and down in one direction through the chord changes, without changing direction for the chord change. So maybe you're playing a blues in E and you're ascending through E7 for 8 notes (which would be E-G#-B-D-E-G#-B-D) you might end up on fret 7 on the G string, and within this exercise you'd keep going into E-G-A-C# for the A7 chord. Now you've mapped out the scales and arpeggios pretty clearly, another good exercise is to improvise through the progression freely, but only using crotchets. All of these methods get you out of the rut of sitting meandering randomly over licks and riffs (As like many Edinburgh guitar teachers, I should know, I've been that meanderer). However there is nothing innately wrong with licks and riffs, especially for blues. The famous Bruce Lee quote: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times" bears some relevance here. The way to practice licks in a blues context is take the cliche blues licks and practice them over and over with a metronome until you can playing them accurately and in time (and pitched correctly if you're doing bends). All this somewhat encapsulates the jazz approach to learning: get a hold of the chord changes, play the material all over the neck, and play it in time. In a word, thoroughness. As always, tune in next time for more ramblings on all things guitar!