What's With All the "Is Guitar Dead" Chatter?

In case you haven't noticed everyone from the Wall Street Journal to YouTube Guitar Bloggers have been putting out posts this past week with regard to whether or not the guitar is dead... 

In the last week of this month I've had emails, comment posts, and even telephone calls into my studio asking me what I think of all the talk that's going around about whether, "The Guitar is Dead," or not.

All of this chatter is getting to be a little much. After the Wall Street Journal posted their story titled, "Why my guitar gently weeps." the amount of discussion online just went through the roof. Check out what happens now when you begin typing, "is guit...." into Google.

The first search suggestion that comes up now is the phrase, "is Guitar Dead." So, what the heck is going on? Is it a change in how players are learning now? Is this killing the old ways of studying guitar? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

So, I can't speak for everybody in every corner of the globe but I can certainly offer what I've noticed happening over the last almost 30 years that I've been involved with teaching guitar and earning a living as a guitar player.

Now, when you go back to say the late 1980's, when I first started taking the business of music a lot more seriously, (and I made the decision to pursue this as a career), there were only a handful of people teaching where I lived. And, you need to also realize that there was no internet. So, if you wanted to learn you only had two options really.

1). You could order guitar lesson books, audio cassette tape courses, and video taped lessons from either your local music store, or from the ads that they had in the guitar magazines.

2). You could sign up for guitar lessons with a teacher, who either came to your home, or who worked in a neighborhood music shop (generally located in your local shopping mall, or up on the closest busy street nearest you).

That was pretty much it. Sometimes if you were lucky enough to have a family member who played guitar, they might have been able to get you started in the right direction but, otherwise you needed to learn from books or call an instructor and schedule some classes.

Fast forward to 2017 and learning to play guitar today is a lot different. Thousands of guitar players and teachers are putting up YouTube videos every day covering every topic under the sun. 

If you want to know about sweep picking - I've got a video. If you want to know the basic chords on guitar - I've got that video. If you like jazz chords, there's a video. Pretty much every guitar musical and guitar related topic has a video!

But, the problem is there's no proper Order and Sequence. The most important part of learning anything (to really extreme levels) is and will always be "Order and Sequence." If the learning is orderly - it makes sense. If the learning is sequential and follows a proper flow that makes logical sense to the student - you're going to learn.

But, the problem with the biggest format of learning guitar, which is undeniably YouTube, comes down to the issue of it is completely random. Players have no concept about how the information fits together.

In fact I just had a message left on the studio voice-mail from a guy asking why there's an "Em" chord in the harmonized "C Major Scale." And, that kind of thing is all too common here! But, it shouldn't be, not if players followed a pattern of learning that wasn't so random as we are experiencing now.

So, your average person is generally really lost on most of the basic levels of skill building because there's no process to the information. There's a video on scales, something like "here is the minor pentatonic." But, then what? Does the person who made the video have total absolute control over that scale? Or, are they hacking it out? And, are they really showing how to use it? No, because it would take ten or more, 20 min. videos to just start demonstrating the details of that topic.

If you're going to learn, then learn from somebody who has their act together. And, someone who has a lot of good organized information. That's the way students get really pumped. They see and hear a person who has total control over the information and they're floored.

That's the way it was for me when I went to music school. I was pumped. Every day I was blown away. There was tons of playing and hours of studying. I would go to bed at 1:00 in the morning and I'd get up at 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning to keep practicing.

Right now, I have players joining my web-site every day, and why is that? Why are they grabbing memberships? 

When I talk to them about it, the answer is always the same, It's because they're pumped up on seeing me demonstrate the licks and the chords and the improvisations. Being pumped up and getting solid information is crucial. Not, just crucial, it's the future of guitar lessons.

I know from the demographics of my site, and from who comes into my local guitar studio, that it's all ages. There are the teenagers and the players in their 20's, but they make up the smallest crowd. 

There's the player in their 30's. And, there are other players that have been into guitar for 20 years, who are in their 40's and 50's. There are all kinds of people into guitar. That's not changing. But, there's a lot of confusion. And, the random state of learning isn't helping.

Guitar still gets people still feeling pumped up. Just this week, one of my students bought a brand new Gibson Les Paul. Last month another one of my students bought a brand new Fender Strat. 

And, they're buying amps and all kinds of other guitar gear. So, the players are still pumped. At least the people who are with me are pumped. I don't know what's happening with students who hang around with other teachers. But, those players who are involved with me are pumped.

