Siz Destructive Beliefs

6 Destructive Beliefs That Hold Beginner Musicians Back

Siz Destructive Beliefs

Do you ever wonder how good your skills would be now if you started practicing a year ago? A question like this should motivate, not dishearten you. In this article, guest writer Elizabeth Kane will take you through six destructive beliefs you might face as you’re learning how to become a musician, and how you can overcome them…


Mind Over Matter

Your mind is a powerful tool. Your thoughts dictate just about every conscious decision you make.

Whether you’re a beginner guitarist who’s just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned singer who’s preparing for an important vocal audition, your thoughts can make or break your self-esteem.

Negative or self-doubting thoughts are mental poison — they can hurt your confidence and stop you from taking risks.

Risks Are Good

As you learn how to become a musician, you’ll soon understand it’s your job to take risks. It’s also your job to bring beautiful music (through passion) to an audience that craves authenticity. For this reason alone, we’ve got to put a stop to these perilous ideas that creep into our minds when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

Are you ready to face them? I’ll help you along.

Six Destructive Beliefs and How to Overcome Them


1) “If only I had…”

We think we need a particular instrument. We imagine learning from a specific teacher. We dream about having more time to practice.

Whatever it is, we have an idea that if only we had this or that, then, and only then, would we become the perfect musician.

But life doesn’t work like this.

Sure, we DO need a quality instrument, a great music teacher, and plenty of practice sessions. However, this “chasing perfection” thought pattern is holding you back from using the resources and skills you have now to become a better musician.

Instead, don’t idealize every step of the process. Take things as they come — you may be surprised by how well it all turns out.

2) “I’ll never be able to do that.”

Too many times we tell ourselves that despite everything we try, we’ll never be able to flawlessly play that piece, nail that audition, or impress that audience.

Naturally, some things do take more practice than others. You might have to work harder than you ever have before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t master the skill you desire at some point.

Think about something that’s ridiculously easy to you now: a skill, sport, or technique you’ve mastered. Remember when you didn’t know anything about it? When you barely even knew where to start?

Keep that in mind the next time a voice creeps in your head telling you there’s no way you’ll ever be able to do that. Time is all you need. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to achieving whatever you want.

3) “If I mess up, ________ will happen…”

Let’s face reality — you’re going to make mistakes. We all do. To be great at what you do, you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.

Try to think about what you’re truly worried about.

Are you worried about someone laughing at you if you make a mistake? What happens if someone does laugh?

Write down what you’re afraid of if you make a misstep. Better yet — try it out! See what really happens when your fear manifests in real life. Overcoming stage fright is easier than you think!

4) “I’m not ready.”

It’s not easy failing, is it?

That’s what we’re really talking about when we say we’re “not ready” to give our skills a try. Failure is tough for every single one of us.

It’s terrifying.

We’ll never be truly ready to fail, no matter how much we’ve practiced, and no matter how much we’ve prepared. Trust me, there’s no giant sign that flashes across the sky saying, You’re absolutely 100% ready! There’s no way you’ll fail this time!”

But we do it anyway.

And with each moment, we defeat our insecurities, one shaky note at a time. We do this until we feel strong and proud, wondering why we were ever nervous in the first place.

5) “I can’t do that until…”

We spend too much time thinking about what we don’t have in order to achieve our goal. But with all the time and energy we spend worried about what we don’t have, we gloss over what we DO have.

What tools do you have now that will help you get closer to your goal? I’ll bet you can think of a few, even if they’re small: organization skills, persistence, optimism, imagination, etc.

Who can you go to for help when you’re struggling and facing unexpected challenges? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend, or even a colleague. It’s important to know, especially for young musicians, that you have direct support when you need it.

What skills have you refined that will help you gather even better skills? Knowing one skill can help you learn another.

Use what you have now, right at this moment, to get to the next step. It’s not always easy and it’s certainly not always glamorous, but that’s how real growth happens: step by step.

6) “I’ll never be as good as him,” or “I’ll never play like her.”

Jealousy is a strong emotion.

When you doubt your own abilities, it’s easy to look at someone else’s highlight reel in comparison to your lousy dress rehearsals.

Everyone has someone they can compare themselves to. There will always be someone who began lessons before you did, performed a piece better than you played, and practiced more than you have.

The key is to measure where you are now to where you used to be — that’s a lot more satisfying. Staying motivated is a key to reducing anxiety during your practice and performance.

These destructive beliefs won’t go away overnight. It’ll take some practice to face these dangerous thoughts and eliminate them from your mind. Just know this — it’s definitely worth fighting for.

ElizabethKanePost Author: Elizabeth Kane
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves helping parents get the music education their child deserves. She is the creator of Practice for Parents, where she discusses what to look for in a music teacher, why kids really hate practicing, and what parents can do to guarantee their child’s success.

Photo by Alex Masters


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[alt] How To Improve Your Guitar Tone Without New Gear

How To Improve Your Guitar Tone Without Buying New Gear

[alt] How To Improve Your Guitar Tone Without New Gear

Want better guitar tone without spending hundreds of dollars on new gear? Guitar teacher Ben M. shares how you can use the settings already on your electric guitar to drastically improve your sound…

When it comes to the electric guitar, players can be relentlessly dedicated to achieving the perfect guitar tone.

Guitar tone (also called guitar sound) is most simply defined as the sound your guitar produces. Guitar tone can be compared to a painting; it is a masterpiece that results from blending different colors together.

In this case your colors are bass, treble, mids, your amplifier, and any effects a guitarist may use.

Guitarists pride themselves on their tone because it is what sets them apart as an artist and gives them their own unique sound.

But don’t be fooled by this brief definition, guitar players can spend countless hours, days, and even weeks carefully sculpting their ideal tone.

However, the good news is that guitar tone is in fact 100% personal and every player, no matter how experienced, has the ability to dial in great guitar tone without spending a fortune on fancy gear (though it is important to have the essentials).

This article focuses on simple ways to improve your tone by simply using all the built-in features your electric guitar already has.

First Steps to Improve Your Guitar Tone

guitar tone controls

When beginning to work on improving your tone it is important to ask yourself a few basic questions:
– What aspects of my current tone do I like?
– What aspects do I dislike? (too dark, too bright, etc)
– Based on my playing style and genre, what aspects of my playing do I want to highlight in my tone (for example: sparkling chords, thick power chords, or clear solo bends)

After analyzing what you’ve discovered, set a goal. Maybe you are trying to imitate your favorite guitar idol’s tone or want to focus on creating your own sound.

Regardless of what your goal is, an important thing to keep in mind (especially for beginners) is to always start with what you have.

How to Use Your Guitar Tone Settings

electric guitar tone settings guitar knobs

While many players may rush to their local music store and walk out with a handful of effects pedals or even a new amp, most players tend to forget one of the most basic aspects of their guitar’s anatomy; the pickup selector switch and the tone and volume control knobs.

Below is a quick breakdown of an electric guitar’s tone settings:

Pickup Selector Switch
Selects which pickup is active on your guitar. Most guitars have three switch positions; some guitars like Fender Stratocasters have five.

Bridge Pickup (farthest down): bright, sparkling sound, lots of treble

Middle Position: warm and shimmery sound, high mids

Neck Pickup (farthest up): full and rounded sound, more bass

Volume Control

Controls the master volume of your guitar, or the amount of signal that will come out of your amplifier.

