Learn Any Solo by Ear

Having a developed musical ear means having a more enjoyable and fruitful journey as a guitar player. You will no longer need to always refer to guitar tab or notation in order to figure out a specific lick, you can confidently join any jam session and be in the right key, and you can learn songs and solos in real-time.

The best part of the ear training exercise that will be presented here is that the progress you are going to make from it will be exponential, and you don't need a solid foundation in music theory for it (although it will be helpful). It might seem hard and time consuming at first, but the more you do it, the quicker it will take for you to get the right notes and before you know it you will be able to transcribe what you hear by ear in real-time!

There will be three stages to this exercise - 1. finding the right sequence of notes, 2. matching the rhythm and 3. matching the phrasing. The first thing to do is to choose a short and simple lead guitar melody from a song.

Finding the right note sequence

Once you have chosen your lead guitar melody, listen to ONLY the first note of the melody and try to match that same note on your guitar. Now, you will need to make an educated guess as to where you think that note might have been played on the guitar. For example, if the note from the original melody is really high pitched, you should not be guessing a note that is on the lower strings and on the lower frets. Once you have chosen your note, compare it to the original first note in the melody. Now you will need to decide whether your note is higher than, the same as or lower than the original note. Keep playing your note and comparing it to the note in the original melody and move it closer, one fret at a time, to the actual note in the melody.

Now here is where your music theory will come in handy, although it is not absolutely necessary. If you are able to determine the key of the original song, you will already know which scale to use in order to find the same notes. This drastically narrows down your available options and saves you a lot of time. Instead of moving one fret at a time, you can move up or down the scale. Whichever approach you use, you will have no doubt in your mind once you have arrived at the correct note since both notes are exactly the same.

Repeat this process for every other note in the phrase until you have the correct sequence of notes. Pay attention to consecutive notes in terms of whether or not they are higher, lower or the same as your previous note. Also listen out for specific repeating patterns that may occur in the original melody. In the beginning this will require some patience.

Once you have the correct sequence of notes down, find the most efficient way of playing them by moving as little as possible up and down the neck. Also look out for specific scale shapes.

Matching the rhythm

The next step is to match the rhythm of the phrase. This simply means the length if each note you play needs to match the length of each note in the actual song. You will need to listen to the length of each note and also the spaces between each note. Which notes are sustained and which notes are killed throughout the entire melody?

Keep playing the entire phrase on guitar and compare it to the actual phrase and make adjustments if necessary. At this point, what you play should be taking shape and starting to sound like the original phrase.

Matching the phrasing

The final step is to match the phrasing of the original melody. This means you need to listen for any lead guitar techniques that are used on the phrase such as slides, bends, hammer ons, pull offs, vibrato, sweeps, fretboard tapping, etc. It would be a good idea to slow down the actual track so you can better identify what's being played.

Each guitar technique should be further analysed in terms of how exactly are those techniques being executed. For example, if there is an obvious bend in the phrase, listen for how exactly is the note being bent. Is it a slow or fast bend? Are there any other techniques combined with that bend? This is often the most difficult part of the exercise. Again, keep comparing your phrase to the actual phrase until you are satisfied and believe that it matches.

Do this as often as you can with any lead guitar line that you enjoy and wish to play. Doing this often will help you develop your own playing style over time and the more you work on ear training this way the quicker you will be able to transcribe melodies in real-time!

Learning to play guitar on your own can be frustrating and challenging, especially if you don't know what to do. Having a great teacher makes the whole process more fun, enjoyable and gets you real results fast. Solve your guitar-related problems at GuitarKL, in Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA. Visit https://guitarkl.com/ to become an awesome guitar player. 

Three Steps For Always Having Motivation To Practice

By Joshua Richard from Monsters Who Sleep

You can reach your goals. At some point, your idols were at the place you are now.

What I'm about to say might seem counterintuitive; but there is no way to always have motivation to practice.

Is that misleading?

Well, sorry. But it's true. But there's still good news ahead. So keep reading and you'll understand why not always having motivation isn't a bad thing. And how to overcome it.

First of all, we need to understand what motivation is.

Motivation is a desire to do something...anything. It doesn't show bias to a particular goal, idea, or concept. Some people do good things. Like chores, feeding their families, or practicing their instrument. Others do bad things, like stealing, doing drugs, or bullying. This explanation is the most simple you can get for motivation. Everything people do is because they are motivated to do it. And vice versa for things they don't do.

You also must understand goals are things you want to do; in simple terms. To do them, you must have desire, or motivation to do the things that result in achieving the goal. The problem is, sometimes we don't have a desire to do these things. Even if it's something we know will benefit us.

Having goals, combined with motivation gets us the result we want. But there is a gap in people's knowledge about the illusive motivation. So here are a few solutions to this lack of motivation, and why they work.

1) Think of each practice like a single 'brick' added to a wall

You don't construct a building in one step, do you? No. You add one brick at a time until they cumatively form a complete wall. Then you do that for each wall. So it's similar, because sometimes we see our main goals as these huge, impossible feats. Compared to where we are now, at least. But we don't need to reach the goal, or finish the building in one day.

Having expectations too big of how we will reach our goals is a big culprit for lack of motivation. It will suck your soul if you never reach your goal. So make sure you understand you can't reach your goals overnight.