From what I can tell, the randomness of the internet is taking its toll on the players that I speak to online. From the talks I've had with people from all over the world, they're confused. They don't know what to study or in what order they should study material. They don't have a practice schedule, nor a system that they're following. And, the worst thing is they are very hesitant to invest a dime in themselves.

The modern player, (not all of them), but many - far too many - want everything for free. And, most of their frustration is based on the past experiences that they've had. 

Many of them (that I speak to) have purchased a course online and have felt like they were ripped off. They may have felt that the last membership they tried online was not a good fit for them in some way. And, that experience (that bad experience) turned them off.

There's a whole other group that just expects everything for free, (generally the younger crowd). They have gotten so used to finding hacked web-pages and hacked digital courses online and finding certain YouTube videos that give away so many ideas, (many that aren't very good), that they just have come to expect all of what they want should be free. And, when it isn't free, they flip out.

There's no way that you're going to be all pumped and heavy into learning if all you want from every learning source is free stuff. You always get what you pay for. It's going to eventually turn you into a really miserable person, and you'll stagnate instead of progress.

I don't think that guitar is dead, but I do think that a lot of the old ways tried and true ways of learning are in a heap of trouble. That now ancient idea of ordering a VHS Video tape from a guitar magazine (and then waiting 3-4 weeks for it to get shipped to your house) may be long gone - thank goodness. But, there was a level of patience that existed with that old era, that old way of learning which is gone now.

Everything is expected to be absolutely instantaneous now. But, guitar training is far from that. It's actually really slow and it needs to involve a lot through slow time spent developing skills and knowledge. And, for understanding how everything works on the neck. 

First it needs to happen in your home practice room, and then you'll need to figure out how it is going to have to come together live on a stage. There's so much more to it than just one level that a single random YouTube video can offer.

So, I can understand why many players feel frustrated, and why so many older people are coming back to re-visit the guitar after many years of leaving it in the case. But, is guitar dying, I really don't think so. I feel like we're moving through a sea of change with how the players are learning the guitar.

Once players can start to gain a much better foothold for themselves on what it is going to take to learn guitar in this new era, everything is going to be fine. 

But, I don't feel like we've actually made it there yet. Players need to become more refined with how they select material and how they plan their study of that material. The patience has to come back. Eventually, it will make more sense for a majority of the new guitarists who will only be learning guitar online - the future home of learning guitar.

Right now, there are still a lot of videos being posted that are just for laughs, jokes, and for clicks. They have a place too. But, what these are "good for" does not equal much with respect to proper learning. 

The joke videos can be great for these YouTube partners to make a lot of money in daily advertising revenues. But, the viewers have to start to realize that there needs to be an "order and sequence" to getting real success through online lessons. When that happens, they'll search those areas out and a new way of learning guitar will eventually emerge.



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Open & Moveable Chord Riffs in "E Major"

NEW: QwikRiffs Series - Video (003)

The latest QwikRiffs video, Open and Moveable Chord Riffs in "E Major" is available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikRiffs are one of the new lesson series that are available to members at Creative Guitar Studio.com. Lessons in the QwikRiffs Series run through collections of rhythm guitar riffs covering all types of playing styles. I cover different 'famous artist' playing approaches and I will demonstrate ideas based on rhythm guitar techniques...

Episode #003 covers three "E" Major Riffs.

Riff one involves an open "E and A" chord along with moveable "C#m and B" chords. The riff works its way along the lower to mid-range areas of the fingerboard.

Riff two pedals off of the low open 6th string "E" in conjunction with open "A" and a "B" barre chord. The riff also adds moveable 3-note triads along the mid-string range frets.

Riff three drops inversions into the mix with the tonic chord appearing in two fret-board regions as a first inversion chord type. The "E" chord's inversion pattern occurs up at the 9th position and again in the 2nd position.

Sign into the website (or create your free members account) to join the members site. Sign up for the Basic Monthly or Premium (annual) membership to download the PDF handout for this lesson and study all of the other classes available on the website. 

Become a FREE member of the website, sign up today!



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Are You Stuck with Your Guitar Playing...?

At nearly every stage of the "guitar development cycle" students of the instrument can (and will) get stuck. 

It can happen for many different reasons, but almost all guitar players will experience it on some level. This post will help you stay on top of your game and make it through all of the "tough spots" that are sure to happen along the way...

Over the months and years of doing hours and hours of guitar studies, your success depends almost entirely upon quickly getting out of the ruts you'll experience along the way.

When those ruts happen, you'll need to ask yourself questions like... How can I help myself get through this? What can be done when I start to feel this way? What is it that's missing from my practice routine? Do I need a new guitar teacher(s)? Do I need a different curriculum? Those are all critical questions.

