Gig on New Years Eve

Well the year is fast drawing to a close – I wish all my students and their families a very merry christmas and a happy new year. I hope you have enjoyed your year of learning guitar, and are taking advantage of the holidays to catch up on the practice! I will be playing on New Years Eve at the Samford Homestead Restaurant (20 Main St, Samford), so if you want to come down for a great Buffet and enjoy some jazz guitar, I would love to see you! Give Steve a call on 3289 1485 to make a reservation.

Here’s a little taste of what’s on the menu!

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Rob Releases Album

I am very pleased to announce that I have released an album under the name Bob Reeves. The Album entitled “Songs of Place” sits in the modern folk tradition, and has a bunch of songs about my favourite places around the Brisbane area, and some a bit further afield. There is also a couple of songs about cars! The album features a lot of my slide guitar playing. I am very happy with it, check it out on ITunes (search for “Bob Reeves Songs of Place”), or at Catmint Records.

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Practice Track for Bass – Notation

The following is a practice track for bassists who want to get their music reading skills going. To use this practice track, you will need to be able to read the bass clef in the first position in the key of C major. The pace is quite slow, with two beat notes, so it is suitable for beginning students. It is in a neo-classical style – in other words it is written in the style of a classical composition. You may enjoy it as a change from your usual styles!

Here is the guitar part at 90 bpm:-


And here is the bass part. Enjoy!

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Practice Track: A Minor Blues

Here is a practice track for beginning or intermediate guitarists to sharpen up their minor blues solos. The Key is A minor – so use the A minor Pentatonic. For a more sophisticated approach, you can also make excursions into the D minor Pentatonic over the D minor Chord. For the E7 chord, try an E minor pentatonic, with some half tone bending on the G! That will take the G up to a G# to match the chord tone in the E7 chord (E, G#, B, D)

Another approach is to use the A natural minor scale, switching to the A harmonic minor scale (or just bending the G’s to G#) over the E7. The tempo is slow and the rhythm is steady to give you plenty of scope for exploring.

A minor Blues

|Am         |               |                 |                    |

|Dm         |               |Am           |                    |

|E7           |Dm         |Am           |                    |

The chords are a standard blues progression, but in a modern style, there is no final E7 chord in bar 12. Instead you will hear four distinctive organ stabs to alert you that you are coming back to the top again.


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Practice Track: Groove Bass

Here is a practice track for bass players. It is in the key of G minor, at a medium tempo. There is only one chord – a G minor played throughout, but interest is created by interspersing rhythm accompaniments and lead tracks using various guitar sounds and organ styles. This track is ideal for sharpening up the G minor pentatonic chops. The minor pentatonic scale is great for all kinds of groove based music, and is also useful for rock and blues as well. There is no bass line recorded on this track, so see if you can play along, and create some bass lines using the G minor Pentatonic scale. A good rule of thumb to start with is to play the root note on beat one of each bar. Have fun exploring!


If you are not familiar with the G minor pentatonic scale, here is a fret board diagram. It shows two scale shapes that you can play with just fingers 1 and 3, which is easiest for less experienced players. In each case, start with your third finger on a G, and use your first finger to slide between fret one and fret 3 on the A string, or fret 8 and 10 on the D string.

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New Ensemble Program to begin Term 3

Playing with other guitarists and musicians is a wonderful learning opportunity for students of any musical instrument. It provides the opportunity to meet and form friendships with other musicians, and to develop one’s musical skills in playing with others. It is also a lot of fun, and can provide a great deal of satisfaction!

For these reasons, I have decided to offer an Ensemble experience for those students who wish to take advantage of it! Due to limited space in the Samford studio, rehearsals will be held at The Gap.  I plan to have a Junior Ensemble for students of primary school age, a senior ensemble for students of high school age and  an Adult Learner’s ensemble.

The ensemble program is also open to previous students, and people learning from other teachers who would like to play in an ensemble. Ability to read music at a basic level is required. The cost for current student’s of Rob’s Guitar School or family members will be $12 for the rehearsal, and $15 for others, payable at each rehearsal. Student’s would be expected to attend the bulk of the rehearsals during the term.