Tone Control

Controls the brightness or darkness of your guitar’s sound by adding or reducing the amount of bass/treble in the signal.
Bass = darker tone with lots of low end.
Treble = brighter tone with lots of high end and sparkle.

How to Adjust Your Guitar Knobs for Better Guitar Tone

guitar tone knobs les paul

Now that we have established the basics, let’s focus on learning how to use the guitar knobs.

Players of all levels continue to leave their controls dialed up to 10 all the time, restricting them from loads of undiscovered tone possibilities. To make a comparison, that’s like buying a sports car and only driving it only in first gear.

A simple concept that can really help develop a guitar player’s control over their tone is getting into the habit of setting your tones with the volume and tone controls below their maximum levels.

When you dial in your tone with the knobs at 10, you have limited adjustment options. Only being able to turn down the knobs will typically make your sound muddy.

By giving the controls room to expand, you have an array of possibilities if your tone needs adjusting. Below are common ways to use your guitar controls and bring up your guitar playing IQ.

Guitar Knob Techniques

guitar knob techniques

Basic Boost:

The volume knob can act as a boost which can take your guitar from clean sounds for rhythm playing to dirty overdrive tones for soloing. When playing a song keep your volume knob at 6 or 7 when playing chords or verse parts and when it’s time to deliver a rockin’ solo roll up the volume to 10 and you will not only hear a boost of gain (overdrive) but also a volume lift over any other instruments in the song.

Signal Clean Up:

Perhaps your tone is too distorted and you want to reduce the harshness and clean up the signal without changing your amp/effects settings. Simply roll off the volume knob on your guitar a bit and the signal will clean up rather effectively.

Buzz Killer:

How many players have cringed at the level of buzz coming out of your amp? Guitar buzz is commonly caused by poor grounding in your guitar’s electronics and usually requires repairing. But as a quick fix, turning down the volume knob until the hum is quelled can make your guitar sound more pleasing to the ear.

Set Polisher:

If you are in a band, always turn the volume knob down while on stage in between songs to avoid buzz. This makes your set seem much more polished and professional.

Volume Sweller:

A more advanced technique with the volume knob is called swelling. Play a chord or note with the volume knob off and gently roll it back (many players use their pinky on the side of the knob) to let the sound pass through again. Experiment rolling up the knob fast or slow and see what happens. This takes practice but can produce awesome sounds when used while playing.

Guitar Tone Control Techniques

Tone Warmer:

Keeping the tone knob around 9 or 10 is best for warm tones like Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix type sounds. This means the guitar signal has lots of treble making the high ends of the signal sparkle.

Tone Darkening:

Roll back the tone knob for darker sounding tones like Sunshine of Your Love by Cream or the wholesome solo tone from American Woman by The Guess Who. This setting brings out the bass or low end in the signal.

Onboard Wah-Wah:

A more advanced tip with tone control is using the tone knob as an onboard wah-wah effect.

In essence a wah-wah pedal is just a giant tone control adding treble when pressed down and adding bass when pulled back. You can emulate this effect by playing a chord or note and twisting the tone control rapidly, or slowly, from its maximum level to minimum level (much like volume swelling.)

This requires practice and technique but you can get great wah-wah sounds without buying the pedal itself.


After reading this article, hopefully you can understand why improving your guitar tone is vital to developing as a player and that there are endless sonic possibilities at your disposal already.

Experiment with some of the techniques from this article and find what kind of sounds are most pleasing to your ear. Mastering a guitar’s controls, like playing the guitar itself, takes time so be persistent.

Having a solid understanding of the most basic tone tools will not only boost your guitar playing IQ, but also push you in the direction of guitar tone paradise.

Do you have any guitar tone questions? Join the conversation in the comments below!

Post Author: Ben M.
Ben M. is a student at Saint Joseph’s University and has nearly 10 years of guitar playing experience. He specializes in beginner and intermediate guitar playing, blues guitar, and guitar repair. Learn more about Ben here!

Photo by Tiago Cunha

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Guitar Gigs Life as a hired gun

Guitarist Wanted: Life as a Musician for Hire

Guitar Gigs Life as a hired gun

Your days of bedroom jam sessions are over — it’s time to start your music career and hit the road! In this article, traveling musician and guitar teacher Nick K. discusses his experience with guitar gigs and gives you tips on how to make them successful…


I’m what they call a “hired gun.” That’s a cool title for what’s otherwise referred to as a traveling performer or musician for hire. I’ve done a lot of touring with a great group called The Three Degrees.

They had worldwide smash hits in the 70s, such as “When Will I See You Again,” and “Dirty ol’ Man.” They formed out of the Philadelphia music scene in the 1960s and were on the same label as famous artists such as Patti Labelle and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

As a group, they’ve been together for a long time and know exactly how their music should sound. Therefore, it’s my job as a hired gun to deliver exactly what they want, but at the same time, try to add some of my own flair and style into the mix.

Where to Find Guitar Gigs

The first step in landing your next big gig is knowing where to look.

You can find guitarist wanted ads in your local classifieds or on Craigslist, or on websites like Gigsalad and GigMasters.

How to Get Gigs for Guitarists

When you respond to that musician’s wanted ad, be sure to put your best foot forward. If you’re sending an email, include video of yourself performing live as well as a resume listing your past gigs and other musical accomplishments.

You should also ask the band which songs they would like you to learn for your audition, and then really learn them! This shows that you’re a team player with the dedication and commitment a gig like this requires.

Playing With a Group

You may play a musical passage exactly as you’ve heard it on record, but until you start playing with the group, you don’t know if that’s exactly what they want. For example, I was playing a guitar riff and the band members told me they wanted it to be “less choppy,” meaning that they wanted it smoother and with less complicated rhythms.

As a hired musician, it’s your job to make sure you interpret the artist’s requests accurately and come up with a suitable alternative part. Therefore, creativity is an important and essential element when being used as a hired gun.

It’s never your place to question their authority, simply because it’s not your band. Therefore, you must do as they request and do a good job of it.

Letting go of your ego is essential when playing for someone. If you don’t like authority, or someone telling you what to play, then this guitar gig is probably not for you.

If you approach things with the right attitude, it’s one of the most fun and rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

Musical Terminology for Hired Guns

Understanding musical terminology is an essential part of being a hired musician. Here are some terms that are frequently used:

Anticipated syncopated rhythm.

A rhythmical accent played together as a band.

Repeat markers
The markers that indicate the start and end section of a loop.

1st and 2nd time ending
Inside the repeated section, there are subsections that vary depending on whether you are playing the 1st time round or the 2nd.

Musical phrase played in unison as a band.

The last section of a song indicated on the sheet music by a coda sign.

When the music comes back in after being finished.


Understanding these terms makes it easier for the musicians to communicate with each other and be on the same wavelength.

A lack of understanding will slow down the whole band. It’s impractical to do this, so learning the lingo is really an essential part of being a good gigging musician.

Learning the Music

A certain amount of detective work may be necessary when learning the songs.

When I toured with The Three Degrees, I ended up learning 3 versions of every song. I was sent the original MP3’s of the songs, along with live versions that are often in different keys than the originals and may even have a different feel or different guitar parts.

I had to learn an approximation of both of these versions so that I’d be well-equipped during rehearsals to play whatever they requested of me. However, a certain amount of personal taste may be required in determining the appropriate parts.

