Posts

3 Things Guitarists Must Practice Every Day

3 Things Guitarists Must Practice Every Day

 3 Things Guitarists Must Practice Every Day

With so much music in the world to play, how do you figure out how to practice guitar? Guitar teacher Jack C. breaks it down to the basics…

One of the most common questions I’m asked by students, whether they are total beginners, or seasoned veterans who have been playing for more than ten years, is: “How exactly should I practice guitar in order to get the most benefit from my time?” As my explanation, I always like to break down guitar knowledge in three basic categories.

1. Technique

Technique is the actual mechanical movement of your hands which you use to create the sounds coming from your guitar. It entails training the muscles in your hands so you can develop the strength and muscle memory to pull off the actual chords and scales we use when playing the instrument.

2. Music Theory

Music theory is the mental aspect of learning any instrument. It is the act of breaking down the sounds we hear in to names and formulas. It’s the science behind the sounds.

3. Creativity

I believe, like any skill set, musical creativity CAN be learned and taught. Some people are brought to believe that you’re either born with that creative muse or you’re not. This simply isn’t true.

Let’s say we have a 2 note per string pentatonic scale (you can use any of the scales found here).

A great practice exercise would be to pick each note in ascending order from the low E string to the high E string, then descending using strictly alternate picking (up and down only). Start very slow, then gradually increase the speed at which you do this exercise. Then, once that movement is mastered, and the scale can be played by memory, you can then try creating a simple melody using only those notes found within the scale.

This exercise kills three birds with one stone! You are practicing your technique by working on your alternate picking, you’re learning a portion of music theory by memorizing the scale, and you’re exercising your creative mind by applying the scale you learned in creating your own melody.

By combining all aspects of learning guitar in to one exercise, you are now making the most out of your practice time. This approach to practicing is used by some of the greatest players in the world, and has proven to be one of the most efficient ways to practice the instrument. As you progress in your skill level, this approach can be applied to different scales, chord progressions, and picking techniques.

In review, we know that if a guitar exercise can cover these three aspects of guitar playing: technique, theory, and creativity, all at once, then we know it is an exercise that will serve us well in our guitar journey! Thanks for reading and if you have any questions for me, I’m more than happy to answer your questions.

Learn more about the guitar by taking lessons with a private instructor. Search for your guitar teacher now! 

Jack C Jack C. is a guitar instructor in Huntington Beach, CA. A professional gigging musician, teacher, producer, and session player, he earned degree in Music Theory and Guitar performance from Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California. Learn more about Jack here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by J. Pitt

10 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Practicing Guitar

10 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Practicing Guitar

 

Nothing’s worse than forgetting about your guitar practice time! Guitar teacher Jessica D. shares 10 fun ways to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you…

Playing guitar isn’t for the faint of heart. Its six strings require finger strength, and if you don’t practice, you simply won’t get better. Everyone begins taking lessons with the intention that they’ll make time to practice, but sometimes we find that work, events, and life just gets in the way. If this sounds like you, here are guaranteed 10 ways to trick yourself into practicing guitar on a regular basis.

1. Leave your guitar out of its case.

Get a guitar stand that sits on the floor, or if space is an issue, get a hook so that it can hang on the wall. If your guitar is out, you’re more likely to pick it up. Out of sight, out of mind. In sight, it’s jammin time.

2. Practice during commercials.

Love binge watching your favorite TV show and can’t bear to pull yourself away to practice? No problem! Leave your guitar nearby, and during the commercial breaks, do finger exercises or play a song. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

 3. Invite friends over to jam.

Practicing with friends is more fun than practicing alone. Invite pals over on the weekends for a jam, or if your place is too small, invite yourself over to their place!

4. Show off to anyone who comes over.

Whether it’s your mom, your date or the UPS man, if someone steps foot into your pad, turn them into your personal audience. Say, “Hey, I’m taking guitar lessons, can I play you a short song?” Then, play “Stairway to Heaven”!

5. Join a band.

Practicing makes you get good. Bands practice. Plus, being in a band is fun! Even if you’re only meeting once a week, you’re practicing one time a week.

6. Busk.

If you have the guts to perform on the street or in the subway (officially known as busking), spend a weekend afternoon plucking away on a park bench. You may even make a few bucks. Getting paid to practice? Now, that’s a sweet gig.

7. Attend an open mic.

You don’t even have to play, just attend. As a matter of fact, if you go to any music event, you’re going to get inspired. Watch the musician’s fingers, listen for various cues and see if you can guess the chords they’re playing. Betcha $5 when you get home you’ll pick up your guitar.

