Crappy Day Jobs Pop-Stars Used to Have...

Do you ever feel frustrated that you're bussing tables or delivering pizza when what you really want to do (and what you're really good at) is playing guitar full-time? 

It's easy to lose hope when it seems like you're wasting time working at a dead-end day job. But have no fear! Some of today's biggest pop-stars also had to work crappy jobs before their popularity gained any traction. Check out the not-so-glamorous day jobs that these nine famous pop-stars used to have.

1. Kanye West: sales assistant at the Gap
With over 21 million albums sold and married to Kim Kardashian, Kanye West is arguably one of the most high-profile rappers today. But did you know that before all that, Kanye was folding jeans and selling T-shirts at the Gap? His 2004 song "Spaceship" commemorates his time at the retailer, where he apparently made "no scratch," decided to steal stuff, and then quit altogether.

2. Pharrell: flipping burgers at McDonald's
In an interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Pharrell revealed that he used to work at McDonald's in his pre-producer days. The 42-year-old admitted the only thing he was good at while working there was "eating chicken nuggets." "I got fired from McDonald's," Pharrell said. "Three times, not just once... I was lazy. I was very lazy."

3. Calvin Harris: shelf-stacker at Marks and Spencer
Calvin Harris, Scottish DJ and Taylor Swift's new beau, is known for his chart-topping singles such as "Outside" and "Summer." But prior to his success, this son of a biochemist and housewife was working for multinational retailer Marks and Spencer, and also spent time in a fish factory in order to save money to buy his DJ gear.

4. Eminem: cook and dishwasher
Eminem raps a lot about his past, overcoming his demons, and the many obstacles he faced on the road to his music career. This is no exception. In his song "Elevator," Eminem reveals that he used to work as a cook and dishwasher at Gilbert's Lodge, saying, "Dishwasher's so big, when I'm pissed off / I can just toss a flying saucer in it."

5. Nicki Minaj: waitress at Red Lobster
"If you’ve ever eaten at Red Lobster, I probably took your order," Nicki Minaj confessed to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. Before Nicki was making headlines with "Anaconda," she was a waitress at a Red Lobster in New York City. She admits that she was a bit "ehhh..." to customers and that being a waitress was good because it prompted her to "hurry up and follow her dreams."

6. Courtney Love: stripper
In order to earn money for her band when it was just starting, Courtney Love worked as a stripper at several strip clubs in LA such as Jumbo's Clown Room, Seventh Veil, and Nude, Nude, Nude! Century Lounge. She says, "I was able to do the kind of stripper economy which is...for every $5 I made, I would give Eric Erlandson three of them, and that's how we bought our van and we bought our backline."

7. Madonna: Dunkin' Donuts employee
Was Madonna as much as a diva in her college days as she is now? The answer is: yes. Yes, she was. A college dropout, Madonna moved to New York and took a job at a Dunkin' Donuts in Times Square to make some dough (get it?). However, she was fired after just one day... because she squirted jelly filling all over a customer.

8. Kurt Cobain: janitor
Smells like teen spirit? More like, smells like bathrooms and cleaning fluids. Before Kurt Cobain's music career kicked off with Nirvana, he was working as a night-shift janitor, cleaning toilets in order to make enough money for the band's demo. Nirvana's bassist, Krist Novoselic, says that this was a testament to how much of an artist Kurt was: "He was a compelled artist, who excelled at every form he wanted to do."

So, the next time you feel down about having to balance your day job with your music career, just remember that it could be much worse, and you can pull through!

Find the Right Microphone for Your Guitar...

"What is the best guitar mic for the home studio?" Unfortunately, it's a really bad question. Here's a better one: "What is best guitar mic for my guitars?" 

This is at least a step in the right direction, although no-one can answer it for you. Here's the real answer: the "best" guitar mic for your guitar is the one that's the best match.

Guitars are infinitely unique
One thing that's so cool about playing a guitar is that every guitar is unique. Each guitar has its own sonic characteristics that make it stand out from the rest. That's why you can have similar bands with similar instrumentation and musical styles that at the same time are clearly distinguishable – all because the guitar is what separates them. From clean to crunch, dark and smooth, to light and bright, there are seemingly infinite guitar sounds out there, and all of them different. Which means not every mic will capture them perfectly.