2) Surround yourself with inspiration - the same inspiration that got you started

Before you began playing your instrument, did you hear an incredible musician and think "wow, I wish that were me."? Did you put yourself in that musician's shoes, and visualize yourself doing everything that musician was doing? Well, this is the kind of inspiration you want to surround yourself with every day. Or as often as possible.

A good way of reminding yourself of this inspiration you felt, is to watch videos, or listen to music that first got you there. Bring yourself back emotionally to the moment you decided you would become that kind of musician.

3) Practice even when you don't feel like it - establish it as a daily habit

This solution is the hardest one of the bunch. Because not every day is a good day. We have different moods, daily circumstances, and things that affect us every day. It's impossible to always feel like practicing. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Everyone goes through it.

When you form a habit of practicing even when you don't want to, it becomes easier. When you combine this step with the previous solutions, you won't even need "natural" motivation. You will learn to appreciate even the bad days if you stay consistent. Nike's slogan, "Just do it" really does explain it the best.

See, motivation comes and goes. That's why most people don't ever make it into professional sports, become pro musicians, or otherwise be the best in their field. It's normal for motivation to be very strong at the start. But only the strongest stick with it even after the natural motivation fades.

It might not always feel good. You might have to rip yourself away from video games, TV, or scrolling through endless memes. But the fact is, that you will do things which have priority in your life. You will never "feel" like doing it, until you actually start doing it.

It's more simple than you think. But that doesn't mean it's easy. You have to decide how much this means to you, and commit.

So, with these three solutions, you should be able to see that a lack of motivation isn't bad. Nor is it impossible to overcome. But you still have to work, and put yourself in the right mindset.

Understand that no one is perfect. We all have bad days. We all struggle with motivation at some point.

Here for you on your musical adventure.

- Joshua Richard

About the author: Joshua Richard is a die hard Post Malone fan and watch collector. If you want to hear his music, visit: https://monsterswhosleep.com/

How to keep up your motivation to play guitar

By Michael Korte

Staying motivated for the long term is a huge contributing factor to your success with the guitar. At best you play a little bit every day and try to develop consistency in your guitar practice.

Literally 10 minutes a day every day is better, than 120 minutes on a weekend day every week.

Find times during your daily schedule where you can fit in your practice time and stick to it every day. Should you fall of the wagon for a day, forget about that immediately and start over the next day, but do not give in to thoughts like "Now I broke my streak, so what is the use of continuing? I have to do it all again".

If you got that going for you, here are some additional ways, with which you can help yourself staying motivated, so that you can keep up your momentum.

1) Bring in variety

If you are playing the same thing or practice item or song over and over again, you can get bored at some point. What I suggest is:

Get organised. Write out everything you want to or need to learn to achieve your playing goals, and then assign some time to them according to how important the goals are for you. Some days you practice A for 10 minutes, next day you practice B for 10 minutes, and so on.

If you have more time you can even mix several items on one day.

It does not matter how good your plan is. It is much more important that you stick to it as good as you can.

2) Keep a guitar success diary

This one you can do in any way you like, and I suggest just getting started and improve it over time. Try to write something in it every day and read about your successes regularly.

Here are some ideas:

Document how long you practiced on any day and what you practiced for how long. At the end of the week some up your total practice time and feel proud for a moment!

Keep track of anything that you can track with numbers, like playing speed.

3) Make room for fun playing

Something vitally important is to remember to play something for FUN!

Sometimes we can get caught up in grinding our exercises and we are losing the main purpose of playing guitar: To have fun and enjoy our own playing!

So, pick up your guitar, turn on your favourite song and jam along, no matter how good or bad you can play it, just rock out or meet up with friends regularly to hang out and play together with them.

It can be something very inspiring, if you hold each other accountable and support each other in what you want to achieve. Maybe even something bigger like a band grows out of this.

About the author:

Michael Korte is providing kitaratunnit in tampere and teaches improvisation and song writing but also helps his students to develop the techniques they need to be able to play their favourite songs and express themselves without limitations.

Introduction to the Modes

by Dennis Winge

There are so many advantages to learning the modes. Doing so enables you to:

1. Compose or analyze melodies

2. Easily recognize or compose chord progressions

3. Know what scale to use over a progression when improvising

4. Understand how you can play in many different modes without learning tons of new scales

In layman's terms, a mode is a perspective of a scale. In the key of A the notes are:

1 -a, 2-b, 3-c#, 4-d, 5-e, 6-f#, 7-g#

So if we are in, let's say, the 3rd mode of this scale means that C# is the new key (really it's C#m but more on that later) and the notes are now: 

1-c#, 2-d, 3-e, 4-f#, 5-g#, 6-a, 7-b

We simply took the notes in A and rearranged them according to the 3rd note's perspective, and we're not really in the key of A anymore, harmonically speaking, because the note a is not the root, c# is.

