Lessons from the world’s greatest teachers and schools...
Music editor Jason Sidwell introduces this issue’s fun-filled lessons section.
What would you have done differently in your early guitar days to be a better musician now? Four hours a day bootcamping chops? Learnt more songs? Dealt with music reading? Studied more guitarists in a bid to be less emulative? Jammed with others more? And what of now; what changes could boost your progress from today onwards?
Let me highlight an option that has proved helpful for my own students. The common denominator approach involves appraising the general guitar terrain - everything from checking out songs to the detail in big name interviews - to see what music topics crop up most often. These are the ‘big picture’ skills that these guitarists have and you want too. As regards the topics themselves, they can span anything from knowing the Minor Pentatonic (all five shapes in all 12 keys) to having a great alternate picking technique (4,3,2,1 notes-per-string and string jumping ability all with excellent synchronisation between hands). This should all result in improved musicianship and employability; other musicians will want to play with you as you’ve solid technique, theory and repertoire to inspire interaction.
This issue, there are various references to arpeggios; an arpeggio involves the notes of a chord played one at a time. Musicians love them, countless famous melodies rely on them and audiences really like them too. Arpeggios are big common denominators in all shapes and at all speeds. Our guest video artist, Nick Johnson (p48) emphasises how important arpeggios are to his playing. Check him out, spot the arpeggios. Then nip over to Creative Rock (p82) where Shaun demonstrates numerous approaches to Mixolydian arpeggio sequencing. While the examples are quite quickly played, start at slow speeds to begin with (after memorisation, say, one note per click at 80-90bpm) and then play along to the backing track a little later. Get to the point where the arpeggio sequences are becoming second nature and part of your expanding vocabulary. So, I’ve introduced the common denominator approach, highlighted one topic worthy of study and then suggested a solid practice route. See how you get on; you might just take this approach to heart in a bid to be both time savvy and improvement driven. Enjoy the issue! The InsTITuTe of ConTemporary musIC performanCe