How much do you want to improve this year? Five times better? How about ten times better? If you want to drastically improve your guitar playing it will take massive effort. You'll need a serious routine, you'll also need to be careful that you don't get comfortable resting within the same material in one place for too long.

Not making any changes to your study material, and to your daily routine, will cause you to study the same material for far too long of a period. Usually causing you to stagnate on the same topics for way too long. This can have the effect of keeping guitar players at the same playing level for months, perhaps years…or even worse - forever.

Have you ever said this to yourself… “I’ll move on to something new when I’ve mastered what I’m practicing now.” This attitude can cause you to stagnate. You won't learn any new chords, new songs will be pushed aside, and starting new projects like playing lead guitar may never happen.

Generally most guitar players will stagnate because they "think" that they're “not ready yet.” What I’ve found from teaching guitar privately for so long, is that too many guitar players end up staying in one place for much longer than they should.

They're "Waiting." But, that waiting period can end up going on and on for weeks and weeks. It can consume them. And, it can lock them down in one place until they lose sight of what it is they're actually looking for with regard to being “ready” to move on.

I can't tell you how many players I've met who say that they are, “beginner” guitar players, but when I ask them how many years they've played, I discover that they have actually been playing guitar for 15 years or more. How can they be beginners and have been playing guitar for 15 years?

Solid organized guitar practice is the key factor. But even with minimal consistent practice on the guitar, a player can still make good progress. It all depends upon three key factors:

#1). how the student is spending their study time
#2). what material they are studying
#3). if the knowledge base is expanding out to new ideas

The problem with, 

“I’m going to wait till I get better at _____” 

syndrome is that it will actually take a very long time to master any one particular thing on the guitar with it. And, the "mastery" level does not happen until you start to learn many other pieces of the guitar playing puzzle. So, you'll stagnate.

Muscles that you develop in learning a new chord shape will help you play an old chord more proficiently. A new element of music theory can make an old theory concept much more relevant to you. And, a new guitar lick can help an old guitar lick expand to cover more of the guitar neck. 

It's a building process, and it takes time, energy and quite a lot of exposure to new topics. So, you have to be ready to work on this stuff, and take responsibility for where you're at as a guitarist.

Waiting to learn new chords will actually slow down your progress on the old chords. Waiting to learn a new song will slow down the progress on your current song. And, waiting to move onto harder technical studies and neck patterns will slow down the skills for all of the patterns that you currently know. It's a vicious cycle when left on its own.

Playing guitar is like a huge mosaic, and you have to continue organizing all the pieces to really form the entire picture. If you really want to expand your guitar ability, then move away from only focusing on the a small pieces. 

If you decide to not bother doing anything else until you have that little piece finished, you’ll be working on the big picture for a very, very, VERY long time.

If you work on many different practice ares at the same time and you introduce new parts all the time, you will move toward your goal much faster. 

Once you have all types of various bits and pieces of the whole puzzle in place, it will be so much easier to finish that picture. Doing this, will allow you to learn how to understand how each corner fits into the whole picture.

Will it feel uncomfortable to move into uncharted territory before you “think” that you are ready..? ...YES!

But, remember that growth at anything lives on the edge of that comfort zone. The other extreme is guitar players who jump from one thing to the other without taking time to work and improve on them long enough. These types are really the exception to the rule.

My experience has shown that waiting too long to move on is more often than not what happens. So get out of the guitar progress holding pattern. Set a new course for learning something new this week, next week and next month. Doing this is how you'll grow!



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Finding Guitar Chords...

Saying that there are a lot of guitar chords is an understatement. When first learning to play guitar we generally start to learn the most basic chord patterns. 

These will tend to be the chords found in the open position. Open chords are fairly easy to finger, there are only around 18 - 20 of them and within a short period of time, you'll start having success. But, what about after that?

As time goes on you'll need to build a larger and larger vocabulary of many different chord types. And, there will eventually be those times when you come across a chord in a song where you might say… “What the heck is that”?

It will be at this point where you'll eventually need help.

By now, you probably already realize that there are a ton of different chord apps, chord books and online chord finders. But, which ones are going to work the best for you to choose and to start learning chord patterns from?

When searching for that "holy grail" of chord finder, my suggestion is to be sure that whatever you go with has options. What I mean by this is that the chord finder you pick needs to offer you more than one choice. So, if you're searching for an "Fmaj7" chord, your chosen chord finder does not just display only one fingering pattern. Three would be minimum. Four would be even better. A choice to see patterns of various inversions on the neck would be even better still.

One of the best free online resources I've ever come across, for either generating or for chord look ups, is called "Chorderator."