The modes are

I. Ionian; II. Dorian; III Phrygian; IV. Lydian V. Mixolydian VI. Aeolian VII. Locrian

Do yourself a huge favor and write out the major in all 12 keys using 12 sheets of paper, one for each key. Then underneath that write the rewrite the same notes of that key from the point of view of each mode. The first few modes of key of A will look like:

A - Ionian

1 -a, 2-b, 3-c#, 4-d, 5-e, 6-f#, 7-g#

B - Dorian

1-b, 2-c#, 3-d, 4-e, 5f#, 6-G#, 7-a

C# - Phrygian

1-c#, 2-d, 3-e, 4-f#, 5-g#, 6-a, 7-b

Notice that for even though in C# phrygian the notes are the same as the A Major Scale, we don't say "A phrygian" that would imply that the notes are a - bb - c - d - e - f - g which is the same notes as the key of F. If you can understand this one point right here, you grasp the essence of the modes. (Once you write out each key and each mode, go back and look at the 3rd mode of the key of F to confirm what I just wrote).

It may be helpful to think of each mode is its own scale. Now, instead of 12 scales there are really 84 scales (12 keys x 7 modes). You should think of each of the 84 as its own separate identity because even though any one of them shares the same notes with 11 others, each scale is unique in that only that scale has that particular "tonic" (root) and that particular structure.

For example, the fifth mode of the key of A is called E mixolydian and the notes are

E - Mixolydian

1-e, 2-f#, 3-g#, 4-a, 5-b, 6-c#, 7-d

G# - Locrian 

1-g#, 2-a, 3-b, 4-c#, 5-d, 6-e, 7-f#

Even though the 2 scales share the same notes, they sound completely different when played against their respective root notes. So in order to really hear the difference, play them against a drone. Take your looper machine and record an E drone, or search for E-drone on YouTube. Then play the scale over it and hear the effect. After you've done that for a while, search or create a G# drone and play those same notes. The emotional character of the scale is now vastly different.

There are many other aspects to be discussed about modes, but for now, just spend time with any one of the 84 scales, find or create the appropriate drone, and explore how to play it on your instrument. And I know I said to think about each mode as its own scale, but you don't have to re-invent the wheel for finding a good fingering for the scale. Just find the mode on your 12 sheets, then use the major scale fingering of the mode at the top. (I call this the "parent scale" which means the Ionian key that shares the same notes as your key/ mode.)

For example if you're in B - Lydian, look at the top of the page and you will see F# at the top. Get a B drone and play the F# major scale fingering you already know and you'll hear what B Lydian sounds like. And, if you can, think of B as the root, not F#.

The only way to really understand this is to do what I have suggested:

a) write out the 84 scales

b) pick one and play it over the tonic's drone

c) use the fingering of the "parent scale" to find your way around

Going back to the 84 scales, 12 of them will share the same notes, and 12 of them will share the same modal characteristics. For example A-aeolian will share the same characteristics as the 11 other "aeolian" scales. There are basic shortcuts you can take to learn the 'intervallic characteristics' of each mode, but that is a subject for another day.

Have fun and explore those modes!

About the author: Dennis Winge is a professional guitarist living in New York with a passion for vegan food and bhakti yoga. If you are interested in taking Guitar Lessons in Newfield, NY: https://guitarlessonsnewfield.com/then be sure to contact Dennis!


                                                                             By Aldo Chircop

This is one of the first questions that come to mind when first starting out.

It's also an unanswerable question, since it depends on so many things, such as what is your definition of 'good', how demanding is the style you want to play in, what level of coaching you have if at all, how consistently you practice at home, how efficient is your practice, how good is your mindset, how hard you want it, whether you persist for long enough, etc.

I am always tempted to answer that question with "It will take you as long as it will take you", but probably you want something a bit more specific than that. J

Here are some very general guidelines of what you can expect:

  • If you are a beginner starting from scratch, you will need to commit to at least 12 months of lessons and solid practice to see significant progress. After this time, you can expect to be able to play several songs (although not in very technically demanding styles) and will have built a solid foundation of musical skills which will propel you further.
  • After 2 - 3 years, you should be good enough to play in a lot of pop / blues / rock /metal based styles and be able to perform competently on stage. Your aural, improvisational and song writing skills will have been growing nicely, and you will be well on the road to becoming a complete musician.
  • After 5+ years of continuous learning and practice, you will be entering the realm of serious musician, and can be considered advanced. You will have developed a serious level of technique and be able to play quite technically demanding music, will have gained a lot of confidence playing in front of people, and already be a very competent song writer (if you took your study of music theory seriously and practiced your writing skills enough). You should be ready to join or form a band if you so wish, as well as discover and develop your personal style further.
  • After 10+ years of study, provided you paid your dues to keep improving constantly, you will be well and truly advanced and ready to enter the 'mastery' level. An oft quoted figure for mastery level in skill-based fields is "10 years or 10,000 hours of practice." If you spread 10,000 hours evenly over 10 years, it computes to an average of 2 ¾ hours of study per day, which is quite a realistic figure for someone who is really serious about mastering their craft.

Bear in mind that these are only very general guidelines, meant to give you realistic expectations.

Some people who are really determined and on fire with passion can achieve in a handful of years what other people need 20 or 30 years to achieve. Some barely advance beyond the beginner stage despite having 'played guitar' for decades.

Like someone said, "Some people have 20 years of study under their belt, while others have repeated their first year 20 times." There is a lot of truth in that! So, like every other area of study, you will get out of it in proportion to how much consistent effort and passion you put into it.

