GUITAR TECHNIQUE 003: Phrasing & Slurring (Jazz)

April 29, 2018:
Phrasing and Slurring (Jazz)

 NEW  This unique Creative Guitar Studio course  explores exercises for increasing dexterity and coordination between the hands. The goal will be to increase mobility and control.

Guitar Technique topics will focus on hand skill for perfected movement. The desired results  include greater; clarity, agility, speed and accuracy of movement. 

Lesson three of Guitar Technique contains studies for developing better control over slurring devices. These techniques are often referred to as "legato" technique. They include the use of "hammer-ons," "pull-offs" and "slides."

Paying members of the Creative Guitar website can watch both video lessons and download all of the PDF handouts, along with the associated MP3 play-a-long /jam tracks...

Join the member's area to download the PDF handout and start study of these exercises. Study all of the examples with full access to both video lessons...

Watch the Part One Video FREE on YouTube:

PART ONE:  In example one, the exercise is divided into two sections that use a key of "Eb Major," melodic statement. The initial example (ex. 1a), establishes a starting statement (2 bars) without any phrasing devices included. 

The second statement branches out to include greater use of phrasing (using slides, pull-offs and hammer-ons)..

Example two branches out to the feel of sixteenth-notes with a similar phrasing study to exercise one. This key of, "Eb Major," exercise is again divided into two segments. 

The first (ex. 2a), establishes a 16th-note melodic statement without the use of any phrasing devices. The second, (ex. 2b), includes phrasing and slurring devices (to introduce different ways of applying slurs).   

In example three, all of the slur techniques (introduced in Part One of this lesson), apply the Swing feel to help push a melodic line through Jazz phrasing in the key of "C Minor."

Slurring in the jazz style allows for a particularly smooth and connected sound around the eighth-note triplet duration.

Example four, studies the technical effects that occur when the phrasing of a passage is altered to reflect changes to the primary note duration. In exercise four, there are two distinct lines built from within the key of, "F Minor /Blues."

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The 4 Foundations of Great Guitar Practice

Learning to play the guitar and learning to get as good as you can is both a dedication to many years of understanding music and a dedication to practice. You can't be a wimp about this. Along the way, it won’t be all fun and good times. What builds skill is devoting long hours and a tremendous amount of energy to doing boring and repetitive work. Without it, players will never reach their highest levels of success on the instrument...

As you strive to advance your playing skills and add more technical perfection to your guitar playing, things are going to times where you either feel like you’ve got the world by the tail, or you could also feel the exact opposite.

The opposite means feeling like your practice is going nowhere fast. I've heard players say things like, "I can't get ahead, it's like I'm pulling a train up-hill." And, it's at those times where you have to take stock in what it will take to break through to the next level of playing.

Falling into these learning traps as a player can be pretty tough to deal with. But, DO NOT be a sissy about it. Don't be a wimp... Plow through those rough areas and things will improve. You will make it to the next level - guaranteed.


In this discussion, I will be sharing some great advice for learning how to keep pushing ahead and always continuing to grow as a player through hard work and lots of practice - so that you get better, as time goes by - even if you’re feeling stuck and you feel down in the dumps because things aren't going your way.

Experience is everything…
Playing an instrument is not an ego thing it’s actually a contribution thing. So, you need to meet people, to get out into your local scene and learn from others. Those experiences will be invaluable to you long term.

You’re not going to like everyone you meet, not every situation will feel comfortable, and you won’t connect with everyone. But, eventually you will hook up with a certain group of core musicians and those people will help you get a lot better. And, I mean way better than you’ll ever get just trying to learn to play alone sitting at your house or apartment.

Sometimes, its that first leap outside of your comfort zone that does it. Or, it might take many meetings with a whole bunch of different musicians. Perhaps it will occur through just meeting up with a music teacher. Maybe it will be through taking a class at a local music college. Or, maybe it’s asking to play a few songs on the band rehearsal night of your church that you belong to.

Whatever that "initial excursion" is, you’ll never be the same after it. You’ve got to make that leap out of your house and hit the street with your guitar in hand. Musicians you’ll meet will have a life-long impact on you.

