How to Strum and Keep Better Time...

It's a common mistake for new guitar students to place too much initial focus on fretting the open chords. Guitar playing is a two handed endeavor and the laws of strumming are not to be ignored... 


The feel of the strum:
New guitarists always strum with their strong hand (righties with the right, lefties with the left). You've probably become accustomed to using your dominant hand for most things - so the responsibility of strumming shouldn't be too daunting. Go with the stronger hand.

Make no mistake, it's important to get this down. It won't matter if you can play 50 chords or slide down the guitar neck ever-so-perfectly, if you can't get your strumming and your basic rhythmic patterns - you've got a big problem.

Keep in mind, its the strum hand that's actually PLAYING while your other hand decides what the color of the sound will be like, (chord types; i.e., Major, Minor, Dominant). You need the strumming hand to learn how to feel rhythm and create a groove. This is why it is so important to develop the fretting hand during those early days of strumming practice.

We'll break down the introduction to strumming and rhythm techniques into two parts: "Wrist Mechanics" and "Exercises"...

Wrist Mechanics...
New students often pick up a guitar and start strumming by using their fore-arm muscles. It's all too common, and it doesn't help them to develop feel.

Turning or rotating the fore-arm over and over isn't a great strumming technique. Students are often left rubbing their arm after playing for 5 minutes. You can't use all arm when strumming, you'll cause too much stress on that rotating forearm muscle and upon those tendons.It will actually start to hurt you.

This is the BIGGEST part of strumming mechanics. And maybe the hardest part to learn. You need to have the strum come from your wrist. Even if you're a punk player Ramones-ing your way through power chords. You need to strum from your wrist, with your arm angle and string tracking coming from your elbow.

The idea of this is you want a fluid wrist motion that really connects on the down strums and produces the right upward "brush" on the up-strums. Remember, that there are more dynamics (loudness) on the down-stroke than on the up. The up-stroke will just clip the strings, attacking only perhaps the top 3-4 strings at most.

Mastering the Down and Up
Down-strums and up-strums are not science, they're instinct, sound and done correctly they are also artful. Down-strums (when you go from the low to the high-strings - down toward the floor) create more impact. They're louder and produce more volume and impact. Up-strums are the exact opposite. They're lighter and offer us less dynamics of sound.

Good guitar players not only use both strum directions, but they know WHEN to use both. You'll want to learn how to integrate the two strums together as well as, separately. The strumming direction offers us a different sound, so sometimes an up-stroke may be too weak. And, for other times, a down-stroke will be much too loud. You'll need to learn their sound difference, how to balance them and when to apply them within a song.

Once you understand and have control over strum direction, you can take that knowledge and never have to worry again about whether to strum down or up. It'll just be natural, because you'll be listening for the impact of the string sound and the sound of the part musically.Through instinct you'll learn to apply the correct strum directions naturally.

Have a look at the Creative Guitar Studio Rhythm Course "Rhythm Guitar Basics" to help get you started on strumming guitar with proper rhythmic meter.

Here are a few strums you can practice at home. To start -- you'll want the basic "Down / Up."

Ex. #1). Turn on a metronome or an online drum machine

STRUM in time: Down -- Up -- Down -- Up ...etc.

This is the foundational strum. The exercise helps you practice going down and up without any problems. Use a metronome and make sure you can keep the same pace with both directions. Be sure to use your wrist and keep a slight angle of the pick at the string to offer less resistance across the strum.

After you get the basic down and up, you can move on.

Ex. #2). Turn on a metronome or an online drum machine

STRUM in time: Down -- Down - Up -- Up -- Down -- Up -- Down

Example two is a good concept of how rhythms may feel in songs that you play. It's not going to be as simple as "Down, Up, Down, Up" in every song. You'll need to have more control and more variety when you play up or down for a groove.

Video Lesson:

The mechanical side of this is vital for generating greater strum variety. Through the use of beats, drum machines and a metronome you'll slowly get a better rhythmic  feel for strumming.

Work diligently at it and listen to a lot of different songs. Work hard at copying the strumming used in tunes you are studying. Over the weeks and months ahead, your instincts will get better and you'll start performing strum ideas exactly along side the recordings you enjoy playing to. If you're still having difficulties, join the "Creative Guitar" website and study the courses. 