8. Teach someone else what you know.

Even if you only know a few chords, teach them to someone else—maybe a child in the family or a friend. When you teach, for some reason, your brain keeps the information better. Cool!

9. Find Yngwie Malmsteen on YouTube.

If watching that guy shred doesn’t inspire you, nothing will.

10. Attend a Guitar MeetUp Group.

They are in every city from the Lower East Side of New York City to uptown Chatanooga, and consist of dozens of guitarists with the same challenges and problems that you have. Work together and become the rock god that you are meant to be.

 

 

 

Studying with a private guitar teacher is the best way to improve your skills and grow by leaps and bounds as a guitarist. Search for your guitar teacher now!


Jessica DJessica D. is a guitar, ukulele, singing, and songwriting instructor in New York, New York.  Learn more about Jessica here!

 

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Nisarg Lakhmani

metal guitar lessons

5 Things You Need to Know Before Taking Metal Guitar Lessons

metal guitar lessonsBefore you start your metal guitar lessons, be sure to take this advice from guitar teacher Zachary A.

Taking metal guitar lessons at first can seem rather challenging, but learning to play metal guitar really isn’t as a daunting of a task as it may seem.  As you continue to read, I will go over few different tips and practices that would be beneficial to know before embarking on your epic journey in learning how to play metal.

1) Finding the way that you learn the best, and sticking to it

There is a multitude of different methods to learning how to play metal guitar, and the guitar in general. Find the way that you learn the best, and stick to it. It might take you a few attempts at various methods of practice to achieve this, but it will be extremely worth it. It’s important to find the right method that works for you, because when you’re trying to learn from a way that doesn’t fit you just right, you might end up getting frustrated and discouraged, which might eventually lead you to give up and lose interest.

2) Practice makes perfect

In order to get truly good at anything – especially a musical instrument – it requires practice and a dedication to practicing. You should set aside a certain amount of time that works with your schedule to practice daily what you learn while taking metal guitar lessons. There might be a lot of distractions around you that might interfere with this. (In my case, this would be the television or a good book.)

But, you need to shut off all the distractions: turn off the television, put away your cell phone, stop watching silly YouTube videos of cats (no matter how entertaining they are) and practice guitar. It truly is the only way that you will progress as a musician. Everyone seems to want to become a virtuoso musician over night, and, well, this never happens. People who put in more hours of practice than anyone else are the ones who become virtuoso musicians. It’s a proven fact. History is the evidence.

3) Listen to the masters

Listen to the virtuoso guitar players of the metal guitar like Sinister Gates, Dimebag Darrell, Dave Mustaine, Steve Vai, and – saving the best for last – Randy Rhodes. You can learn so much from just absorbing all the music that they play. Also, developing an ear for the notes is a priority for successful musicians. Some lucky people have what they call perfect pitch. For the rest of us, myself included, it’s important to listen and play the song you want to learn again and again. This ‘musician’s ear’ you’ll develop comes in handy all the time, even when reading tabs; because tabs aren’t always accurate, and you’ll have the ability to notice when the notes are incorrect.

4) Don’t limit yourself to only metal music

All genres of music are beneficial to you. With a broad knowledge of music, you improve your range, capabilities and diversity as a musician. Every musician out there has had influences that have helped shaped the way that he or she plays. So, even if there are musicians out there that you enjoy and would like to play like, don’t limit yourself to only studying their music. Do some research, and look up who they listened to and who influenced them when they were starting out learning the guitar. Listen to their influences; you should be able to find similarities in their influences with the guitarist that you are aspiring to be.

5) Set Goals!!

This is crucial for motivation. Everyone likes success, and when you set goals, you have those times when you achieve success by reaching those goals. Through this success you make progress. To me, there is no perfection, only progress.

These five things are just a few helpful hints that will be a great stepping stone to achieve progress at becoming a metal guitarist. Have fun and rock on!

Zachary A

 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!

 

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by kodakhrome

bluegrass guitar lessons

5 Ways To Prepare For Bluegrass Guitar Lessons

bluegrass guitar lessonsStarting bluegrass guitar lessons is fun and exciting, and odds are you’ll have a lot to learn! Guitar teacher Samuel B. shares a few things you’ll want to do before you get started…

Bluegrass is as much a piece of American musical culture as jazz, blues, country, gospel and early rock and roll. All of these styles (save for jazz) are based on the same three chords: C, F and G7th. Three of these styles (blues, country and gospel) are based on a slow rhythm that allows the guitarist room to experiment with varied melodic patterns within the space of a single chord.