Chorderator, is a free online chord generator and look up tool that works great, it is easy to use and it offers several options when you ask it to look up a chord through its interface.


 Just enter the chord type that you'd like to discover on the neck and hit the "Chordernate" button to launch the finder system. It's just that easy. I did a look-up for an "Fmaj7" chord and received the results below.

Results for "Fmaj7"

I now have a group of 11 different root position versions for the "Fmaj7." There's more than enough in my list to make a good choice based on fingering, sound, and which guitar string to build the root off of. The look up was a great success in terms of selection and the only thing remaining is the act of selecting a chord to use in my song.

Try the interface yourself to find out what chords will work well for you. The Chorderator is available for use on home PC, (laptops /tower computers) as well as, it having apps for both Android and Apple products.

The Chorderator works great and just for the sake of full disclosure, I have no affiliation to this company nor to the software designers who created it. In fact, I've never even spoken to them before. I just feel that their Chorderator software is excellent and will perform flawlessly for you just as it has for me.

- Andrew Wasson



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The Unique Groove of 7/8 Time...

Learning how to play in an odd-time signature can be a bit challenging at first. This is especially true if you’re only used to playing in 4/4.

In this post we'll try a clapping exercise that will help you develop the feel for playing in 7/8 time signature, plus we'll run down how to play your first 7/8 guitar part...

As you can imagine, the time signature and feel of 7/8 involves performing 7 eighth-notes per measure. If you already have some experience with time signatures involving an "8" on the bottom of the signature, you already know that this is a "Compound Meter."

This type of feel will generally have a number divisible by three on the top of the signature. The most popular of these time signatures include; "3/8, 6/8 and 9/8."

The flow of common time signatures using this meter are all triplet based, so the appearance of a "7" above the signature is a little bit like throwing a wrench into the machinery.

To understand this will mean that you'll need to know how the numbers of a time signature relate to the way you count it out, and to what you'll find in a measure of your music.

CLAPPING 7/8: Most guitarists who use odd-time tend to split the odd-time signatures into groups of two and three counts. Counting to seven is a little too out of balance, therefore, we end up splitting this odd meter into smaller groupings of 8th notes like 2-2-3.

This way, you can count patterns in 7/8 like so:

1,    2   -    1,    2    -    1,    2,    3

Try clapping the beats shown above. You can then use any melodic idea or rhythm guitar technique featured on any of my websites for coming up with some fresh ideas in 7/8 odd-time signature. How do you achieve that? Keep reading...

The top number of 4/4 means that there are four counts in a measure. The bottom number of 4/4 means that the quarter note takes those counts. In a measure of 4/4 time you have eight 8th notes. So you can actually think of 4/4 as being 8/8.

If you remove one of the 8th notes from 8/8 you get 7/8. By removing a single 8th note from any pattern in 4/4 time you get a new one in 7/8 time. If you’d like to explore this concept right away, just tap a pencil on a desk and count; 1, 2 - 1, 2 - 1, 2, 3

Now that you understand the general application of 7/8, let's jump into performing a cool guitar riff that applies this time signature.


click on the image above to enlarge full-screen

This is a very basic 7/8 groove that should be mastered by every guitar player. When you start playing around with odd time signatures you will be surprised at the improvements you will see in every other aspect of your guitar feel and rhythm.

Your sense of time will be boosted due to the gaining of experience with another type of rhythmic feel. Practice this groove until you can play it no problem without even counting out loud. After awhile, the feel of 7/8 time signature will not be very odd to you anymore.



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Lesson 002 - GUITAR SOLOING: Composing Your Way to Great Guitar Solos

June 23, 2017:
Lesson 002 - Composing Your Way to Great Guitar Solos

PART ONE:  In example one, we are making a study of how a melodic line can cover a common group of chord changes in the key of "C Minor." The progression is a harmony of "Im, VII, VI," using the chords of "Cm, Bb and Ab." Learn the melodic phrase and then record the chords and try composing a new phrase for the harmony. Then, try improvising over the changes.

Example two focuses more on rhythm and how a groove based phrase can change as it evolves across a series of chords. By introducing a lot of contrast to the rhythm we create an interesting feel change across the harmony. Missed downbeats and plenty of 16th-note rests end up creating a very cool sounding effect across the harmony of this "A Minor" progression.

PART TWO: Having statements that operate around chords can produce great sounding guitar solos. Just listen to any number of Jimi Hendrix guitar leads, and you'll notice it right away. In example three, follow up statements occur around a series of chord changes in the key of "C Major." Learning to manipulate cool sounding follow-up phrases after each chords appearance adds an interesting effect to the chord progression.