About the author:

Aldo Chircop is a guitarist, composer, producer and guitar teacher based in Malta. He is president and chief instructor of Malta Rock Academy, home of the best blues, rock and metal electric guitar lessons in Malta: https://maltarockacademy.com/

How To Write Better Rhythm Guitar Parts

By Matt Chanway

I could write a book on this topic, but if you're reading this article, you probably are having a bit of a tough time writing rhythm guitar parts, or "riffs" that sound interesting and original. Not to worry, quite literally every guitarist has gone through this phase. You don't want to get stuck in it and not progress, though. If you put your mind to it and seek solutions, you can get out of that rut and write great sounding guitar parts that are from you alone, and don't sound like rehashed versions of songs that have already been written. But you need to have the right mindset, first!

Regardless of what genre of music you are trying to write guitar parts for, we want to have some idea of the underlying chord progression of the part of the song we're putting this riff together for. If you're a metal player and are not a big fan of the term "chord progression," it's time to change that. I'm not saying that every riff you write from here on out has to consist of strumming barre chords, quite the opposite. What I'm saying, is we need an understanding of how chords are formed from major and minor scales, and when we write a riff, we need to have an idea of what chord functions are being carried out.

The chord progression above consists of two chords, E Minor and C Major. We want to be be able to identify the chord functions, in this case they would be i - VI. In other words, E Minor is the "one" chord, being built on top of the first degree of the E minor scale. The notes of the E minor scale are E, F#, G, A, B, C, and D. C is the sixth note of the E minor scale, so when we put a chord on top of it, we end up with a C Major chord, or the "six" chord in the key of E minor. If this stuff is sounding like Greek to you right now, don't worry. Get a qualified teacher in your area and learn what this means - it's not overly difficult, but if you don't do it, you're always going to struggle on the songwriting side. We'll wait here for you.

Now that you're familiar with what these chord functions mean, we can start to have some fun with them. Of course, if we're playing acoustic guitar or pop, these chords might be just fun the way they are. If you're into rock or progressive styles, they might be a little bit more vanilla. We can do quite a lot with this chord progression in the rock and progressive styles, for example we could play diads in place of the full chords. We could play fifths (also known as "power chords" or diatonic thirds, both of these are pictured below.

If you play these two sets of diads with some gain, you will definitely agree we are heading in the right direction for more modern styles of guitar playing. If that's still not enough, we could also try playing the chords as arpeggios. For pop music, slowly brushing through the barre chord shapes with our pick might do, but for more modern rhythm styles, we may want to keep the notes more separated to ensure the riff comes through clearly.

At first, this might appear as if it doesn't even resemble the initial E minor to C major progression listed. But if you look closely, you'll notice we are actually just playing the tones of these chords. Grab your guitar and try playing this riff (it's a tough one) and you'll absolutely hear the chords coming through!

If this most recent example is a little extreme for your tastes, you can get a very interesting tone by mixing diads (we'll stick with thirds for now) in with a driving, rock beat to get the sounds of the chords through in a different way.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but check out how many different sounds we can get out of a simple two-chord progression. Try these ideas out with some chord progressions of your own and have fun!

Matt Chanway is a professional guitarist and teaches guitar lessons in Surrey, B.C.: https://surreyguitar.com/

3 Reasons You Should Not Make Your Child Practice Guitar When They Are Learning To Play

By Maurice Richard

Your child has been bugging you for weeks or months that they want to learn to play guitar and that is great!

It is such a great instrument to be able to play. It is versatile, portable and affordable as well.

You did the smart thing and decided to find a qualified teacher to help them to learn how to play.

The problem is that they do not practice at home and you are starting to doubt it is worth the investment in lessons.

Here are 3 reasons not to force your child to practice at home if you want them to successfully learn how to play guitar.

1. They Will Associate It With Homework And Quit

How many kids like homework? Not many. Chances are your child does not either.

Forcing your child to practice guitar in between lessons usually makes them dislike it and quit. Do not do this to your child.

I get your point, you are paying a lot of money for them to learn, and your investment would seem to be wasted if they do not practice.

However, this is not the case. With children it is very important that they have a good experience with guitar from the start. The more you can foster it the better.

Remember, they are not as goal focused and able to discipline themselves as you can as an adult. 

Focus on fun and in time it will pay off.

2. They Will Not Practice Properly And Quit

How enthused are you as an adult when you are forced to do something?

We are forced to do many things in life and most of them we do not like. Making your child practice away from guitar lessons will have the same effect on most kids.

Even though they will put in the required time chances are it will not be focused and be more of a chore. They will not get much accomplished during practice in most cases.

If they do not enjoy practicing it will put a bad taste in their mouths for learning to play guitar and not learn much at all during that time anyway. This is the opposite of what you want.

What you will find is that within 3 to 6 months they will lose interest in guitar and lessons, even though they liked it and probably would still like to learn.

If they associate the pain of being forced to practice with guitar, they will quit and unfortunately, they may quit forever.

I am sure that as a parent you do not want this.

3. They Will Lose A Key Opportunity To Become Independent Learners

The ability to learn things on our own, independent learning, is an incredibly useful and key skill you likely want your child to learn. If you force them to practice they will lose this opportunity.

One thing you have to remember is that learning to play guitar is more difficult at the beginning. So most children will not have much interest in practicing things that do not sound cool.

