How to Get the Most from Your Practice

Most of my students will have heard me say how a small amount of practice each day is much better than a large amount once a week! It’s something you will hear me say a lot! A daily practice schedule is the foundation for learning any instrument. For beginning students fifteen or twenty minutes a day is a good start. As students develop they will find that half an hour per day works well. From there, it depends on your goals and your motivation, and your love of music! The more you practice, the better you play!

A good practice session will have the following elements:

  • Some finger exercises, such as scales, or arpeggios, or finger flexibility exercises;
  • Some work on strumming and chords;
  • Some practice reading music, working on a song;
  • Some creative play – improvising to chords played by a friend or recorded.

I always like to finish my practice session with some creative play, because that is a lot of fun, and a good reward for your hard work in other areas of practice! Check out the practice tracks available on the school website, and make them a part of your practice schedule!

Practice Track: Am7&E7

This practice track is suitable for beginning and intermediate guitar and bass players, in a funk – rock style. Here is the chord chart:2 bars of A minor and 2 bars of E seventhThere are many ways to tackle playing over the progression, here are a few suggestions for Guitarists. 

  1. Am blues scale
  2. A natural minor over Am,  and A harmonic minor over E7
  3. A natural minor over Am, and E Myxolydian (A major) over E7
  4. Am pentatonic or blues scale over Am, and Bm pentatonic over E7

For bass players:

  1. Use tonics and octaves for each chord
  2. Use 1 and flat 7 for each chord (G&A for Am7), (D&E for E7)
  3. Use 1, flat 7 and 5 for each chord (A,G,E for Am7), (B,D,E for E7)
  4. Am pentatonic scale
  5. Am pentatonic for Am7; Bm Pentatonic for E7
  6. Am7 arpeggio for Am7; E7 arpeggio for E7
  7. As 3, but add passing notes from A natural minor (Am7) or A harmonic minor (E7) 

You can play the track from the following link:

[audio:http://www.robsguitarschool.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/AmE7.mp3|titles=AmE7]

Have fun!

Talking About the Blues

One of the styles of music I love to play, and love to teach, is the blues. Much of modern pop and rock music owes its distinctive sound to the rhythms, harmonies and scales used by the American blues musicians. The Blues had its roots in the south of the USA, in the Mississippi delta region, and the first blues guitarists often sang on street corners. They developed the resonator guitar, made of steel, to help produce a louder sound. Look out for Son House and Robert Johnson as exemplars of this early blues. After the second world war, many people from the South moved north to Chicago and Detroit, and blues began to feature the electric guitar. Have a listen to performers like Muddy Waters, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker, who were playing right through the fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond. B.B. King still performs to this day, in his 80’s! These players really influenced the British blues/rock explosion that occurred in the late sixties and early seventies. Such big names as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) were big fans, and through these players and their contemporaries, the blues features of the bend, the pentatonic scale and the dominant seventh chord, found their way into rock and roll and popular music, and are still a big feature in today’s rock and pop. Australia’s own John Butler is also well worth a listen, with roots in the blues! 

To play the blues, one needs to work on several areas of playing. Firstly, get the minor pentatonic scale under your fingers! Secondly, work on getting some bends happening, especially bending the flat 3rd, the 4th and the flat 7th. Thirdly work on some phrasing. A lot of the blues is based on call and response type melodies, that have their origins in the field hollers on the slave plantations of the American South. So think in terms of 2 bar phrases, with the second phrase repeating (perhaps with some variation) the first, and then going on to a new phrase! And finally, don’t forget to exercise your ears. Put on your favourite record, and see if you can play along. Even if you can pick out one or two notes here and there, it will help you to hear in a new way the music that is being played, and eventually will help you to play it yourself on the guitar!

Practice Track: Le Plume Part 1

Hi! Here is a practice track for intermediate guitar players interested in developing their jamming style, with application to jazz, especially Gypsy jazz, and similar styles. It is an example of a “ii-V-I” progression, with a passing diminished chord (I# dim) between the I and ii chords. The key is G major.

 

You could get away with playing G major the whole time, but it is much more fun and sounds great if you play the G#dim arpeggio over the G#dim chord. Download the practice track from the following link:

[audio:http://www.robsguitarschool.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/LePlumePart1.mp3|titles=LePlumePart1]

In due course, I will post part 2 of the progression, and then the full progression for you to play with! Have fun!

Practice Track: Em Pentatonic on First Two Strings

This tune is great fun to play, and sounds good played in many different ways, from fast to slow. Most of my beginning students will spend some time on this tune, as it is a great introduction to jammimg and improvisation using the pentatonic scale, the foundation of much rock and roll, blues and jazz playing. There are only four notes in the tune, so it is perfect to learn for those in the first stages of learning. Listen to my track with the recorded melody, and try to play along as you read the music. Then try to play the melody using the track without the melody recorded. Then practice making up your own tunes, using the same four notes, or adding other notes from the E minor pentatonic scale.

Em Pentatonic on First Two Strings – with Melody

Em Pentatonic on First Two Strings – just chords


Practice track for beginning players – G major.

Here is a practice play along track for beginning guitar and bass players. The chords are G & D7. Download the MP3 from the link below:

G&D7

To practice your improvisation, use the G major scale. There are only two chords, as per the chart below! Listen carefully to see which notes sound best against each chord.Practice track: 2 bars G and 2 bars D7Here is a simple first bass line for the bass players! Start with the line written below, but then experiment with different rhythms! Have fun!Bass Cleff: 2 bars G and 2 bars D7

Teaching Commences 24th Jan

Teaching will commence for first term 2011 on Monday January 24th. I will be teaching on Wednesday 26th January for Wednesday students who want a lesson, but attendance is at your option, seeing it is the Australia Day public holiday. I hope everyone has had a great holiday break, and is ready for more guitar!

Rob

New Web Site On Line!

Welcome to Rob’s Guitar School webpages! Rob’s guitar school teaches in Samford, The Gap and Mount Nebo, in Brisbane’s north west (Queensland, Australia), teaching all popular styles, including pop, rock, folk, blues and jazz. Rob has a police working with children clearance (Blue Card), and teaches all ages from six to 80! My aim is to have you enjoying playing music as quickly as possibly, whatever your goals and whatever style of music you want to play!