Tag Archives: guitar lessons

Guitar Chords

Guitar Chords

What are chords for?

Chords are groups of notes played in a simultaneous manner to define areas of harmonic tension. We commonly use chords to play rhythm on the guitar. Unfortunately, we can easily fall into the trap of considering a chord a shape that we must strum, and not a group of notes that can be played in any order we wish, with the sole purpose of defining the desired harmonic tension of the passage. Chords are generally used to define rhythm, but chords can help us define, if needed the melody of a song.

To strum is an option

Most instruments do not play chords as guitarists do. On the guitar we fall into the habit of playing all the notes of the chord at once, we strum, because it is hard to play a chord, as a piano player, or as a bass player or as Bach would.

It is easy to strum a chord but this can produce little musicality and generally creates a wall of sound that can obscure the beauty of the melody and the accompaniment. 

It is extremely unfortunate for youtube to be flooded with guitarists that have created a school of thinking,  that makes us believe that the role of the guitar is only about playing chords and when we play a song, all we have to do is play a group of chords without worrying about the melody. 

This simplistic approach will produce great frustration in your learning and destroy any possibility of creativity in your performance.

Learn chords properly 

Students must learn to understand the why and when to use a chord. Please avoid the process of learning a song where you start playing the chords directly. First learn the melody of the song, sing it and then learn the chords to accompany your singing. 

You must sing and able to produce the melody because only then, will you be able to understand what it means to play a chord and when to change. 

You must learn to hear, sing a melody and also to be able to play it on the guitar in the most simple manner. Once you have this sorted out, and of course played it all in  tempo, you will be ready to understand what it means to accompany a melody, and how to do so with chords.

At my Creative Guitar School I apply these concepts to all guitar lessons, courses and levels.

What chords to learn first?

I suggest to learn basic chords in the one position to start off with, but in a manner that makes more sense. That is, in a musical context where there is a starting point, an ending, a tempo and a melody. 

Please follow these links for a video transcript of my beginners course, where you can read about how to learn the C and Am chords, the Em and G chords, and the Dm and F chords. 

I teach in all my guitar courses how to play the chords in a song context and always giving melodic values to all chordal notes. As a consequence, they sound nicer, feel better and make much more musical sense. 

This is especially relevant in the recording process of any song to deliver a more professional music production to your listener.

Play chords melodically

I believe that guitarists deserve more than just the option of strumming chords. We should enjoy the art of creating melodies with chords in the same manner as a piano player does. However, due to the way the guitar is constructed, this can be a daunting process to master and that is why we always fall back onto regular shapes and end up sounding like everyone else.

The Pivoting Techniques

I have created an online course called the pivoting techniques, where you learn to create melodies with triads in closed position by adding tension to the top voice, passing tones to inner voices and 7ths to triads in root position. 

Now, it takes around 50 hours of study to be able to grasp the concept in one position of the guitar, but the musical outcome is extremely rewarding as you will soon be in a position where you will create melodies on the go, creating extremely rich accompaniments and in the process, have enormous fun. 

Be aware

 Most guitarists are not aware of the purpose of accompaniment and why we need to play with rich musical clarity to make sure the lead line is reinforced.  We must define the groove with chords and also create a flow of tension and release to sustain the melody, the vocal line, all the way through a song. 

You cannot do this with standard shapes nor bar chords. They simply sound muddy. You need to play with shapes that are a reflection of what occurs naturally. Chords shapes that copy the order of harmonics of the harmonic series. Triads in closed position do this and will work very nicely.

Guitar Chords Dm shapes in closed position

7th chords

You will need to play with more tension in certain styles of music. The 7th chords create another degree of harmonic flow. When we play triads we can add the 7ths as a passing tone, to alter temporarily the degree of tension of the chord.

However, when we play 7th chords, the 7th will always be present , and we will add more tension to the chord by adding upper tensions as the 9th, 11th and 13th. 