Over time, as they get better, they will typically become more and more interested in playing because it now sounds cool and since their skills are better they will like it more. And likely practice on their own.

I've seen this happen many times with children. When this happens, they are hooked for life and will not only learn to play the basics but typically go on to learn more complex guitar skills.

This will benefit them today and forever.

Treat Guitar Lessons Like You Would Organized Sports And Let Your Child Enjoy Themselves

Instead of treating guitar lessons like a school subject you should look at them like you would a typical organized sport.

When you put your child in sports like soccer, baseball, basketball or ice hockey you do not expect them to come home and practice every night of the week like homework.

I do not know about you but I know most parents in my area want their children to enjoy their sports experience. They usually do not push them to practice at home and simply accept this as part of the investment in sports.

This difference in attitude towards lessons will make all the difference in your child when you apply it to guitar lessons. They may not practice, but they will not quit and enjoy the process. I see this all the time.

And who knows, over time, as they get better at playing guitar, they may get the spark that propels them to take it more seriously and practice at home on their own.

About The Author:

Maurice Richard is a professional guitar teacher that operates out of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: https://halifaxguitarlessons.com/. He has been a member of an elite guitar teaching mentorship program since 2007 and has taught many people how to learn to play guitar. His approach with children helps them to succeed and gain a lifelong skill.

Basic Positioning for Great Progress on Guitar

By Annie Bzdawka

There are some really basic things that play a big role in helping guitar players, especially beginners, to progress faster. These things can make a big difference in building good technique, which in turn results in more rapid results with your playing! These are things YOU can incorporate into YOUR playing, so YOU can enjoy rapid progress!

We'll discuss how you sit in your chair, the positioning of your legs, how you hold your guitar in relation to your body, how you hold your pick, how your fretting hand is holding the neck of the guitar, and how your picking/strumming hand is situated in relation to the guitar and the strings. Let's take a look at how each of these things can make a difference for you!

First, it's very important that you sit upright in your chair, and ideally, you're in a chair with no armrests. You want the guitar body to be resting in between your legs and facing straight out... the same way your face will be facing straight out if you look & face straight ahead. (You don't want the body of the guitar to be facing up or leaning upwards. This would make it hard /awkward for you to fret the guitar properly with your fretting hand.)

Second, you want to hold your guitar so the neck is up at an angle. This photo provides an excellent example of how to hold your guitar:  

Nadpis textuYou can see that the guitar neck is pointing upwards at an angle. Using a footrest for guitarists (like the one being used by the guitarist here) will to make this position much easier to acquire. If you're a right-handed guitarist, you will be picking or strumming with your right hand, and fretting with your left hand, so place the footrest under the left foot. This will raise up your left leg, therefore lifting headstock of the guitar and holding the neck at more of an angle, which will give your fretting hand easier access to all the frets on the guitar. If you're a left-handed guitarist, you will be fretting with your right hand, so place the footrest under your right foot.

You can purchase an adjustable footrest, so you can adjust the height of the footrest, allowing you to raise your foot and your leg up to the desired height for the most comfortable positioning. You may adjust your footrest height after learning the correct way to hold your guitar with your fretting hand, which we get into later.

Hold your pick in your picking hand (right hand if you're a right-handed guitarist), between your thumb and index finger. See the photo for reference:  

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Hold the pick firmly, and with a very small bit of give when the pick hits the string(s), Your other fingers should be relaxed, and can be comfortably hanging down from your hand. When you pick or strum, the downstrokes and upstrokes should be of the same intensity when you're just starting out, so you can get a feel of how to strum evenly. When you're playing individual notes or melodies (soloing), your hand should be anchored down; actually touching the guitar somewhere that feels comfortable, but not touching / muting any strings (unless you intentionally want to mute some strings). A good place to start getting into the habit of anchoring down your picking hand is just outside of the bridge, like in the photo. You can rest the palm or base of your hand on the body of the guitar just outside the bridge of the guitar, so you are not muting out any strings. There are other ways to anchor, but this is a great way for beginners.

Hold the guitar neck in your fretting hand in such a way so that the inside of your hand does not touch the guitar. Make sure there is enough space in between the guitar neck and the inside of your hands to slip at least a few pencils through. Keep the thumb steady against the back of the guitar, and in the center of the area in relation to where your fingers are fretting the guitar on the fretboard. Do not allow the thumb to stick way out above the neck of the guitar, and do point it outward / away from you. It should be pointing upward towards the ceiling, and centered in relation to the fingers on the fretboard. Use only your fingertips to fret the strings, not the pads of the fingers. Keep your wrist forward, hanging somewhere physically below the guitar neck, instead of tucked back behind the back of the neck. If you're holding the neck up at a proper angle, this positioning of the fretting hand will be more comfortable than if you're not holding the guitar at a good angle. And be sure to pay attention to your shoulders and arms; make sure they are relaxed! The photo below shows good positioning of the fretting hand in relation to the guitar neck.  

It's easy to get stressed out about all of these things, because there is A LOT to pay attention to in order to have all these things happening simultaneously! But a good guitar teacher will remind you of these things when you're playing, so that these habits become automatic.