What sets bluegrass apart from these other categories is not its chord structure, but the way that its chords are played – hitting the bottom string and strumming the chord only once. Bluegrass picking must be in perfect sync with the fast-paced rhythm that this pattern imposes. There are a few things you can do before you start your bluegrass guitar lessons to begin recognizing and appreciating the intricate melodies you will eventually be learning to play that stem from this rhythm.

1. Do a Lot of Listening

One piece of songwriting advice that resonates with me is this: determine what specifically moves you about your favorite songs and copy those elements in the ones you write. Comparably, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the music of various bluegrass artists (I recommend Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, and Alison Krauss), in order to get a clear idea of who you want to sound like (or perhaps not sound like).

If you live in or near a music-friendly city, go to a few local bluegrass shows. They need not be held at sports arenas nor should you treat these outings like field research. They’re just opportunities to surround yourself with the music and let it sink in over a sandwich and a drink. Bring a friend or other loved one and share the experience.

2. Do a Guided Visualization

In order to a gain a more in-depth understanding of the music and why it matters to you, listen to your favorite piece of bluegrass music with your eyes closed and then write down what it made you think of. What’s familiar to you about the sound? What isn’t? Is there a specific landscape or region of the world that came to mind? If so, who was there? What was this person or these people doing? What colors do you remember from the scene? What sounds? What smells? Was anyone serving food? If so, what do you suppose it would have tasted like? Would anything pertaining to your sense of touch have been relevant? If so, what did it feel like?

In a manner similar to what I described about the shows, your visualization should not be treated like it’s supposed to be prize-winning literature. Your answers need not be relevant to the music in any historical or socially significant way – just true to how it made you feel and what it made you think of.

3. Consider Joining a Bluegrass Song Circle

If you’re already familiar with first-position chords (the ones on the first three frets), a song circle will provide you a chance to learn some new tricks as well as introduce you to a network of other musicians you might perform or record with in the future. Above all, song circles will actively engage you with bluegrass music and musicians in a communal format unavailable in one-one-one bluegrass guitar lessons. What you’ll learn in the lessons will compliment what you learn in the circle and vice versa.

4. Practice Your Scales

You probably saw this one coming a mile away, but scale mastery is pertinent to every genre. Bluegrass is certainly no exception. Unless you want to play only chords, practicing scales (particularly major ones) is the only way of improving your dexterity, as well as your familiarity with the notes that comprise the form. Start with the major scale in C, and learn it backwards and forward:

E|—O—|——–|—-O—|
B|—O—|——–|—-O—|
G|——–|—O—|———|
D|——–|—O—|—-O—|
A|——–|—O—|—-O—|
E|—O—|——–|—-O—|

Then, take it up a full step to D, and do the same:

E|——–|—O—-|—O—|——–|—-O—|
B|——–|—O—-|—O—|——–|—-O—|
G|——–|—O—-|——–|—O—|———|
D|——–|—O—-|——–|—O—|—-O—|
A|——–|—O—-|——–|—O—|—-O—|
E|——–|—O—-|—O—|——–|—-O—|

5. Do Some Research About Appalachia

If you’re a serious musician (or are at least intent on becoming one), you’ll want some understanding of what inspired your specific genre to come through in your playing. You’ll want to know about the daily livelihoods and struggles of the people who originally made the music. How did they provide for their basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter? What were their personal struggles (medicine, family life)? Their professional ones (industrial)? In what ways do you suppose all of these daily uncertainties inspired their music?

One of my favorite books about the region is October Sky. Written by former NASA engineer Homer Hickam Junior, it chronicles the slow collapse of a West Virginia mining town. While bluegrass music is a mostly pleasant and playful-sounding form, its inspiration lies in the rugged, desolate and often bleak environment its original makers inhabited. Your goal as a musician should be to paint a both colorful and heartfelt portrait of this environment.

Don’t wait to get started with your guitar lessons! Search for a guitar teacher now.

SamuelB

Samuel B. teaches beginner guitar lessons in Austin, TX. He teaches lessons face-to-face without sheet music, which is his adaptation of Japanese instruction (involving a call-and-response method). Learn more about Samuel here!

 

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Elvert Barnes

6 Valuable Things to Know About Learning Guitar

6 Valuable Things to Know About Learning Guitar

6 Valuable Things to Know About Learning GuitarBefore you start taking guitar lessons, there are a few things you should know! Guitar teacher Ryan B. shares six things everyone should know about learning guitar…

It really is a magical moment when you first pick up a guitar. The feel of the wood, the tension on the strings, the way the curve of the body fits just right on your lap. You’re filled with visions of yourself on stage playing for thousands who worship your every note.

