Guitar lessons in Edinburgh

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Welcome to the guitar lessons in Edinburgh blog! Here we've got some lesson material mixed in with some musings on learning music in general. Feel free to join in!

 

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Dec 9 2019 10:35PM

This is a question often strugged with at guitar lessons in Edinburgh when thinking about who to learn from in order to improve. It's likely that our musical hero's will be those musicians at the absolute peak of their craft. In jazz this might be your John Coltrane's and your Pat Metheny's. However if you're attending Edinburgh guitar lessons, you may feel like a mere mortal trying to learn from the Gods of music. Take Pat Metheny for example: his sense of rhythm is so accurate, trying to learn his lines without possessing his level of rhythmic accuracy can seem a futile effort. In an interview/lesson he explains that when he's playing swing he can 'hear' triplets at around 260bpm, and always play within that subdivision (as an Edinburgh guitar teacher, i can attest that getting students to 'hear' a subdivision is very important). Melodically, much of what he plays can seem so abstract in how it relates to the chords, it's very difficult to apply all that theory you've learnt to figuring out why he's playing what he's playing. So although definitely not a futile effort for all, learning Metheny might present too great a challenge for most players to actually benefit their playing. This shouldn't be taken as a knock to one's pride however, Metheny himself describes something very similar with learning Coltrane material (he sights saxophonist Sonny Rollins as a greater influence, partly because the lines are easier to execute). For jazz guitar, my recommendation would be someone like John Scofield as someone to emulate and copy. But the same logic can't be applied to all mediums: if we examine Stevie Ray Vaughan's lines, it's a master-class in classic blues playing, just played very cleanly. I'd make the case that out of most blues guitarists, SRV would be a good example of someone to emulate, it's solid blues guitar lines, playing IN TIME (an element that can be less at the forefront of some traditional blues players). And how do we learn from our hero's? It depends slightly on the genre, for jazz it's important to relate what was played to the chords it was played over to get an idea for the harmony used. But the universal mistake when learning from someone's playing (and in fact the same mistake is often made when learning anything) is to just learn the notes that someone's used and let that be the end of it! More important would be to learn the notes then the rhythm EXACTLY, usually this means listening out for dynamics and accents. Then playing along with the recording and getting the timing as accurate as possible. Then play it without the recording, with a metronome and try and get exactly the same feel. A lot of work, but as much as you can manage in this vein will be beneficial. As always, check out more at www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Jul 1 2019 09:27PM

A strange topic for the guitar lessons Edinburgh blog, but mental health is becoming an ever more recognized problem in today's society. Whether general mental health has gotten worse than it used to be, or simply that conditions like depression and anxiety are being more widely and openly recognized, it's certainly something that is a great cause of unhappiness for a large number of people. Much of this can be attributed to thought: idle hands and a wandering mind. Worrying about the future, or fretting over the past is occurs when one is lost in thought. Pascal said "Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for miseries and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries". Being distracted or lost in thought leaves one at the mercy of whatever negative train of thought might occur. What does this have to do with Edinburgh guitar lessons? Practicing an instrument is one of the few endeavors in modern life that one can (and should, if good results are to be achieved) concentrate on fully. The practice of meditation is to not be distracted by thought, to focus fully on things in the present (in classic meditation this is usually the breath, sounds and sensations in the body). By no means is it a susbtitute for medititaion (if that is your goal), but really concentrating on guitar practice restricts the amount of negative and unwanted distraction we get from other activites. It's been mentioned on this blog before, but even a technical exercise can be a lot to concentrate on.

"Are both hands completely relaxed? Are you playing with true legato? Are you using the minimum pressure with the left hand? Are you using the very tip of the finger? Are you able to vary the volume at will, or place accents on any beat?". Given the options for how we spend our time, and the activities which allow our minds to be distracted, concentrated guitar practice can be a great way of avoiding negative thought patterns. And the obvious massive side-effect is that after all this concentrated practice you'll have improved at guitar! As always, check out www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com for everything more.

