Guitar lessons in Edinburgh

  • Bored of chords?

    Time to get serious about your chords! If you've decided to learn the guitar and you have ambitions of being a virtuoso guitar player, it's not unlikely that you might leave chord playing at the rudementary level. If you're taking guitar lessons in Edinburgh in a rock or pop context then basic open chords and barre chords are going to be your main diet, perhaps with a few dominant 7th chords in there too. This is where jazz chord voicings can really open up your vocabulalry, and speaking as a guitar teacher in edinburgh i can say it's something most students have overlooked. First try taking triads; if you're not sure then that's the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the scale, in this case played as a chord on adjacent strings. So C major would be C-E-G. Then find all the triads/inversions in that position (inversions are when the bass note isn't the root). So that will be either: C-E-G, E-G-C or G-C-E. Finding these triads all over the neck gives you a great sense of freedom and melody with your chords. The next step is 7th chords, and a great way to voice these is to use the drop 2 method. This means taking a 7th chord with the notes stacked in ascending order (for example C-E-G-B for Cmaj7th) and dropping the 2nd highest note down an octave, keeping the other notes the same pitch. Then run these through the four inversions. So you will have:

    root position C-G-B-E

    1st inversion E-B-C-G

    2nd inversion G-C-E-B

    3rd inversion B-G-C-E

    Some of these voicings sound great and they give you an authority with chords across the neck. These shapes are also the basis for most chord extensions (9ths, 13ths etc.). If this all seems a bit daunting then try something simpler: take your open chords and move them up the neck (including the open strings) using a barre with your 1st finger. You can then take a few strings from these chord shapes and make what we'll call chord fragments; smaller chord shapes that are easier to move around the neck.

    If anything here has been of interest, or if you'd like it explained further, don't hesitate to get in touch and book a lesson! Happy playing!

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  • Tone is in the hands, dude!

    We've all heard someone say it (teacher, friend, guitar shop employee) but as annoying as it may have been, there's certainly some truth to it. One of the main goals of seeking Edinburgh guitar lessons should be improving your tone, which is more to do with technique than amp settings. Technique can be a tricky subject too though. For some people focusing on technique means playing fast, which is a divisive topic among guitarists (I once heard of one Edinburgh guitar teacher who thought that playing faster was the only way to get better!). However, whether you have shred guitar aspirations or not, technique really means everything about the physical aspects of playing the guitar. Giving every note it's full value and playing slow enough that you make sure to achieve this. Getting every note to sound the same, with equal volume, then practicing varying the dynamics (volume) and using accents creatively. This can be pretty difficult for your picking hand to begin with, so you'll need to practice slowly. Try this: play a technical exercise (scale, arpeggio etc.) in semi quavers and try accenting on the 1, then 2, then 3 then the 4. Then try writing out 2 beats worth of semi quavers (so 8 notes) and circling a few randomly. Then try and accent these notes in your exercise. Using volume in your practice routine is important and it isn't limited to accents, using dynamics and feel within your technique practice (as if you're playing mozart or your most heartfelt solo) is the best way to get the most out of your practice routine. It's tempting to just let your fingers run through stuff and sometimes that's fine, but most of the time try and make everything you play sound as musical as possible, even if it's just a scale. As always, to get into any of this stuff in a bit more detail, please don't hesitate to get in touch to book a lesson at www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com/contact. Happy playing!

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  • Learn how to practice!