In example four, the composing concept becomes one of worked out lines based on a recurring theme. This is evident in the song "Bad Moon Rising" by CCR. That songs guitar solo is a play on the primary licks and the theme of the guitar statements used in both the verse and the lead. The part shown in example four demonstrates how tones from a, "C Natural Minor" scale can be used to form statements around the harmony. Record the chords and try composing your own variations on the theme.

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at: CreativeGuitarStudio.com



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How to Think Like a Guitar Virtuoso...

How does a guitarist go from strumming "G, D and A" chords to becoming a guitar wizard? What has to happen for a guitar player to make that leap from being an average beginner player to being a simply outstanding player?

These are questions that every pre-teen discovering music and the guitar will ask, either out loud or more often than not - inside their head. There's just something about being the best that invokes curiosity. Knowing who the best guitarist is and admiring those who are the best is just human nature.

It's a question and a search that people just do, and it involves the discovery of the skills that can be practiced and duplicated to re-create what "the best" in any field both have with respect to skills and how they do those skills. It's important to people because we can learn those same skills - and then - those skills can become a part of us.

Once the guitar-bug bites us, we start craving more and more guitar skills under our fingers. Those skills allow us to be able to play all of the songs we enjoy. No matter what level we're at, we intuitively understand that having more skills will equal greater ease.

As practicing guitar players we understand that the skills we build for playing the guitar allow songs to come out easier. That "musical flow" is the juice that keeps us hungry for learning more songs. And, the desire for skill drives us to study more guitar techniques.

But, what is it that propels some guitar players to blow past the norms? What happens to some players that allows them to become virtuoso players?

Developing past the normal levels of ability will obviously involve more work, more practice, more dedication and a lot more time practicing guitar. But, there are a few other factors involved as well. These include three main principles. They are; knowledge building, exposure and having the right psyche.

- Knowledge Building -
Understanding terms, musical concepts (like key signatures and harmony), and knowing how musical topics relate to the fingerboard, (i.e., scales, chords and arpeggios). These are at the very core of, "knowledge building."

This category of musical information is at the very heart of knowing how music operates, but it even goes deeper than that. It allows great musicians to be able to communicate with others, and it allows the musician to be able to communicate better with themselves. Skills like; ear training will really improve when players understand how music operates, and the ability to communicate what a player hears in their head with terms is vital to higher development.

The study of music theory and how it relates to the neck is a key factor in every serious guitar players knowledge building. Knowing your musical keys, your scales, intervals and how all of the chords relate to them is critical. Once you have these principles organized on your neck, you'll be able to understand what your learning, what you are listening to and how all of those sounds relate back to both music theory and to the guitar.

Get started by learning the notes on the neck, the key signatures, and the basic concept of harmony on the fingerboard, (harmony = how chords exist in key centers). Use a good music theory course to carry on from there. The Creative Guitar Studio Harmony Theory course will really help you learn this information if you put the time in.

- Exposure -
This area is one of the most vital areas to becoming a really great guitar player. It all begins with learning about one playing style and developing yourself to be able to gain confidence over an initial group of general playing skills. Then, a guitarist can start to expand from those skills into more techniques and eventually more styles, which leads them to gaining even more skills.

This means that styles and playing techniques are essential to gaining better skill and advancing onward toward more refined playing techniques. Exposure does this faster than any other method.

For example, let's say there's a guitar player named "Max" and he only takes guitar lessons from a blues guitarist, (who really isn't big on music theory). Max does a lesson once every week and he's done that for two years. Max feels that in general he's getting quite good at rock /blues playing. But, Max never plays with others, he's never been on stage, and he has next to no exposure to any other styles of music.

However, let's say another guitarist named "Phil," started at around the same level as Max, but Phil was taught by his uncle who is a very versatile professional player and has a top-40 band. And, Phil's uncle gets Phil to join his top 40 band, and so Phil learns 60 or 70 songs across a whole range of styles. And, Phil plays in that top-40 band for two years. He's on stage once or twice a week. Phil learns about all kinds of different chords, scales, music styles, theory, rhythms, how to interact with the bassist, vocalist and the drummer. In other words Phil's exposure level is really expansive.

Who do you think would be the more versatile level of guitar player? Max or Phil... I'd definitely go with Phil. The exposure Phil would have to songs, styles and technique, combined with all of his stage experience would build a level of confidence that Max just wouldn't have. So, keep in mind that you've got to stretch yourself to gain exposure. Once you have that, your guitar playing will expand very rapidly.