Every microphone has its own EQ curve
What's important to note (and this may be obvious to most) is that every microphone on the planet has its own EQ curve built in. We call this frequency response, but in essence, no matter how flat the microphone spec sheet says it is, each mic imparts its own EQ on the audio that feeds it. So, much like presets on an EQ plugin are kind of pointless because they don't know the frequencies you're feeding them, blindly saying one mic is the "perfect" guitar mic is just silly without knowing what guitar it's supposed to capture.

The secret is in the perfect combination
In the end, all we're trying to do is capture a killer guitar tone. We want it to sound exactly as we hear it in the real world – only even better! The secret, then, is not in just picking a good mic, but rather the right mic for the guitar. One that's a good match.

If you have a bright acoustic guitar, for example, many of the typical condensers might be a bit too harsh for it, (since many of them have a slight top end bump). A better match might be a darker, warmer tube microphone that rolls off the top end, or even a ribbon or dynamic mic.

The opposite would be true with a round, warm, and dark sounding electric hollow-body guitar, or perhaps a nylon string classical. Without a bright mic to "open it up," it might not cut through the mix enough. In this case, the brighter mic would be the "perfect" guitar mic in many of those cases. It's all about finding the right combo of mic-to-guitar.

The simple two-mic test
Now, if we had all the microphones and all the time in the world, I'm sure we could discover the absolute best match of a mic to the guitar in question. But who has the money or time for that?! Let's take a more minimalistic approach and do a simple two-mic test.

To do this test, all you need are two mics – that sound different. This could be a condenser and a dynamic. Or perhaps two condensers that simply have different frequency responses. Whether you have to rent or borrow a mic, or maybe sell something to buy a new one, just get a second mic (assuming you only have one) so you can do this test.

Set up both mics on stands right next to each other, running into two of the preamps on your interface. They should be the exact same preamp. Then, simply create and arm two mono audio tracks in your DAW, each labeled according to the mics, and hit record – letting your chosen guitar play through a verse and a chorus of the song.

Go back to your DAW, level match the different guitar tracks, and solo back and forth. Which sounds better? Which one complements the guitar the best? You'll likely favor one mic over the other. Once you do, you've nailed a good match for that guitar sound. Done.

If that's all you did, you'd be steps ahead
I know that test sounds simple and obvious, but have you done it? Or do you simply reach for your most expensive (or coolest looking) mic and hit record?

You see, if all you did was a simple two-mic test, you'd be in great shape because of two things:

(1). You picked a mic that better complements the guitar you're using rather than blindly putting a mic up.

(2). You've learned something about that mic and that guitar for future reference.

This simple test (on each session) can help you learn your gear and learn different guitar sounds better – which will help you get to the perfect guitar mic match quicker the next time.

Then, when you go to mix, you'll be confident about your mic choice, and your guitar will sound better before you do any processing in the DAW.

Micro Lesson 170: "A Major" Pop-Rock Riff

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 170"

This Micro Lesson Breaks down a Pop-Rock Riff in the key of "A Major."

The riff is based off of an open "A" string and operates in two sections. The first section is a two-bar phrase that applies double-stops off of the 4th and 3rd guitar strings. The two-note harmonies produce ideas of "A, E and D" harmony concepts. A turnaround line takes the phrase back to the top so the phrase loops.

In the second half of the riff, we start with a modal interchange chord of, "G Major." The harmony for this chord appears as an arpeggiated idea and drops into an inversion of a "D Major" chord with it's Major 3rd (F#) in the bass.

The turnaround for this section comes off of an, "E Chord" and applies some Pentatonic Scale to highlight a lick for the loop.

Overall, the riff is fairly straight-forward and won't require a ton of work to develop. Memorize the fretting locations and use a metronome or drum machine to build speed. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 170: "A Major" Pop-Rock Riff

SCIENCE ANSWERS: Effective Practice of Scales & Technique...

Is It More Effective to Practice Scales and Etudes in the Morning?

This article originally appeared on Bulletproof Musician.

Most of us don't remember the day when we first laid eyes on that scale book, but eventually it went from one of those books that collected dust on the shelf to one which took up permanent residence on our music stand. Until that time, scales are a mostly neglected part of a practice regimen. A chore, that (mistakenly) gets thought of as just for beginners.