And, the coolest thing is that it will be the very small – seemingly insignificant things that you’ll do, that people will say to you, and the experiences you’ll have along the way, that will cause you to change musically like you never would have from just sitting at home practicing your guitar!

Attitude check… 
Your attitude is everything, and so is the attitude of the people who you surround yourself with as well. So surround yourself with great people. And, over time you’ll certainly realize that it’s the people who are more positive, more realistic, encouraging, and uplifting (about what you want to accomplish as a guitar player), they will tend to pull you up to that same level of behavior and thinking.

But, people who are negative, full of jealousy, (and those who view only the worst in everything that’s going on), they will rub off on you as well. And, it won’t be good, in fact, they’ll have a terrible effect on you, and on the way that you perceive everything about your skill development.

So, be cautious with who you spend your time with because if people have a bad attitude, parts of that will affect YOU. And, that is not helpful. You need to find successful ways of getting around any musical road-blocks that end up getting in your path. And, the musicians (who you’ll meet) that are; smart, have unique ways of looking at things, and who are experienced and innovative in the ways they do things - those are exactly the types of musicians you’ll want to discover, and hang around with.

Don't Be a Wimp About Hard Work...
Don’t be a wimp about your practice material or your practice time. Because, if you want to get a lot better than you are right now, you’re going to need to study things that are way outside of your general scope of playing.

You’re going to have to start investing a lot of time in repeating material that you totally suck at so that it starts becoming better known to you and to your hands, (so that it becomes a lot more automatic to you physically)...

Basically, what it all comes down to is, the less that you need to think about what it is that you’re doing physically, the easier playing guitar is going to become for you. And, the opposite is true as well, the more that you’re consciously thinking about the mechanics behind playing music, (that’s all the; scales, arpeggios and anything motor skill wise under your fingers), the more you’re thinking, the more challenging it’ll be for your music to come out naturally.

A combination of dedicated practice time, with time spent performing with others, (especially live on stage), is the solution to mastery all of your natural talent, and making it work for you!

Dedication is a Reality and a Necessity...
Never complain to yourself or to others about the dedication that is involved with getting better at an instrument. You’re going to have to work hard on the study, the practice and rehearsing of new skills that will benefit your ability to become a better musician.

Get used to being involved in extremely time consuming deep practice and deep study. A lot of this type of practice time is spent alone, in your studio, recording, working with sequences, layering music, learning to use new equipment, learning new computer programs, new software, how to improve your sound and your style.

It’s a lot of time that you’ll need to apply, and it’s a lot of time that will be very important. And, like all other artists of the past, who become a success, you will be spending this practice time alone, so get used to being alone!

Some people are real whiners about being alone. Some people dread being alone. Don’t be like that. You need this time to work. And, remember, that when you work on things, when you improve your skills, you earn knowledge and that knowledge will send improvements to you in ways you can’t even guess - in ways you'd never imagine.

I'd like to end the discussion by saying, thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this lesson, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more on YouTube. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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Qwik Songs #004: "Santeria" by Sublime

 NEW : Qwik Songs Series - Video (004)

Welcome to the new QwikSongs video lesson series. Lesson four explores the song, Santeria by Sublime... The Qwik-Songs videos are available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikSongs are available to members at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikSongs Series run through the structure of popular songs. This will include topics such as; harmonies, scales, song sections and guitar solos... 

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Episode #004 - Members Area Handout
"Santeria" by Sublime.

Section one works through the intro guitar riff. The chord harmony of "E, G#, C#m and B," are outlined using an arpeggiated technique. 

Section two explores the harmony and playing style associated to the songs Reggae influenced /Ska strum groove (back-beat chord hits). The rhythm is applying chord shots on the same chords that are used within the songs intro. of "E, G#, C#m and B."

Section three works through another arpeggiated idea that covers the harmony of a new set of chords found in the songs verse. This section applies a lead-style melodic line around the chords of "A, B, E, and C#m."

Section four provides a collection of chord diagrams that run through an overview of the patterns applied across the piece.

Santeria: by Sublime

_______________     ♫     ________________

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. 

