PERSONALISED GUITAR PROGRAMS
Over the past ten years, I have had much success in teaching students of all age ranges and abilities to achieve their musical goals. Here are just some of the things that I get asked about regularly:
- How to get started, if you're a complete beginner
- How to study a graded syllabus
- How to play convincingly in a particular style or genre
- How to play faster
- How to improvise
- How to improve knowledge of the Fretboard
Those are just some of the subjects I get asked about, but there are many more. In some ways, it's never been easier to find the answers to some of these questions. The internet has had a profound impact on the way we learn, not just with the guitar, but with almost any subject. Online resources such as youtube, tablature websites and subscription services all provide a plethora of ways to learn things, and some of these resources are very good, but they all have a few fundamental flaws. The main problem is that the resources will only provide the answers to the questions you ask them, so you might find out how to play a guitar solo you've always wanted to learn, but have no idea how to improvise your own because you have no foundation in the style.
Another problem is the fact that these resources can't listen to you play and tell you where you are going wrong. They also can't tell you exactly how to practise the material in question. Sure, they can show you what to do, but they can't sit down with you and work out a program of learning that will fit around your lifestyle and get results.
Over the years as a teacher, I have written lots of material to cover lessons on all aspects of playing the guitar. These lesson programs include subjects such as technique, fretboard knowledge and stylistic study. Here are just some of the things I've written programs for:
- Legato (hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides) – Legato is a broad musical term that means something should be played smoothly. For guitar players, this means using a mixture of hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides to get an effect that Joe Satriani describes as sounding like liquid mercury.
- Alternate Picking – Alternating the direction your pick moves in allows you to play faster than using one type of stroke. Alternate picking also helps your playing stay in time.
- String Bending and Vibrato – Bending strings and adding vibrato to your notes is vital for adding a professional polish to your playing.
- Sweep/Economy Picking – Sweeping provides us with an ultra-efficient way of playing arpeggios, and economy picking does the same for scalar passages.
- Tapping – Tapping allows us to extend the range of our legato playing by using fingers from the picking hand to execute notes.
- String Skipping – Playing through scales sequentially can sometimes sound a bit predictable, string skipping cures this by reordering the notes.
- Hybrid Picking – Combining pick and fingers opens up a wide range in the fretting hand and also gives you a fresh tonal flavour.
There is no point in having a great technical facility but not knowing where your devices are on the Fretboard. It's only by choosing the right notes that you can make good music. With my programs, you will learn the guitar neck inside and out by using systems and harmonic devices such as:
- The CAGED System - So called as it is fundamentally based on the shapes of an open C, A, G, E and D chord. The CAGED system is a powerful tool for learning interval relationships, chords, scales and arpeggios all over the neck, and is a very useful way for navigating chord changes when soloing or playing rhythm.
- The Arpeggiator system - Teaches you how to find different keys in one fretboard area for chords, scales and arpeggios.
- The Three Notes Per String System – This system lays out scale patterns with three notes played on every string in one position. It's a very useful system for playing technical passages. Commonly associated with scalar playing, you can also incorporate arpeggios and triads with three notes per string.
- The Four Notes Per String System – By connecting three notes per string areas together you can also get four notes per string patterns. Used by players like Allan Holdsworth, this system is great for extending the Fretboard.
- Octave Displacement or Scale Chunking – This system provides a great way to cover lots of ground on the neck very quickly.
- Linear Playing (along the length of strings) – Playing along the length of a single string is a great way to visualise intervallic relationships and also gives runs a very violin like quality.
- Positional Playing – Positional playing is all about being able to hit lots of different musical devices, such as intervals, triads, pentatonics, arpeggios, scales and playing changes without having to move up and down the Fretboard.
- Combination Playing – Combination playing is ultimate fretboard freedom, being able to play all over the whole neck, and combining all of the other systems so you can go wherever you want and play anything.
- Triads - Open and close voiced triads.
- Pentatonic and Blues scales - Five positions relative to CAGED, and how to connect them so you know the scales, full Fretboard.
- Chords and Arpeggios - Major, Minor, Major 7, Dominant 7, Minor 7 and Minor 7 flat 5 chords and arpeggios relative to CAGED and how to hit key changes with them.
- Modes - The modes of the major scale aligned with CAGED and three notes per string systems.
- Intervallic studies - including 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and 6ths.
With my programs, you can study a number of different styles including:
- Specific fretboard knowledge concepts which are applicable to your chosen genre. You don't need to learn everything, just the essentials.
- The Specific technique exercises you need in order to be able to play the genre of your choice.
- Durations for practice. Together we can work out a plan for practising that will get results and also fits around your personal schedule. This is a really problematic area for most students as they understand the material, but they don't know how long to practice it for.
- I will also give you a practice log so you can see exactly how to practice everything, and you can tick off the sessions between lessons.