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, May 13 2019 11:26AM

Sounds like stern advice and a guiding tool to take all the fun out of Edinburgh guitar lessons! That's not the intention here. As guitarists and musicians, most of us want to get better, most of the time, even if our aspirations are fairly humble. Idle guitar playing can be dangerous; if you're enjoying yourself and it's an alternative to watching t.v, then why not? But many players will record in their own head that they've done their hour or so guitar playing for the day, after having just noodled around the same riff they learnt years ago. It's not for any Edinburgh guitar teachers to say that spending your time this way is 'wrong' in any way, but it can be detrimental to your improvement on guitar. We're discussing the intermediate and advanced player here, when you're at a level where you need to put in a bit more time to see any real improvements. And the reality is that a lot of people might not feel they can allocate a great deal of their day to practicing, so out of the hour or 1/2 hour or however long they've set aside, they're using almost none of it to actually improve. You can't flip a switch and suddenly become more dedicated to guitar, or less tired after work, but it's possible to just re-adjust your approach to practice. So much of learning an instrument is repetition, so if you really want to just zone out in front of the T.V, try doing that with the guitar in your hand, practicing that new thing you've learnt, or melodic exercises (scales, licks) slowly and with as little pride or shame as possible in regards to the outcome. That sounds a little strange, but it's very important to not beat yourself up about the idea that you 'should' be learning quicker. This is unbelievably common among people learning an instrument, and it's usually detrimental to success. However quickly you learn is irrelevant, the most efficient way of practice is the most efficient way (slowly, accurately and in time!), so as long as you're practicing efficiently (not playing too fast, like everyone does!) then you needn't heed any self-critical thoughts about how quickly you're improving, as it's thoughts like that that put many people off practicing in the first place! As always, for any help with playing, check out www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Mar 11 2019 10:43PM

Well if you're reading a blog on the Guitar lessons Edinburgh website, you've probably already decided on the guitar as your instrument. But just to reassure you on why you were right, here's some thoughts on why guitar is one of the best. Firstly, it's small! (ish). The piano is a great instrument, but if they don't have one wherever you're going, you're not going to be playing one when you get there. You'll never see a piano teacher carrying their instrument around Edinburgh, guitar teachers have it different. The electric keyboard has made this a little easier, but one would hardly say it was easy. The same is true for the drums, and for the many orchestral instruments (cello, double bass, harp to name a few). Then let's think about daily practice. For anyone who's lived in a flat with thin walls/ceilings and/or grumpy neighbors, then practicing one's instrument can feel less like a solitary pursuit and more like an impromptu and unwelcome performance. Even if acoustic guitar is your preferred style, you can always play an un-amplified electric guitar (unless you're a classical guitarist) and volume is no issue at all. The same is not true for the drum kit, or the saxophone, or the violin or many other instruments that many amateur players feel reluctant to practice because, by virtue of the volume of the instrument, they are denied privacy in their practice time. So we've got nothing to complain about with the practicalities of the physical instrument, but we're also spoiled in terms of the application of it. The guitar can be used for blues, country, jazz, rock, metal, pop, reggae, funk, classical, pretty much ANY style of music you can think of. It can also be used as a rhythm or lead, not to mention the vast sonic and tonal possibilites through effects and amplification, and the different tricks and techniques that guitarists have come up with over the years (tapping, pinch harmonics, artificial harmonics, whammy bar dives etc.). So well done! For choosing the most versatile and functional instrument there is! Check out more at www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Jan 29 2019 12:18AM

It's often the mistake of many Edinburgh guitar lessons to keep learning new things each lesson, because of course it feels like you're learning new things! Now there's nothing wrong with this at all for the hobby player, but if you're going to take it more seriously you need to be aware that when you're constantly learning new things, you're really just remembering fret patterns on the neck, and not really 'learning' them. Take a scale for example, as any Edinburgh guitar teacher knows many guitarists will learn a scale as a fret position on the guitar, but won't be able to play it unless they start at the start and play linear until the end. This is like learning to pass an exam; you don't really need to know the material, you just need to regurgitate it when asked. Regarding exams, it's useful to approach exams such as rockschool or rgt as broadly as possible. Most will require the student to perform a number of scales, arpeggios and chords but in a fairly limited context, as described above. It's an understandable dilemma from the point of view of the exam; it would seem too unattainable, and exhaustive, in a grading system to require the student to practice the technical material (such as a scale) to a tempo and in as many patterns as needed to have really absorbed it. It's unfashionable to talk about playing speed in these sorts of conversations, but it does serve as an indicator of the level of repetition. Ideally, it's the quality of the notes that should be valued (aiming for 'true legato', leaving no gaps between the notes) and therefore whatever tempo was required it would be assumed this was to only be played with true legato (or fairly close). It would be important to stress this point (especially as pertaining to an exam condition) so as not to encourage the student to a attempt a tempo they weren't ready for. As always, check out www.guitarlessonsinedinburgh.com for more guitar related waffling!


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