Many music teachers insist that students begin devoting some time to scales every day. And to make sure students follow through, the teacher spends a good bit of the lessons teaching players how to practice scales – what to listen for, what to work on, fingerings, technique, and variations galore. It was to be the very first thing a guitarist would do each day, like taking your vitamins.

Starting off each day with technical exercises eventually becomes a habit, and the idea of beginning with technique is a recommendation that gets repeated to student after student through the years as other teachers add additional technical exercises to the players daily routine.

But, is it better to do technique first, before we work on our other pieces? Is there something about doing this in the morning that leads to better technique over time? Or is time of day irrelevant, and it only matters that we do our scales and technical pieces at some point during the day?

257 musicians, 42 weeks

A team of researchers in the UK conducted an ambitious 42-week study some years ago to learn more about the practice behaviors that differentiated top young players from the rest.

They collected information from 257 young musicians between the ages of 8 and 18 who were classified into five different categories:

Group 1: Students who gained admission to a selective music school (it sounds to me like this was a pre-college program of some kind)

Group 2: Students who applied, but who were not accepted at the music school

Group 3: Students who inquired about the application process, but did not submit a formal application

Group 4: Students who studied music at a less prestigious school (again, presumably a pre-college program)

Group 5: Students who studied at the same school as those in Group 4, but who had quit at least a year or more ago

Practice diary
To learn more about how the students' practice behaviors might differ, researchers asked participants to complete a daily practice diary. 94 of these students obliged, logging what they spent time on, when they engaged in this activity, and for how long.

Unfortunately, due to some logistical factors in the study, they were not able to include the unsuccessful applicants (i.e. Group 2) in the data collection. (Which is a huge bummer, because comparing those who were successfully admitted to the selective program vs. those who were not would have been the most interesting comparison to make… sigh…)

Nevertheless, there were some interesting group differences between those who were admitted (Group 1); those who inquired, but did not apply for the selective music school (Group 3); and those who did not inquire, did not apply, and studied at a less prestigious program (Group 4).

Focus on technique
As you might expect, students in Group 1 practiced more than those in the other groups. However, they also appeared to spend a greater proportion of their practice time devoted to scales and other technical exercises. It's not clear from the paper if this is a statistically significant difference or not, but Group 1 spent 37 percent (or 36.1 minutes) of their total practice time on scales, while Group 3 and 4 spent 32 percent (or 12.1 minutes) and 28 percent (or 4.5 minutes), respectively. Morning, afternoon, or evening?

But getting back to our question of when the optimal time for technique practice might be, there were indeed some interesting differences between the students.

There were day-to-day variations, of course, but over the course of an average week, Group 1 did 44 percent of their scales practice in the morning vs. 25 percent for Group 3 and 4.

Groups 3 and 4 seemed to favor doing scales in the evening, doing 60 percent and 53 percent, respectively, of their scales work at night. Conversely, only 27 percent of Group 1's scales practice happened so late in the day.

Group 1 also tended to do more practicing in the morning in general, and less practicing as the day went on, whereas for Group 3 and 4 it was the opposite:

Minutes of practice per week
Group 1: 265.1 minutes (morning); 210.4 minutes (afternoon); 194.9 minutes (evening)
Group 3: 57 minutes (morning); 57.5 miutes. (afternoon); 117.2 minutes (evening)
Group 4: 20.3 minutes (morning); 34.8 minutes (afternoon); 58.4 minutes (evening)

Take action
It's important to note that these numbers, while interesting, don’t necessarily prove that there is something magical about doing our scales and etudes in the morning. Or that by doing our technique work in the morning we will be transformed into dramatically better players.

The researchers note, for instance, that the students in Group 1 had greater access to practice facilities during the day. However, doing our most important and mentally challenging work in the morning does seem to be a common recommendation amongst successful students. (For more specifics, check out this article on creating a morning routine.)

There's probably a lot to be said for ensuring that we do the essentials while our minds are freshest. And making sure we put the horse before the cart – like going to the gym to get into better shape so we can play better tennis, vs. playing tennis to get into better shape.

But what do you think? Do you know of any studies or have any anecdotes or advice from well-known musicians or teachers that suggest that working on technique in the morning really does leads to greater gains than working on technique in the evening? Let me know in the comments below.