During our first rehearsal (and there was only one), things were changed around. Ultimately, the final version may turn out to be different from both the live and studio versions — always be prepared for change.

guitarist wanted guitar gigs pull quote

How to Choose a Guitar

Your choice of guitar is also more important than you may think. It wouldn’t be a good idea to show up to a gig with The Three Degrees with an Ibanez Jem, for example.

For this gig, I chose more traditional guitars that I love – my Stratocaster and Telecaster.

These guitars not only fit appropriately in terms of sound, but also in terms of look. If you’re going to get into the professional realm, it’s good to have some classic guitars that can fit into many different genres.

The Strat, for example, can be used in funk, pop, rock, soul, blues, country, and even jazz. It isn’t totally necessary to have tons of guitars, but it’s nice to have some of the main classic guitar types.

I always take more than one guitar with me on tour in case a string snaps on stage. That way I can quickly change guitars without having to spend time changing strings on stage, which is too time consuming in a live situation. It’s also good to carry extras of everything in your guitar gig bag.

Being On Time

The last piece of advice I can give is extremely important — always be on time!

Remember, if you’re not early, you’re late.

Make sure you get to the sound check early to set up any amps or pedals and to also get your guitar in tune. If there’s something wrong with your amp, you’ll have time to get it fixed before the singers get there.

Selecting the right amp initially will reduce any errors you may encounter later.

I always say that it’s better to be two hours early than two hours late! Also, dress well, polish your shoes, and iron your shirt – oh, and don’t forget to shower! With all of this in mind, you should be all set for a glittering music career.


Post Author: Nick K.
Nick K. teaches guitar, acoustic guitar, and music theory in Pasadena, CA. He’s been playing guitar for over 20 years and has taught at some of the topmost music schools in London and New York City. Learn more about Nick here!

Photo by Gary Knight

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6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Here’s What to Know Before Buying an Instrument

6 Things to Consider Before Buying a Musical Instrument

Thinking about buying a new instrument? It’s a big decision, as an instrument is truly an investment — especially if you’re spending several hundred dollars (or more, for higher-end brands and models) on it.

Before making your purchase, you’ll want to do some research. But where do you start? With so many brands out there, how do you know which ones are worth the money? What do you really need to ensure years of playing and practicing?

We came across a great article over on Donna Schwartz’s blog that we think hits the nail on the head for what to consider before handing over your cash — whether you’re looking at new or used musical instruments.

Donna writes:

Whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or pro, here are 5 questions to ask yourself when trying out different musical instruments:

  1. Does the sound of this instrument match my concept of how I want to sound?
  2. Is the instrument free-blowing enough to allow me to get my “perfect sound”? (Or maybe I want a little resistance on this trumpet to help out with high notes?)
  3. Is it easy enough to play in all registers of the instrument comfortably?
  4. Can I control the intonation in all registers of the instrument?
  5. Are the keys placed in such a way that I can perform rapid passages comfortably?

The above 5 questions are important and vary for every performer. This next question though is absolutely necessary for every musician that wants to perform at their best for a long time.

When you are comparing a few different brands and have found some you really like, before you pull out the credit card, it is crucial to ask this question:

If my instrument breaks, do you have the parts to fix it, and if not, can you get the parts?

Donna continues to point out that an instrument like the saxophone has more than 600 moving parts — so if you end up with an instrument with sub-standard parts that can’t be replaced… you may be out of luck if it breaks. Moral of the story? Do your research. Ask questions. Get help from your music teacher, and have him or her try out instruments with you. Make an informed decision!

You can read the article in full here.

For even more tips, we also like this article from the Tampa Bay Music Academy blog. As part of their steps for buying an instrument, they offer some additional pointers regarding instrument quality:

Instrument quality can generally be assessed using three categories: student quality, intermediate quality, or professional quality.

Your 5th grader doesn’t need a professional quality instrument yet, but should you go the cheap route with a student model or shell out a few more bucks for the intermediate? Ultimately, that depends on your goals for your student.

Is this a “try it and see if you like it” endeavor, or have you and your child committed to this instrument for the long haul? Student quality instruments are usually made of cheaper materials and won’t produce as nice a sound, but they are good for students who don’t know if they will stick with it or not. They’re also good starter instruments if money is tight.

If your child (and you) have committed to playing this instrument throughout middle and high school, however, go ahead and invest in the better quality option if possible.

Continue reading the article here.

And finally, if you’re opting for the used musical instruments route, has a great article on how to evaluate a used instrument.

Readers, how have your experiences been buying new or used instruments? What other tips would you add? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Image by Vincent Diamante

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Mastering Lead Guitar: Guitar Scales 101

MASTERING LEAD GUITARLearn how to play lead guitar with guitar teacher Bernie M. In this lesson, Bernie breaks down everything you need to know to start understanding guitar scales…

There is nothing more important in the lead guitar player’s tool box than scales.

They are road maps that unlock the secrets of the fret board, telling the player what notes to play and what notes to avoid.

In this lesson, we will start our explanation of scales with the most basic principles and build towards a complex understanding of what scales are and how we use them.

Pentatonic Guitar Scales

The first scale most guitar players learn is the minor pentatonic scale.

It is one of the most commonly used scales in rock music, with a timeless bluesy sound that is favored in every genre from country to metal.

Below is a chart of the minor pentatonic scale. If you are not familiar with it, take a moment to play up and down the scale and get it under your fingers.

Remember, memorizing scales is all about visualizing and building muscle memory.

Minor Pentatonic Scale Chart

This scale can be played over any minor chord progression, just find out what key the song is in (usually the first chord of a progression, but not always), find that note on the low E string, and use that as the root (or first note) of this scale pattern.

But what do you do if the song you want to play is in a major key? You play the major pentatonic scale shown below.

Major Pentatonic Scale Chart

These two patterns provide a great introduction for guitar players new to the world of scales.

But what if you want to start moving up and down the fret board? There are five different positions of the pentatonic scale that link together and repeat to cover the entire fret board.

5 Position Pentatonic Scale Charts

You should be familiar with the first two positions, as they are the minor and major pentatonic scales.

It is helpful to think of these scales as shapes that lock together like puzzle pieces. Practice moving from one shape to another, sliding up and down to change position.

The fourth and fifth positions should look a little familiar.

They are the little siblings of the first and second positions: minor and major pentatonic scales respectively with their root notes on the A string as opposed to the E string. Knowing where your root notes are will give you greater flexibility when playing leads using these scales.


Here are a few licks that will get you used to moving around using pentatonic scales.



Major and Minor Guitar Scales

Once you have become comfortable using the pentatonic scales, it is time to upgrade to the diatonic, or seven note, scales.

I say upgrade because it’s good to think of these scales as more complex versions of their pentatonic counterparts in which two notes are added to a five note skeleton. Take a look at the major scale and compare it to the major pentatonic scale.

Major vs Pentatonic Scale Chart

Try adding and subtracting the two new notes to get comfortable with the relationship between diatonic and pentatonic. Think of it as building on a scale you already know. This same relation can be found between the minor diatonic and pentatonic scales.

Minor vs Pentatonic Scale Chart

Just like the pentatonic scales, there are different positions of the diatonic scale that can be used to map out the fret board.

5 Position Diatonic Scale Charts

The major and minor scales are just two of the seven different diatonic scales known as the “modes” of the major scale.