There are several chapters on rhythm and strumming in both the Introductory and Intermediate courses.


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G Minor Double-Stop Licks [QwikLicks 018]

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (018)

The latest QwikLicks video is, "G Minor Double-Stop Licks" Available in the FREE members area. Includes a PDF handout!

QwikLicks are a FREE lesson series for all membership levels at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikLicks Series will run through a short collection of guitar licks in all kinds of different playing styles...

Episode 018 covers three "G Minor" licks that apply double-stop (2-note chord) concepts. The licks involve intervals of; 3rd's, 4th's, 6th's and 5th's. We move along the neck covering several positions using Minor Scale and Minor Pentatonic patterns of numbers one through four.

I've included references and layouts for all of the Minor Scale neck patterns. Please let me know if you find these included pattern layouts helpful.

Sign into the website with your free members account to watch the lesson, and be sure to download the PDF lesson handout. 

If you're not currently a FREE member of the website, sign up today!


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10 Tips To Better Guitar Technique...

Courtesy of Graeme Hague...

Here are my top 10 tips for learning how to play the guitar with better technique. Some of them are kind of obvious, while others are the result of a lot of experience. I hope they help...

1. Avoid The Fret-Hand Death Grip
When you first start playing, straight away you’ll discover that pressing the strings against the fret board is hard work. It hurts your fingers and makes your wrist ache. The natural way to combat this is by hooking your thumb over the top of the fret board to get leverage, which inadvertently causes you to press the strings more with the flat pad of your finger (where your fingerprint is) rather than the actual fingertip.

This is sometimes called the “death grip”, because you do end up with a fairly fierce grip on your neck and it restricts the reach of your fingers. The proper technique is to have your thumb placed more on the back of the guitar’s neck. This forces your hand to use the fingertips, which is far better and more accurate when it comes to playing just the notes you want without accidentally muting adjacent strings.

The trouble is — it feels kind of weird and difficult at first, and your wrist will lack strength. Stick with it and you’ll appreciate the benefits further down the track. Remember, thumb down lower on the back of the neck.

2. Rehearse Standing Up And Sitting Down
Okay, things are hard enough as it is without expecting you to waltz around the room while you’re playing. The important thing is, if you’re going to take this dream all the way, one day you’ll be standing up in front of crowd. Playing with your guitar slung across your shoulder is a very different posture to sitting down.

On a chair, you tend to hunch over and try to see what your hands are doing (another bad habit you want to avoid). However, when you’re standing up, everything changes. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

You’ll find it much harder to see your left hand, for a start. Make sure you have a good guitar strap, adjust it to a comfortable length (forget slinging it down around your knees — looks cool, but it’s a crap playing position) and regularly practice playing while you’re standing up.

3. No Need For Speed
Don’t bother trying to learn how to play fast in your early days. Really, don’t do it. Good technique is about accurate fingering and hitting the right notes every time, especially when it comes to scales and playing tricky bar chords.

Concentrate on precise fingering. The truth is, learn to play properly and speed will happen all by itself. The biggest obstacle to fast playing is poor technique. Learn good technique and fast fingering will be a added-in-for-free as a guitar playing bonus. Always take your time and play slowly.

4. Always Use Correct Fingering
Over the centuries of guitar playing the experts have long figured out the best way to play certain chords and scales, meaning which fingers should be playing certain notes on the fret board.

Occasionally, you might discover an easier way of playing these — you’re a musical genius and never knew it. Don’t be tempted. Correct fingering isn’t just about playing that chord or scale properly. Adding variations is considered too, such as sevenths and ninths, and your custom style of fingering a chord might prove that those variations can’t be played (yep, this is one of the things I learned the hard way).

Pay careful attention to the correct fingering of a chord and your hand’s position on the fret board for scales. If you do, switching chords and alternating across guitar techniques will be much easier over the months and years ahead.

5. Silent Rehearsing
You want to watch your favourite TV show when you’re supposed to be rehearsing? Don’t panic, a lot can be achieved by holding your guitar and constantly swapping from one chord to another or playing scales without plucking the strings with your right hand.