In order to play seventh chords, you must, again, use shapes that are derived from the balanced sounds of closed positions.  It is very hard to play 7th chords in closed positions on the guitar, so we need to alter them by opening them up, by bringing down one of the internal notes an octave. 

These are the shapes we refer to as drop 2, drop 3 and drop 2 and 4. They all produce balanced sounds and you must master them to understand the beauty of 7th harmony and what it means to sound balance and unbalanced. 

When you play anything on the guitar, no matter if you are playing lead or rhythm you must sound good on your own. It will not make sense if your musical phrase is not logical. Also, your chords must sound full, complete on their own, that is why you need to learn the drop 2 – 4 , drop 3  or drop 2 shapes, and master them to create bass lines, and melodic phrases whenever you need the density of the 7th chords in your playing. 

drop3 guitar chords

Article Summary 

It is not the objective of my article to teach you how to learn chords but to be aware of what they are for, what sounds good, what will sound out of context and types of chords you need to master. 

Chords should not be learnt on their own but in the context of a tonal center to understand the relationship of the scale and the chord at all times throughout a song. This is what we refer to as chord scale relationship. 

In order to have a good grasp of chords and scales you will need to dedicate a constant practice. If you are in a rush, and have the stamina to complete the task it will take you around 2 years of 8 hours a daily study to be acquainted with them in a professional manner. 

10 Guitar Learning Problems

10 Guitar learning problems

What are the main learning difficulties you encounter in the majority of students that come to your school?

First of all, I must say that all students that attend the Creative Guitar School, either in the classroom context, or through the e-learning program, are all eager to learn, play and immerse themselves into the journey of music. It does not matter whether their goal is to become a songwriter, a blues guitarist, a jazz guitarist or simply a solo musician, as they all wish to enjoy playing their favourite songs on such a beautiful instrument as the guitar, anywhere and at any time. 

1.To accept that learning guitar is not an easy task.

The main difficulty I perceive in all beginner guitar students, is overcoming the initial surprise that learning a new instrument is not as easy as they thought.

Why? 

Students need to understand that when they play the guitar, they are actually speaking a language through an instrument. Therefore, if they are not aware of the musical language, they will not be able to play with much fun and they will start to experience constant frustration.

 2. The lack of understanding of the musical language.

Music is an aural language where we create or reproduce a sequence of pitches in relation to a pulse.  Students need to develop a competent aural understanding of melody and rhythm and this takes time.

My courses are designed to help students not only physically play the guitar, but to be able to hear and understand what they will play before such occurs.  This approach will help reduce your guitar learning problems .

3. Previous internet studying has lead to confusion.

Most of my student’s first understanding of how to play the guitar, comes from the internet. This is a virtual world where they see a lot of guitarists doing a lot of fancy stuff on their own. The stuff they see, generally only lasts a few seconds,  and initially it seems cool to follow, listen and also want to do. 

4. Learning is not only about playing chords. 

Also, most of these guitarists share the impression that playing a song is about playing a set of chords and that is that. When students try to copy what they see, they soon realise they cannot do it right or it does not make sense,  and that is when they encounter their first major guitar learning problem.

It is hard to explain initially what should make sense in your guitar learning,  but it generally comes down to playing in a group format where you must define your role as melody and accompaniment in sync with others. If your learning allows such, then you are in the right direction. If not,  please get a music teacher to show you what the language of music is all about.  A teacher will help you overcome initial guitar learning problems.

  5. Learning guitar through you tube.

I strongly recommend to avoid learning with any youtube video that does not have the support of a teacher, and any youtube video that does not teach you how to hear what you are playing. 

6. Lack of understanding of what a song is.

Also, most guitar youtube videos show you how to play chords and this really is not what you should learn,  as the most important aspect of any song is its melody. Do not learn licks, don’t learn chord progressions, learn full songs and learn how to create your own accompaniment, no matter what style you wish to play. You can  apply this rule to blues, jazz, funk, rock, classical or flamenco guitar, but please, play full songs. Then, after you can play full songs, you will be ready to learn licks and how to create them.