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▲ The AMAZING "Triangle" Chord Shape

This is going to be a lot of fun! In this lesson we'll take a look at some chord shapes on the guitar fingerboard that essentially look like nothing more than "Triangles," and once we learn their fretting layout on the neck, we'll learn to use them to format a cool sounding 12-Bar Blues progression...

I going to show you a fun trick that you can do with chord patterns that are shaped like triangles. Then, I'll explain how these easy to play shapes can be incorporated into performing the changes required for jamming on a 12-Bar Blues.


This lesson is going to be a lot of fun and it’ll set you up with some great ideas that you can use over and over again - in not just Blues songs, but also in; Pop, Country, Jazz, Funk, Soul, R and B, Folk ...almost every type and style of music out there. So, let’s get things started with learning the shapes...

The first thing we're going to do is become familiar with these triangle shapes. Now, there are only six shapes, and they’re all pretty easy to play, (because they’re so similar to each other), so I don’t think it’ll take ya very long to learn them on the guitar neck.

SHAPE 1). The first shape is sort of a "crooked triangle" shape that’s created off of the 4th guitar string and contains the Root in the bass, (as the lowest pitch tone). Here’s the layout…

SHAPE 2). The next shape is a more uniform triangle pointing toward the head-stock. It’s built from off of the 5th string, and once again contains the Root as the lowest bass-tone…

SHAPE 3). The third shape is a triangle that points toward the guitar’s body. Built off of the 4th string, this shape contains the Minor 7th degree as the lowest chord tone.There is no Root present in this shape...

SHAPE 4). Next, is the 4th shape. This one is built off of the third string, and it points at the head-stock. There is no Root, and the pattern applies the 5th chord tone as the lowest degree. 

SHAPE 5). Our fifth shape is once again built off of the 3rd string, (but this time it’s stretched out a little more), and it’s pointing toward the guitar’s body. There is no Root present, and the lowest chord tone degree is the Minor 7th.
SHAPE 6). Finally, our last (sixth shape) is back being built once again off of the 4th string and it points toward the head-stock. This pattern has no Root, and applies the Minor 7th as the chords lowest tone.

NOTE: The structure of this pattern is interesting since it contains no 3rd chord tone. Instead the 3rd is replaced with a "9th." This establishes a "Suspended" effect…

Alright, now that you know how to make these triangle chord pattern shapes, let’s put them to work in learning how they can be applied across that 12-Bar Blues you heard me play at the start of the video…

12-Bar Blues - Measure 1 to 4...

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12-Bar Blues - Measure 5 to 8...

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12-Bar Blues - Measure 9 to 12...

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With these fun /easy "Triangle" chord patterns, y
ou’ve got a collection here of six really “easy to play” shapes, that can be used to perform some great stuff in Blues, (or in a whole lot of other music styles as well).

Since so much of what we do on guitar is based upon geometrical shapes and patterns, it is vital that players study things like this to make further reralizations about how the neck can be analyzed and how shapes play a huge role for creating music.

The best part is, now that you know and understand the value of these triangle shapes, they can be patterns that you can go forward with, and start using in all kinds of other musical situations.

Plus, I’m sure that these shapes will lead you to learning to spot other shapes and patterns as well. So, have fun with these ideas here, work on applying these triangle shapes, and I hope that this lesson was not only fun to jam out on, but I hope it also gives you something to consider going forward into using other geometrical directions involved with playing and learning on the guitar.

Thanks for joining me, If you'd like to Find Out What You Should Learn Next on Guitar - take a look at the courses over on my website at

My step-by-step; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced courses will cover what you need to know, along with how to be able to move forward and become the best player that you can be. I've worked on these courses since 1992 and I feel that all together they're the best guitar program you'll ever find.

The courses will help you learn to identify what's required to get you up to the next level of guitar playing, in a very organized way, that makes sense.

I look forward to helping you further at ...Until next time - take care and we'll catch up again on the next lesson. Bye for now!



