Jason Sidwell introduces yet another featurepacked Lessons section.
HOW WE LEARN is often down to how open we are to new information. We require the right frame of mind and time to deal with the information; there’s also the appeal of the information itself. How it’s presented to you can play a huge factor in you considering it. If you’ve been playing a few years, an article labelled ‘essential’ or ‘beginner’ can put you off; it’s beneath you, of no worth. But labels are just a sell tag; it’s the information that matters so it’s always worth looking deeper.
We have often seen guitarists turn their noses up at tuition material that’s been packaged as ‘foundational’, when they clearly are in need of it. What about you; know all five shapes of A minor pentatonic? This is foundational stuff but some guitarists struggle to ascend and descend all five shapes at jogging pace! So how adept are you at doing the same in the remaining 11 minor keys? It sounds like a big ask but it’s no more advanced than A minor; yet you’re equipping yourself to play in other keys, ready for the day when a keyboardist wants you to jam in Eb minor or a saxophonist wants to trade licks in a Bb blues.
What about knowing the chord tones in major and minor chords? What three notes are found in the chord of D major? Or Gb minor? Again, this is foundational stuff; no promises of heightened prowess or wow factor appeal; but it’s more essential to you musically than excellence with dive-bomb harmonics or fourth finger strength for fretboard tapping.
If you desire to be a rounded musician rather than a hot licks guitarist, you have to set out your development plan accordingly. We know of one iconic player who has turned down several impromptu jams as, despite his virtuosic rock style he is ill equipped to play with the well-known saxophonist. His speedy licks can’t make up for the gaps in his musical vocabulary. If he knew some II-V-Is, had good chord tone targeting, knew about alterations and had some stylistically secure vocabulary, he’d be able to play in a new musical scenario.
So, be careful about what you consider as beneath you. We often think the more exotic something is, the wider the doors to musical utopia are opened. Rarely is this the case. Advanced, exotic tuition can be a double-edged sword; it may promise much (master the Superlocrian and ecstasy awaits) but the niche world it thrives in may keep you locked in your music room and away from a Top 40 paying gig, or open mic jam nights at your local pub.