The problem is the next moment isn’t quite so magical.

You try to play a chord, but the only sounds are dull thuds and ceaseless buzzing. Your clumsy fingers just can’t figure out how to coax music out of this cursed piece of wood.

For so many, frustration is where their experience learning guitar begins and ends. But going into it with the right mindset can make all the difference and lead to a nice payoff. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re starting on the guitar:

1. Your hands need some exercise

There are 35 muscles that control your fingers! And you’re going to need each one of those to make your guitar strings hum just how you hear them in your head. So when you practice, especially in the beginning, remember to warm up and stretch (here’s a great video) so you don’t hurt yourself. And keep in mind that after a long session you might have sore hands and forearms.

2. Practice is really boring sometimes

Just like anything else, practicing your guitar can get extremely monotonous. After a hundred times practicing that new scale or picking pattern and still needing more work, it’s really easy to give up and play something easier. But to get better you really have to hunker down and put in the hours necessary (in fact they say you need to practice something for 10,000 hours before you master it!).

3. Take good care of your instrument

You’ve been practicing every day and really making progress towards your goals, but one day during a particularly intense session you break a string (or input jack, or neck…). The problem is you don’t know how to fix it, and so your guitar sits and collects dust and all your skills melt away. It’s a common story, one that happens far too often. Learning some simple maintenance like changing strings, cleaning the neck and a bit of basic wiring can go a long way towards preventing lapses in your practice because of something as simple as a busted string.

4. The fastest way to learn is to slow down

Everyone wants to play their favorite lick right when they pick up the guitar. When you try to do this, though, you’re either going to fail miserably and inevitably give up or learn it very very poorly. Before you get to killer solos you have to master your scales. And in order to master your scales you have to learn to do your scales very… slowly… In order to really shred through those suckers, you’ve gotta get them perfect going at a snail’s pace and then slowly pick up the tempo. And then once you’ve mastered that, then you move on up to the next step. And so on and so forth…

5. Ditch the phone

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m addicted to my phone. If I’m away from it for just a few minutes I start to get jittery and extremely curious about my friends’ Facebook walls. But too many distractions will keep you from getting productive practice time in. This might mean getting a dedicated guitar tuner instead of an app so you don’t even need your phone in the room with you. Hopefully you can spend the next hour learning guitar and not looking at cute cat videos.

6. Take a break

Now you’ve been doing scales for hours, and despite getting rid of obvious distractions, you’re still having trouble focusing. Maybe you need a break. You need to be able to put the work in, but if you’re getting too stressed it will also hurt your practice (and make your fingers too tense- which is not a good thing). Every once in a while, take a few minutes to play a fun easy song or watch that silly cat video you’ve been putting off. Maybe even a quick power nap.

There’s a lot more to learning guitar than just these, but I hope that these tips can help you along your musical journey. Happy pickin’!

Get personalized tips and tricks for learning guitar by taking private lessons with a guitar teacher. Guitar teachers are available to work with you online via Skype or in-person depending on locations and availability. Search for your guitar teacher now!

Ryan B Ryan B. teaches guitar, banjo, and mandolin in Chicago, IL. A graduate of the University of Illinois, he can teach his students music theory, and as a member of a traveling local band, he can also help with songwriting! Learn more about Ryan here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by afunkydamsel

What is Guitar Technique And Why Does it Matter

What is Guitar Technique? And Why Does it Matter?

What is Guitar Technique And Why Does it Matter

What’s the deal with guitar technique anyway? Guitar teacher Alexander A. explains a few of the fundamentals and why they are so important…

If your teacher is cracking the whip every lesson because your hands aren’t in the proper position you may be asking yourself, “Does my guitar teacher hate me?” The answer is “no” – at least, I certainly hope not! More than likely, your teacher is trying to make you a better player by guiding you to play with good technique.

We’ll be looking at effective techniques to use for guitar and bass players, though these principals apply to most other instruments as well. Before we get into specifics, let’s talk about what we’re looking for and why.

Power

In case you haven’t noticed yet, playing music can be very physically demanding. Guitar and bass players face this demand with our hands, as this is our primary interface with the instrument. Ever play barre chords on guitar or an F# major scale on the low end of the bass? These tasks are challenging and require a great deal of power to accomplish. Much like in martial arts, power is not achieved with brute force but by taking every advantage we can find to deliver the most power with the least effort. This isn’t laziness; it’s a fundamental necessity of our instruments.