If you choose to only mimic the movements of others, then your creativity may be blocked and as a consequence, anxiety or anguish may appear at your doorstep. 

7. To not be able to hear what they play.

My videos teach you how to hear and play. With each guitar video, the students must consolidate their learning by completing a series of assignments. The final objective of all basic guitar learning is for the guitar student to be able to play a melody, accompaniments and solo of any simple song. You must be able to achieve this in a relatively short period of time, in a musical context where you hear it all happening at once, just like in the real world. 

As a guitarist, this will require a lot of practice on your behalf. Music learning is not easy and the guitar learning can be a slow but rewarding experience. 

Please consider that music is a relaxing therapy and you will only be able to relax when you express a full musical idea. A full idea includes the melody, the accompaniment and variations from start to end.  And, all of these played in a musical context that includes tempo. This last recommendation will greatly help you reduce your guitar learning problems.

8. Not understanding what it means to be creative.

In order to be creative on the guitar as a performer, you need to be skilled in a variety of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic resources that will allow you to develop the chosen composition. 

It must be your objective as a performer to tell a story on the guitar with the composition you are playing. The song will always be a repeating structure and as the song progresses you will need to add variations of rhythm, harmony and melody to achieve a flow in the song, and also to strive for a climax, which all songs have. 

You will use your creativity to play all these variations on the go. 

9. Overcoming boredom of repetition

Guitar students tire quickly from trying to learn something new. This is another major guitar learning problem.

Music is a discipline that requires a lot of repetition to memorise sound and technique. There is no shortcut to this.  However, repetition can be fun.

How ?

By playing the guitar in tempo and in the context of a song.

The more you practice as if you were playing a full song or playing live with others, the sooner you will overcome the boredom of repetition. 

It is good to repeat in the context of a song as this will give you the framework to be creative. A repeating structure is the best scenario to be creative in the long term.  

10. Not playing in tempo 

If you are playing the groove correctly your ideas will flow effortlessly. The structure is what allows the maximum creativity, it is a frame work with boundaries that will allow you to bounce around endlessly.

Please notice that I mention you need to play the groove correctly. The groove is the pulse of the song, the underlying heartbeat, you must feed this pulse and make it vibrate so the song can flow and breathe. 

In all my guitar courses, both those that I offer in a classroom setting or those that I offer online, the main element  which I am always insisting upon, is the pulse, the beat and rhythm.  Please also visit my main site to hear examples of my musical productions that reflect all the above concepts.

The more you play to a beat, in tempo,  the more relaxing your music will be and as a consequence the better you will feel. 

Songwriting Guitar Online Course

The PivotingTechniques

Pivoting Techniques

This course is part of the songwriting modules at the creative guitar school.

1. What are you going to learn in this songwriting guitar online course? 

This course delivers a specific skill set of guitar techniques, the pivoting techniques, to help you develop very creative guitar accompaniments in your songs.

You will learn to make melodies with chords to match the emotional variations of the vocal line, to enjoy yourself even more in music,  and open a pathway that will allow your inner creativity to flow seamlessly and therefore take your songs to a world class level. 

2. What will you be able to do after this songwriting guitar online course?

After you have finished the course, the next time you see a Dm chord, you will no longer just strum it, but make it sound like what the pro piano player or orchestra would do, behind the vocalist of a song. 

You will never play a standard chordal shape in the same manner. Your first impulse or option, will no longer be to strum all the strings at the same time, but to choose from other better sounding shapes to create melodic lines that define the groove, the chord and harmonic context.

You will be able  to accompany with more or less intensity, playing chords with one note, two notes or three at a time, with more or less rhythm,  in lower or higher registers, and always creating beautiful melodic lines. 

And, you will also be able to apply the pivoting techniques, in different styles, with different guitar sounds, in different modes and keys.

