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Music is a language

Thinking about music can become sometimes very complicated and overwhelming. You have all the  difficult concepts and foreign words that make you feel exhausted and confused just to think about them.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Music in itself is not complicated. The better you can think about music, the better results you can get.
The fact is, that you don’t need to know each and every rule that exists to communicate effectively. The less you know in the beginning, the better. You don’t need to learn every rule of English language to express what you want to say.

As easy as this might sound – music is a language. It is a mean of communication and expression. Everything that you learn in your music theory class should help you to express yourself better.

If your music theory concepts are just raw information with no real application, you need to re-learn those concepts in such a way, that makes more musical sense. We need to divide music into small pieces so we can understand them but then we want to bring them together so they make  sense as a whole.

When you are learning music, you can approach it pretty much the same way as if you were learning some foreign language. Your main reason why you are learning it, is to be able to communicate. The same is true if you are learning a blues language. You learn the  typical phrases, rhythms, chord progressions, you learn how to create a good blues song, you understand the critical pieces that need to be in place. Than you can communicate effectively.

Think about how you have learned your first language. It can really help you understand music in a new, more friendly way.

Guidelines how to approach music as a language:

1) Play with professionals
When you were learning your first language, you had an advantage of practicing with professionals – your parents. You could practice with them all day long and that way you were able to learn the language so quickly. Try to find some ways how to practice music in the same way. If you are not physically surrounded by professional musicians, you can use recordings, video lessons or articles. Whatever brings you closer to the best musicians.

2) There are no wrong notes
Just because we are not used to certain sounds, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Feel free to explore all the notes against any chord. You can find some really interesting sounds.

3) Technique is a mean of expression
Don’t practice technique just because it looks cool, try to find applications of every technique in real music. Technique enables you to express yourself, your task is to find something you want to express.

4) Create mood or emotion, say something worth while
Put life behind your music, make your notes mean something. First have something worthy to say and then find a way how to express it. That is what connects with people. Flashy licks are cool but good song can change somebody’s life. Use your personality and your experiences to create your unique sound. No one can do it for you.

5) Jam
There is no faster way to learn music than through jamming. As Victor Wooten says: “Play more than you practice.” Jam with everybody, no matter what is his level of musicality. Jam with recordings, jam with radio. Sing, clap, play your instrument. Everything counts. Music is not composed only of notes. There is rhythm, tempo, dynamics, articulation etc.

6) Use silence
This is one thing that we as a guitar players forget quite often. It is equally important what we play as what we don’t play. Without silence there would be no music. All the sounds would be playing all the time. Don’t be afraid of silence. Let few bars of music go by without playing anything.  

 

 

 

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20 quick actions you can do today to become a better guitar player

Is it possible to become a great guitarist overnight?

Definitely not.

The road to mastery is a long and winding road. But even though you cannot become great overnight, you definitely can and should become better than yesterday. That’s all you need to do. Become better today than you were yesterday.

To make it easier for you, below are 20 actions that you can do today to become better, more accomplished guitarist. No matter how busy you are today, pick at least one action and do it.

Make today a day that will change your guitar playing forever.

#1 Sit down and play (0 minutes)

Seriously. Stop talking that you don’t have time, energy or talent. Aren’t you already tired of that? Instead, dust off your guitar, sit down and play. This is the best way(and in fact the only way) how to become a better player. No more excuses. Take action.

#2 find a guitar teacher (15 minutes)

Do you feel stuck, frustrated or overwhelmed? Do you have questions but no answers? Is your progress slow?

Here is the solution: Find a guitar teacher and arrange your first lesson. A good teacher can help you to fix your bad habits, improve your technique and solve your musical problems.

#3 change your strings and get your guitar set up (2 – 3 hours)

Your instrument needs to be in a perfect condition, it is your “workhorse” – you have to take care of it. Low action and new strings can make wonders. Take your guitar to a local music store and get a nice set up. It is a good way for increasing your motivation without buying a new guitar.

#4 find a jamming buddy

Ask your friends if they don’t know somebody how also plays, go to a local music store and ask there. Try to find somebody who is at your level or somebody who is little bit better than you. You can jam, practice together or teach each other new stuff.

#5 dust off your metronome and use it (1 minute)

I know you have one. Almost every guitarist have one but only few actually use it. Metronome is the best thing to improve your timing. And I think music is all about keeping time, isn’t it? If you don’t have metronome use this one.  (although I would suggest to use regular one so you don’t have to turn on your computer every time you need a metronome.)

#6 set your musical goals (30 minutes)

Setting a goal gives you a direction, it helps you clarify what is important and what is not. Set one ultimate goal for your music carrier and then work backwards until you find actionable steps that you can do today. Don’t worry about your big goal, the journey is much more important. You are a work in progress forever. Focus all your attention to finish today’s goals and then do the same tomorrow.

#7 find your reason why (15 minutes)

Why are you playing guitar? Why did you start? What is your reason? What do you want to accomplish? What do you expect? Spend a few minutes answering these questions. Be honest. Remember: If your why is strong enough, you can overcome any obstacle. What matters is that your reasons make sense to you. They need to be genuinely yours. You don’t need to care about what other people think of you. When the going gets tough, when you feel like giving up, you need to revisit all your reasons why and they can give you that extra push that you need.

#8 join a guitar forum (5 minutes)

Don’t have money for a teacher? Join a guitar forum, make friends with members and ask your questions. People are usually very happy to help. Joining a guitar forum doesn’t cost you anything but can bring you a great benefits. If you don’t know where to start, try these:

JustinGuitar Forum: http://justinguitarcommunity.com/

Guitar Noise Forum: http://www.guitarnoise.com/forums/

The Gear Page Forum: http://www.thegearpage.net/

#9 start reading a bio of famous musicians (30 minutes)

Go to a library or buy a book or an autobiography of somebody who inspires you. You can find also some good articles online. Read at least one chapter. Find out how your favourite musicians approached music, what problems did they have, how much they practiced etc. Remember: Knowledge is a power, especially when you apply it.

#10 create a practice schedule (30 minutes)

Most people practice guitar without ever creating any plan. But it is not enough to sit down and play if you want to become great guitarist because you will usually end up noodling the same old tunes that you already know for years. There is no progress in this type of practicing.

What you need to do is create a practice schedule that will lead you to your goals and dreams.

Ask yourself:

What can I do today to fulfill my musical goals?

What can I do today to become a better guitar player?

What can I do this week to grow as a musician?

And once you have answers, you can create a schedule for today. You need to do this also for every week and every month. Spend some time every week to create your schedule and then once in a month analyze if you are moving in the right direction. No matter how imperfect your plan is, it is better than no plan at all. Continue Reading →

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