If you were to start and end the major scale on the second note of the pattern instead of the first, you would get the second mode of the major scale, known as the Dorian scale. In fact the minor scale is just a major scale that starts and ends on the 6th note.

Since there are seven different notes to start on, there are seven different modes, each with its own distinct sound and proper chordal habitat. But before we can explore them, we need to learn a little bit about music theory and how scales work.

The Science of Scales

When we talk about scales, we use numbers, or scale tones, to identify the different notes they contains. The names of the scale tones are based on the notes of the major scale and are as follows:

1st (Root) 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

The five additional notes that lie outside the major scale can be identified by adding a flat or sharp to the number name. All twelve notes that can be used to make up a scale are named below:

1st b2nd 2nd b3rd 3rd 4th b5th/#4th 5th b6th 6th b7th 7th

The diatonic scale modes each contain a variation of the 1st – 7th pattern, selecting one version of each number without skipping or repeating. To demonstrate, take a look at the scale degrees that make up a minor scale:

1st 2nd b3rd 4th 5th b6th b7th

Notice how it contains a set of notes to take us from 1st – 7th without repeating or skipping a step. The b3rd is used instead of the 3rd. The b6th is used instead of the 6th. The b7th is used instead of the 7th. These are the differences that give it its distinct sound as a minor scale as opposed to a major scale.

Before moving on, we must discuss a few essential scale tones.

The 1st, which is found in every scale, tells us what the root note is.

The 5th is a counterpart to the root. There is only one mode that does not have a 5th, but contains a b5th instead, giving it the sound of the diminished chord.

The 3rd decides whether the scale is major or minor. Scales with a 3rd (or major 3rd) are major, while scales with a b3rd (or minor 3rd) are minor.

The 7th creates a pull back to the root note and can be used to create tension. For the most part, scales with a major 3rd have a major 7th and scales with a minor 3rd have a minor 7th (b7th).

The one mode that combines a major 3rd and minor 7th creates a great deal of tension that wants to lead back to the major scale.


It is essential to be able to visualize the scale degrees and where they are located in relation to the root note. Check out this video and follow along on your guitar to get a sense of the spatial relationship between the different scale tones.


Modes of the Major Scale

Now that we have an understanding of scale degrees, we can begin exploring the seven modes of the major scale and when to use them. This is dictated by the chord progression.

Just like the use of the major or minor scales are dictated by the key, the nature of the chord progression will dictate which of the modes must be used.

Before we dive in, a quick note on chord progressions so we can properly understand the context in which these modes are used.

Roman numerals are used to identify chords the same way scale degrees are used.

Capital numerals (I, V) represent major chords, while lowercase numerals (i, v) represent minor chords. I is the home chord, IV is a neighboring chord, V creates tension that wants to resolve back to I. vi is the minor home chord, ii is it’s neighbor, and iii provides tension leading back to vi. vii7b5 is a rare diminished chord that also creates tension.

Ionian Mode

The first mode of the major scale is the major scale itself. One of the most common modes, it has a happy sound that is standard in many songs.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

Ionian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the I chord in progressions like I V IV (C G F).


Dorian Mode

The second mode alters the minor scale by changing the b6th to a 6th, slightly lightening the minor sound of the scale. This is a very common mode in rock, blues and jazz music.

1st 2nd b3rd 4th 5th 6th b7th

Dorian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the ii chord in progressions like ii V (Dm G).


Phrygian Mode

The third mode is also minor in character, adding the iconic sound of a b2nd to the minor scale. It has a haunting feel that is reminiscent of Latin music.

1st b2nd b3rd 4th 5th b6th b7th

Phrygian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the iii chord in progressions like iii IV (Em F).


Lydian Mode

The forth modes is a major mode that, in my opinion, is the most beautiful of all scales.

It raises the 4th of the major scale, bringing a hint of the rare dissonant diminished sound (the #4th and b5th are the same note with a different name) to the familiar consonant major sound.

1st 2nd 3rd #4th 5th 6th 7th

Lydian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the IV chord in progressions like IV I (F C).


Mixolydian Mode

The fifth mode is major mode that lowers the seventh, mixing the minor and major sounds. As mentioned earlier, it combines a major 3rd and minor 7th to create the tension that defines the Dominant 7th sound and leads back to the I chord. Like the Dorian mode, this is another rock staple.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th b7th

Mixolydian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the V chord in progressions like V IV (G F).


Aeolian Mode

The sixth mode is the minor scale. It is another of the most common modes, possessing a dark and somber sound.

1st 2nd b3rd 4th 5th b6th b7th

Aeolian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the vi chord in progressions like vi ii (Am Dm).


Locrian Mode

The seventh and final mode is a very rare mode.

It has a diminished sound caused by the b5th and is very harsh dissonant in nature. While it may not find common use in popular music, it can be found used in jazz music when soloists need to play over a diminished chord.

1st b2nd b3rd 4th b5th b6th b7th

Locrian Scale Charts

This scale is used over the vii7b5 Chord in progressions like vii7b5 III7 vi (Bm7b5 E7 Am).



If some of this is a bit confusing or overwhelming, don’t worry. It takes a long time and a lot of practice and study to fully internalize a working understanding of scales and modes.

However, I hope this has served as a suitable introduction to the wide world of scales that only gets stranger from here with harmonic and melodic minor harmony, and chord-scales that are constantly shifting with each chord in the progression.

All this aside, scales remain one of the most crucial elements of the discipline of lead guitar. So perfect your pentatonics, wield your diatonics, and explore your modes and you’ll be a giant leap closer to mastering lead guitar.


To see improvement in your guitar skills, practice these scales every day. To learn even more guitar scales, try this free tool from All Guitar Chords. If you have any questions about guitar scales or tips to share, join the conversation in the comments below!


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 overcome stage fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage performance is a challenging art form. Whether you’re acting out a role in a musical theatre setting, giving a speech in front of a crowd, or even playing a solo at an open mic night, the experience can be nerve-wracking even for seasoned performers.

It can be even more anxiety-inducing if you’re a perfectionist, as that can breed a fear of failure… and from there, performance anxiety can feel even stronger.

Performance anxiety (commonly referred to as stage fright) can devastate a performer’s career and enjoyment of their craft, but it doesn’t have to — performance anxiety is a normal human reaction and a completely curable condition if given the right resources, patience, and support system. This article is a guide to learning how to overcome stage fright, for anyone who may experience it — musicians, actors, dancers, speakers, educators, and students. If you wish to understand and improve anxiety issues that are holding you back from giving your best performances, read on!

What is Stage Fright?

Let’s start with anxiety, which is defined as a feeling or worry, nervousness, or unease about an upcoming event. Most people have experienced some level of anxiety before, during, or after a performance, speech, sports game, or test. Anxiety differs from fear in that fear addresses a present threat, while anxiety is typically felt in relation to something in the future. Anxiety is a normal, healthy human experience and, in small doses, is beneficial in making decisions and in achieving peak success.

Performance anxiety (stage fright) in particular is nervousness or unease about a specific future event in which you will be required to execute a task, such as a song, a scene, speech, or test — and usually when you’ll be in front of an audience. Symptoms may be present during the task, for weeks or months leading up to it, and sometimes after the event is over.