- The Right Psyche -
The biggest factor for virtuoso level guitar playing is by far a persons own psyche. The mind, soul, or spirit, of a musician makes all the difference to how a guitarist will develop their playing skills.

I recently had a new student come into the studio who told me an interesting story about why he quit taking lessons (years ago when he was a teenager). What happened was he had been taking guitar lessons for almost three years and he felt that he was doing pretty good. That was until he saw a class-mate of his at school grab a guitar and rip out the main riff from Led Zeppelin's, "Black Dog."

Well, my student - back then - wasn't working on any songs with his teacher (he was just studying the easy-play songs out of one of those "Alfred Guitar Method Books"). And, knowing that his class-mate had only been playing for about a year, he felt devastated when "Black Dog" comes ripping out like nobody's business. And, that one experience caused him to give up on guitar. He quit for years because of that one experience.

So, instead of his psyche making him go back to his teacher at the time and saying, look I'm done with this easy-play guitar book, I want to learn songs. And, I want to start with learning how to play "Black Dog." Instead of doing that, (and discovering that "Black Dog" wasn't even a very complex riff), he instead decided, "I'm not doing very well, I'm just going to quit."

In psychology, the psyche is the center of thought, feeling, and motivation. And so, it both consciously and unconsciously drives the body's reactions. So, when my student saw that his class-mate was ripping out "Black Dog," he was floored, it just devastated him.

And then, his psyche took over and told him, "You stink at guitar, look at this guy, he's only been playing for a year - you've been playing for nearly three. Look what he can do, and you can't."

His psyche told him that he sucks and he should just quit, and unfortunately that's exactly what he did. Now, I'm willing to bet that this same type of scenario has occurred (maybe in different ways), but it has occurred millions of times all over the world. But, nothing like this has to happen to you. Because now you know, that how you're thinking makes a huge difference to how your progress happens on the instrument.

Thinking like a virtuoso guitar player doesn't require anything more than constant never ending knowledge building, combined with broad exposure to all kinds of playing styles, and maintaining a healthy balance regarding how you relate to your own psyche. If you keep on track within these areas you'll constantly improve. But, if you neglect one of these areas, you'll stagnate. And, it'll be really tough to grow as a guitar player.

So, study hard, learn everything you can, keep an open mind and always go easy on yourself. Remember the reasons you started learning guitar in the first place. Because it was fun and it made you feel good when you could play a part at a decent level of skill.

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9 Steps to Guitar Success | The Wheel of Guitar Fortune

You can try to learn guitar using any number of random internet methods, or you could go through a local instructor. But, there is another approach...

The truth is that music instruction can be a gamble. Especially if the teacher of method you choose either has no plan, or even worse - an unproven plan...

If you’re unsure of what to look for in a guitar program, and then how to organize your practice approach - you're in luck!

My "9 Steps to Guitar Success - The Wheel of Guitar Fortune," is a proven way to help any musician break through to the next levels of playing. This system is a positive step-by-step cycle that works in a very logical way to maintain your focus and your organization across the weeks and months of practice ahead.

Below are the nine steps to follow that will build long term guitar success. However, keep in mind that you'll still require a good study routine.

It can be difficult to make rapid progress studying guitar if you have no plan. Once you've selected your study material, (of course, I highly recommend the Creative Guitar Studio Program), organize the material into a map of what the most important elements are that you want to study. Separate what you know from what you don't and focus laser energy on what you do not have skills for.

Set up a log of what you will do on a daily basis. Organize it all in a planner or in a log book. And, keep a Practice Schedule. If you do not understand how to properly practice, spend some time learning this with my "How to Practice Guitar Guide." Once you implement my systems, you'll begin to notice rapid progress.

Practice begins from this point of the Guitar Wheel of Fortune, and for it to work properly, it needs to follow some type of a structured time frame system. So, be sure to follow my "Time Frames" practice concept. Using this approach will yield the very best results for you in the shortest time possible.

As your practice begins and you start work through your routine, you'll need to be on watch for possible corrections to your plan. assess where you are by asking a lot of questions... Are you feeling like progress is taking hold? Are you noticing good results? Are there problems? Do you experience any hand-pain or discomfort? How is your mental perspective, are you having fun - are you learning? Assessment is critical to your success. If something isn't working - try something else.

Once you've determined what works for you and what doesn't, begin examining what you can do to alter the order and sequence of your material so that you can find new practice approaches that will work better.

Having great material is one thing, but you could still go about practicing the material in a way that is simply not good for the place you are at - within a specific point in time. How you approach your repertoires study material is just as important as what you're studying. And, in order for rapid progress to occur, you'll need to continuously alter your repertoire's order and sequence. Doing so will yield incredibly fast results for you.