What you’re doing is still training your left hand to play — it’s all solid practice. Good technique is all about locking-in habits when you’re playing.

6. Use A Metronome!
Playing to a click track is very hard at first, but the advantages later on are immeasurable. Your sense of rhythm and timing will get an early boost, if you try using a metronome soon in your career.

However, don’t stress out about it too much and make sure you set the beats-per-minute (BPM) to something very slow. The idea is to get used to playing in time and to a steady tempo, but don’t rush this at the expense of learning technique.

7. Don’t Shy Away From Difficult Chords
A few weeks ago in my studio I was recording a friend called Mary, a singer-guitarist, who would move heaven and earth to avoid playing a B minor chord. She found the fingering too difficult and used capos and all manner of transpositions to dodge the dreaded bar chord.

If anything, you should seek out these difficult shapes and spend more time and energy on perfecting any tricky chord you come across. Otherwise, you’ll find them slowly building a mental barrier to your guitar playing for the rest of your playing days.

8. Be Disciplined With Your Practice
Nothing beats regularly putting your hands on the guitar and practicing the latest lessons. Even if it’s just for ten minutes on a day when you’re otherwise too busy. Good technique comes from your mind and your fingers remembering how it’s all supposed to work, particularly when it comes to those tricky fingerings.

Try to set aside some time every day and develop new good playing habits. It’ll also help to build up those calluses on your fingertips.

9. Give Yourself A Break
The other side of the equation is not to push yourself too hard in the beginning. When your muscles start to creak and the fingertips are stinging with pain, take a break and relax for a while. You can easily strain something and do damage to tendons and ligaments, if you ignore the danger signs that you need a rest.

10. Be Mindful of Your Picking /Strumming Hand
Sometimes it’s good to simply mute the strings with your left hand and practice creating a percussive rhythm with your right-hand strumming.

Alternatively, choose an easy chord (or no chord at all) and focus for a while on any finger-picking and plectrum style that you’re learning. The point is that your right hand technique is often ignored in the effort to get those fingers on your left hand doing the correct thing. Don’t forget that learning how to play the guitar is a two-handed deal.

There you have it. Like I said earlier, a lot of these tips are obvious and common sense, but many new players still make simple mistakes in their enthusiasm to begin playing exciting stuff.

Get the basics right, get the proper technique happening from the very beginning when learning how to play the guitar, and you can become a great player rather than just a good one.


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6 Ways to Make Music (and Money) Without Performing...

Courtesy of Rachel Bresnahan /SonicBids...

Playing in a club till 3 AM can be fun (at first), but once 15 years of that goes by, you may be ready for a change of scenery...

Performing is something musicians do, but not all musicians like to perform. For those of us musicians who either don’t like to, or choose not to perform, (because we've done it for 20 years and are sick of all the BS associated with it), we can become a little confused about our musical identities. Should we even consider ourselves musicians? (Yes, a thousand times yes.) But we can still be musicians and still not actually do what musicians “do.”

Maybe you’re introverted and the idea of a crowd listening and judging something that is so personal to you is a major source of anxiety. Maybe you just really prefer sleeping regularly in a bed over touring in bus to play shows. Or you decided to choose the music degree that didn’t require you to play a yearly recital because that was just “not your style.”

Whatever your reasoning, it’s totally understandable. Not everyone wants to be Taylor Swift and sell out stadiums, but we definitely still want to involve some part of our life in making music and creating content.

So what options are out there for those of us who are just not into taking the stage? Try these worthwhile musical pursuits.

1. Video game soundtrack composition
Median salary: Income can be earned through creative fees, royalties, and/or hourly rates. Average income can fall between $30,000 to $75,000+.

Description: As a video game composer, one will be writing evocative scores that are individual to a character, scene, or event within the game. The composer will watch the game sequences in order to compose music that will align with appropriate emotions during game-play.

Skills required: A college degree is not necessarily required to become a video game composer, however, he or she does need to have a concrete understanding of traditional music scoring, orchestration, arrangement, and composition. Proficiency with Pro Tools is a must as well in this career.