So, how do you get over stage fright? Even most experienced performers feel anxiety, so it’s more a process of learning how to deal with stage fright. Here are the steps I recommend.

dealing with stage fright - step 1

Knowing if you are truly experiencing anxiety is critically important, as it’s the first step toward understanding and overcoming it. If you have experienced a few or many of the following symptoms before or during a performance situation, you are experiencing stage fright:

  • Excessive sweating (typically in the palms, feet, armpits or face, but could be anywhere)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Chills, hot flashes, or sudden changes in body temperature
  • Shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, or hyperventilation
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Racing thoughts, obsessive fear of failure during the task
  • Inability to concentrate or process logical information
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urge to use the bathroom
  • Inability to make small talk or hold a basic conversation
  • Shakiness, especially in the hands
  • Sensitivity lights, sounds, or textures in the environment

As you can see, this list of sensations is not only unpleasant, but makes performing at your best nearly impossible. Fear of failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  • Look at the list of anxiety symptoms, and make a mental checkmark next to the ones that you have felt during performance situations.
  • Note when it happened, how often, and any other details you remember. Are your symptoms limited to a specific few, or all of them? Are there symptoms you’d like to solve first as a priority, before others?

Now go back next to each symptom that you’ve checked, and rate it on scale of 1-10 as to how severe it felt (1 being hardly felt it, 10 being you felt it so much you couldn’t concentrate on anything else).

If you are seeing numbers in the 1-4 range, it’s likely that you are experiencing normal, healthy jitters that can actually add to your performance by making you more focused. If you are seeing numbers in the 5-10 range, you are experiencing moderate to severe stage fright and should read on to discover strategies for improvement.

dealing with stage fright - step 2

Before you can properly map a route to overcome stage fright, it’s important to know where you’ve been — and what has caused stage fright in the past. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you are experiencing stage fright, how they might contribute to your present challenges, and how you can utilize them most effectively.

Start by asking yourself some questions about your performing career, starting from the very, very beginning, which might include childhood memories or more recent situations depending on your age.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

  1. Recall the first time you performed for an audience, formally. Who was there? What thoughts and feelings do you remember? Were you happy with the outcome of the performance? Was it a positive or negative experience, was it stressful or relaxed?
  2. Recall the first time you performed and experienced anxiety (if different from above). What were the circumstances? Who was there? Did you practice or prepare, and how much? If different from #1, what do you think sparked anxiety if there were previous performances that didn’t?
  3. Recall the next few times that you performed, after #2 above. Ask yourself the same questions and look for patterns.
  4. Recall the 2-3 most recent times you performed. How recent was it? Have you purposely avoided performing in recent circumstances due to fear? Were you with a large group, small ensemble or solo? Were there any post-performance experiences worth noting?
  5. From the above questions, look for patterns. Are there any pivotal events that dramatically changed the course of your performance history? Are there any key people, venues, or pieces that contributed to where you’re at today?

dealing with stage fright - step 3

The next step is re-contextualizing key anxiety triggers so that they don’t continue causing problems. Most people can identify one or two key incidents that left a large impact on their self-esteem.

Maybe it was a teacher giving an aggressive critique, a family member telling you not to quit your day job, or a performance in which you froze on stage and ran off crying.

At the time you may not have realized the impact of this key event, but in hindsight you can see that it has undermined your confidence and affected your ability to perform ever since.

Journal Activity 2 (3)

The mind is powerful and can distort memories, making them seem bigger and nastier than they really were in real life. As far as exercises that can help you deal with stage fright, this is a great one to try. Pick one of your key incidents that is particularly painful or memorable and jot a few notes about it to the facts:

What venue were you performing in?
What piece were you performing or practicing?
Who was watching?
What feedback were you given, either verbal or non-verbal?
How did you react? Did you shout, cry, freeze up, or laugh it off?
If you responded verbally, what did you say?
What did you do after the event?

Re-Contextualizing the Event

Now let’s bring some imagination to it: sometimes taking the gravity out of a memory and bringing it into a lighter, if not humorous, context can be extremely healing. By re-contextualizing this event, you are not dismissing it or minimizing its impact, but re-framing it in a more positive, lighthearted perspective. By giving your brain a new way to interpret it, you will begin to move past it and no longer allow it to block your present performance opportunities. Jot a few notes in response to the following:

If you could go back and re-live this event, what would you do differently?
Is there anything positive that has come out of the negative memory?

dealing with stage fright - step 4

We’ve spent the preceding sections of this guide processing your past. Now it’s time to move into the present and start thinking about what you can do now, and in the near future, to overcome stage fright.

There is no magic formula, unfortunately; you must expose yourself – you must perform, perform, perform, and this is known as exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a fancy name for the common-sense approach known as “facing your fears,” a technique commonly used by psychiatric doctors to treat phobias of all kinds. However, there is an art to exposing yourself to your fears, and it should be done in careful, small, planned doses that gradually lead up to a major milestone.

Create an Exposure Ladder

Exposure ladders are a technique used widely by the medical psychiatric community to treat generalized anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias of all types.

An exposure ladder is a list of activities that lead you gradually to a big goal (such as performing on your city’s biggest stage, for example), with activities ranked from least to most anxiety-provoking. An individual will work up the steps of the ladder, moving on to the next step only after mastering exposure to the current step with little or no anxiety.

You’ll need to create your own customized exposure ladder, starting with #1, which is your first, tiny little step toward performing — something that you could handle right now, today, with little or no anxiety symptoms. Then you’ll move on to #2, and so on, gradually making steps more anxiety provoking as you go, until you’ve reached a final step which is your final performing goal. You can make your final step as big or small as you want, just be honest with your true performing goals.

One precaution: be careful not to create too big of a jump between steps on the exposure ladder. You can repeat a step as many times as needed, in order to master that level with little to no anxiety. Depending on how often you are working on the steps, it might take months or years until you feel you’ve mastered a step, and that’s just fine. Study the example below to help you brainstorm ideas for your own ladder.

Example Exposure Ladder

1. Imagine yourself performing.
2. Perform alone.
3. Record yourself performing a scene or song and watch it without critique.
4. Perform for a supportive partner or friend.
5. Perform a duet or ensemble in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
6. Perform solo in front of family or friends at an informal gathering.
7. Perform a duet or ensemble at a venue that is higher caliber, like a talent show for your class at school, a neighborhood barbeque, or karaoke at a bar.
8. Perform solo within the same circumstances in #7.
9. Perform with a semi-professional ensemble, such as an audition-only community chorus or community theatre.
10. Arrange an opportunity to perform solo for your peers or an audience, within the group you’ve identified in #9.
11. Enter a competition.
12. Continue finding opportunities similar to #11 with gradually higher caliber venues (or even paying gigs!).

dealing with stage fright - step 5

Once you start working the steps on your exposure ladder, there are going to be successes, and also setbacks. It’s important to arm yourself with relaxation techniques so that when setbacks occur, you have a strategy in place to deal with them in a healthy way. Try these:


Find a quiet space, sit or lay in a position that is comfortable enough to sustain for 10 minutes minimum, close your eyes, and stop thinking. It’s as simple as that; meditation is simply a state of thoughtlessness. Your mind will wander, and when it does, just bring it back to a blank space. If you can commit to meditation as a daily practice for 10-20 minutes, over time you will be able to push aside thoughts that distract you during performances, including anxious thoughts.

