We’ve all been there. You get excited to learn a new song and dive right in. As time goes by – maybe a lot of time – you get frustrated and give up before the tune is really presentable. Getting a song “just right” takes work. A lot of work. Learning songs perfectly requires time…… Continue reading 5 Steps to learn a song perfectly. (Or at least almost perfectly.)
I wonder whether this is the most important question for a musician to ask. Finding the answer could be the difference between a lifetime of middling, stilted playing and one of real, consistent virtuosity. What do I even mean here? Let me attempt to add context by first quoting a recent blog post of mine…… Continue reading What should you think of when playing music?
Occasionally I talk about what I call “offloading the moment.” The idea here is that there are decisions that one should make while practicing music and there are decisions that one should make while playing music. For instance, what finger to use to play a particular note in a song is a decision that should…… Continue reading Offloading the moment
For today’s post, I want to offer a bit of “learn from my mistakes” advice, specifically related to jazz improvising. I started working on jazz soloing about 30 years ago. I’d only been playing a year or two at that point and, frankly, I didn’t know what jazz was. I just knew that playing jazz…… Continue reading Don’t learn jazz soloing the way I learned jazz soloing
In a previous post, I pointed to my “Star Wars” theory of guitar solos. This is the idea that solos should be like stories; they should offer a variety of dynamic levels, from mellow to exciting. To build the solo effectively, the first half should have more mellow sections and the last half should have…… Continue reading Creating dynamics in guitar solos
I’ve occasionally stumbled unto the advice that a guitar solo should tell a story. But what is really meant by that? Let’s take a look a great story: Star Wars. What happens in that movie? Well, Luke Skywalker stumbles across some lost droids belonging to the old nomad, Ben Kenobi. Upon receiving the droids, Ben tells…… Continue reading What can Star Wars teach us about writing a great guitar solo?
One interesting thing about the guitar (and similar stringed instruments like the uke) is that there are so many different ways to play it. You can play with a pick, fingers, or some combination of both. There are also all sorts of relatively new ways to play the guitar in a percussive manner. This post…… Continue reading Different ways to play guitar (with videos)
In a previous post, “Learning chord shapes on the guitar” we talked about learning some basic chord shapes. As noted in that post, learning these shapes only takes you part of the way towards playing a song. Once you’ve learned various chord shapes you then need to learn to transition from one chord to another. Each…… Continue reading Transitioning between chords on a guitar
A while back I came across the following video detailing a flamenco style uke strum I’ve seen Shimabukuro and others use. In the video, Jake breaks down the whole strum step by step. When I first watched the video I thought that it would be pretty hard to get the strum up to speed but…… Continue reading Jake Shimabukuro Triple Strum Technique (video)
I was working with a student recently and was reminded of all the subtleties of uke strumming. For instance, I use my index finger, sometimes supported by my thumb, to strum. When I do a downstroke, my index finger is curled upward and the nail part of my finger drags against the strings. When I…… Continue reading The nuances of uke strumming