Micro Lesson 169: "G Major" Country-Rock Melody

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 169"

This Micro Lesson explores a "G" Major melody in the style and sound of Country Rock. 

The melody begins  with a few Major Pentatonic pick-up notes off of the beat of three and brings in a double-stop chord idea into the harmony of a "G Major" chord on the first measure. 

More of the Major Pentatonic scale is used to bring in the next measure's "D" Major harmony. The melody is further highlighted into the next "C Major" chord by way of 6th intervals played between the 3rd and 1st strings. 

These 6th interval sounds really accent the flavor of the Country-Rock style. The melody line wraps-up at the end with the key centers root chord of "G Major." 

All in all the melody is fairly easy to play due to the ample use of Pentatonic scale and simple chord voicings and techniques. Take your time memorizing the part and allow it to build up to a comfortable rate and pace once it becomes comfortable to play. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 169: "G Major" Country-Rock Melody

5 Signs You Probably Won't Cut It as a Musician in 2015...

Being a musician is not for everyone. It's a hectic business where only a few will end up making it, (whatever the term, "Making It" specifically means to you). The big question is whether you've got the right personality for this business...

Not every musician's goals are alike and this means day-to-day efforts will vary greatly from person to person. Since being a musician in 2015 is a 100% "do it yourself career," the road will not be easy, and due to this fact, most young musicians will fail on this career path.

Read the points below. If you identify with any of them, consider trying to adapt to their opposite – or accept their detrimental effect on your progress. Overall, realize that the path to being a professional musician in today's world is long and winding road. If you don't feel that you would ever be able to permanently change any of the points outlined below... You may need to re-think the idea of "professional musician" as a career path.

1. You don't take rejection or criticism well
"No" is something you will undoubtedly hear many, many times as an independent musician. You're going to be turned down by record labels. Venues and booking agents will pass when you try setting up a show. Music writers will give you bad reviews – or may not even give you the time of day in the first place. Handling it all gracefully and constructively is paramount. Don't let it diminish your ambition. Keep trying, and think about how good it'll feel when you finally see positive feedback or hear, "yes."

2. Multitasking is difficult for you
"Do it yourself" means exactly that. Unless you're lucky enough that people volunteer to help you out or you can afford to hire a team right off the bat, you're going to have to handle every aspect of your career. That means booking your own shows, making your own promo, hitting up writers and outlets for press, running your social media pages, and more. If you can't juggle all of that and keep your personal life intact, you're probably not cut out for this.

3. You're an extreme perfectionist
Mistakes are bound to happen. If you're the type of person who internalizes mistakes, you're going to hate yourself within the first six months of your career.

You could order 150 T-shirts without noticing a glaring typo in your band name. You might accidentally offend your followers on social media. At your biggest show yet, you might fall off the stage. And all of that is okay. It might help to remind yourself that you're not the only imperfect one – everybody fumbles from time to time. Learn to bounce back and keep moving ahead. very few things will work out perfectly in your day to day musical life. Learn to take things in stride and move on.

4. You dislike networking
Making connections with promoters, booking agents, other bands, writers, and basically anybody operating in today's independent musical realm is crucial. You never know if someone might be able to help your career; networking with everyone you possibly can should be your goal. If you aren't good at making friends, chit-chatting, putting people at ease quickly, (plus able to do this both online and in person), you'll stunt your progress significantly.Being a musician today, means getting people to like you very quickly. A bright, positive naturally out-going personality is a huge factor to your success.

5. You don't like hard work
Being an independent musician is extremely time consuming (we're talking seven days a week time consuming), and it is often very difficult to stay positive as you push ahead. You have to perpetually push forward – sometimes literally, like all your gear up a flight of stairs into a venue. Only those with amazing work ethics will tend to survive!

You don't have to be excited about the physical labor part, but for everything else, you should be enthusiastic. Making music is what you love to do, right? Then, spending hours emailing writers about your band, giving up an entire weekend to practice ahead of next week's big show, and pinching pennies to save for your tour shouldn't discourage you. Instead, those efforts should serve to further fuel your ambition.

A Bid to Free World's Most Popular Song...