Control

Like they say in Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” I think Spiderman must be a rock star. But it’s true! All that power that you’ve harnessed will go to waste if you don’t have proper control over your strings. Among other things, this means letting them ring when they need to and being able to mute them when they need to be silent

Energy

Going green isn’t just for electric cars and paperless billing. Guitar players need to conserve our energy as well. Almost all players will push the limits of their physical stamina at one time or another, so it’s important to make every action count. Work with your hands, not against them.

Simple Guidelines

Here are some simple guitar technique guidelines for guitar and bass players. These just cover the basics, so be sure to ask your guitar teacher about progressing your technique by using more advanced methods when you’re ready.

1) Fingers on the string

When holding down a single note using the second, third, or fourth fingers practice using your other fingers to hold down lower notes at the same time to build strength. For example, if you play a C on the A-string with the second finger (third fret), the first finger should be holding down the note B at the same time (second fret). If you reach for the D above the C with the fourth finger (fifth fret), you should have all four fingers holding down the string. (Of course, guitarists will need to abandon this technique when playing chords.)

By letting more than one finger do the work we are conserving energy and maintaining control over the string. If you are a new player (or just have some old habits to break) this technique will feel strange for a little while, but if you use it consistently you should be forming good habits within a few weeks. Before you know it you will have more power in your fingers; it will feel strange not to have all your fingers on the strings. Just stick with it!

2) Stay close

We can further conserve energy and maintain control by keeping fingers close to the fretboard when not in use. Let your fingers “hover” over the strings just high enough to let them ring, but low enough to be ready for action! Reach for the stars with your music, not your fingers.

3) No negative angles

We need to always have our finger joints at positive angles, curved as if holding a ball. One of the greatest losses of power for new players often occurs in the last joint in each finger – the one by the fingernail. They should never be bent backwards as this greatly diminishes your strength.

4) Maintain your reach

Always maintain a reach covering three or four frets. If you play B-C-D on the A-string (in that order, one note at a time) your first finger should still be reaching the B (second fret) as your fourth finger plays D (fifth fret). By maintaining this reach and not letting the first finger “scrunch up” against the others we keep control over four frets of the instrument and conserve energy by keeping our fingers stationary.

Energy, power, and control are all intertwined. What’s good for one is good for the rest. Let these pillars of success be your focus as you move forward with your guitar technique.

Now, let’s rock!

If you want to learn more about guitar technique, or get help correcting some bad guitar habits you’ve picked up, nothing beats taking lessons with a private guitar instructor. Search for your guitar teacher now!

alexander a

Alexander A. teaches guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, upright bass, and music theory in Tacoma, WA. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Berklee College of Music in bass performance and composition. Alexander offers lessons in-person as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Alexander.

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Daniel Hoherd

The Pros and Cons of Online Guitar Lessons

The Pros and Cons of Online Guitar Lessons

The Pros and Cons of Online Guitar LessonsSo you’ve heard about online guitar lessons but you’re not convinced they’re right for you? Guitar teacher Edward B. shares the benefits and drawbacks he has learned from teaching live online lessons…

Live online guitar lessons are filling a much-needed gap in society’s need for lessons, especially for students in rural areas who don’t have access to music teachers, and busy students who have trouble fitting lessons into their schedules. I’ve given guitar lessons quite successfully via Skype and Google Hangouts, and have found this method of teaching benefits students in the following ways:

Quality Teachers

I believe it is better to have Skype lessons with an excellent teacher than it is to have in-person lessons with a mediocre teacher. Searching for a guitar teacher online gives you even more options to choose from since you’re not restricted to your small local region.

No Traveling

You don’t have to fight traffic to get to your guitar teacher’s studio. Also, when a student is five or ten minutes late, I give them a courtesy call in case they forgot. But if they live 15 minutes away and they have a 30 minute lesson, it’s hardly worth it for them to come late. Taking lessons online means no missed lessons due to forgetfulness since the student and teacher can connect 30 seconds after the courtesy call.

Convenient Scheduling

There are more options for choosing the best day and time for the lesson when you look at all the teachers available online versus just the teachers in your local area.

Convenience of Recording Lessons

While students always have the option to record their face-to-face lessons, that almost never happens (at least, in the history of my teaching). But you can easily record Skype and Google+ lessons for review at a later time with software like Evaer and Super Tin Tin, or for audio only: Pamela MP3 Skype, or RecorderVodBurner.

Immediate Practicing

While face-to-face students must drive home before practicing what they learned, online students can practice immediately after the lesson when ideas are fresh. The first practice session will always be of higher quality when it is done immediately after the lesson than if it is done the next day, and the first practice session is the most important session of the entire week.

Warming Up

You can warm up right before your lesson, only stopping seconds before the lesson begins. This lets you show off your best playing to your teacher each week instead of starting rusty.