Rehearsal Times
Junior Ensemble: Saturdays, 11:30am – 12:30pm – from Saturday 19th July
Senior Ensemble: Saturdays 1:00pm – 2:00pm – from Saturday 19th July
Adult Ensemble: Thursdays 7:30PM – 8:30pm – from Thursday 17th July

Register your interest by emailing rob now!

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Minor ii-V-I in A minor

The minor ii-V-I is one of the key progressions in all kinds of jazz. The two chord has a flat 5, and the V chord may have a flat nine or a sharp five. They are great fun to improvise over using a harmonic minor scale. The following practice track is in A minor, with a bossa nova feel. An example of a tune using this progression is “Black Orpheus”, otherwise known as “Menha de Carnival”. While any of the A minor scales will work over the progression, the A harmonic minor picks up the “b5” in B minor and the 3rd and the b9 in the E, so will match most closely with the progression.

||: Am                    |Bm7b5              E7b9      : ||

A minor 2-5-1


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Keeping hands and fingers healthy

We often take the use of our hands for granted – until something happens that makes us unable to keep doing what we usually do! As guitarists, we are highly dependent on our hands for our ability to play our instrument, and since so much depends on our hands, we should know how to keep them healthy so that we can have a long and satisfying playing career.

The following resources from the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine are very helpful for all styles of guitarists. They have put together a set of stretches and exercises for use as a warm up before practicing, and as a warm down after practicing. They have also published some guidelines for hand and general health for instrumental musicians. There is also a very good fact sheet on ergonomics for acoustic guitar players.

The fact sheets can be accessed from the BAPAM Health Resources Page, or directly from the links above!

So educate yourself on looking after your critical resources as a guitar player. A great way to start is the links above.


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Lessons recommence Tuesday 28th January

I hope everyone has had a great Christmas and New Year! Lessons recommence for 2014 on Tuesday 28th of January. Times and days will be the same as last term, unless you’ve requested a different time! I aim to get the invoices out early on the week of the 20th. I look forward to seeing all my students again in 2014!

Best Wishes


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Practice Track: A minor blues

The Blues form is one of the basic forms for jamming in rock, jazz, and of course blues. Here is a practice track to help get your chops up to speed on the A minor blues. The chord progression is a typical blues variant, with minor I and IV chords. Often a V chord appears in the last bar of a blues, however this final V chord is often omitted as in this case!

There are many possibilities for soloing over such a progression, a good starting point is the notes of the C major scale, which may also be referred to as the A natural minor scale, or the Aeolian mode of C. This gives us both a flat 9 (F) and a sharp 9 (G) to play over the E7 chord. Alternately, we can use the A minor pentatonic scale, which is in realty a subset of the C major notes, omitting the F and the B. Using the A minor pentatonic, be sure to try bending your G up a semitone  on the E7, and try bending your D up a tone on the Am.

An alternative approach is to bass your playing around the chord arpeggios. We can use the Am7 arpeggio over the Am, the Dm7 arpeggio over the Dm, and the E7 arpeggio over the E7 chord.

We can drop in some colour notes to our arpeggios, seconds work over all three chords, while a major sixth sounds good over the Dm (creating a minor sixth sound). We can drop a #5 (C) in on the E7 (creating an E7#5 sound).

Another possibility is to play with the A harmonic minor scale over the E7, where it has the necessary G# to match with the G# in the E7 chord. This give a  little bit of a gypsy jazz flavour over the straight ahead rock backing. Harmonically, the harmonic minor can work over all the chords – try it out and see it you like it!

Here is the practice track. There are four repetitions of the progression. Play the tune over the first, then take two choruses for a solo, then play the tune again. You will hear the rhythm in the organ count you back to the top in each bar 12, which will help you know where you are in the progression, so you can pick up the tune in the right place again!


Rob’s Minor Blues

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