Something as simple as how you hold your guitar, or how your hands handle the guitar, can really make a big different between getting good quickly, and struggling. Be sure to keep these things in mind every time you pick up your guitar... you may start to see a big difference in how fast your playing improves!

About the Authour:
Annie Bzdawka is the founder of the Milwaukee Music Academy, located in Milwaukee, WI, USA: https://www.singinglessonsinmilwaukee.com/. She's been singing & playing music professionally for over 26 years, and has gained critical acclaim as a singer and songwriter. She teaches voice, guitar, and piano.

Getting Sick, the Effect of Sickness on the Voice, and How to Deal With It

By Chris Glyde

Being sick will undoubtedly affect your voice. Of course, it varies from sickness to sickness, but generally, you will struggle with the following voice symptoms when you get sick:

1) Lost a couple of notes off the top part of your range

2) An airy voice

3) Trouble flowing smoothly when going through lines

4) Trouble using the mask region of your voice

5) Falsetto sound of the voice

These symptoms are generally caused by the creation of mucus within the body and the inflammation of certain body parts (lymph nodes and the naval cavity) that restrict the flow of air or affect your ability to sense the appropriate amount of air. When this creation of mucus and this inflammation occurs, people generally tend to overcompensate with the sound by pressing too much air through the vocal chords. But when the mucus starts to break up or separate, this causes a lot more air to get through. This can mess up the passages and you can lose the top notes of your range, because your head voice will only sound like a falsetto.

The best way to deal with these particular symptoms is to use some of the traditional methods of fixing your alignment. However, there are certain tactics that you should avoid. If you have a headache, I would try to take any over-the-counter medication at least an hour before a performance. Medicine like ibuprofen can also affect the voice. If you're having flu/cold symptoms, I would definitely have some warm tea on hand. You can also use mucus relief pills an hour before the performance. This is the general advice, but I honestly notice a difference unless I give it an hour-and-a-half to two hours. Judge your own experience wisely, because everyone is obviously affected differently by certain drugs.

Either way, the warm tea should help you in this situation, because it will help clear the mucus out. Your main job if you're sick is just to open the airways as best as you can. You're going to need to use some sort of nasal spray in order to open the nasal passage, as it is important for the mask region of the voice (those brighter tones) and does make it easier to hit those high notes. Remember to drink lots of water, too, because you definitely need as many advantages available to you as possible when singing while sick.

Another great suggestion in terms of preparing for a sick voice is to simulate a situation in which you need to sing through the aliment. On days when you're feeling healthy, practice singing without the assistance of the mask region of the voice in order to see how it feels, and then practice with the limitation in place.

The best way to help you become better at singing when sick (because if you're touring and constantly changing climates, it's going to happen) is to simply practice even when you're sick in order to get used to how it feels. Many people stop practicing the minute they realize that they've gotten a cold or other ailment, and this is a problem for many reasons.

What happens when you're performing while sick? Well, if this is the first time you've ever had to sing while sick, then you're in for a rude awakening. It's actually better for your voice to sing through the illness, because it keeps the flexibility in your chords, and when you get better, your voice will still be as strong as it was before you stopped (or even stronger). The only illness that I don't sing through is a head cold, because if your head is killing you every time you open your mouth, you should probably stop singing.

About the author


Chris Glyde is a vocal coach in Rochester, New York: https://rochestervoicelessons.com/. If you're looking for voice lessons that can help strengthen your voice and consistently deal with the other issues that singers face, then check out his website at the link above.

Common Types of Slash Chords and How They Function Harmonically

by Dennis Winge

A slash chord is a chord with a note other than the root in the bass. If the bass note is in the chord, it is considered an inversion of the chord. However, if the note is outside the chord, you must understand how it functions harmonically in order to determine an appropriate voicing.

Let's explore some of the common slash chords and how they function harmonically. I am going to open a random fakebook (I chose "The Ultimate Pop/Rock Fake Book, 4th edition) and flip the pages until I see a song that uses slash chords (in this case, p. 319). The song "Little Jeannie" by Elton John is the example and it's in Bb.

It makes sense that the composer is a pianist because it is much easier for them to compose with slash chords than guitarists because they can simply play the bass note with the left hand and the chord with the right. It is very valuable for guitarists to learn about slash chords so they can make informed decisions about how to use them so can be as harmonically expressive as pianists.

I will deal with each of the slash chords used in this song individually:

Eb/Bb - This is an "second inversion" Eb chord. In other words, the 5th is in the bass. On guitar if you chose to leave the Bb out and just played the Eb chord, there would be no harm done, especially if there is a bass player playing with you. But the voicing is easy enough: play an Eb barre chord at the 6th fret and with the first finger, play the Bb underneath it on the 6th string.

F/A - This is a "first inversion" F chord, as the 3rd is in the bass. Again, if you just played an F chord, that wouldn't be a big deal. Or, you could simply play the open 5th string underneath a 4-note open F chord, as in the first of these possibilities:

Ab/Eb - This is a "second inversion" Ab chord. If you play a barre chord at the 4th fret and don't hit the 6th string root of ab, then your lowest note will be the eb and you're in business.

Bb/F - "Second inversion" Bb chord, which could be played at the first fret adding a low f or at the 6th fret leaving out string 6. (These are similar to some of the previous voicings. Working it out for yourself is better than reading a chord diagram.)