Filmmakers working on a documentary about the world's most popular song, "Happy Birthday to You," are currently suing Warner/Chappell for the right to use the song in the documentary without any license fee.

They filed court papers on Monday touting newly uncovered evidence that "proves conclusively that Warner holds no copyright to the Happy Birthday lyrics."

Good Morning to You Productions Corp., (run by director Jennifer Nelson), filed the class-action lawsuit after being told she'd have to pay $1,500 to use the song in her "Happy Birthday" documentary.

After first being reported by The Hollywood Reporter, news of the litigation spread across the globe and was called the "lawsuit for the ages" by The New York Times. "It went viral and I never thought it would happen like this," said Nelson.

The "proverbial smoking gun," as the plaintiffs put it to a California judge, is a book of children's songs that comes straight out of Warner/Chappell's digital library.

The 15th edition of The Everyday Song Book, published in 1927. The book contained Happy Birthday lyrics. Intrigued by the discovery, and looking for a cleaner version, the lawyers started hunting down earlier editions, and in the archives of The University of Pittsburgh, they came upon the fourth edition, published in 1922, which included the famous Happy Birthday song without any copyright notice.

This book, plaintiffs believe, establishes that "Happy Birthday" lyrics were dedicated to the public years before the copyright registration that Warner/Chappell is relying upon was made.

Randall Newman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, says Warner/Chappell, "should admit defeat... but they won't because too much money is at stake."

Attorneys for Warner/Chappell weren't available for a response. 

Micro Lesson 168: "B Mixolydian" Keith Richards Style Riff

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 168"

This Micro Lesson takes a look at a, "B Mixolydian," Blues-Rock guitar riff played in the style of, "Keith Richards." 

The riff borrows from the Blues, from Country and from Rock concepts using small chord ideas all in a rhythm style distinctive to the guitar playing of, "Keith Richards." 

The chord voicings used in this riff operate between the harmony of, "B7" and "A major." In measures one and two, the riff is applied between 4th to 2nd strings covering the "B, F# and A" tones with an added suspension off of "E." 

The third and fourth measures wrap up the idea with a groove off of the open, "A," 5th string playing from the open, "D and G" into 2nd fret, "E and A" tones. 

Overall, the structure of this riff is very similar to The Rolling Stones song, "19th Nervous Breakdown." Keith's style is very unique and blends many influences of both Blues and Country along with an aggressive Rock playing approach to produce their signature rock /pop song structures. 

Have fun learning this riff and hopefully it will lead you to learning more songs by him.

Micro Lesson 168: "B Mixolydian" Keith Richards Style Riff

5 Tips for Better Guitar Practice...

Many of us have been there; it's been a stressful week filled with things you hate doing and people you'd rather not talk to, and when you finally make it home, you stare at your beloved guitar, and all you can see is a torture device... 

Suddenly, you hear Netflix calling your name, so you shove the nagging thought of, "I should be practicing…" as far back in your mind as possible.

Most of the time, the instant gratification of shirking our responsibilities leads to future guilt and frustration, as we look back and wish we had had the "stick-to-itiveness" to just suck it up and pick up that guitar and strum.

Here are a handful of tips for those times when you know you should be doing something musically productive, but you can't quite bring yourself to do it.

1. Remember what happened last time
As is oft repeated, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Chances are, this isn't the first time you've found yourself neglecting your musical duties, and if you think back on the last time that happened, I know you'll remember exactly how that felt afterwards.

Becoming acutely aware of the negative feelings that followed your few hours of "harmless fun" should be one of your first thoughts when you next consider repeating the cycle. It's the same thought process behind someone on a diet forgoing the ice cream sundae and sticking with strawberries for dessert instead – the ice cream will be amazing for a few minutes, but regret tends to last a lot longer.

Think of it as making a sacrifice for your future self, who – don’t forget – is still you. Your present self will disappear in an instant, but you'll always have the future, so you need to take care of that person. Associating mindless distractions with the reminder of guilt is the first step to getting into a more eager mindset when you know you need to work.

2. Think of it as a career stepping stone
The natural segue from thinking about what bad feelings you'll be avoiding is thinking about what good ones you'll be experiencing later on. Consider for a moment some of your nearly achievable but still slightly-out-of-reach goals. Use simple but effective if-then statements in your thinking, such as: "If I sit down and write one more song, then I'll only need three more to finish up my EP." Write these thoughts down for added impact. Naturally, you'll become excited at the prospect of being that much closer to accomplishing your goals.