Progressive muscle relaxation

Find a quiet space and lay down with your arms naturally at your sides and legs fully extended. Close your eyes. Prepare with three slow, deep breaths. As much as possible, focus all of your attention on the task at hand; don’t let your mind wander. Tense your forehead muscle, holding it as tight as you can for about five seconds. As you do this, inhale and hold the breath while the muscle is tense, and then exhale and breathe normally as you let the muscle relax. Enjoy the relaxed position for about five seconds.

Repeat the above process with the following muscle groups: your face/cheek muscles, neck muscles, shoulders (pull them up and tight), back muscles (pull your shoulder blades back and in), abs/stomach muscles, arms and hands (make a fist while you do this and tense it all the way down to the fingers), glutes, thighs, calves, and then finally feet.

dealing with stage fright - step 6

Acceptance is a final and critical step in learning how to overcome stage fright, as resistance will only make a problem grow stronger. It’s important that you stop criticizing or judging yourself for having fears or challenges on stage, as it is one of the most common types of anxiety, and you are definitely not alone!

Acceptance is not declaring that stage fright is “just a problem you have” and that you’ll have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Acceptance is realizing you have some uncomfortable symptoms that are occurring and allowing the process of change to unfold, even if the process is difficult. Acceptance is allowing setbacks to happen, refraining from self-criticism when they do, and celebrating the small successes along the way.


Public speaking and performances of all types continue to be the number one fear of most adults. By reading this article, you have embarked on a journey that very few are brave enough to take – congratulations are due just for starting!

Your reading has given you initial tools for understanding what stage fright is, how you experience it personally, how your past is affecting your present, and beginning to learn how to deal with stage fright.

Performing is one of life’s great joys and you too can enjoy sharing your unique gifts and stories in front of an audience, free of fear, paralysis, or uncomfortable feelings. Don’t give up, and remember that psychological change is a gradual process. Good luck, and happy performing!

Readers, what other ways have you learned how to overcome stage fright? Let us know in the comments!

How to Overcome Stage Fright Infographic

ErinRPost Author: Erin R.
Erin teaches acting, singing, speaking voice, and more in San Diego, CA. She holds a B.A. from University of Minnesota in Vocal Performance, a M.A. in Education from National University, and has been teaching since 2007. Learn more about Erin here!

Image credit: Kian McKellar

13 Guitar Apps We Can't Live Without

13 Guitar Apps We Can’t Live Without

13 Guitar Apps We Can't Live Without

The secret to improving your guitar skills isn’t much of a secret at all – in fact, it’s right in your pocket! In this article, guitar teacher Zachary W. shows you 13 of his favorite apps for learning guitar and improving every step of the way…


As a guitar player, I find it important to keep my rudimentary skills sharp. That includes practicing with correct technique, as well as being able to improvise, control tempo, and read music. Below, I’ve listed 13 guitar apps that I use regularly and that I know will help you improve each aforementioned skill.

Each app serves a different purpose, but all of them are friendly to users of all skill levels. A fair warning: these are addictive apps for musicians of any kind. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the apps that will undoubtedly improve your guitar playing!

1. 7 Minute Guitar ($2.99)


7 Minute Guitar is wonderful for those who have a super busy schedule. This guitar practice app has compiled a series of exercises that each take seven minutes. There’s no longer an excuse to neglect that daily practice session.

After using this app for a while, you’ll begin to develop a good practice routine; you start out practicing for seven minutes a day, then you extend to 30 minutes a day, and eventually, you’ll reach a goal of practicing for more than an hour per day.

2. Time Guru ($1.99)


Time Guru was developed by rhythm guitarist Avi Bortnick for the John Scofield band.

With this app, you get way more than just a simple metronome. This metronome app also mutes the sound at random. This allows you to monitor your own playing by showing whether or not you tend to speed up or drag behind the metronome.

This special feature essentially allows you to take off the training wheels given to you by the metronome, while still reaping the benefits of playing with a time-keeping device.

3. TabToolkit ($3.99)


This app may cost money, but if you tend to rely solely on tablature when you learn or teach a new piece of music, TabToolkit is completely worth the small fee of $3.99.

With this app, you can upload your own sheet music from other programs, such as Guitar Pro, or browse their large library of guitar tabs. In addition to hosting guitar tabs, this app also has a great multi-track playback, which gives you the ability to play along with some of your favorite bands and artists.

This app also works with over 128 instruments – it’s not solely for guitar players. For example, you can take a heavenly Charlie Parker saxophone solo and transpose it to any instrument you please.

4. GarageBand ($4.99)


If you’ve ever wanted to get a group of people together and jam out in your garage till the early hours of the morning, then you’ll be happy to know, there’s really an app for that!

When it comes down to it, GarageBand is the best app for music creation on a touch screen. With real world instruments, true to life sounds, and tons of easy-to-use tools, there isn’t really another app on its level.

5. AmpKit (Free); AmpKit+($19.99)


AmpKit allows you to take your amp with you no matter how far you travel. Just plug in your guitar with a digital interface and you’ll immediately have access to all the amp channels and sound effects of your wildest dreams.

AmpKit+ may cost $19.99, but with this upgrade, you gain access to many more sound effects, amp channels, and pedal options. It’s a must-have guitar app if you plan on playing professionally.

6. Anytune (FREE); Anytune Pro + ($14.99)


If you have a relative that plays the guitar, I’m sure you’ve heard the famous phrase, “You youngsters have it so much easier than we did back in the day.” Well, in this case, that’s completely true!

With Anytune, you have the ability to slow down songs. Use this app to dissect crazy, lightning fast licks or solos without losing the quality of the music. For example, if you’re having a hard time figuring out what notes Guthrie Govan is playing on the Aristocrats album, this app will help you out by slowing the song down at any section you choose.

The app also has the ability to gradually increase speed as your confidence builds – what plausible excuses to not practice do you have now?

7. Drumgenius (FREE)


The name of this app pretty much sums up all that you need to know about it. Drumgenius has over 300 different drum beats in a various time signatures, from boogaloo jazz in 21/8, to your typical big jazz band in 4/4. It’s fun to pick a beat and play along with it on guitar!

8. MuseScore (FREE)


Along with ear training, another key skill that every musician should master is the ability to read sheet music. This skill opens up many more doors as a musician than you thought possible.

Musescore lets you listen to scores of music with the ability to adjust the tempo as you please. If you have the urge to hear the classic T-bone Walker song “Stormy Monday” played at 200 bpm, or perhaps that lightning fast Steve Vai solo on “Zombie Wolf” at half speed, this app is for you.

9. Shazam (Free – upgrade cost $6.99)


Just hold your phone up to the speaker and let Shazam detect what song is playing. This app is extremely helpful for me. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the road listening to the radio and hear a rhythm I like or a solo that blows me away; instead of forgetting the lyrics or having no clue how the song goes, this app collects the song data for me.

10. Soundcloud (Free)


Soundcloud allows you to post original audio recordings on the web where they can be accessed by anyone. This gateway opens up so many doors that you would’ve never known existed. In addition, this app gives you the perfect place to get constructive criticism from other musicians.

11. J4T Multitrack Recorder ($3.99)


The J4T Multitrack Recorder helps with those spontaneous moments when a melody strikes me and I’m miles away from my equipment – this app acts as a sketch pad for my musical ideas.

With the ability to record 4 tracks simultaneously, this app gives you the basics that are needed for the foundation of any great musical idea or thought. Sadly, this app is only for Android. To those who have an Android phone – go out and download it for the rest of us who have iPhones!