    Where is your guitar right now? In your hands?? No-one practices as much as they think they should and it's easy to get frustrated if you feel you don't have the time to spare. Finding a guitar teacher in Edinburgh is a good start as it means you've at least got an incentive to learn the material before the next lesson. At Guitar lessons in Edinburgh emphasis is given to the importance of practicing the right way. Play things slowly and don't get frustrated; if you practice slowly and carefully for 15 minutes, even if you can't hear any difference then you will still have gotten 15 minutes better at guitar. Do that everyday and over time you are gauranteed to improve, the only way to fasttrack it is to spend more time practicing. This sounds obvious, but what 99% of guitar players do is try and play everything they learn perfectly at full speed the first time they try it, which always has either 2 results: A. you can play it perfectly at full speed first time, which means it wasn't challenging enough for you to begin with, or B: you play it badly and then continually get frustrated that you can't play it and you're not improving, which results in a rut that many of us have found ourselves in. A great principle to practice by is: everything you play, you have to play perfectly every time. Now that sounds like a tall order, but if you allow yourself to slow it down and slow it down until that's achievable (and there is NO limit on how slow it might have to be) then it's really not hard at all, and it never should. Practice should NEVER be hard, though it might take a lot of time. Remember that every time you make a mistake, whether it's playing out of time, playing the wrong note, not giving each note it's full value, whatever, then you are learning that mistake, and all that achieves is making that whole process much longer and more frustrating. So try it, whatever tune you're working on, be honest with yourself and slow it down till it's perfect, practice it for a while and I gauruntee when you speed it back up you will have made serious progress from where you were before. Unless you're doing this already in which case, congratulations! You're probably already great, keep up the good work!

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  • Got the blues?

    Do you have the blues? No? Well learn some! Blues is the thread that ties together so many styles of music, it's something that every Edinburgh guitar teacher should focus on at some point. If you want to be a modern guitar player, you can't avoid it. At a minimum make sure you can play through a standard 12 bar blues rhythm part, but this is itself is a pretty big topic. You can play the basic chord progression (so for a 1-4-5 blues in E that's E7 – A7 - B7 - ) with a downstroke on every beat, you can do a rock n roll shuffle style groove adding the 6th onto your power chord, you can go much further and learn a few dominant 7th chord voicings and inversions and move through your rhythm part melodically, the possibilities are endless. So once you've done at least a BIT of that (maybe the 1st two would be a good start!) try learning a scale to play over it (hint: pentatonic or blues scale). Then you'll want to have a go at a solo. Start with trying to put together something that goes over the whole 12 bars. A good way to approach this is to pick a beat to start on, figure out (or copy from someone else) a simple lick then repeat it on that same beat throughout the 12 bars (this is best done through feel, you'll know when it sounds right). The key is to have phrasing, don't be afraid of having some space in there, especially when you're getting started. Once you've got that, try tweaking the lick a little bit when you get to the chord change. There is a defined theory to this, but to begin with it's probably easiest to just use your ears and a bit of trial and error! Once you're at this stage, you've at least got a blues foundation to work on and you'll be a better guitar player for it. At guitar lessons in Edinburgh blues is always encouraged to be at the very least a small part of every students repertoire and once you're past the beginner stage the sky is the limit on how advanced you can go. Check out Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford and Scott Henderson to name a few! As always if you'd like to learn a bit more then check out: www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com

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  • Learn a scale, not a shape!

    Know the difference between learning a shape and learning a scale! Most of us have been there at some point; you've learnt a 2 octave shape for a shiny new melodic minor scale and you sit down to try and use it creatively in a solo or riff, but you can't because don't know how to apply it in your playing. This is because you've learnt a shape, not a scale. At Guitar lessons in Edinburgh learning a scale properly is completely broken down into manageable and simple to practice material. This one is for advanced students, or students wishing to take the next step from intermediate to advanced, but it can definitely benefit everyone. Learning a scale properly takes a very long time, ideally it means playing it in as many patterns and permutations as possible (such as groups of 3's, 4's, 5's, triads, 7th note arpeggios etc.) and being able to really hear where the next note is. This is not only trains your ears to hear the scale, it's also a great way to improve technique. Although this can all be contained in that little 2 octave box shape you've just learnt, at some point you'll want to apply it across the entire fretboard, which means learning a box shape for every position on the neck and learning to connect them. This takes a little time and trial and error to begin with, but it's not as hard as it sounds, and once you've mastered it there will be nothing on your instrument that's a mystery. This gets easier and easier, but it's important to stick to the basic stuff to begin with before you experiment with anything more exotic sounding! So before you try pulling out your super locrian scale, it might be better to learn the boring old major scale in a bit more detail!

    Doing all of this on your own can be tricky, if you think you'd benefit from a helping hand on this subject or any other then please don't hesitate to get in contact by either using the 'contact' page of this website, or at: joshua@guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com. Alternatively, you can contact by phone on: 07982240703. Hope this helps!

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