3.  Does this ever happen to you? 

  • Don’t you get tired of always playing your typical chords in the same manner?
  • Have you ever felt that a song is boring and thought that adding a new section would solve the problem but it didn’t? 
  • Do you ever feel the need to play a second verse with more power but you do not know how to? 
  • Have you ever taken your new song to your band, and when they play it, all the accompaniment sounds like just one big sonic mass of chords, where you cannot hear what you play, and need to crank up your guitar or vocals? 

I must say… all the previous has happened to me a lot, and that is why I developed the pivoting techniques that I will share with you. 

online-guitar-songwriting-course

3.1 How can you solve these problems and many more?

So, how can you solve these problems and many more? By applying my pivoting techniques, adding extreme melodic value to your accompaniment, reinventing your selected chords and making them pulsate, come alive. 

As a result, your accompaniment will sound clearer, groovier.  It will make the song sound more interesting. Furthermore, the accompaniment can now be louder in the mix and not have to sit in the boring background.  

You will be able to repeat sections of a song and never get tired of them, as you will learn to create variations, to match the emotional contour of the vocal line in the soft and extreme emotions. 

4. How does the course work?

4.1 What do you need to know to take the course?

This songwriting guitar online course is for guitarists of all levels. The examples are written with tabs and standard notation. But, you will further benefit, if you know how to read standard notation. 

You must have an understanding of basic open string chords.  It will also be beneficial if you can sing songs and play chords at the same time,  and, if you can play along the recorded original tracks of your favourite songs.

Have you taken the prerequisite test to see where you are, and to find out what else you would need to work on before signing up for the course ? If not please do so. 

The Prerequisite Test

Before we begin, we’d like to learn a bit about your level of guitar playing. 

In order to follow the course and benefit from it you need to have:

  • A basic understanding of how to read, both music written with tabs and standard.
  • A thorough understanding of basic open string chords.  
  • The ability to sing full songs and play chords at the same time.
  • Transcriptions skills: the ability to hear a melody, play it on the guitar and write it in tab or music notation.

To see where you are, and to find out what else you would need to work on before signing up for the course please do the following two assignments:

Download this track and pdf file.

Learn the melody and chords.

  • Record your own version of both melody and accompaniment, and submit as an mp3 file to info@thomaslorenzo.com.au
  • Write the melody with tabs and rhythmic notation and submit to  info@thomaslorenzo.com.au

Submit a recording

Submit a recording ( mp3 file to info@thomaslorenzo.com.au ) of you playing another song of your choice. You have to decide what the word play a song means to you. 

Thank you, and have fun! Get started with my new online guitar songwriting course.

Lesson 4 – How to play a melody

This is the video transcript of lesson number 4 of the Beginners Guitar Course: How to play a melody.

You may read the transcript of the Beginners Guitar Course lesson one, here.

You may read the transcript of the Beginners Guitar Course lesson two, here.

You may read the transcript of the Beginners Guitar Course lesson three, here.

Consolidation exercises 

As mentioned, every week I add one more exercise to your daily 20 minute guitar practice session.

The new guitar exercise builds on the previous. Do not practice only the new exercise because you will not learn and you will feel very frustrated and give up.

You must consolidate all the previous musical examples on a daily basis. The better you know them the easier it will be to learn new musical material. It will take you 10 weeks to consolidate all.

I have designed every exercise to help you improve your aural rhythmic and performance skills gradually. You need to work and build on these three skills on a daily basis.  Please practice the program in order so as you may achieve the learning goals that I established.

Do not concentrate your practice on what you do not know, practice and have fun with what you know and then add new music new every week. 

You must practice every exercise exactly the way your learnt it. If you cannot do such please go back to the video to refresh.

The song

This is the new song you will learn, where I combine the C, Am, Em, and G chords. It also has four  eight bar melodies, that I created with the C scale.

What new vocabulary do you need to learn to master, play this song and learn how to play a melody:

  • The C scale with open strings 
  • 4 melodies of 8 bars duration 

How are you going to learn ?

(Step by step + LISP routine + aural comprehension + repetition ) x 4 = