MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day Music: 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

MO - Mother's Day Music - 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

Mother’s Day is a day to show appreciation to the special woman who raised you. But flowers and traditional gifts aren’t the only way to show your mom you love her. Here, guitar instructor Matt. K has put together five guitar songs that are perfect to sing for your mom…

When it comes to Mother’s Day and certain holidays, sometimes us musicians can’t afford the traditional gifts, like a bouquet of flowers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give our mothers something special.

What better way to show appreciation for mom than playing her a song? She will love it more than anything else you can give her. If you don’t end up writing your own Mother’s Day song, there are plenty of songs to choose from.

I’ve put together a list of five guitar songs. I selected from different genres, so no matter what type of music your mom is into, you’re sure to find a song that that she will love!

“Mama I’m Comin’ Home” – Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne is known for his heavy metal and his rock star antics (just search “Ozzy bat incident” on Google), but on his album “No More Tears,” Ozzy decided to slow it down and write a brilliant ballad.

Although this song is not about his actual mother, it’s still one of the best Mother’s Day songs.

Here is the tab of the intro on guitar:





If you want to learn to play the rest of the song, you can find the tabs here.

“Mama Liked the Roses” – Elvis Presley

In 1970, the king of rock “n” roll released “Mama Liked the Roses.” It was originally released as a B-side, but charted in the top 100, and became an Elvis stand by. It’s a sad, beautiful song about his late mother.

Here are the chords for the chorus:

C Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses she grew them in the yard
Dm E7 A7
But winter always came around and made the growing way too hard
Dm G7 C A7
Oh mama liked the roses and when she had the time
Dm E7 A7
She’d decorate the living room for all us kids to see

Click here for the rest of the chords.

“Dear Mama” – 2Pac

Tupac released “Dear Mama” as a single in 1995. The song climbed the charts quickly and is still considered one of his best songs.

It’s about his mother and his appreciation for everything she did for him, and lucky for us, it features a guitar in the hook.

The riff is below, play this along with the video.

E |————————————————–15h17-15-|
B |——————————-14————————–|
G |———–13—-x—————————————–|
D |–15h16————(16)———————————– |
A |———————————————————–|
E |———————————————————–|

“Mother” – Danzig

“Mother” by Danzig does not fit the mold of the other songs. It’s not about how much he appreciates his mom, but rather a warning to mothers about himself.

Definitely not your traditional Mother’s Day song, but it rocks, and it might be funny to play for mom!

Note: I only suggest this one if your mom likes to rock, and has a sense of humor.



Get the rest of the chords here.

 “Dear Prudence” – The Beatles

This is not a Mother’s Day song, but it’s my mother’s favorite song, so I had to add it to the list.

It’s a beautiful song off of the White album, and if you perform it for your mother, you can’t go wrong. Almost everyone loves this song.

I’ve included the tab for the verse and you can find the rest of the song here.

e|2—— ——- ——- ——-|2—— ——- ——- ——-|

e|0—— ——- ——- ——-|3—— ——- ——- ——-|

Whether you’re an experienced guitarist or you just started lessons, you can take your pick from these five guitar songs and give your mom a mother’s day concert she’ll never forget!

Which guitar songs do you like to play for your family and friends? Let us know in the comments below!

Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

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how to play guitar like prince

How to Play Guitar Like Prince | A Tribute to a Music Legend

how to play guitar like prince

The world was stunned on Thursday morning when news broke that music legend Prince had died at the age of 57.

Fans, celebrities, and fellow musicians took to Twitter to share their reactions, memories, and condolences. Shortly after, various tributes sprung up all over the internet, as the world mourned the music icon.

One of the best ways to honor the late star is to share his (many)talents. Celebrate Prince and learn to play his famous guitar licks in this video from Jonathan B

How to Play Guitar Like Prince

how to play guitar like prince

Want to see these guitar licks and techniques in action? Check out Prince’s Super Bowl XLI performance here!

We’ll never forget Prince and his contributions to music and the world. What’s your favorite Prince song? What will you remember most about the legendary musician?

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

Photo by Sound Opinions

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jazz guitar scales

How to Play Jazz Guitar Scales | 10 Scales Every Guitarist Should Know

jazz guitar scales

You don’t have to be a big jazz fan to boost your guitar skills with some jazz techniques. In this guest post, Matt Warnock from teaches you 10 must-know jazz guitar scales. 

Even if you’ve never played jazz guitar before, you’ve probably come across numerous articles and lessons exploring jazz guitar scales.

There seems like an endless mountain of scales to learn when exploring jazz on the fretboard, and they all come with strange names and sound even stranger.

If you’ve ever wanted to explore jazz guitar soloing, but were overwhelmed by the amount of scales to learn, or even where to start, then this lesson is for you!

In this lesson, you’ll learn 10 essential jazz guitar scales, how they’re built, how to play them on guitar, and how to use them in your guitar solos.

There are more scales to learn if you go further with your jazz guitar studies, but these 10 scales are more than enough to get a jazz sound in your solos.

To help you learn these jazz guitar scales from a theory perspective, each scale will have a three-point breakdown of its construction and application.

This breakdown works like this:

  1. Interval Pattern: How to build the scale.
  2. Used Over: What chord to use this scale over.
  3. Sounds Like: What the scale sounds like over that chord.

Once you’ve learned the theory behind any of these 10 jazz guitar scales, you’ll be ready to take them to the fretboard and add them into your jazz guitar solos.

Now it’s time to begin learning these 10 jazz scales, working them from a technical perspective, and using them to jazz up your guitar solos in any genre of music.

Dominant Bebop Scale

The first jazz scale that you’ll explore is one of the most jazz sounding scales out there, the dominant bebop scale.

This scale is built by adding a major 7th passing tone to a Mixolydian scale, creating an 8-note scale that’s used to solo over dominant 7th chords.

Here’s the interval pattern for the dominant bebop scale.

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 3 4 5 6 b7 7
  2. Used Over: 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7th Chord

With that knowledge under your belt, it’s time to take this scale to the guitar. The first step is to listen to the scale in a one-octave shape.

You can also play this one-octave scale in order to begin taking the dominant bebop scale onto the guitar fretboard.


jazz guitar scales

To help you take this scale further on the fretboard, here are several two-octave shapes that you can practice in the woodshed.

Be sure to work these dominant bebop scale shapes with a metronome as well as solo with them over backing tracks in your studies.

jazz guitar scales

One of the best ways to work scales is to learn jazz guitar licks that use those scales in their construction.

Here’s a sample dominant bebop lick that you can learn, work with a metronome, and add to your soloing practice routine over backing tracks.


jazz guitar scales


Make sure to practice using this lick in your soloing, rather than only working it with a metronome. Jazz soloing is a learned skill, so practice just like you practice learning scales in your guitar practice routine.

Minor Bebop Scale

You can also explore a minor key bebop scale, which is used to solo over M7 chords in a jazz context.

Here’s the interval pattern for this eight-note scale, which is built in a similar way to the dominant bebop scale.

Here, you’re adding a passing note to the Dorian scale, which ends up being a Dorian with an added major 7th interval.

  1.  Interval Pattern: R 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 7
  2. Used Over: m7 Chords
  3. Sounds Like: m7 Chord

Now that you know how to build the minor bebop scale, here’s how it sounds and looks on paper.

Give this scale a try to see how it sits on the fretboard and how it sounds when you play it on your instrument.


jazz guitar scales

After exploring this scale in a one-octave shape, you’re ready to take it around the fretboard using these two, two-octave scale shapes.

Make sure to practice these shapes with your metronome and use them to solo over chord changes in your improvisational practice routine.

jazz guitar scales

This sample phrase uses a Pat Metheny inspired run over the m7 chord at the start of the progression, built from the minor bebop scale.


jazz guitar scales


Once you have this lick under your fingers, practicing personalizing this line as you begin to change the rhythm, add notes, take notes away, etc.

ii V Bebop Scale

You can play the minor and dominant bebop scales separately, and you can also combine them to form a nine-note scale that’s used over both m7 and 7th chords.

When doing so, combine the iim7 and V7 chords in a key, Dm7-G7 in C major, for example, and use the extra notes in those bebop scales together.

After combining the two scales, you produce the following interval pattern:

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 b3 3 4 5 6 b7 7
  2. Used Over: m7 and 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: m7 and 7th Chord

Here is the nine-note ii V bebop scale on paper, so you can get your fingers and ears around this chromatic sounding jazz guitar scale.



jazz guitar scales

To take things further, here are two different ii V bebop scale fingerings that you can work with a metronome and solo in your improv practice routine.


jazz guitar scales

To finish off your intro to the ii V bebop scale, here’s a ii V I lick that uses this scale to solo over the first two chords in the progression.


jazz guitar scales

When you’re ready, make sure to take this lick to other keys, which will allow you to apply this phrase to your solos in any key that you’re playing in on a tune.

Melodic Minor Scale

The melodic minor scale is used in many styles of music, though in jazz it differs from its classical music cousin.

In classical music, you play one version of the scale ascending and one version descending.

But in jazz, you only play the ascending version of the scale, which you can see in the interval pattern below.

You can then use this version of melodic minor, often called jazz minor, to color m7 chords in your solos, giving them a mMaj7 sound along the way.

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 b3 4 5 6 7
  2. Used Over: m7 Chords
  3. Sounds Like: mMaj7 Chord

Here’s how the melodic minor scale looks and sounds on the staff. Give this scale a try to see how it sounds compared to the other minor modes you know.


jazz guitar scales

To help you take this scale to the guitar, here are two, two-octave melodic minor scale shapes that you can practice in 12 keys on the guitar.

*Make sure to put on a backing track and work on soloing with this scale in the improvisational section of your routine.

jazz guitar scales

Lastly, here’s a common application of the melodic minor scale in a jazz context, used to solo over a iim7 chord in a ii V I chord progression.

The phrase in bar one of the line is a common melodic minor lick, one that you can extract from this longer line and use in other musical contexts.


jazz guitar scales
Once you have this lick under your fingers, make sure to practice soloing with it over various m7 chords, keys, and tempos.

Lydian Dominant Scale

The next scale is one of the most popular scales in jazz, the 4th mode of melodic minor, otherwise known as the Lydian dominant scale.

This scale is used to color your 7th chord lines by bringing out the 7#11 sound over those chords.

Here’s the interval structure of Lydian dominant so you can get your fingers and ears around the theory behind this popular jazz scale.

  1. Interval Pattern: R 2 3 #4 5 6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7#11 Chord

Here is that interval breakdown on paper,so you can see and hear this scale as you introduce your fingers and ears to the Lydian dominant scale.


jazz guitar scalesNow that you know how to build the Lydian dominant scale, you can take it to the fretboard with these two-octave scale shapes.

jazz guitar scales

Here is a sample lick that uses a classic Lydian dominant sound over the V7 chord in a ii V I in F major.

If you dig the phrase over C7, feel free to extract that and use it over other chords and in other musical situations in your solos.


jazz guitar scales

Make sure you work this lick with a metronome, in various keys, as well as add it into your solos.

Learning how to improvise, in jazz or any genre, is easier when you practice improvising in the woodshed.

Altered Scale

You’re now going to explore one of the most famous jazz guitar scales, the altered scale, so named because it outlines the 7alt chord in your solos.

This scale, the 7th mode of melodic minor, produces the chord 7(b9,#9,b5,#5), which is shortened to 7alt in lead sheets and chord charts.

Here’s how the altered scale looks on paper.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 b3 3 b5 b6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th and 7alt Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7alt Chord

Now that you can build an altered scale, get your fingers and ears around this new scale with the following one-octave fingering.


jazz guitar scales

To take this scale around the fretboard, here are two altered scale shapes that you can work with a metronome and add to your solos over backing tracks.


jazz guitar scales

The sample lick for this scale uses a classic altered scale pattern over the second bar, C7alt, of the ii V I lick in F minor.

If you enjoy that part of the phrase, you can pull it out of this lick and apply it to other contexts in your soloing, just the second bar.


jazz guitar scales

When working on this, or any lick, make sure to personalize it by changing the rhythms, adding notes, and taking notes away.

Phrygian Dominant Scale

You’ll now look at the 5th mode of the harmonic minor scale, otherwise known as the Phrygian dominant scale.

Harmonic minor modes are rarely used in jazz soloing, with the exception of the 5th mode, which is used all the time to bring a 7b9,b13 sound over 7th chords.

Here’s how the interval pattern lays out for the Phrygian dominant scale.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 3 4 5 b6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th and 7alt Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7b9,b13 Chord

To introduce your ears and fingers to this jazz guitar scale, here’s how the Phrygian dominant scale sounds and looks on paper.


jazz guitar scales

Now that you know how to build this scale, here are two Phrygian dominant scale fingerings that you can use in your technical and soloing workout.

Once you have both of these shapes under your fingers, work on moving between the two shapes in your solos to cover more of the fretboard in your improvisations.

jazz guitar scales

To finish your introduction to this scale, here’s a lick with the Phrygian dominant scale outlining the C7 chord in the second bar of the phrase.


jazz guitar scales

Make sure to practice this lick in different keys and at various tempos, as well as adding it into your solos to work it into your improvisations.

Mixolydian b9 Scale

Moving on, you’re now going to learn the 5th mode of the harmonic major scale (1 2 3 4 5 b6 7), which is referred to as the Mixolydian b9 scale.

This scale gets its name because if you take a Mixolydian scale and lower the 2nd (9th), you produce the 5th mode of harmonic major.

You can use this scale to color 7th chords, as you bring a 7b9 sound to your dominant chord soloing in a jazz (or other genre) solo.

Here’s how the Mixolydian b9 scale looks on paper.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 3 4 5 6 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7b9 Chord

Now that you know how to build this scale, here’s the Mixolydian b9 on paper so you can see and hear the interval structure.

Don’t forget to play through this scale in the one-octave fingering below, to give your ears and fingers a chance to explore this sound before moving on.


jazz guitar scales

To help you take the Mixolydian b9 scale around the fretboard, here are two, two-octave shapes that you can learn and apply to your guitar solos.

jazz guitar scales

Taking this scale into the improvisational realm, here is a ii V I lick in F major where the Mixolydian b9 scale is used to color the C7 in bar 2 of the lick.


jazz guitar scales


Once you have this lick under your fingers, work it in 12 keys, at various tempos, and apply it to your soloing practice to get the most out of this lick study.

Tritone Scale

You’re now going to step outside of the usual melodic minor, bebop, and harmonic minor modes, and explore a symmetrical scale.

The tritone scale is built by combining two major triads a tritone apart, like C and F#, on the fretboard.

When you line up those six notes in alphabetical order, you get the following interval pattern and construction.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b2 3 #4 5 b7
  2. Used Over: 7th and 7alt Chords
  3. Sounds Like: 7b9,#11 Chord

Here’s how the tritone scale looks on the fretboard, and sounds, so you can introduce your fingers and ears to this cool, but rare, jazz scale.


jazz guitar scales

Now that you know how to build the tritone scale, and what it sounds like, you’re ready to take this scale to the fretboard.

Here are two, two-octave tritone scale shapes that you can learn, practice in all 12 keys, and apply to your soloing over 7th chords when working with backing tracks.

jazz guitar scales

To finish your intro to the tritone scale, here is a lick that uses the C tritone scale over the C7 chord V7, in a ii V I progression.

Notice the tension this scale creates in the second bar of the lick that’s then resolved to the Fmaj7 chord in the final measure.

Using outside sounding scales, like the tritone scale, can be effective in your solos, but if you don’t resolve them properly they might sound like a mistake.

To paraphrase Stevie Ray Vaughan:

“It’s easy to go outside, it’s really hard to get back inside.”

So make sure to always have a plan to get back to a more stable sound when applying the tritone scale to your solos, to avoid sounding out of place.


jazz guitar scales

Once you have this lick under your fingers with a metronome, practice applying it to your solos over a backing track.

Start by playing the lick as is, then begin to adapt the lick by changing the rhythm, adding notes, taking notes away, etc.

This will allow you to keep the vibe of the lick in your playing, but also personalize the lick along the way.

Augmented Scale

The final scale is an outside sounding scale that you can use to add flavor to your maj7 chords when soloing in the jazz style.

The augmented scale isn’t for everyone, but with the right touch, it can be used to increase the intensity over Imaj7 and IVmaj7 chords in your jazz guitar solos.

To build an augmented scale, you can play two augmented triads a minor 3rd apart, such as C and Eb.

Then, when you lay out those six notes in order, you get the following interval pattern.

  1. Interval Pattern: R b3 3 5 #5 7
  2. Used Over: Maj7 Chords
  3. Sounds Like: Maj7#5 Chord

Here is how the augmented scale looks on paper and how it sounds in a one-octave scale shape.

After listening to the example, play this scale on the guitar to begin to see how it sits on the fretboard.


jazz guitar scales

To help you take the augmented scale around the fretboard, here are two, two-octave augmented scale shapes that you can run through in your practice routine.

Don’t forget to practice these scales with a metronome, as well as over backing tracks, as you work these shapes from a technical and musical standpoint.

jazz guitar scales

Lastly, here is a sample augmented scale lick that you can learn and use in your solos when improvising with this cool sounding scale.

Learn the lick in one key first, then, when you’re ready, bring it to all 12 keys as you work this line across the entire guitar fretboard.

jazz guitar scales

There you have it, 10 jazz scales every guitarist should know and work on in their practice routines.

If you’re looking to add a bit of jazz flavor to your solos, or just step outside the box in your playing, then these 10 scales are just what you need to expand your playing.

If you have any questions about these scales, please post it in the comments section below; I’ll be glad to help you out.

And, if you want to take your jazz guitar playing further, check out my free Beginner’s Guide to Jazz Guitar eBook.

Looking for more jazz guitar lessons? Check out these articles and tutorials! 


mattwarnockGuest Post Author: Matt Warnock
Matt Warnock is the owner of, where over 1 million guitarists have learned to play jazz guitar. As well, he helps music teachers build, develop, and grow their online teaching businesses through his website

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MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

MO - 13 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Child to Practice Music

So your son or daughter has just started music lessons. You’ve found a kind, knowledgeable teacher, set up a practice space, and bought an instrument.

There comes a point in time, however, when your son or daughter simply doesn’t feel like practicing.

To help you avoid endless fights and keep you from pulling your hair out, we’ve put together this collection of strategies from music teachers, bloggers, and child psychologists to help you motivate your child to practice.

Treat Music Like a Different Subject

Think back to when you were in school. You had your academic classes and your after-school activities. You knew your daily routine: Math, English, Science, etc. Then after school: piles of endless homework!

With so many different subjects, it’s no wonder adding time to practice music can seem like a burden to a kid. That’s where you come in — you can help shift your child’s mindset!

Rather than treating music like any other subject, create a distinction so your child sees music as something he or she wants to do. The best way to shift your child’s mindset is to let him or her play an instrument they’re actually interested in.

“If you want your child to be motivated to play an instrument, music needs to be different than other educational subjects,” says Bobby K. from Guitar Chalk. “Your child shouldn’t see music as a forced discipline, like Math or Geography. This ultimately comes down to choosing the right instrument, which is going to be the one the child is excited about and wants to play on his or her own.

“For me, that was the guitar, which had me practicing (voluntarily) three to four hours a day at 11 years old. That couldn’t have happened with piano because piano wasn’t “my” instrument. It was just another subject. But guitar was different in that it felt like play, not school work. Getting your child into a similar situation, where their instrument doesn’t feel like just another school subject, is absolutely critical. If it’s not happening, that might be a signal that it’s time to switch instruments.”

This also means you may need to be flexible. While it can be expensive to allow a child to start and stop several different activities, try to work with him or her to find one he or she enjoys and is intrinsically motivated to practice.

Put Your Child in Control

It’s no secret that when we’re told to do something, we don’t always want to do it. During the course of a day, there are several different people (parents, teachers, older siblings, coaches) telling kids what to do. Add music to that list and it’s no wonder motivation seems to dwindle!

Combat this problem by putting your child in control. Let him or her determine the practice schedule, that way they’re more likely to stick to it.

“Kids hear adults tell them what to do all the time; to catch their attention, let them plan their own practice schedule,”  says Nicole Weiss, LCSW Psychotherapist and Coach. “Start with the end in mind. Basically, you want to get your child to make the decision that he or she needs to practice so that he or she can play the way he or she wants to play. After the decision is made, the parent can help the child research and figure out how often a good musician practices. The child then sets a schedule based on the reality that, to be good, one must practice.”

Not only will this allow your child to feel a sense of control, it will also help him or her to learn the value of practice.

“The child makes the schedule, then the parent reinforces it,” Weiss says. “I’m sure many parents reading this would say…’yeah but will they do that day to day?’ That’s where you come in — but you have more weight in your reminder. It was the child’s desire to make the goal. Additionally, the reward should be for accomplishing little goals. For example: ‘practice every night this week and we can download that song you want.’ Reward the work.”

More: Motivate Your Child to Practice With a Reward System

Help Your Child Understand the Gift of Music

Show your child that playing a musical instrument is a special privilege and an opportunity that isn’t necessarily available to everyone. Teach your child to appreciate music and all it has to offer. Help them discover that music can enhance their life.

“I believe that we’re here in this world to do great things with the gift of our lives, and we’re here to serve others,” says Heather F. from Music for Young Violinists. “Learning to play [the violin] helps us in both of these areas — we’re drawn up into a level of greatness through the discipline required to study this art form, and in this process, we cultivate a gift that we can share with others.”

This also includes helping your child develop a love for music. Take them to concerts or shows, play music at home, and help them discover what they like.

Many adults wish they had stuck with a hobby or endeavor they started as a child, like playing a musical instrument. While this can be a difficult concept for young kids to grasp, teaching them to appreciate music can help them understand why practice is important.

According to this article from MusicTeachersHelper on motivating students to practice, “…I can’t count how many times I’ve heard adults say to me, ‘I quit taking piano when I was young and it was such a mistake. I wish I could go back and take lessons again.’ Parents can help children know the value that musical talent brings to society.”

Don’t Make Practice an Obligation

This one may seem a bit counterintuitive, right? After all, you’ve invested the money in an instrument and lessons, and you want your child to make the most of it. Plus, if your son or daughter wants to be good, he or she needs to practice!

The key here is to not make practice seem like an obligation, as compared to other fun activities. For example, if your son or daughter loves to play video games or play outside, don’t allow him or her to do this until after completing practice.

Using a fun activity as a reward will create the mindset that practice is the obligation that stands in the way of the fun activity, and this could create resentment or dread for practice.

As Why We Teach Piano suggests, “Don’t set an arbitrary amount of practice time, without specific goals, and then reward them with playtime or video games afterwards. This just reinforces the notion that playing piano is not fun and video games are fun.”

Plan Performances

When it comes to any sport, hobby, or endeavor, it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. The same thing applies when it comes to your child learning an instrument; your son or daughter has to have a goal in sight, otherwise, he or she may question the need to practice.

“If you want to keep students engaged and excited about their music education, make sure they’re performing consistently throughout the year,” says Anthony M. founder and author of The Music Parents’ Guide. “There are other profound effects on more scheduled performances for all school programs, as well. We, as parents and teachers, need to foster a growing curiosity and even an excitement about music in our children’s lives. Consistent performances are the best way to do this and continue to motivate our children.”

Not only do performances help to increase excitement, they also work to hold children accountable. Ask any music teacher — even the most unmotivated student will be more likely to practice if it means avoiding embarrassment at a recital!

Let Your Child Choose

Just because you loved playing piano as a kid doesn’t mean your child will love playing just as much. Your child may have other interests, and it’s important to allow him or her to explore different endeavors.

“First of all, I think it’s critical that the child choose the instrument they’re going to learn,” says Matt T. from Unlock the Guitar. “I’m a guitarist, and I’d love nothing more than my son to be interested in learning guitar, but he’s undeniably drawn to the piano. Plus, if an instrument is thrust upon them, practicing it will also be thrust upon them. Letting the child choose the instrument turns this on its head, and into your favor, even if they didn’t choose the instrument you would have liked them to play.”

Be Their Cheerleader

Let your child know you’re his or her biggest fan, especially early on when your child may feel frustrated or discouraged.

Eighty-eight notes school of music suggests listening to your child at home as often as you can and making encouraging remarks about their progress. Also, make sure to ask them how their lessons went.

Take a genuine interest in your child’s musical journey. Your son or daughter will be excited to play for you and show off new skills!

Help Them Engage With Music

Your child is more likely to practice music if he or she feels connected to the process. Help your son or daughter develop an interest and curiosity for music.

To help your child stay engaged, become a part of the process. Whatever you can do to get involved is likely to increase their interest and motivation.

“Motivating your child by reward or punishment will stop working very quickly; instead, help your child get curious about music and develop an inner desire to engage with music,” says Jonas G., the founder of flowkey.”Let your child play around with different instruments. Listen to music and sing together. Your child will naturally want to imitate you, so a big motivation for children to practice is seeing their parents engage with music themselves.”

Create Challenges

Rather than telling your child to practice, help him or her set specific goals and challenges. This will help them progress faster because they’ll work on accomplishing specific tasks or mastering particular skills. This idea can be applied to any instrument.

Practiceopedia author and practice expert, Philip J., has a completely different take: “Don’t ask your kids to ‘practice’ — they won’t know what to do. Instead, give them bite-sized, clear challenges to complete: (1) Work out a fingering for measures 24-35 (2) Gradually speed up section B to 85bpm. (3) Be able to play the left hand of the coda from memory.”

Having trouble coming up with the right challenge? Check out Phillip’s website,, for a huge collection.

Celebrate ALL Accomplishments

Learning to play an instrument is a long journey full of peaks, valleys, and plateaus. While you’ll definitely be proud when you watch your child perform, it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way.

While verbal praise is important, you may also want to create another way to celebrate achievements; familyshare recommends keeping a journal of your child’s accomplishments. When you put it in writing, you’re less likely to forget. If journaling isn’t your thing, you can keep a white board on the fridge, or make a chart that you can display in the house!

Celebrating the little victories will help your child keep a positive attitude when they’re struggling or having difficulty tackling a new concept or song.

Let Them Play Music They Like

While there are always certain signature songs and classics for various instruments, your child will lose interest if he or she doesn’t like the music they’re playing.

Work with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is playing some music they truly enjoy.

According to the Academy of Music and Dance, “As children get to be around 10 years old, sometimes younger, they start to develop preferences for musical style, largely influenced by radio, TV, and whatever they’re most exposed to at home. They will also typically gravitate to whatever their friends are listening to, especially for boys at around age 13 and girls around age 11.”

Use this as a motivational strategy; allow your son or daughter to play at least one familiar song as part of their weekly routine.

Make Practice Fun

This should come as no surprise — no one wants to practice when it’s boring! Incorporate fun games, activities, and challenges, and your child will look forward to practice!

According to PianoDiscoveries, “appropriate goals and positive reinforcement will make practicing fun and rewarding. Very few children are self-motivated in their practice. Most need incentives and reminders to keep them focused and moving forward.”

Ask your child’s music teacher for some creative ways to make practice more fun!

Find the Right Teacher

This brings us to our last strategy and one of the most important: find the right teacher! Although practice is done outside of lessons, if your child connects with his or her teacher, they’re much more likely to practice on their own time.

According to Music Central,”…finding the right teacher will make or break the whole experience. Don’t be afraid to try a new teacher if your child isn’t connecting. The best teachers are usually the ones who not only teach, but know how to be a good friend and mentor to your child.”

Find a teacher who understands your child’s learning style, and a person who’s able to teach concepts in a way that keeps your child interested. When your son or daughter likes his or her teacher, they’ll be more willing to take direction and practice consistently.

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Which of these strategies have been successful for you? Do you have other methods that you use to motivate your child? Let us know in the comments below!

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Video: Nick Jonas “Close” Guitar Tutorial

guitar tutorial

Nick Jonas may have taken some flack lately after a guitar solo gone wrong at the ACM Awards, but  don’t let that fool you, the young musician is a very talented guitarist.

In this guitar tutorial, State College, PA guitar instructor Jonathan B. teaches you how to play Nick’s new song “Close”.

Before you watch the video, make sure you have a basic understanding of the following guitar concepts:

Use the lesson navigator (included in the video) to jump to specific sections and practice different skills.

Nick Jonas “Close” Guitar Tutorial


Looking for more guitar tutorials? Here are some more video lessons!

Do you have any requests for our next guitar tutorial? Share them with us in the comments below!

Jonathan BPost Author: Jonathan B.
Jonathan B. is a guitar instructor, Temple University Music Theory graduate, and YouTube creator living in State College, PA. Learn more about Jonathan here!

Photo by Brennan Schnell

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Guitar Theory

Guitar Theory: Your Secret Weapon

guitar theoryWhen you’re learning guitar, make sure you don’t shy away from learning music theory. While it may seem complex to a beginner, it will help you take your playing to a whole new level. Here, Chicago, IL. guitar instructor Morgan S. shows you how you can use guitar theory to boost your playing… 

This article will show you how you can apply guitar theory to your creative style, to what you already know about guitar, and to your ear to hear common patterns and themes in music from your favorite artists and bands.

Overall, this article will show you how to use guitar theory to solidify what you already know about guitar, with a new learning method that uses theory as a linguistic tool and as a foundation to help you achieve your music goals.

How Guitar Theory Boosts Your Playing

While I’ve been playing guitar for 10 years, I have only applied what I know about guitar theory for the last five years. I found that I could apply what I know about guitar to learn more about theory and in turn, use theory to learn more about the guitar.

I learned scales and the names of the notes on the guitar, but I never saw the connection. Learning guitar theory has taught me to know the key I’m using to play. When you know the key, you know the appropriate notes. If you know the appropriate notes, you can avoid the sour notes! This is incredibly useful to improvise a guitar solo.

Theory is important for guitarists for many reasons. I’m sure you’ve had moments where you’ve thought “wow that riff sounds great, what’s a good bass line to play over that instead of the root notes?” Guitar theory can help you in these situations. Knowing the key tells you what type of notes to play, what type of chords to create, and how you can manipulate chords to tailor your style.

How to Use Guitar Theory

Take a look at a G major barre chord. Your first, third, and fourth finger play a G power chord, playing the notes of G, D, and an octave G. Continuing with the rest of the chord, your second finger plays a B note. Your first finger then barres the rest of the third fret, covering another set of notes: D and G.

So collectively, playing a G major chord is simply playing a combination of octaves between the notes of G, B, and D.

G,B, and D are the first, major third, and fifth of a G major scale, otherwise known as a major triad. So if G,B, and D are taken care of in a G major scale, we’re left with A, C, E, and F#. So, G-1, A-2, B-3, C-4, D-5,E-6, and F#-7th.

Not only do we have seven notes to choose from if we want to solo in G major, we can also use these seven notes to see what kind of chords we can make in G major.

Every chord we play in G major HAS to have those exact notes. Not Eb, not C#.. the only sharp note is the sharp F (start looking at the circle of fifths linked with the article).

Here’s a video to help you understand how to play a G major barre chord:


As we go along the G major scale, let’s list the types of chords for each note:

G is obviously major, A is minor, A major would have C# as the third, but we need to keep our C natural since we’re in the key of G major.

Next is B minor, again Eb would be the third of B major, but we need to flat that major third to D to stay within G major. Keep applying the rules to each note; eventually, you can list your chords for G major like this:

  • G – Major
  • A – Minor
  • B – Minor
  • C – Major
  • D – Major
  • E – Minor
  • F# – Can be diminished, augmented (a lesson for another time).

Now, within any of these chords, you can manipulate single notes to create different versions of a chord. For example, the G major. G, B, and D. How about we throw in an F# to give it a sweet, major seventh sound?

More: Guitar Theory Basics: Understanding Keys

 Use Guitar Theory to Learn New Songs

Another reason I like guitar theory is because you can use it to learn a song by another artist. When you know the key, you can

When you know the key the artist is using, you can see when he or she might step out of a key, or change a melody to activate the rules of theory.

I love this because it gives you an opportunity to learn from your favorite guitarists and recognize when they challenge the art of writing music.

This is the most valuable part of guitar theory (in my opinion); it’s such a great tool to use to learn from others.

Guitar Theory: Your Secret Weapon

Theory is almost like the language of music, and when you know theory while listening to your favorite songs, you can understand the artist  and see what he or she is telling you through melodies and chords.

Work with your teacher and ask about guitar theory. Then, it’s up to you to listen and learn technique, styles, and methods from your favorite songs and artists!

Morgan S.Post Author:
 Morgan S.
Morgan teaches bass guitar, drums, guitar, and music theory in Chicago, IL. He is working towards his Associates Degree in fine arts at the College of DuPage and studying music business at Columbia College Chicago.  Learn more about Morgan here!

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guitar history

A Look Back: 6 Major Milestones in Guitar History [Infographic]

guitar history

When you’re learning guitar it’s important to learn a little bit about the instrument’s origins. From the early designs to amplification and the story of rock “n” roll, here’s a look back at guitar history from Denver, CO instructor Kirk R

Guitar History: The First Guitar

The old origins of the guitar are rarely talked about. Many people believe that it’s a newly-invented instrument for folk and pop music, however, there were guitars and similar instruments long before familiar instruments like the piano or violin.

Most people believe the guitar evolved from the lute, which was used by troubadours during the renaissance. The lute had four strings which you had to pluck.  Though there were fretted and plucked instruments like the lute around much earlier, it’s safe to say that the guitar, in some fashion, was popular by 1500.

The big difference is that all of the strings were paired, much like on a modern 12-string guitar. Here’s an engraving from 1510 that shows us the existence of these instruments.

guitar history

It probably sounded something like this:

Single-String Guitars

The first major development in the guitar was moving from double-strung (and sometimes even triple- strung) instruments to guitars with only one string per note. It took hundreds of years of playing the double- and triple-strung guitars before the single strings caught on.

Even then, it was only the highest string that was a single at first. The previous tunings for multi-strung guitars were wildly inconsistent and wouldn’t always work for different pieces.

Imagine having to re-string your guitar mid-set! Because of this, the single-string trend caught on and quickly took over after the early 1800s.

A New Design and Steel Strings

Sometime in the 1840s, now famous guitar maker Christian Martin (does Martin Guitars sound familiar?) invented a new way of bracing guitars. The X-brace was stronger and easier to produce than previous designs.

Some found the stiffly-braced tops overly quiet, which resulted in the first production of guitars with metal strings. This was previously next to impossible, as the older designs couldn’t stand up to the tension of metal strings.

Guitar History: Electricity and Amplification

Despite the common misconception, Les Paul did not invent the first electric guitar. George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacker (whose company still bears his name) invented what they called the “Frying Pan” in 1931, about a decade before Les Paul’s prototype.

While there were previous attempts to electrically amplify the guitar, it was not until Beauchamp and Rickenbacker created their magnetic pickup that it became a reality. Beauchamp was a Hawaiian Steel guitarist, which is the genre that truly prompted the creation of the electric guitar. The guitar was a more prominent melodic instrument in Hawaiian style guitar than in many other genres, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hear over the growing bands.

Here’s how we might have heard it played for the very first time:

The First Rock

In 1951, Jackie Brenston, Ike Turner, and the Delta Cats were on their way to record when the guitarist’s amp fell from the roof of the car. (Tip for you future touring band members: rent a big van!)

The speaker cone inside the amp tore from the impact, completely destroying the loud, clean sound. Not willing to give up, and not having money to get a new amp, the band rolled with the new sound and created the first guitar distortion.

The result is this history-making recording of “Rocket 88”.

About five years later, the band Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio made a similar discovery that they could achieve the same tone through loosening electronic components in their amps.

Computers, Internet, and the Guitar Network

I debated including a number things in this section. In the last 60 years, so many things have changed the guitar and the way that it’s played. There are all sorts of computerized effects that began popping up shortly after distortion.

Jimmy Page popularized the idea of bowing an electric guitar. Players like Yngwie Malmsteen took electric guitar virtuosity to a whole new level. But all of these seemed like small steps to me. If I had to pick one thing that has had the biggest impact on guitar playing in the last 60 years, I would bet that you’re using it right now as you read this post!

Most of you reading this have probably not seen Led Zeppelin perform live. You probably weren’t around when the first effects processors were invented. How is it that you get to see videos of Led Zeppelin concerts or hear the first commercial electric guitar model? I think that the internet has helped more guitarists to learn from masters (and less-than-masters) from all over the world than ever before.

Sites like make it easy to see transcriptions from other guitarists of almost any song you might want to learn (not to mention see various versions, transpose, and a host of other tools). YouTube allows us to watch performances or up-close lessons that we would never otherwise have a chance to see, and right here at TakeLessons, you can sign up for live, one-on-one lessons (plus free live online classes for a limited time).

The internet continues to rewrite guitar history, and creates endless opportunities for new players to learn and grow. You can search for artists who inspire you, learn new techniques, connect with other guitarists, and so much more!

guitar history

So now that you know some important aspects of guitar history, it’s time to write your own story. Get started today with a guitar teacher near you

Kirk RPost Author:
 Kirk R.
Kirk is a classical, bass, and acoustic guitar instructor in Denver, CO. He earned a bachelor’s of music in Guitar performance at The College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and he is currently pursuing a masters degree in performance.  Learn more about Kirk here!

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guitar arpeggios

Mastering Lead Guitar: Arpeggios for Beginners

guitar arpeggios

When you’re learning guitar, you will come across different tricks you can add to your playing to add some flavor to your music. Here, Philadelphia, PA guitar instructor Bernard M. teaches you how to spice up your songs with guitar arpeggios…

For many guitar players, learning how to play a memorable solo is a constant journey. A big part of this is knowing what notes to play and when to play them. The first step is to learn how to play a scale over the key of the song (if you’re not familiar with basic scales, check out this article: Guitar Scales 101). The journey does not end there, however, once you’re comfortable playing in key, it’s time to follow each of the chord changes using guitar arpeggios.

Arpeggios are chords played one note at a time, instead of simultaneously. You can think of them as three- to four-note scales made up of chord tones (the tones used to make up any given chord). These types of note collections allow players to imply the chord changes, even when playing alone.

Each passing chord becomes a new opportunity to harness the melodic power of following the chords with their corresponding arpeggios.

What is an Arpeggio?

When we think about the notes in an arpeggio, we’re essentially thinking about chords. Like chords, the two most basic types we must learn are major and minor.

guitar arpeggiosHere are two very basic examples of major and minor arpeggios, mostly for demonstration. These movable shapes are illustrated with each note identified by its interval number, with the root note circled in red.

As you can see, each contains three notes: the root, the third, and the fifth, just like a triad chord. You can also see that the only difference between these two is the major third in the major chord and the minor third a half-step (fret) below in the minor chord.

While arpeggios, like chords, can get much more exotic, these two patterns are the building blocks for all arpeggios.

Guitar Arpeggios on the Fretboard

Now the challenge begins: how to find the right arpeggio to play over the right chord at the right time. The best way to address the mountains of memorization required to do anything on a musical instrument is to master one piece at a time. This means learning one good major and one good minor arpeggio shape.

Here are two shapes I personally love using:

guitar arpeggios

The major C-shape arpeggio looks like an open C chord that we can start with any root note on the A and B strings. Likewise, the minor A-shape follows the pattern of an Am chord, but can be moved and used with any root note on the A and D strings.

As you may have noticed, these two contain almost the same set of notes. You may also have noticed that both fit very nicely with the 4th position of the pentatonic scale.

guitar arpeggiosHalf the battle of playing these notes is learning how they relate to the scales and chords you already know. Practice changing between the 4th position pentatonic scale to these arpeggio shapes to get comfortable with how they fit over each other.

Following the Changes

The chord chart below shows one of the most common chord progressions used by jazz musicians, the ii V progression. Using the arpeggio shapes you just learned, you can easily take your first steps into the world of following the changes.

guitar arpeggios
We start off as usual with our Dm pentatonic (4th position 5th fret) over the Dm chord of the first bar. Once we reach the G in the next measure, we need to play a G arpeggio.

Using the C-shape rooted at the eighth fret of the A string, we get a whole new pallet of colors with which we can paint over the new chord. Due to the relationship between these chords, moving between them feels just like you’re moving your pentatonic scale up a whole step (two frets) every time the chord changes.

When you shift back to the Dm, make sure to emphasize the chord tones contained in the arpeggio (Am shape 5th fret A string).

Play over this backing track and get accustomed to listening for the changes and using guitar arpeggios to shift playing positions. As Obi-wan Kenobi would say, “you’ve taken your first step into a larger world”.

Major and Minor Shapes

Now that we’ve seen the power of this new approach, it’s a good time to present all of our major and minor arpeggio shapes. Again, don’t worry about memorizing all of these patterns at once. Instead, find the ones that you find most useful and work them into your playing.

guitar arpeggios


guitar arpeggios


Each chord type has five different shapes (all named after open chords they resemble according to the CAGED system). If you’re familiar with barre chords, these shapes should look very familiar. Practice playing these patterns; make sure only one note sounds at a time.

Practice playing these patterns; make sure only one note sounds at a time.

Recognizing Intervals

Let’s take a step back from the large-scale patterns and break guitar arpeggios down to their smallest parts; intervals. Knowing the spatial relationship between chord tones on the fretboard (i.e. where the fifth is in relation to the root) is crucial to understanding arpeggios patterns, as opposed to simply memorizing them.

guitar arpeggios

By examining our chord shapes, we notice certain patterns. Each interval (relationship between chord or scale tones) can be thought of as a certain spatial relationship. A fifth is one string below and two frets up the neck. An octave (root note to root note) is two strings below and two frets up.

Minor thirds can be found three frets up on the same string, or one string below and two frets down the neck. Major thirds are located one fret up from minor thirds, four frets up on the same string, or one string below and one fret down.

While these relationships change slightly when the B and high-E strings are involved due to the guitar’s tuning, you will soon get used to the different variations of intervals all over the fret board.

7th Chord Guitar Arpeggios

For every chord, there’s an arpeggio. So what do we play when we encounter an E7 or (god forbid) a Bm7b5? There are different shapes for each of these chords that we can discover by adding and or altering notes in the major or minor patterns.

guitar arpeggios

Above, we see five different types of 7th chords. Perhaps the most common of these is the dominant seven arpeggio that we’d play over chords like E7. Think of it as a major arpeggio with the addition of the minor 7th (b7) chord tone two frets behind the root.

These chords come up constantly, often as alterations to the original key (secondary dominants for those familiar with theory). These arpeggios will allow you to follow alterations from the key without having to over think things.

Next, we see the major 7th and minor 7th arpeggios. To get a major 7th arpeggio, add the natural 7th, one fret behind the root to a typical major arpeggio. Likewise, the minor 7th arpeggio adds a minor 7th (b7) two frets behind the root to a typical minor arpeggio.

Our last two arpeggios show both types of diminished chords: half-diminished (often called m7b5) and fully-diminished (often just called diminished). A half-diminished arpeggio is created when you lower the fifth of any minor 7th arpeggio. This chord is most commonly found as a ii7b5 in minor keys leading to the dominant V chord that in turn leads back to the minor root.

A fully-diminished arpeggio alters the half-diminished by lowering the b7 to a double flat 7 (bb7), which can also be thought of as a natural 6th.

You will likely find these being used as transition chords that take advantage of leading tones to create tension when bridging the gap between more typical chords.

Begin exploring each type of 7th chord arpeggio by learning the single shapes presented above. Once you feel comfortable, you can practice their other four shapes.

Following the Changes with 7th Chords

For our final exercise, we will play over the ‘minor turnaround,’ a common jazz progression that contains both the dissonant half-diminished chord and a minor key dominant V chord borrowed from the harmonic minor scale. This last chord alters one of the tones from the natural minor scale to add tension that pulls the listener back to the minor root.

[Dm Em7b5 A7 Chord Progression]

guitar arpeggios

Begin with a Dm pentatonic scale (try 4th position 5th fret A string), emphasizing the chord tones of the arpeggio. In the next bar, we encounter an Em7b5 chord. Try using the half-diminished C shape rooted on the 7th fret of the A string. This position fits very nicely with our previous pattern, allowing an easy transition.

Finally, we encounter our A7 chord on the last two beats of the second bar. The major 3rd in this chord is an alteration from the original key that acts as a ‘leading tone’ that resolves up a half-step to the root note of the Dm. This creates tension, giving character to the chord progression.

Make sure you emphasize this chord tone and try resolving up when switching back to the Dm. The dominant 7 E shape fits nicely with our other two arpeggios.

Final Thoughts

Guitar arpeggios are complex and challenging, and take a lot of time and energy to master. Don’t get discouraged if you have trouble memorizing arpeggios or following fast changes.

Remember, this is just another tool in your toolbox as a lead guitarist. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the scale; it’s your foundation and your safety net. Think of guitar arpeggios as an extra special ingredient you can use to spice things up.

Look at chord changes to your favorite songs and try to work arpeggios and the strategy of chord following into your playing. Though this may be a daunting chapter in your journey, I guarantee it will take your playing to the next level!

Need some help with arpeggios or guitar techniques? Sign up for lessons with a private guitar instructor!

Bernard M Teacher Post Author: Bernard M.
Bernard M. is a guitar and songwriting instructor in Philadelphia, PA. He teaches lessons online and will travel to his students. Learn more about Bernard here!


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how to make it as a touring musician

How to Make it as a Touring Musician: Sleepmakeswaves Tells All

how to make it as a touring musician

If you’re an aspiring guitarist, you’re going to want to get to know the instrumental post-rock quartet sleepmakeswaves. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, the band kicks off their United States tour this month, behind the release of their new album Love of Cartography.

We had a chance to catch up with Alex Wilson from sleepmakeswaves (bass, keys, electronics), to chat about the new album, and living the dream of being a touring musician.

TL: First of all, congrats on the new album and the tour, and thank you so much for chatting with us!

AW: Thanks for having me. Very excited about our upcoming tour of the United States with The Contortionist, Monuments and Entheos. Only a few days out now.

TL: Following the success of your previous album, what were you looking to do differently with Love Of Cartography?

AW: We wanted to shake things up for ourselves without vastly changing what we were about. One part of that was the process. We tried to bring our stage show into the studio as much as possible by tracking together in a room. Our producer, Nick DiDia, pushed us in that direction and we would be reluctant to make a record differently now.

The other shake-up was the emotional vibe. There was less emphasis on the darker, brooding side of our sound and more push to being euphoric and uplifting. A natural outgrowth of where we were as musicians and people when writing Cartography.

TL: You guys are living the dream of many aspiring musicians; what goes into being a touring musician, the dedication involved, practice, sticking with it when you may not feel inspired?

AW: It’s not so much a thing one does, it’s more like a way of life. There’s practice, alone and with bandmates. There’s admin ­­­— emails, making sure gear works, money stuff. There’s being away from work, home, loved ones and finding ways to keep everyday life humming along OK while that happens.

Most of all, it’s about a mindset I try to cultivate: balancing the fortune of living the dream with the discipline and dedication to not waste the opportunity. Being grateful for music and travelling the world, and gracious in the face of the tougher stuff: getting fired, getting dumped, being broke, and missing home.

TL: Speaking of touring, how do you continue to write new music and practice while on tour? What do you love about being on the road and performing live?

AW: I have to write music on the road or I lose my mind. It’s a way to unwind. On tour, I have my laptop, USB interface, headphones, Ableton Live, amp sims, EZ Drummer and no shortage of guitars. That’s enough to keep me cranking out the riffs. Big chunks of “Emergent”, “Great Northern” and “A Little Spark” were written this way.

For me, a good night on the road is when sleepmakeswaves takes the stage and is firing on all cylinders. There’s a vibe between us and the crowd. Then we get on the bus and talk and drink until 4 a.m. when me, and our drummer Tim, start making sandwiches. I’ve made some very deep relationships touring, have seen amazing parts of the world and shared moments with excellent people all around the world.