Increased Student Performance

Students actually spend more time performing during distance lessons than in face-to-face lessons.

Don’t Have To Be In The Same Room

You won’t need to cancel lessons because you had the flu two days before, because during online lessons you can’t pass illness on to your teacher.

Transferring Instructional Music Files

I can simply email mp3 audios and screenshare or email music documents.

Of course there are also a few drawbacks to choosing online guitar lessons…

No Physical Touch

Sometimes the most efficient way to achieve technical results with a student is to physically manipulate their wrists, fingers, elbows, etc. while their hands are on the strings. Your online guitar teacher won’t be able to give you physical adjustments if needed.

 Dependent Upon Internet Connection

The student and teacher must both have a fast Internet connection, and even if they do, sometimes there are days when Internet backbones are lagging, ISPs are having trouble, etc., although that’s a rare occurrence. Glitches still happen sometimes with Skype and Google Hangouts but seem to be happening less as the technology develops.

 Sound Quality

Even with a fast Internet connection, sound quality does not resemble the quality of a CD or the quality of hearing the student in person. Having said that, I feel that I’m still able to judge tone quality acceptably well.

Looking From a Different Angle

Sometimes (but not very often), I’ll walk to the other side of the student in order to see what their hands look like from the other side, in cases where I have to look specifically at the left hand position. Since I can’t do that in an online guitar lesson, students have to reposition their webcams.

Distractions

Students may be more distracted at home by noises made by siblings, animals, neighbors, etc, than they would be at a teacher’s studio.

All things considered, I believe there are effective ways of working around these issues.

Interested in trying online guitar lessons? Find a great guitar teacher online now!

Edward BEdward B. has a degree in Guitar Performance and owns and operates his own private instruction studio in Wailuku, HI. He has over 25 years of performing and professional teaching experience and is currently an instructor for the University of Hawaii and The Maui Music Conservatory. Learn more about Edward here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

Photo by sean dreilinger

Ouch My Guitar String Bit My Finger

Beginning Guitar: How to Build Up Calluses

Ouch My Guitar String Bit My FingerThere’s no way around it, learning to play guitar is sometimes a painful process. If you’re feeling like your guitar strings bit your finger, take this advice from guitar teacher Joe H.

Struggling to hold down the strings of your guitar without feeling like you are going to cut your finger wide open? Do you put your guitar away after just a few minutes of practicing with your fingertips gleaming red and feeling raw? Don’t worry! This is a common problem for the first few weeks or so of playing until you start developing guitar calluses.

What’s a callus? A callus is “A thickened and hardened part of the skin or soft tissue, especially in an area that has been subjected to friction.” Plain English? The more you play guitar the harder the tips of your fingers will become, allowing you to play more and more comfortably without any pain. Today we are going to talk about a few things you can do right now to make things a little easier on your fingers until you build up this protective layer.

Finger Placement

Make sure you are pushing down on the string just behind the fret you are trying to. When we are pushing down a string, our goal is to make the string touch the fret firmly to make a solid connection so we can get a clear sound. If our finger is too far away from the fret we are trying to hold down, we have to push down all that much harder to get a clear sound. By holding right next to the fret we get can get that solid connection with much less pressure being necessary. In this case less pressure=less discomfort!

Try Lighter Strings

Many guitars come strung with thicker strings than might be appropriate. Thicker strings require more tension on the strings to be tuned appropriately. By putting lighter strings, this tension will be lessened, and this will allow us to push down on the strings with less pressure to get that solid connection we discussed in tip #1! Make sure you have someone who knows what they are doing (i.e. a more experienced guitar player or a guitar store tech) set up the guitar to make sure it is still in good playing shape after the change.

Have The Action Adjusted

The “action” of a guitar is how we refer to the distance between the strings and the frets. All guitars need to have this adjusted from time to time. Many beginner guitars come with very high actions that make playing very uncomfortable and painful. To make a guitar easier and more comfortable to play, the action should be lowered until just before any of frets start buzzing when played. Again, make sure you have someone who knows what they are doing do this for you.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Make sure you are picking up the guitar almost every day if possible. Your practice sessions don’t need to be long, just a few minutes each day should suffice to help promote the building of guitar calluses. Find some good exercises to help build finger strength and play them at least once each time you pick up the guitar.

All of these tips should help make playing guitar comfortably more attainable for anyone who is just starting out, or picking the guitar back up. Now, there are no more excuses, get back to practicing!

Beginning guitar is easier when you have a guide. Your guitar teacher can help you along the way and show you the best way to learn to play the guitar. Search for your guitar teacher now! 