2. Jingle writing
Median salary: As of May of 2010, the average income was measured at $42,870. The bottom 10 percent of the group earned less than $21,720 annually, whereas the top 10 percent earned upwards of $85,020 annually.

Description: A jingle writer is someone who writes music and lyrics specifically for television, advertisements, and other types of media. Being a jingle writer, one must be able to create catchy tunes that also act as a method of selling a product. Jingle writers work like a business and have relationships with clients. Clients' will set deadlines, style of music, keywords, and time limits.

Skills required: Someone who is a jingle writer must also be wired like a business. You need to be able to network successfully and create a portfolio of clients. You also should understand how music sells.

3. Writing as a lyricist
Median salary: The salary is dependent upon project if the lyricist is freelance, however, staff lyricists will generally be paid weekly. Income is earned through sellings songs through a publisher.

Description: Lyricists can work either as freelance or as a staff lyricist, who are employed by a publishing company. Collaboration with other writers and composers often occurs.

Skills required: Though some lyricists have had formal education in the art of songwriting and storytelling, there are also plenty of lyricists who don't. A lyricist most definitely should be comfortable with language and it can be a plus if the lyricist can play an instrument or two.

4. Private teaching/coaching
Median salary: Salaries vary based on the instrument being taught and expertise of the teacher. Though fee rates can range from $30 to $120 per hour.

Description: I’ll be the first one to say teaching music takes a very special kind of person, even private teaching. It can be an exhausting career with years of education, patience, and time commitments. But it can also be incredibly rewarding and you definitely need thick skin and a level head to be teaching students.

I can guarantee that you will have students that don’t care and don’t practice, but you will also have students who are genuinely interested in learning an instrument or building their voice.

Skills required: You can’t avoid higher education if you want to teach privately. Sure, when you’re still a student in high school you could get away with teaching middle school students for $10 an hour. But if you want to make your rent and also eat in the same month, having a degree will allow you to charge a real price per hour rate.

The more education you have, the higher your rate. You’re credible once your clients can see that you are professionally trained. Though, there are certainly private teachers who are self taught or have not earned a degree and have just had years of experience playing professionally.

5. Recording/engineering/mixing
Median salary: Average salary is around $40,000 annually, though it can vary based on projects.

Description: I lump these three separate categories together because in today’s industry, one person generally has the skill set to record, engineer, and mix. There usually isn’t a career for just one or the other. Audio engineering is a great way to keep your hands in creating, but out of the way of performing. You’re not standing behind the mic, but you’re in the control seat. You are still using your musical talents and ear to create a unique, clean, and great sounding mix for a client.

Skills required: Audio engineering does not necessarily require a degree and can be done as an apprenticeship. However, you do need a working, complex knowledge of ProTools, Logic, Ableton, etc. as well as understanding the uses of microphones and mic placement and other engineering techniques like acoustic treatments, signal processing, and acoustic simulators.

6. Working as a session musician
Median salary: Average annual income is around $54,600.

Description: A session musician is one who backs an artist in the studio and sometimes live. Studio musicians are generally freelance, but they should be able to sight read and perform a variety of different genres.

Skills required: To become a session musician, a college degree is not required. However, a vast knowledge of music theory and the ability to sight read is necessarly. It is also beneficial for the session musician to be proficient on several different instruments.

These six careers are viable options for musicians who want to refrain from performing, but still keep a hand in actually creating music. Of course, there are a slew of careers in music that involve music environments and communities, but these six are geared toward those who wish to create content from a backstage point of view.

Just because getting in front of a crowd isn't your thing, doesn't mean you have to sit in an office space to still have a music career. There are plenty of options in music that still allow you to create music and content without having to grace a stage.


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Guitar Teacher from Hell


Guitar Teacher from Hell

Bad Guitar Teachers can be just horrible to deal with. Mean spirited and uninterested instructors can make your guitar learning experience a living nightmare. Learn how to spot awful guitar teachers and how to rid yourself of them - for good...

Taking guitar lessons should be fun. It should be a friendly, enjoyable, professional experience that you look forward to each week. Filled with awesome tips and tricks for learning songs, scales, theory and so much more.