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How to get Good at Strumming Guitar

Strumming can be one of the more challenging areas of skill development for most Beginner and Intermediate players. I've even worked with a number of more advanced players who also struggle with having good strumming and who cannot play in proper time. There's no question that it's tough to do while maintaining quality playing dynamics. And, although for some players rhythm is a fairly natural skill, for many others it's an issue to overcome...

Although strumming can be frustrating for a lot of guitar players, (who want to have rhythmic skill improve), the good news is that luckily this technique isn't as difficult to get good at, as you might think.

On this episode of the "Guitar Blog Insider," I'm going to help you with getting a better understanding of how to use note duration as a way to improve your sense of strumming and to help with getting a lot better at playing rhythm guitar.


For a lot of musicians, having the ability to know the beat and perfectly /exactly track the beat can be a series challenge. All too often a guitar player will consider something like this as being, "too simple to practice."

In fact it can seem so simplistic, that players will think - why bother even trying it. But, this is a big mistake. Think of this another way, there are a lot of guitarists out there who play drums, and I'm sure that they will agree with me when I say that, they would never imagine not working on their drumming rudiments.

Unfortunately, this attitude (of studying rhythmic rudiments on guitar), is almost non-existent when it comes to guitar students. As a practice topic for starting to develop better rhythm, you'll want to be sure to work on finding the beat and "Locking Down" on the time.

Try starting with an example that moves through quarter-notes and eighth-notes. After you practice this for a while, make the move onto more complex duration of time.

Finding the beat in time and locking down on it so that the feel is solid on each count will take some practice. But, once you start to have success there, you'll want to move onward to paying attention to where the count is missing.

In counting we call these areas of time, "Rests." These are points across the beat where we do not play and these areas of silence need to be addressed with just as much scrutiny as when we do play.

In my next example, I have a beat structure that includes 'points within time' where you'll need to be waiting (silent) and not performing any attack. Pay attention to the feel and the count. And, keep in mind that clapping and counting will always play a big role with initially developing a solid understanding for the groove that needs to be established.

After the feel for quarter and eighth-note duration in straight time begins to become better understood, and the ability to perform rests around the beat begins to come under better control, the next step is for you to perfect the feel of the triple meter.

This feel is slightly faster, (since we are performing three notes within the span of two), but the triplet is not as quick as the sixteenth-notes. And, the ability for most guitar players to understand this feel tends to come along rather quickly since it's the basis of both Blues and Jazz.

Let's practice an eighth-note triplet groove to help you better understanding this popular feel.

The final area of rhythmic feel, (that every guitarist who is working on getting better at developing their sense of time must eventually address), is the feel and the count of the 16th note duration.

The 16th-note feel can be challenging for most guitar players. But, the important thing to remember is that you can start developing this groove a lot easier if you're already skilled with the note durations that come before this.

So, learn those; quarter, eighth and triplet concepts and be sure to understand the idea of rests (the silent parts of the beat where you're not supposed play). Once you can listen and strum those foundational beats, start into studying the sixteenth-note rhythms, but keep it slow, and keep it simple.

Let's try out a very basic 16th-note groove in a 2-bar phrase that you get going with right away.

This general idea of how to get better at strumming (and just becoming a lot better with your rhythm guitar skills overall), will obviously involve some work. You'll need to dedicate a lot of hours to the practice of rhythm guitar.

Another thing, is that the examples I've introduced here are only just the beginning. On the Creative Guitar Studio web-site I've organized a course in the members area that's called "Rhythm Guitar." And, if you 're a member of the web site, you'll also have access to the Intermediate Guitar course.

Both of these guitar courses offer guitar players an opportunity to become much better at playing in all of these various rhythm duration that I've discussed here.

However, what is most important, is how you spend your time practicing these rhythms. The courses I've created on the members web-site go a lot further by offering a number of good practice tools that'll really help you along in this department.

The study area of rhythm is really important, because once you have a good feel for rhythm, every other area of your playing will see a substantial improvement right along with it.

Thanks for joining me... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, then head over to my website at and sign up your FREE lifetime membership.

When you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package and start studying the guitar courses I've organized for the members of my website.

Also, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section below... if you enjoyed this video on YouTube, give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more. Thanks again and we'll catch up next week , for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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