12. Evernote (FREE)


Evernote may seem very basic on paper, but in reality, the capabilities of this app are limitless. This app is perfect for both those who receive and those who teach lessons.

This app has saved my hide on more than one occasion. I use this app to write down a summary of my lessons; this helps me keep track of a multitude of students. I keep constant track of my students’ progress because I like to max out the full potential of what we can accomplish in our hour or half-hour lessons.

For all those out there who are teaching themselves, this app is perfect for logging your progress.

13. Dropbox (FREE)


Dropbox is the simplest and most elegant of the cloud-based storage and file synchronization tools. Dropbox gives you access to all of your files no matter what computer or device you have on hand. It’s also ideal for working with files that you can store in a single folder. I’m able to keep my lessons plans organized, as well as share files with anyone simultaneously.

If you include some of these guitar apps in your practice routine, I guarantee you’ll make progress faster than you will without them. Be sure to check out the detailed descriptions of the apps on the store page to see which features work for your reaching goals. As always, be sure to practice every day and don’t be discouraged by new concepts!

Post Author: Zachary W.
Zachary A. is a guitar instructor in Katy, TX specializing in beginning and intermediate students. He is currently earning a degree in music theory. Learn more about Zachary here!

Photo by Dino Latoga

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Oliver Monaco Berklee College of Music

Seven Easy Jazz Guitar Songs for Beginners

Oliver Monaco Berklee College of Music

Interested in jazz but not sure where to begin? Jazz has a long history and a wide variety of subgenres — it’s easy to get lost in it all! Here, guitar teacher Dylan P. shows you seven easy jazz guitar songs to get you started…


Jazz music can sound very complicated, to say the least. It involves a combination of skills, including speed, precision, and endurance. There are many great jazz guitarists that can attest to that.

While advanced jazz can take quite a while to work up to, beginner jazz guitar songs aren’t difficult or time-consuming to learn. In this article, I provide videos and tabs for seven jazz songs that any beginner can start learning today. Let’s jump right into the songs!


“Summertime” is a catchy jazz standard composed by George Gershwin. It was originally written for the opera Porgy and Bess. Sublime’s “Summertime” is based on this piece.

This eerie melody will stick in your head all day! Below is a simplified tutorial. I think this person does a good job breaking it down (even better than reading tabs):

Jazz musicians like to embellish simple melodies. Here is a more advanced version of “Summertime”:

Autumn Leaves

“Autumn Leaves” is medium tempo jazz piece by Joseph Kosma. Here is a nice recording by Eric Clapton. Listen to the song, and then learn the chord progression. Be sure to look up any chords you are unfamiliar with. Strum along with the recording and pay attention to the tempo! It’s not very fast.

Take a look at the chords here.

Let’s look at the video:

Bonus! What is the difference between A7, Am7, and Amaj7? Look up seventh chords, or ask your teacher!

Fly Me To The Moon

“Fly Me To The Moon” is a jazz standard made famous by Frank Sinatra. The steady quarter note pulse is a great way to practice changing 7th chords, a staple of jazz music. Here’s a sassy version by Jason Mraz and the accompanying chords:

Blue Monk

“Blue Monk” is a B flat blues piece written by Thelonious Monk. Try learning both parts and playing it with a friend! Look here for the chords and tabs.

Watch this advanced version of the piece:

Now watch this simplified version:

Blue Bossa

“Blue Bossa” is a bossa-nova piece with an infectious groove. Bossa-nova is Latin influenced jazz.

Here are the chords and tabs. Watch the video below and familiarize yourself with the melody. Notice the choppy way the chords are being played:

So What

“So What” is a famous piece by Miles Davis. “So What” is a piece of modal jazz, which is built on modes rather than major and minor scales. If you’re not sure what a mode is, ask your teacher for a lesson on them!

Check out the tabs for this song. This video is a great example of the main theme on guitar:

I also recommend you watch this video of Miles Davis and John Coltrane ripping the piece apart in 1959:


“Nuages” is a piece of gypsy jazz by Django Reinhardt. Django played at incredible speeds with only two fingers! He lost use of his other two in a fire.

Django’s solos and improvisation move at intimidating speeds, but the main melody of Nuages is easy to understand.

Here is a version of the piece for solo guitar.

If it’s too difficult to play the chords and melody at the same time, just play the melody — you can do this by only playing the highest note in each chord cluster. “Nuages” is based on a classical piece by the same name, composed by Claude Debussy. Look up that piece and see if you can hear the similarities.

Here is a recording of Django:

Here is a close up version with a simplified melody:


As you learn these songs, don’t worry about the improvisations and embellishments (the fast, fancy stuff). Start by making sure you understand every chord in the song, then move on to the melody.

Try learning one of these songs with a friend so you can both practice trading lead and rhythm.

Want to hear some advanced jazz? Check out this video by Snarky Puppy! There’s a cool guitar riff at about a minute in:


Once you learn some of these beginner jazz guitar songs, you’ll be ready for more advanced playing. Even better, you’ll be better equipped to write your own jazz song! Have fun with your playing and make sure to practice every single day!

Working with a private guitar teacher is a great way to build your jazz guitar skills fast. Find your guitar teacher today!

Post Author: Dylan P.
Dylan P. teaches in-person guitar, music theory, and music performance lessons in Independence, MO. He has trained in many genres of guitar music and has experience working with students with learning disabilities. Learn more about Dylan P. here!

Photo by Oliver


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How to Play Guitar like David Gilmour

How to Play Guitar like David Gilmour | Tabs and Audio “Time” Guitar Solo

How to Play Guitar like David Gilmour

When it comes to incredible guitar players, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd takes the cake. In this article, teacher Bernard M. shows you how to play the guitar just like the legend himself…


Many musicians strive to sound like their heroes. They want to get that special something that makes those legends stand out from the crowd.

One of the best ways you can do this is to learn their parts — beat for beat, note for note. While this can be difficult and time consuming, it’s one of the most rewarding learning strategies for musicians of all levels.

One of my favorite guitar players is David Gilmour from the band Pink Floyd. He brings a certain sense of taste and melody to everything he plays.

In order to unlock the secrets of Gilmour’s playing style, we’ll be looking at the guitar solo from the song “Time.” This famous solo is a great example of how Gilmour tells a story with his guitar.

Before we dive in….

This Pink Floyd guitar lesson contains a detailed breakdown of the solo, four bars at a time, with tabs for each section and an analysis of what Gilmour is doing and why it’s so effective. Below is a recording of the song so you can follow along.



Above each line of tabs is a time marker, telling when in the song each section occurs. I also included the chords behind the solo above each bar. This will become important in our analysis when looking at Gilmour’s note choice.

The minor pentatonic scales find heavy use in this solo, especially in the first and second positions (shown below).


Pentatonic Scale Charts


As the song is in the key of F#m, the first position will begin on the 2nd fret and the second position on the 5th fret, each repeating an octave above at the 14th and 17th frets respectively.

At the end, I’ll give you my five tips on how to play a guitar solo like David Gilmour, highlighting the key points talked about in our analysis of the solo.

Ok, ready? Let’s do this!