The best way to get into this mindset is to write down all the steps you need to take in order to reach a certain goal, chopping them up in manageable pieces. Move away from the vague and heavy (make an EP) to the specific and light (write one more song, record tracks, put on SoundCloud…).

Put it someplace you'll always see it, and cross off items when you're done with them. Being able to visualize yourself getting closer to success will make work that much more inviting.

3. Plan out your sessions with breaks
So, what about staying motivated while you're working? It doesn't do you any good to pick up the pencil if only four minutes in you give up. Each practice or writing session, make a definitive plan of how you want the session to go. If you've allotted three hours to practice, then after every 50 minutes or hour, allow yourself a break, just like we're told in school to take breaks during long study sessions. If you burn yourself out with too much work, it'll become counterproductive. Breaks give you small, easy things to look forward to.

Be warned – there's a right and wrong way to break.

Right: eat a healthy snack or do some light exercises.
Wrong: turn on the TV or get on your favorite social media.

Behaviors that you already know to be addicting and highly distracting will turn 10-minute long breaks into, "It's midnight already, but how?!" then you've lost all momentum.

4. Create a schedule with an emphasis on routine
The previous three steps work great for the immediate change of mindset you might need to power through one night, but your ultimate goal should be to create a lifestyle of productivity.

The last two tips have a lot to do with planning, and so will this tip, while also throwing routine into the mix. Consistent practice will eventually become a habit, and that's the ideal scenario. Having a schedule automatically focuses you on the things you set out to do without the endless procrastination of, "I can just do it later," and it's all the more regretful when you try to avoid working because you've already acknowledged what you need to do.

At the start of each week, make a thorough plan for every following day. You don't need to micromanage every minute, but each hour should be accounted for. It's important to be honest with yourself.

You should have a good idea of how long it will take to achieve a certain goal, so you don't take the easy way out and schedule only 30 minutes of practice on Monday when you know you could (and should) go for longer.

Of course, things come up in everyday life, and you need to be flexible, but scheduling practices around the same time each day will make falling into the routine that much easier.

5. Ignore your brain's excuses
It's time for some tough love. Even if you can’t change your mindset to a more positive one or bring yourself to make a schedule, you're still capable of getting meaningful work done, and most of what's going on in your head is just making excuses.

If you wait around to spontaneously become motivated – well, that probably won't happen. We all know the pain of writer's block, and used the phrase "I'm just waiting for inspiration" more times than we can count, but really... it's always an excuse for not sitting down and just doing it.

You're not always going to be eager to do work, you're not always going to be looking forward to that practice session, and that's perfectly okay. It's actually completely human. Don't equate not feeling like doing something to not having the ability to do it. I promise you will always have that ability. And you will be amazed with what you can accomplish despite "not feeling like it."

Hopefully these tips have given you something to think about and apply in your life. Unfortunately, life is filled with stress, boredom, fatigue, and work, but don't forget that you are 100 percent capable of pushing past these walls into future success and a sense of accomplishment. Now, go pick up that guitar!

Micro Lesson 167: "Key of B" Country-Rock Riff

Welcome to... "Micro-Lesson 167"

This Micro Lesson works through a Country Rock lick in the key of "B." 

The lick operates in a "Boogie-Based" rhythm format which leans more on the major tonality side than the minor. Not entirely Blues-based, this lick still applies some of the Blues effects like the lowered 7th degree. But the structure of the harmony does not go as far as to influence the color of the Mixolydian Mode. 

A major and a minor 3rd degree appears multiple times across the lick and this highlights the Blues effect of the line and adds to the Country-rock direction. 

In measure one, we find a bend starting things off. This bend applies a major 3rd to a minor 3rd color. "B Major" Pentatonic appears across measures one, two and three. 

Further use of the Minor and Major 3rd wraps up the final measure. The fingering and technique overall is not difficult, and the speed is moderate making this a manageable lick to develop. Enjoy!

Micro Lesson 167: "Key of B" Country-Rock Riff

Smooth Jazz Rhythm Guitar

GuitarBlog: Smooth Jazz Rhythm Guitar...