Joe H

Joe H. is a guitar and music theory instructor in White Plains, NY. Teaching since 2009, he received a degree in Jazz Studies from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music and can help students specialize in blues or country guitar. Learn more about Joe here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

Photo by Codayy

What Should I Look For In a Guitar Teacher for My Child

What Should I Look For in a Guitar Teacher for My Child?

What Should I Look For In a Guitar Teacher for My ChildOne of the most important factors in guitar lessons for kids is finding the right teacher. Guitar teacher Raymond L. shares his secrets for finding a great teacher for your child…

In my opinion one of the first qualities, you, as a parent, have to look for in a guitar teacher is that they inspire your child and help them develop a profound love for this beautiful musical instrument.

If your guitar teacher does not inspire your child, very likely they won’t be able to motivate your child or awaken in them a passion for the guitar, which is so essential to assure a progressive and sound development in your child’s musical and technical abilities.

As a parent, you should ask yourself these questions to see if a guitar teacher is right for your child:

  1. Does the guitar teacher know how to stimulate a positive attitude in my child?
  2. What systems does he or she use to motivate my child?
  3. Does the guitar teacher have good teaching skills and experience?

Stimulating a Positive Attitude

It is crucial that your guitar teacher works with your child to create a positive mindset because many students get easily frustrated when they are taking beginner guitar lessons. So the guitar teacher has to help with the anxiety of the student, always making him or her feel at ease.

They should tell your child, from the start, to avoid using the words “hard” or “difficult” in their vocabulary whenever they are experiencing some technical difficulty in playing a piece of music, but rather to substitute the word “challenging” for other words that have a more negative connotation.

Your guitar teacher should encourage your child to never say, “I can’t”, but to say instead, “I will”.

It is also essential for your guitar teacher to get to know your child’s interests: for example what kind of music they love in order to be prepared and able to teach your child those songs, or the type of music that most inspires them.

Your guitar teacher has to establish long-term, intermediate- and short-term goals together with your child, by brainstorming with them and incorporate those goals in the curriculum.

Your guitar teacher should never foster the feeling in your child that they are being punished, for example, making them repeat a song or a passage too many times. On the contrary, they should reinforce the child’s self-confidence by accompanying them, while repeating the song or music section, just enough to keep their interest and help them continue learning.

Motivation

When your child achieves one of their goals and is able to play their first song, riff, or piece of music satisfactorily, they will get what we call in psychology, “intrinsic motivation”.

This type of motivation develops from inside your child, from the pleasure they get from the task itself, from their enjoyment of playing, or even the satisfaction of working with the music. Many children are already intrinsically motivated because they simply love music or have an idol that they want to imitate or emulate.

Your guitar teacher should also stimulate your child’s motivation by using “extrinsic motivation” by rewarding him or her for their progress, especially if they notice signs of discouragement or low motivation. This approach will help to compensate for any gaps in intrinsic motivation and keep your child’s motivation at a high level.

Your guitar teacher can use different methods and systems to reward and motivate, such as:

  • Playing the guitar for your child
  • Using encouraging words such as: “Good job”, “Perfect”, “Awesome”, etc.
  • Rewarding them with stickers for their music book or notebook when they play a song correctly
  • Practicing together with your child, accompanying them while they play the instrument
  • Repeating and adding rhythm to the song or music if they have played the song correctly
  • Giving out certificates of merit and achievement
  • Organizing jam sessions with other students of the same level
  • Organizing recitals together with students for parents, family and friends
  • Organizing awards and competitions between students

Parents should also use what I call the “Motivation Meter” that shows the measure of their child’s motivation. This is the intuition or feeling you get when your child starts showing lack of interest in attending guitar lessons. Once the “Motivation Meter” sends the alarm signal to your mind, immediately you should start looking for the cause of this lack of motivation in your child. You’ll want to be able to talk to their guitar teacher about the problem too.

Teaching Skills Versus Technical Skills

It is of vital importance for parents to know the type of education, preparation, musical background, technical skills, music knowledge, and even written reviews their child’s guitar teacher has.

Do not be impressed only by a guitar teacher’s technical skills (how well they play the guitar) because this aspect is not always a guarantee that they also possess the ability to communicate information clearly and with ease. It is important to distinguish a performing artist from an educator.

Parents, you don’t want to have to struggle with your child to get them to their guitar lessons, neither would you like to see them dragging to practice. I’m sure you would like to see your child enjoying their guitar lessons, so please consider these tips to evaluate and select your child’s guitar teacher with consciousness. Consequently you will contribute to a delightful experience for your child with the guitar.