Going to a guitar class should be all about learning music and how to use of all of the "left and right hand guitar techniques." And, the teacher should be focused on you for the entire class.

Guitar lessons should be all about playing guitar properly with easy to follow handouts and a solid guitar curriculum. The proper study of interesting guitar and music related topics would be exactly what you'd expect from lessons... Wouldn't it?

In the grand scheme of things, guitar lessons 'should' be all about learning how to play better, with additional material on understanding music theory, rhythm and how music is notated. In a professional guitar lesson, these topics should come together to create the students ultimate experience of a solid music class. However, many times students get stuck with awful teachers, we'll call, "Guitar Teachers from Hell."

So, what happens when you get a really bad teacher, (a Guitar Teacher from Hell)? 

These types of instructors are generally only there to take your money, and offer you very little of value in return. They'll ignore you in a lesson, forget what you're doing and not bother to follow-up on any material. Frankly, they could care less about you, or how you're doing!

How to Spot a "Guitar Teacher from Hell"
Does the teacher have a really bad attitude? Are they friendly and caring toward you, or are they mean? Do they perhaps have little to no professionalism leaving you feeling upset week after week? 

Aren't they supposed to help you grow into a better guitarist?

If your teacher has the traits listed above, you've likely ended up with a "Guitar Teacher from Hell," and this GuitarBlog Insider will take a look at just how nasty these types of teachers can be, and what to do about it if you get one.

Guitar Teacher from Hell



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WORKSHOP: Building Speed & Flexibility...

Courtesy of Ron Jackson...

GUITAR WORKSHOP: Etudes to help develop your speed, finger independence, and flexibility...

When I started playing acoustic guitar at age 11, my fret-hand fingers jumped off the fingerboard like grasshoppers, as speed and clarity evaded me. Then, when I was in high school, I saw the acoustic-guitar trio of Paco de LucĂ­a, Al Di Meola, and John McLaughlin, and my mind was blown by how fast and flawlessly they played. I knew I needed to work on my fret hand, so I developed some exercises that took my playing to the next level.

In this lesson, I’ll share the fret-hand exercises that have helped both me and my students. Whatever your style, if you work on these etudes diligently, you’ll develop speed, finger independence, and flexibility. By the fourth section of this Weekly Workout, your fret-hand fingers should feel less like grasshoppers and more like tiny dancers on the fretboard.

Video #1). Synchronization Drills

Video #2). Covering Strings and Switching Shapes

Video #3). Finger Independence and Covering Unique Shapes

Years after I first started doing these exercises, I still use them as a quick warm-up before practicing, gigging, or recording. Doing the same will help keep your fretting fingers in tip-top shape.



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Soloing with Lateral Pentatonic Scales

November 25, 2016:
Soloing with Lateral Pentatonic Scales

PART ONE: The first half of this MasterClass focuses on learning shapes that can connect different registers of the fingerboard with both Major and Minor Pentatonic scale patterns. Example one applies a two octave run of scale tones from the major Pentatonic. Example two demonstrates a three octave group of tones in the Minor Pentatonic that applies a varied rhythmic meter. Both examples can have their scale sections combined to form a long laterally connected run.

Watch Part 2 of this lesson and learn how to apply these lateral Pentatonic shapes musically using ascending and descending scale runs. Both major and minor melodies are shown in examples three and four. Paid members can download the handout and the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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Fretboard Workshop: Guitar Technique Exercises

Courtesy of Premiere Guitar..

Build Your Chops and Learn New Exercises for Right and Left-Hand technique...

Most of you probably have a set of technical exercises that you practice to improve your dexterity or just to warm up. It’s natural to dedicate some of your practice time to improving your technique and focus on the mechanical aspects of playing.

In this lesson, we’ll go over a few chops-building exercises and discover how to expand them into more appealing and effective workouts.

Most Jazz guitarists will practice every phrase three different ways: starting on beat 1, starting on the “and” of beat 1, and with a triplet rhythm. Each of these three variations offers some unique picking challenges.

First, let’s assume you’re playing these with standard alternate picking (i.e., down-stroke on the downbeats and upstroke on the upbeats). When you start on the downbeat, the phrase would start with a down-stroke. If you shift the phrase by an eighth-note, the entire picking pattern is reversed. Finally, the triplet option gives the line a completely different character.

