Lessons In­tro­duc­tion

Ja­son Sid­well in­tro­duces yet an­other fea­turepacked Lessons sec­tion.

Guitar Techniques - - Guitar Techniques -

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.

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