Are you practicing warm-ups for too long? Are you not putting enough time into your rhythm guitar? How much skill are you feeling from your scale layout on the neck? Is what you're doing in need of time frame modifications? These are vital questions that need to happen along the way for rapid progress to occur. And, any change to your repertoire will play a role on how you're using your personal practice system. These areas need to maintain constant balance. When they do you'll start to notice changes for the better, start happening much faster.

Practice began (back in step 3) from a point at which you were still learning "where" you needed to address your guitar study focus. Now, that you are much further along in the "Wheel of Guitar Fortune" you've likley begun to notice what has worked for you, and what hasn't worked. And, (I hope) that you've started to make modifications.That is the key to this entire "Wheel of Guitar Fortune" process. In this step, "Practice - Phase Two," work out the new time frames that you want to apply to each subject area. Once you've created an updated practice schedule, start applying it and notice what benefits occur.

Just as we did back in step four, assess progress once again and notice where you're at. Ask yourself a series of questions regarding how you feel about the work you're doing, where you're skills are going, and how the level of ability is developing on the whole. If progress is occurring, then take stock of where it is developing with the most success. And, if certain areas are not developing, ask yourself what you could be doing differently to change that. Think of this step as another layer of refinement. Polishing things at this stage will really perfect how you're time is being maximized during practice.

The trick to getting really good - really fast is, has and will always be, exposure to new material that you have never tried playing before. Anything new will always push you higher in your overall skill set. So, in step nine you'll want to add more items on you practice list.

If you're studying a progressive course, (like the material found in the Creative Guitar Studio Program), you'll be flowing along in a very step-by-step manner. Adding new ideas will continue to help expand your guitar playing and it will build your footing as a musician rather than just being a "Guitar Player." Musicians know and understand music, even when the guitar is locked in the case at the back of the room.

Adding more techniques, more scales, chords, arpeggios and music theory will continue to help you grow as a player. And, as you get better, you'll be able to play more styles and you'll be able to function within any type of musical setting. Over time, nothing will feel foreign to you. The skill for playing in all types of styles and situations will become easier and easier. And, the key to expanding your horizons like this is exposure. This only occurs through an increase in your repertoire.

NOTE: If you need help setting up your own personal practice routine, book a Skype session with me and I'll help you get started!



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EAR TRAINING: From the Ear to the Fingerboard

Watching a musician who is able to improvise on the fly is quite incredible. 

Obviously, this skill comes from being able to play the lines that they are hearing in their head. The ability to play what we hear is one of every musicians ultimate goals. But, HOW does one get started on this path to natural musical expression?

For a guitarist, or any other instrumentalist, one of the biggest obstacles is translating the sounds that we hear in our head onto our instrument – in our case, onto the fingerboard.

When you hear a sound in your head, most musical people can quite readily open their  mouth and create that sound. The translation from the mind to the voice is quite effortless and is being done unconsciously.

Guitarists don’t have it that easy. Between our mind and our expression of a musical idea  lies the fingers, a multitude of neck patterns and technique to pull it all together. So, it may not exactly be easy to bridge the gap between our mind and the fingerboard, but we can get there. If an accomplished jazz player can do it, there must be a way, and there is... it is called, "Ear Training."

There are a variety of ear training categories – intervals, chords, scales, etc. When first getting started, one of the most important areas to focus on is intervals, since they are the fundamental building block for both scales and chords, (arpeggios).

When just starting out, it is best to keep the root of each interval you study, “fixed.” This means that the intervals you hear will always start from off of the same note. By working this way, you will get a better feel for the differences among the various intervals.

Begin with the following intervals in your training routine...

1. Prime a Single Tone: When doing this, sing the tone you've selected as your "Prime." This process is focuses on a single tone and the mastery of hearing it. Be sure to sing it. And, make sure that you sing it in tune. Once you have this tone down 100% move it to various unison locations along and around the neck. Even though it is the same note played consecutively, your ear must get used to its sound in different places on the fingerboard.

2. Major 3rd and Minor 3rd: These intervals contains 2 notes spaced either 2 whole steps apart to create a Major 3rd, (such as C to E, G to B, etc), producing a familiar uplifting, happy quality. Or, to produce the Minor 3rd, we have 2 notes spaced a tone plus a semi-tone apart. This could be related as 1 and a 1/2 steps, (such as C to Eb, F# to A, etc), producing a sad, negative or dark color of sound.