This concept of changing rhythm and picking style is very important and should be a focus of every technical workout, see example exercise one.

Exercise #1).
This exercise works to to move seamlessly between the 16th-notes and 16th-note triplets alternating between these two beat groupings.

Let’s go through a few other technical options with a different exercise motif.

Exercise #2).
This exercise performs a string crossing maneuver.

Exercise #3).
Ex. 3 sequences the motif through the C major scale (C–D–E–F–G–A–B). Each note of the four-note pattern will simply move up to the next note in the scale.

Exercise #4).
String skipping can instantly add yet another element of difficulty to nearly any exercise. In Ex. 4 we’re staying in the key of C and using notes on the 3rd string to 1st string.

Exercise #5).
In Ex. 5 we’ll add a repeated note to make a five-note grouping. This subtle shift, along with some string skipping, throws the natural accents off and gives you a slight rhythmic challenge to work on as well.



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7 Tips to Lower Your Musical Struggles

Courtesy of Janelle Rogers...

If you find yourself in that struggling artist category, and let’s face it, you’re probably in that majority, then I urge you to read on...

Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, Big Magic, is a tough-love manifesto for the struggling artist. I read Gilbert’s book and found myself nodding in agreement with a few unexpected outbursts of, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” The seven rules below are just a few points I took away from the book. Some will help you to move forward, and some may be holding you back.

1. Lay off the booze
I can hear you groaning in disagreement. “But, it’s the music biz.” You’re at gigs surrounded by booze. How are you supposed to not drink in an industry that makes rock ’n’ roll and a good drink synonymous?

I’m by no means saying you should lay off booze altogether, and honestly, that would make me a hypocrite. I'm saying to take a look at how it’s affecting your music career. If you have, “I don’t have any money” running on constant loop while you buy three to four drinks a night, I don’t think I have to tell you where that money may be going.

And that’s just the money side. How much time do you devote to nursing a hangover the next day? Or how many times do you put off working on both the creative side and business side of your music because you opted for a good drink instead?

If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities and whether the booze is preventing you from meeting them.

2. Nourish healthier relationships to avoid distraction with self-invented emotional catastrophes
In my 20s, and in a lesser degree in my 30s, I surrounded myself with people who were constantly dramatic while I coined myself the fixer. Whether you're on the side of the person creating the emotional catastrophe or the one who deems to fix it, you’re ultimately sabotaging your future.

Most catastrophes are self-inflicted mind games where we convince ourselves things are much worse than they really are. When I finally chose to only surround myself with healthy relationships, the drama stopped and I was able to focus on all the things that would actually make a difference in the long term.

First, ask yourself how much time is being taken up by these distractions and what you could be working on otherwise. Look around and ask yourself if the company you keep is healthy to live a creative life.

3. Love what you create
I was researching media outlets the other days when I landed on a playlist Sunflower Bean created for the Wild Honey Pie. The playlist, 10 Songs Sunflower Bean Listens to On Tour, includes her song, “Easier Said,” at the top of the list.

I had to let out a little chuckle, but that’s loving what you create in a nutshell. I mean, how cool is it that she would love her own song enough to include it at the top of playlist for a song she listens to on tour?

4. Avoid grandiosity, blame, and shame
I don’t think I have to state the obvious; we're in the midst of a political climate where grandiosity, blame, and shame reign supreme. Take that as an example of what not to do. No one wants to deal with a band’s giant ego, and that's a sure fire way to get blacklisted.

No one owes you anything so don’t run around flaunting your superiority complex. The real way to get ahead is by being humble, gracious, constructive, and to work as hard as you possibly can.

Also, avoid the blame game. It’s easy to say that it’s someone else's fault you’re not getting ahead. The truth is making it in this business is really a combination of luck, hard work, and good timing.

5. Support others in their creative efforts
I’ve been fortunate enough to see what the power of community can do for individual success. It may seem counter-intuitive to think that by helping someone else you may actually be helping yourself. But that's how it works.