C/G - Same thing here: a "second inversion" C chord. Work out the fingerings in open position, 3rd fret, and 8th frets.

Eb/F - This is the first chord we see whose bass note is not part of the chord. It functions as an F9sus because the eb, g, and bb notes of the Eb chord are the b7, 9, and 4th of the key of F, which we now have to analyze the intervals according to because that is the root note of the chord. Knowing this theory means that, if in a pinch you had to play F7sus, that would be fine. It wouldn't have the 9th in it, but that's ok. On the other hand, if there is a bassist playing f then you could just play the Eb and leave it at that.

Note: When you see a bass note that is a whole step up from a major chord, it functions as a 9sus chord to that bass root.

Another page (p. 254) that has "I Won't Last a Day Without You" by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols shows an both Am/D and Am7/D. The Am has a, c, and e which is the 5th, b7th, and 9th to a D root. Thus, Am/D = D9 (no3rd) = D7sus2. The Am7 add the note g which is the 4th to the D root. Thus, Am7/D = D9sus. In reality you could most likely treat them both as Am7/D and sneak the g note in whether it's technically in the chord name or not. Boiling down even further, playing D7sus or even Dsus would also work.

Note: When you see a bass note that is a fourth up from a minor chord, it functions as a 9sus chord to that bass root.

It is also possible to see a slash chord such as G/F. Don't confuse this with F/G. They mean two completely different things. G/F means the chord is G7 with the 7th in the bass. If the chord was G/F# it would mean Gmaj7 with the 7th in the bass.

Note: When you see a bass note that is a whole or half step below a major chord, it turns that chord into a major or 7th chord.

The same is true for minor chords. Gm/F becomes Gm7 (3rd inversion), and Gm/F# becomes the 3rd inversion of a Gm(maj7), which simply means root, minor 3rd, 5th and major 7th.

Note: When you see a bass note that is a whole or half step below a minor chord, it turns that chord into a minor 7th or a minor-major 7th, respectively.

Other slash chords in this song are G(add9)/B, G(add9)/D which are the first and second inversions of a Gadd9, plus F/G and C/D which are similar to Eb/F we saw previously. So if this seems overwhelming, there are only a few common patterns to learn, and you'll see them over and over again.

Below is a summary of every possibility for slash chords after C and Cm. Some of them look complicated, and in certain cases I left the space blank because it was easier to conceive of the slash chord than think about the ambiguous function that is produced. Keep it simple: the ones to memorize are starred.

Example ---- Function:

C/Db ----- Dbmin(maj7)b5

C/D* ----- D9sus (no 5th)

C/Eb ----- Eb6b9

C/E ----- C, first inversion

C/F* ----- Fmaj9(no 3rd)

C/Gb, C/G ----- C, second inversion

C/Ab ----- Abmaj7#5

C/A ----- Am7

C/Bb* ----- C7, third inversion

C/B* ----- Cma7, third inversion

Cm/Db ----- Eb13, third inversion (Eb6 is same as Cm)

Cm/D ----- D7b9sus

Cm/Eb ------ Eb6 = Cm, first inversion

Cm/E ----- Cadd#9, first inversion

Cm/F* ------ F9sus(no 3rd) = F7sus2

Cm/Gb, Cm/G ----- Cm, second inversion

Cm/Ab* ----- Abmaj7

Cm/A* ----- Am7b5

Cm/Bb* ----- Cm7, third inversion

Cm/B* ----- Cmin(maj7), third inversion

About the Author: Dennis Winge is a pro guitarist and educator living in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. For guitar lessons in Ithaca, NY be sure to check out his school: https://guitarlessonsithaca.com/

Don't make it too hard on yourself... but don't make it too easy!

Written by: Bruno Gonçalves

One major influence when learning guitar is how we talk to and judge ourselves. There are perfectionists, who wants everything to sound impressive or flashy when they just learnt something new... and on the other side you have the slack group, who doesn't practice all that much but pick up the guitar when they are feeling like it.

So what team wins? Team perfect or team slack? The answer is neither. Pushing ourselves too far and too hard, or not pushing ourselves at all isn't the answer to get the ball moving. Both groups usually quit sooner or later, because of major frustration and lack of progress. So how can you be on the middle group, the ones who get things done and develop their guitar playing?

Maybe you heard it before that you need to create a pull instead of pushing yourself to do things. That's true because we don't do what we need, we do what we want. I bet you have a friend who says "I need to start exercising" all the time, and even with a thousand reasons to do so, he never actually do it. That happens because he doesn't want to exercise, he 'only' needs.

When we can join together the 'need' and the 'want', that's when the real magic happens. Also, it's easier than it sounds. Let's check out 3 major ways to join our needs with our wants by changing the way we look at practice.

Failure is GOOD

As said by Robben Ford, "... don't be afraid to screw up! (...) One of the key issues to learning is making mistakes ... if you're not making mistakes, you're probably not having a very good time"

I see this all the time with my students. They can't get an exercise or a guitar solo part right and get mad about it. I can see their face muscles tense up, the fingers become stiff and they usually exhale loudly. I tell them all the time, the effort is what matters. You won't master or play perfectly something that you just learned or something you're trying to learn for only a few weeks.