Interested in guitar lessons for kids? Search for a guitar teacher near you!

Remi LRaymond L. teaches guitar, classical guitar, musical theory, ukulele, and Spanish in Jacksonville, FL. Raymond has been teaching for over 30 years and he specializes in pop, blues, modern, Latin, classical and popular music. Learn more about Raymond here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by woodleywonderworks

3 Steps to Prepare for Guitar Lessons in Your Home

3 Steps to Prepare for Guitar Lessons in Your Home

3 Steps to Prepare for Guitar Lessons in Your HomeExcited to begin your guitar lessons? Guitar teacher Sean L. shares some helpful hints on preparing for your guitar teacher to come to your home to teach…

Preparing for your guitar lessons is just as important as the lesson itself, and having an adequate in-home lesson space is an integral part of preparing for your private instruction. Without a proper space your lessons will suffer, and you will not get the most out of your money.

Here are three things to think about to better prepare the perfect base of operations for you and your teacher to share.

1. Find Your Space

Finding that perfect place to hold your lessons can sometimes be overwhelming task; there are many factors that come into play when looking for somewhere that best fits your needs. The three most important are:

1. Noise

Will this area be too loud, or will you be too loud for this area? Noises can be distracting so avoid areas where volume would be a problem. Also, you don’t want to disturb neighbors or other people who share your living space. If noise is a problem everywhere in the house, try to let everyone know your lesson time so they can work around it. The acoustics of your spot should also be taken into account. This means stay away from places with an echo, such as stairwells and wine cellars.

2. Foot Traffic

You don’t want your lesson to get consistently interrupted by roommates/family, so find a place that can remain undisturbed for the entity of your lesson. I tend to use my living room, and I let my roommates know my teaching schedule, this leaves my lessons uninterrupted.

3. Comfort

There should be enough room for you and your instructor to sit comfortably, along with fitting all of your equipment. This means closets should probably be avoided. Along with looking for somewhere that has an adequate amount of space, try to find somewhere that is not too humid, as places like basements tend to be harsh on strings and equipment.

Once you’ve chosen your space, keep it neat! Nobody wants to see last weeks gym socks when they are trying to learn or teach guitar. Aside from gym socks, you should also clean out some clutter from your chosen spot. This will help create a more welcoming area for you and your instructor.

2. Prepare Your Equipment

Think of the following questions as an equipment checklist:

Do you have a music stand? You may need one for your lessons as well as practicing. A music stand is necessary for reading tab, chord charts, and sheet music. Most teachers will give you handouts every lesson.

Is your instructor willing to bring an amp, or do you need to have a second for your teacher? A working amp is vital for electric guitar lessons; for yourself, and your instructor. Also make sure your amp has distortion if that applies to your lessons.

Are all your cables working? Always makes sure all your equipment works. Cables break often so always double check

How will you access backing tracks and music? A phone, tablet, or computer with Internet access works best. You may also need a pair of speakers, because the speakers on your device may not be sufficient.

Is your guitar in good shape? You need to check if your guitar’s intonation and action is correct. The intonation will affect how in-tune your guitar sounds, and if the action is bad your guitar could be too difficult to play or there could be fret buzz. For more information on this topic ask your instructor, or visit this article.

You will also need to tune your guitar before your lesson, as tuning shouldn’t take away from valuable lesson time. Megan L. explains all the ways to tune your guitar in this blog post. Lastly you may need to change your strings if they are old. Old strings can affect how well your guitar stays in in tune. Noaa R. explains how to change strings here.

Also, ask your instructor what sort of equipment he or she requires for your lesson. Lastly, always check to see if your equipment works before your lesson.

3. Prepare Yourself

Another important part of getting ready for your lesson is preparing your mind and body. This means taking time throughout the week to practice and learn the materials your instructor has given you. You will also need to be prepared to receive constructive criticism during your lessons. Criticism is an important part of learning guitar.

If you follow these simple steps, you and your instructor will have a much more enjoyable time. A well prepared student leads to more productive lessons. Also don’t forget to practice, and inform your household when your lesson is scheduled so they can work around it.

In-home guitar lessons are the easiest way to learn guitar! Still looking for a guitar teacher? TakeLessons teachers are available to teach in-home, in-studio, and online lessons. Find a guitar teacher to fit in your schedule today!

Sean

Sean L. teaches acoustic guitar, guitar and music theory in Methuen, MA.  He has received many awards and certifications in the music world is currently working towards his Associates In Music from NECC.  Sean has been teaching students since April 2014.  Learn more about Sean L. here!

 

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Allan