3. Perfect 5th: This interval spacing is 3 1/2 steps (C to G, G to D, etc). The so called 5th-chords (C5, D5, etc) used extensively in rock and roll are based on this interval. Sing this interval and notice the sound quality.

4. Octave – this interval consists of the same two notes played an octave (8 tones higher) apart.Sing these tones and notice the feel.

The key to developing a good ear is to come up with your own meaningful associations. You need to make it real. One of the best approaches is to associate each interval with a familiar tune. For instance, when I hear a major 3rd, I think of the song, "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In." At the beginning, the words, “Oh - When” is the Major 3rd.

I have a unique association for the perfect 5th. Those first two notes of the theme from the movie "Star Wars," are a perfect 5th apart.

When it comes down to hearing an octave, "Perfect 8," the theme from the song, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," can be used. The first two notes of that famous theme, (Some - Where) are a "Perfect 8" apart.

So you get the point. Each interval needs to be personal for you. They need to evoke a response in the form of a memory.  Then, you'll associate it and be able to recall it.



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Trick Yourself into Better Guitar Playing (Time Frames)...

Stop Wasting Away Your Valuable Guitar Practice Time! After all, there are only so many hours in each day. Make the most of them..!

We've all sat down to practice the guitar and then this happens...

We start out highly focused, but the next thing you know 20 minutes have gone by and we’re just mindlessly noodling away our time. Our focus is gone and we're not doing anything that we either hoped to do, or that we'd expected we would be doing.

How did this happen to us? We had our best ideas ready to go. Is it attention deficit?

Is is a matter of scattered focus..? Or maybe, it is simply today's modern world of endless distractions?

For what ever reason, the bottom line is we lost our train of thought. And, after that goes away, it can be very difficult for any of us to both keep "on task" or even get it back without using some type of a study system.

The application of a training system not only keeps us on track with our practice, but it can also help us with the building of our long term goals and our best musical development direction.

Okay, we probably already realize that we need a practice system if we want to get good as quickly as possible. But, if there was a "study system" what would it be like? How would it work? What would it do?

The human mind is a tricky thing. It likes to move away from pain and move toward fun and good times. And, lets face it, working on scales and arpeggios, (while incredibly beneficial), can feel a lot more like "pain" compared to playing through a fun Hendrix lick that we have mastered (because we learned it seven years ago, so it's easy).

You can change your state of mind, (and also what you focus on when it comes to guitar practice), by “tricking” your brain to do practicing in a different way. From my experience, through all of my years of teaching, I know that a lot of guitarists have the same practice time problems when it comes to the study of material - you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn't want to improve on yours.

Practice time is extremely valuable, so you don't want to waste any of it by jumping into your practice periods without a study plan.

To really get your practicing up to a whole new level, get yourself a timer. This can be any type of timer, but I'd probably recommend it be a separate device away from your phone. I personally prefer "egg timers." I personally use the "Lux CU100 Digital Count Up/Down Timer." The LUX is really loud and it has easy to program buttons.

Keep in mind you're going to use this timer a lot, so you don't want to cheap out on a budget model, or kill the battery on your phone or tablet, (timer apps tend to really draw on phone and tablet battery power for some odd reason).

Start by designating a period of time that you are going to focus upon a topic. For guitar  practice you'll want to think in respect of two time frames.

The first is the "Overall" Time of how long you'll be sitting stationary. This should never exceed 15 minutes. It is not a good thing for the body to sit stationary for long periods. You'll want to be getting up and walking around at least every 15 min. This not only keeps your mind fresh and alert, but it also gets the blood flowing through your body better.

This is the length of time that you will assign to work on one given subject within your 15 min. topic time frame. I suggest no more than 3 minutes per subject. There have been many studies showing that the human mind gets easily distracted, (wanders) after 3 min. By staying within this time frame you'll maximize your ability to remain alert.

Now, start to work on a section of a song, a scale or an arpeggio for a set time frame of 3 minutes. Then when the timer goes off, stop working on that idea, reset the timer for another 3 minutes and move on to begin working  on something else.

It could be a new key of the same scale or arpeggio. It could be a new song section. Just change your focus once the timer goes off.

It is perfectly fine to come back to the song, or scale that you were first working on earlier in the same practice session. But, the idea with this time frame approach is all about getting away from one topic and moving through other material. By moving away, and coming back the material in another frame of mind, you will train yourself to keep much better focus.

The timer device has an incredible ability to keep you on task, and help you remain far more focused. As long as you just set it and forget it, you'll build off of your time limit.Your focus will be higher and your ability to plow through more material will help you with your accomplishments.

Even if you think this sounds rather odd…you have to try it. The benefits you'll discover are absolutely incredible.



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