Saturday, June 18, 2016
1. Choose a pick type, thickness, and color and stick with it. I've been using the same sort of picks, both in size and makeup since 1986. I'm not sure how I came across these but knew they felt good and were thick enough to play rock guitar, plus I could see them in the dark. What are they? Dunlop .96 mm Delrin picks.
2. Learn to play finger style (just your fingers, no pick). There's more to playing the guitar than what you can play just using a pick. Learning how to finger pick will open up so many new sounds and possibilities, and you'll be amazed. I like to teach students the right-hand methodology and technique from a classical guitar viewpoint. There are many quality methods, however, so choose one, i.e. Christopher Parkening, Berklee Book Series, etc. Start with the exercises listed on the 'acoustic guitar lessons' page which also incorporate classical guitar.
3. Learn to read music. There are so many reasons to read guitar music, and understanding rhythm notation to list them here. Just know that not being able to read will hinder your learning different styles, becoming a studio musician, limit your options once in college, etc.
4. Compose original songs. Typically, your choices of demonstrating you can play the guitar are through live performance (solo or as part of a group or band), or you can record yourself (for others to hear) and publish your songs yourself. If you only play for yourself, and no one ever hears you or shares your musical gift, you're missing a rewarding aspect to being a musician. I enjoy composing and recording more than playing live and hope to finish my 19th CD in 2016.
5. Play in a band (at least once). You may not enjoy performing as much as some, but you should join and play in a group at least once in life. Play some gigs, travel, set up and break down all the gear, market yourself and your band. It's a lot of work, and if you double as the sound guy (plus own all the PA gear), it's a specially big challenge. You may also triple as the recording engineer for your band, producing the demo CD. Sound familiar?
6. Learn how to run sound, become a sound man. We've all heard ear-piercing feedback at a live show or event, have you wished you could fix it? A good sound guy can make or break your sound and the success of your gig. Learn how to control feedback using EQ, volume, and position of microphones to monitors. Explore how all the PA components connect and work together. Learn about compression, effects loops, groups and inserts.
7. Learn how to record your songs and/or your band's songs at home. Put together your studio and DAW (digital audio workstation). There's nothing like being able to save the money and record and produce the CD yourself! There will be a high learning curve and upfront investment, but in the long run, you'll be the happiest recording and releasing your recordings.
8. Appreciate excellent drummers, they are amazing! I've had the pleasure of working with a couple of really great drummers. What made them great you ask? Firstly, not requiring me to chart out the entire tune so they can play (at all), and being proficient enough to make up parts of the fly. Hearing what they naturally came up with has always been part of the excitement. Also, when you hear them accenting particular nuances of your guitar part, you'll know they're hearing what you're playing. When they pick up on the exact 'vibe' you heard in your head and intended for the song; you'll know you found a keeper. Appreciate good drummers.
9. Teach someone guitar. Teaching is the fastest, and best way to see what you know and whether you can explain it or not. I started teaching at age 16 while a sophomore in High School. I found that if I could explain a music theory concept to a friend, that meant I understood it enough to apply it in my playing and build on its foundation.
10. Develop your ear, and practice ear training. Ear training is invaluable, and I believe everyone can develop relative pitch. If you can hum a tune or melody and recreate it on the guitar (through searching for the notes), you already have decent pitch! Now expand your ear training to the study of intervals and weekly practice using recording audio snippets. Many websites have ear training exercises, locate one and see how you fair (finding the notes).
Why do you play the guitar? I enjoy asking this question of great players I meet plus my guitar students. You may not remember why, or how you started, and that's okay. However, if you can recall, what was your inspiration to play? Think about these - Did you have a friend that played? Did you see a great live band or guitar player? Heaven forbid, did you think the guitar would make you famous? Any aspirations for greatness - did you want to be famous (I did)? Did you do what so many of us did and trade your air-guitar in for a real one? ~There are so many reasons for wanting to play the guitar, I'd love to know why, please share your story as a comment on this page. Do you remember when you made the decision to play and play well? What was your first guitar? These are all questions that are fun to discuss and remember.