TL: How does being an instrumental rock band shift your focus, the way you play and practice , and how you write your music?

AW: I always wrote music sleepmakeswaves-style, I just happened to find the band that would fit the sound in my head when we got together 10 years ago. The instrumental approach fits my muse well because I’m at my best when I’m exploring pure sound and finding new ways to approach the geometries of rhythm and pitch. I have a huge place in my heart for excellent singers and lyrics but I think it’s part of sleepmakeswaves musical path to focus predominantly on the power of instruments and pure sound.

TL: How does music allow you to express yourself? Do you find it harder to create music when you are dealing with personal hardships or is it a great outlet for emotions?

The whole point of music, to me, is to convey emotion. Sometimes the relationship is one of pursuit. I feel an emotion (joy, despair or something we don’t have a name for) and try to nail it down in a song. Sometimes it’s discovery, writing just for the love of music and chancing upon a feeling or vibe that is unintentional but running with it.

Johnny Marr, one of my favourite musicians, called songwriting daydreaming in sound. Emotionally, I love composition because it’s satisfying to create. Live, the volume, audience, and physical intensity of what we do takes me out of everyday thought patterns in a way little else can.

Writer’s block for me has sometimes corresponded with hard times, sometimes with really great stretches in life. There’s a dark and intense side to my personality that I think would be far harder to manage had I not created such a large space for music in my life.

TL: Can you talk a little about your creative process? I know you guys have said originality is a priority, how do you use your musical influences and still maintain your own originality?

AW: That’s really hard to answer, a great deal of the process is intuitive. I view songs as puzzles that need to balance fresh musical ideas with a kind of emotional narrative that will give them shape and impact. So we tend to cycle through ideas and arrangements until things feel exciting for us while satisfying obsessions we have about balance, melody and atmosphere.

For me, originality is good in moderation. I like things to be fresh, but being different just for the sake of it won’t impress me on its own. There’s got to be craft and emotion to give weight to a new idea. Some bands are Radiohead and change all the time and remain brilliant. Other bands are Converge and make the same kind of record each time and remain brilliant.

TL: Many of our readers are beginner musicians, what advice do you have for someone who is just getting started learning an instrument, or who feels discouraged?

AW: Push through the awkward beginnings when your fingers hurt and you don’t want to practice. Because eventually you’ll be good enough to play your favourite songs. And that’s one of the best things ever.

TL: We’d love to share your video for “Great Northern” what would you like our readers to know about the video, can you give us a little background?

AW: It’s made by a friend of ours, Bradley Coomber, who works in the film industry. We told him we wanted a video clip about a kid who travels to space. Because upward motion is heaps inspirational and space rules hard. The results speak for themselves.

Again, a big thanks to Alex and all of sleepmakeswaves for chatting with us about music and guitar. Check out their website to keep up with the latest band news; we wish them the best of luck on their tour!

Now, check out the new music video for “Great Northern”!

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how to practice guitar

How to Practice Guitar in 15 Minutes | An Efficient Practice When You’re Short on Time

how to practice guitar

When you’re learning guitar, you know how important it is to practice. Sometimes, however, you just don’t have time for a full practice session. This doesn’t mean you need to skip practice altogether. In this video, Austin, TX. guitar instructor Aimee B. teaches you how to practice guitar in 15 minutes…

If you want to boost your guitar skills, you need to increase your knowledge of chord voicings. There’s more than one way to play the same chord on the guitar. The good news is that the guitar is made up of a series of repeating patterns.

We will use a system, called CAGED to understand the five positions of a major chord on the guitar neck. Once you learn how to voice one major chord and its relation to the CAGED pattern, you can easily voice the same chord in multiple positions.

How to Practice Guitar in 15 Minutes

One Minute: Centering Visualization

Approach your practice with a calm, positive mind. Take a minute to take a few deep breaths and visualize yourself with your instrument.

This is your time to focus on your practice, so give yourself permission to mentally let go of the other matters in your day.

Three Minutes: Open Voicings of the C, A, G, E, and D Major Chords

Practice voicing the C, A, G, E and D major chords in the open position on the guitar neck.

The open position refers to the area of the first three frets on the guitar neck where you have open (unfretted) strings ringing out.

Practice moving smoothly between each chord. The goal is to memorize the shape of the chord, or the way it looks on the guitar.

guitar practice


Five Minutes: Identify the Root of the C, A, G, E, and D Major Chords in Open Position

Voice a chord and identify the root of the chord by playing only the string(s) where the root is located. The root of the C chord is “C”, the root of the A chord is “A”, and so on.

Again, the key is to think of the shape of the chord and memorize where the roots are within that shape. You don’t need to memorize string and fret numbers.

Use the following to check your knowledge of the roots in each chord:

C Chord/C Shape Roots

B string 1st fret
A string 3rd fret

A Chord/A Shape Roots

G string 2nd fret
Open A string

G Chord/G Shape Roots

Low E string 3rd fret
High E string 3rd fret
Open G string

E Chord/E Shape Roots

Open low E string
Open high E string
D string 2nd fret

D Chord/D Shape Roots

Open D string
B string 3rd fret

NOTE: Instead of thinking of an open string as being open, think of the guitar nut located at the head of the guitar as being a finger holding a position.

In other words, visually approach the nut of your guitar as being another fingered fret.

guitar practice


Eight Minutes: Take One Chord and Move through the Five Shapes on the Guitar (CAGED)

Play the C major chord, starting in open position, and move up (higher) on the guitar neck through the five different shapes of the chord. In all instances, you will play a C major chord.

The notes voiced in the C major chord are C, E, and G. All three of these notes that make up the C chord remain present as you move up on the guitar neck through the five positions. The only thing that changes is how the chord looks, or the shape, NOT the chord itself.

Here’s the easiest way to think of the five chord positions in the CAGED system:

“I’m playing a C chord that looks like a C shape; I’m playing a C chord that looks like the A shape; I’m playing a C chord that looks like the G shape; I’m playing a C chord that looks like the E shape; I’m playing a C chord that looks like the D shape.”

REMEMBER: Where the chord shape ends, the next shape begins!

guitar practice

guitar practice

Repeat Previous Steps for the A, G, E, and D Major Chords

Once you have moved the C major chord through each of the five positions, continue through the CAGED system voicings with a different chord.

For instance, start on an open A major chord. The next shape for the A chord, moving up on your guitar, is the G shape, then E, D, and C.

Guitar Practice Challenge

Take a three-chord song you know in open position, find the next chord shape up on your guitar for each chord, and relearn the song in this new position.

NOTE: Some positions are more friendly to play in than others.

So next time you think you don’t have enough time, remember how to practice guitar in 15 minutes. Don’t let your busy schedule get in the way of your guitar playing journey.

Ready to get started playing guitar? Search here for a teacher near you!

Aimee B.Post Author: Aimee B.
Aimee B. teaches piano, guitar and music theory in Austin, TX. She earned her B.A. in philosophy and art from St. Edward’s University, has worked as a professional musician for over ten years, and has taught over 100 students as a private music instructor.

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