Let’s play…


Section 1 Tabs


The iconic sustained notes and bends in the first three bars show off Gilmour’s melodic sensibilities. Clearly, he’s in no rush and is leaving himself room to stretch out his chops later in the solo. This slow introduction uses the first position minor pentatonic scale, just tracing the chords at the low end of the fret board. In the fourth bar, Gilmour slides into the second position of the scale for a more aggressive Albert King style blues lick, hinting at what is to come later. For some extra kick, try giving the 5th fret e-string note a quarter-step bend!


Section 2 Tabs


On his second go around the chord progression, Gilmour uses repetition and variation, echoing the beginning of his solo before moving into new territory. This creates a call and response effect between the repeated melody and the varying blues licks.

In the second bar, he responds with the bluesy major sixth interval (9th fret G-string to 9th fret e-string) to emphasize the notes that make up the A chord.

You may have noticed that Gilmour frets or bends to some notes outside of our pentatonic scale. These notes from the minor scale are peppered in to add a sweeter flavor to the melodies.

Notice how half-step bends are used to move lyrically between these minor scale notes. Gilmour ends this section with a long sustained bend to an F#, creating a sense resolution, for now…


Section 3 Tabs


If the first two sections acted as an introduction, these next two are most certainly the climax. Gilmour slides into an F#m arpeggio in the first position pentatonic scale an octave above where the solo began.

To effectively execute this lick, use your second finger on the 16th fret, your first finger on 14th (fretting the G-string with the fingertip then pivoting to the B-string just above your knuckle) and your third finger to bend the B-string at the 17th fret, leaving your pinky free to hit the e-string.

The second bar features a step-and-a-half bend between two full-step bends. This classic blues technique requires strong fingers and good pitch recognition, but is well worth the practice it takes to master.

Finally, Gilmour carries us over the bar into the next section with a powerful lick descending towards the root note, hitting on beats three, four, and the one of the next bar. This is a very powerful phrasing move, using the melody to weave different bars together.


Section 4 Tabs


We land on an F#, once again emphasizing the root of our first chord. This is followed by a pre-bend release, adding some character before descending into a pull-off run. As the A chord comes around, we bend up on the 16th fret to hit a familiar C#.

Notice a pattern? Gilmour’s careful note choice and use of repetition and variation keeps things familiar but fresh.

The next lick carries us over the bar with the solo’s highest note, an exciting bend on the e-string at 19th fret. This phrase is reminiscent of the bend at the 17th fret at the end of the last section (again, repetition and variation at work).

To create a sense of closure as the solo nears a change in the chord progression and overall tone, Gilmour runs down an E major arpeggio, resolving over the bar to, you guessed it, an F# root.

The final slide down the neck signals the drastic change that is about to occur…


Section 5 Tabs


This section marks a dramatic shift from a minor to major mood, bringing the solo to its conclusion. Gilmour begins with a dreamy triplet run over a Dmaj7 arpeggio, using slides to create a floating, liquid feel that perfectly suits the new mood.

Notice the half-step interval from the 9th to 10th fret, marking the brief return of the sweet lyrical tone found in the second section.

Gilmour leaves a lot of space between his flowing slides, giving each carefully-chosen note time to express its particular character over its chordal backdrop.

My personal favorite is the G# note on the 9th fret of the B-string at the beginning of the third bar. Over the Dmaj7 chord, it expresses the heavenly lydian mode sound of the #4 chord tone. (Music theory aside, the take away is this: choose your notes based on what sounds best over the passing chords!)


Section 6 Tabs


In the final four bars, Gilmour brings the solo to a close with two distinct phrases. The first, which begins with the unison bend in the previous bar, calls back to the 4th fret bends at the very beginning of the solo (and the 16th fret bends an octave above during the climax) for some final repetition and variation.

Here, he uses a step-and-a-half bend between full-step bends, a pre-bend release, and a long sustained bend to get the most out of this expressive phrase.

Gilmour ends by playing around an E major arpeggio, bringing a final sense of closure and resolution with the sustained E note on the 2nd fret and the open low E-string an octave below.

What did we learn? My five tips for playing like David Gilmour! Ok, so we just covered A LOT of ground. Let’s take what we learned from analyzing the solo and summarize it into some key points.


1. Tell a story:
Your solo should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. In your introduction, make an opening statement that sets the tone, but still leaves you with somewhere to go. When you reach the climax, pull out all the stops and let loose those licks you were saving. Whether it’s one note or eight bars, make sure your conclusion leaves your listener with a feeling of closure.

2. Bend like a master:
Remember, your good ol’ fashioned full step bend isn’t the only way to go. Try your hand at half-step bends, pre-bend releases, and even step-and-a-half bends. These are great ways of getting the more expression out of your playing (just make sure the notes you’re bending to are in your scale).

3. Repetition is your friend:
Soloing is not just playing a string of notes from a scale (trust me; I’ve made that mistake plenty of times). Repetition and variation allows you to set up familiar themes, transform these themes, play into or defy the listener’s expectations, and make patterns such as call and response.

4. Choose notes wisely:
Use the chords! They’re your guidelines, telling you what notes you should play. While this can be daunting at times, take your time and trust your ears, as they’ll often lead you to the right notes. If you can find the root notes to chords, or better yet, the full arpeggios, you are on the right track to playing with the chord changes. (Want more on this? Look up chord scales!)

5. Be clever with rhythm:
Again, soloing is not just playing a string of notes. Choosing how you use rhythm can make or break a solo. Leave yourself plenty of space with long sustained notes and bends. This will provide contrast for fast and busy licks, making them more effective. For even greater effect, try playing over the bar, or using triplets. For more, check out my article on using space and phrasing during solos.


I hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the style of David Gilmour and his solo from “Time.” I hope you use these ideas to help spice up your playing, and this strategy of analysis to help you unlock the secrets of your favorite players.


Are there any great guitar solos you’d like to learn? Share your requests in the comments below!


Bernard M Teacher Post Author: Bernard M.
Bernard M. is a guitar and songwriting instructor in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from The College of New Jersey with a bachelors degree in English. He teaches lessons online and will travel to his students. Learn more about Bernard here!


Photo by Jose Bogado

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Techology and online Music lessons

How Has Technology Changed Music Lessons? [Infographic]

Over the past several years, online music lessons have substantially grown in popularity. And it’s no wonder — it’s an option that is convenient and often priced lower than in-person lessons. Plus, you can choose an instructor from practically anywhere!

Advances in technology have made the success of online music lessons possible, but that’s not the only way that technology has changed the way we learn music. New innovations provide fun and creative ways to enhance the learning experience for today’s student. You can find the best online piano lessons, for instance, and then supplement those with apps, games, and YouTube tutorials.

Here are some fascinating facts about how we learn, teach, and promote music online.

Technology and Music Lessons Infographic - Online music lessons

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Teaching Music Online – Additional Resources

Interested in teaching online? These days, you’ve got several options for video platforms to use, allowing you to instantly connect with your student, send files, and record lessons. Learn more about teaching online with TakeLessons here.

Learning Music Online – Additional Resources

Whether you’re looking for the best online piano lessons via Skype, pre-recorded YouTube drum tutorials, or chord charts for guitar and bass, there are so many resources available for students!

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Whether or not you take (or teach) lessons online, there are many ways you can use current technology to enhance and supplement the learning experience. If you’re a teacher and need a place to start, online forums are great for sharing ideas with other instructors. The possibilities are endless! And once you start looking, it’s amazing what you can find out there!

Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with this article! 

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