I find cities that have a strong music community where the bands and music industry professionals seemingly want to help each other are also more savvy about the business side of music. As a result, the bands are often able to positively move forward toward their goals. I’ve also seen communities where bands take an every-man-for-himself approach and most of the bands are stalled.

Years ago, I created, Green Light Grow, a group for bands and music industry people to help each other grow. I’m in awe every day of how the people in the group are so willing to answer each other’s questions and support each other even when there’s nothing in it for them.

6. Measure worth by dedication, not by successes or failures
It can be a slow and painful path to becoming a musician when you're solely focused on what you have or haven’t achieved. In fact, it can be downright discouraging.

Instead of focusing on where you’re not, ask yourself everyday why you’re doing this. I doubt it’s for the fame and fortune. The dedication should be to making great art where you genuinely enjoy the process.

If you’re not where you want to be, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at what’s holding you back. Most likely, it isn’t about your talent but your dedication to your talent.

7. Battle demons instead of gifts
If you’re a musician, chances are you’ve experienced a variation of the following scenarios: a record label, blog, or festival rejecting your music; people in your life telling you you'll never make it in the music business; or you telling yourself you're not good enough.

If you let them, these negative forces will make you second guess your every artistic move. These are all opinions. Learn from them and focus on how you can grow and improve your craft.

All of this boils down to dedication and determination to your music and how you approach it. Ask yourself if any of these rules are impacting your music career negatively. If so, change something!

Janelle Rogers began her 20-year music industry career working for SXSW Music and Media Conference. She then went on to work for BMG Distribution for 10 years in the alternative music department where she championed bands like Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne, The Strokes, Belle & Sebastian, and The White Stripes. In 2002 she launched Green Light Go Music PR as a haven of honesty, integrity, and passion for underrepresented artists and labels. She has since been named Mentor of the Year by the University of Michigan, Dearborn, appeared as a panelist at NXNE, and been an official SXSW mentor.


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Play Blues Guitar Like Clapton, Page and Beck...

Courtesy of Music Radar...

Learn how to play the licks of the classic English Blues /Rock guitar heroes: Clapton, Beck and Page... 

An important lesson of music history is that nothing ever moves in a neat, linear fashion. One movement might largely lead to another, but people are always absorbing ideas from further back or from other cultures.

Blues is a classic case. It's an American tradition with a long history reaching back to African slavery. In turn, American blues went onto influence the rest of us. But in the 60s, hip young American bluesers were heavily influenced by young middle-class men from the Home Counties of England, who had mostly only heard the blues via imported records and crackly AM radio stations!

There's no doubting the massive influence of Clapton, Beck, Green and Page, but the story illustrates how history moves in mysterious ways. And so we arrive at one of the great guitar heroes of the 21st century: Joe Bonamassa, who plays us through some of his favourite English-style blues licks on video here, with tab and audio examples below.

Example 1
The first example starts with a smooth line using A minor pentatonic (A C D E G) based largely around the 12th fret position. This kind of line, with the smooth position change via that E-D slide, is very reminiscent of Eric Clapton's 'Beano' period.

Example 2
Expanding on that theme, extend the line down into the 5th position box shape. To create melodic variety in your solos, it's important not only to learn multiple scale shapes, but also to move smoothly between them.

Example 3
With Cream, Eric Clapton's style evolved beyond his original Chicago blues influences. The band had much more of an improvisational style, and Eric's phrases became longer, freer and typical of the 'raga' flavour that was predominant in so much rock music of the time.

Example 4
Like Example 3, this one is based largely around E minor pentatonic (E G A B D), but it will also work in an E major blues tonality. Note the G to G# bend at the start of bar 3 – Clapton frequently mixed minor pentatonic and Mixolydian (E F# G# A B C# D).

Example 5
Understanding the feel that is heavily influenced by other British players is vital. In the next lick, we're using F# minor pentatonic (F# A B C# E), and example 5 demonstrates the more aggressive and more sonically varied approach of Jeff Beck's Yardbirds era.

Example 6
Of the three, Jimmy Page is probably best known for his faster flurries of notes and, like Peter Green, for his love of the minor-key blues. This lick uses C minor pentatonic (C Eb F G Bb); note the Cm arpeggios in bar 3.



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