What's really interesting for me is that we know it doesn't work that way, so why do we get mad? If a teacher in a regular school gave a test to the class only 5 minutes after they learned something new, do you think anyone would pass or get all the questions right? No and no.

When you fail, it is a clear sign that you are TRYING. You are putting the time in and working for it. Skill and knowledge doesn't grow on trees, and we know it. Without practice, there are no masters or teachers. People who don't try, don't fail. It's simple as that.

Effort = Progress

If you're just starting out or if you've playing guitar for a few years, we need to adjust expectations so we don't get sidetracked (or beaten) by anger and frustration. Of course setting goals and dreaming of the skill level we want to reach is crucial to growth and focus... But the real fulfillment has to come from effort, discipline and commitment.

You won't master an exercise, learn a hard song, break your speed barrier or write a killer song every single day, but you will eventually get all those things to happen more often IF you commit, have discipline and put effort into it. Your body doesn't change on the same day you go to the gym, but if you keep at it for a few weeks you will be able to spot the difference. It's the same thing with the guitar.

The more you play, study, listen to music you love, play with other musicians and practice, the more capabilities and knowledge you gain. That knowledge will solve your problems, change your approaches and eventually you will be able to do what you wanted all along!

Here's a quote I love by Albert Einstein: ""The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them."

Give yourself some slack (but not too much)

A quote by Joe Polish (one of the marketing geniuses of today's world) says "The time to stop working is when work is no longer working." And why's that?

There are days that completely depletes us, leaves us without any energy or power to do anything at all. Pushing our way through and trying to play exhausted or forcing the mind to learn new things when we're feeling really bad or tired only makes the brain relate guitar with bad feelings.

Like I said in the beginning, pushing isn't the answer. We need to create a pull, and that pull only comes from the same 3 things we already covered: effort, discipline and commitment.

We are all human, after all. We can't be 100% productive every single hour of every single day, especially if we don't have discipline. It is how it is, we need to give ourselves some slack when it is needed, but we also need to get it done as often as possible.

The most important thing in those cases, for me, is to be flexible. There are days I schedule 1 hour to practice, but I barely make it through the first 20 minutes. And there are days when I schedule only half an hour and end up practicing 2 hours or even more, achieving an insane amount of things!

Finishing up

My practice goals are something like this: I practice as many days as possible. I don't put a minimum practice time, and I don't make it rigid (practice every day). You know what happens? I play at least 90% of the week, and most of the days for longer than I had planned initially.

Consistency is the key to develop anything in life, and it can be achieved through discipline, commitment and effort. Try applying the points discussed here into your playing, and see how you can improve faster and stop giving yourself too much slack or pushing yourself too hard.

About the author: Bruno Gonçalves is a guitar teacher, pro musician and digital effects enthusiast from Ribeirão Preto, Brazil. To find out more about his work or read more articles, you can visit his website: https://bgsmusical.com.br/

What is the point in learning the fretboard or music theory?

You may have been wondering why you should learn this and you may not want anything to do with music theory or fretboard knowledge. Or you may be the kind of person who learns music theory because you are interested in the theory for the sake of the theory but not actually do anything useful afterword. Either way I want to talk to about why learning this is good. Because if you don't know why you are learning something or what you are learning is not useful there would be no point in learning it.

Why learn the notes in chords for example? Here is why this is useful:

You will know what notes sound good over it without even playing!

Why? Because any note that is in the chord or arpeggio that is being played will sound good over it! For example if there is an Em chord playing, the notes in the chord is E, G B. If you play E, G or B over this chord it is going to sound good every single time!

Now what note you should play depends on what emotion you want to express, as different notes over a chord expresses different emotions. I won't go into detail about this in this article but sometimes if you want to express certain things like darkness, sadness or fear or any other kind of emotion that is not a positive one, you may want to AVOID the notes in the chords and play notes that aren't in the chords.

What you do is up to you but if you don't know what notes are in what chords and where to find them you will have no idea what you are doing. When you do know this, writing songs and improvising will become way easier and more fun.

Why know scale patterns, and where the notes are on the guitar?

You will have the freedom to play all over the guitar neck!

If you know where all the notes are on the guitar and if you know your scales all over the guitar neck, you will be able to play in all areas of the guitar!

Now combine having freedom to play all over the guitar neck, know exactly what you are playing and knowing what notes will sound good in each chord in the chord progression will do. You will sound AMAZING at improvising and soloing.

Why know what chords are in what scales and what notes are in what scales/scale patterns?

You will be able to write great songs!

Think about it, if you know what chords are in what scales and in what keys you will have the ability to write many songs.

Now add on the skill of knowing what notes sound good in each chord of the progression and later what notes express what emotion over each chord.

Now add the freedom to play anywhere on the guitar and know instantly where those notes are!

You can now be a good musician!

To become a GREAT musician that is where ear training comes in, if you know what each chord sounds like and what each scale you use sounds like, you can play anything that you imagine in your head and find it on the guitar instantly.

If you have all these skills as well as other skills I haven't covered, you can truly become the great musician that you have wanted to be all these years.

About the author: Jake Willmot is a guitar instructor in Exmouth, Devon and he has always loved playing the guitar. Before he played the real guitar he played Guitar Hero games when he was just a kid. He has not played since beating Expert mode!: https://devonguitarlessons.com/