This weeks GuitarBlog covers Smooth Jazz Rhythm Guitar... 

This rhythm guitar style is an approach to playing a form of jazz rhythm guitar that combines the sixteenth-note grooves of Funk, with the feel and harmonies of Jazz. Plus it also includes a smoothness that is more associated to the style of Soul /RandB music. 

This lesson will take a look at how players can get started with a few simple smooth jazz guitar grooves and then the lesson will move on to experiment with adding in more funk-style sounds. 

We'll also study a mixed rhythm guitar concept that combines chords along with single-note lines to further promote the techniques and feel of the Soul /RandB style. 
Enjoy this weeks lesson!

Smooth Jazz Rhythm Guitar

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Learn the Secrets of Professional Studio Musicians...

When people think of studio musicians, they immediately think of great technique, but there are a number of other traits that you'll find common in all successful players who make their living in the studio. 

Here's an excerpt from The Studio Musician's Handbook, that takes a look at everything expected when you're hired for a studio gig.

A studio musician:

1. Has great chops
Studio musicians are expected to be creative, extremely versatile, and have a formidable skill set. They're usually the best musicians in town in terms of plain physical dexterity and are able to play numerous styles convincingly.

An ace studio player's ability to read music will determine the type of sessions on which they can play. For record dates, the ability to read and transcribe lead sheets is essential, but many other sessions, like jingles and television and movie scores, require expert sight reading.

2. Has great gear
A wide variety of gear in excellent working order is a must. Having only one sound makes for a boring recording, so the wider the variety of sounds you can get or the more you can double on other instruments, the more valuable you become.

3. Is easy to work with
Your reputation among other musicians and those in our industry who make the recordings is what gets you hired and keeps you working, so if other session musicians, producers, and engineers like you as a person, like how you play, and like the feeling you bring to a session, then you're more likely to get calls for work.

Smiles and a pleasant, accommodating attitude, as well as superb personal hygiene and an appropriate sense of style, go really far in the session business. There are a lot of great players out there and unless you're something unbelievably special, the people paying your check will always take the easiest to work with, all things being equal. No back-talk, no sass, no snide remarks, nothing other than a wide smile and a "tell me what you want," and "no problem!" attitude.

4. Has no ego
Everyone has their own idea of how they should sound, how the song should be played, how others should be playing it, and a host of other musical items both large and small. That all goes out the window when you're being hired to play on someone's recording.

You've got to have a thick skin while recording, and realize that even if the artist-producer-songwriter listens to your idea, it might not carry much weight or be acted upon. If they listen to you and actually use one of your suggestions, consider it a good day.

5. Takes criticism well
If you have a fragile ego, being a session musician is not for you. Except for the times when you're playing a written part, you can bet that every take is going to be listened to under a microscope and picked apart with a fine-tooth comb.

As difficult as that might seem, you can't take this personally because the artist-producer-songwriter only wants what's best for the song. You may play a part with a bitchin' feel, but if the sound isn't right and doesn't mesh with the track, chances are you'll do it again.

6. Uses proper studio etiquette
There's a way to do things in the studio and it differs from playing live. A studio musician's protocol exists, and you'll be expected to abide by it.

Check out this great video featuring:
Tim Pierce - LA Session Guitarist...

What We're All "Really Thinking" About Today's Songs...

Are you a classic rocker? Or would you say that you're more of a laid-back, folksy singer-songwriter? Either way, you'll get a good laugh out of these tongue-in-cheek images that John Atkinson created, showing what we're all really thinking about the song formulas that seem to pervade today's every genre...

SCIENCE ANSWERS: Why Songs Get Stuck in Your Head

Have you ever wondered why you can call certain songs to mind faster than others? Or about how a song becomes an earworm, and why you'll remember Hozier's "Take Me to Church" for much longer than Kendrick Lamar's "King Kunta"? 

Well, there's actually a scientific explanation behind all of it!

In this video, Rock it Out! Blog host Sami Jarroush chats with Dr. John Ashley Burgoyne, a computational musicologist at the University of Amsterdam, about songs that get stuck in your head and how fast you can recall them.

Their findings about hooks and melodies are quite interesting, and the advice may be useful to anyone trying to write that next big hit!

Check it out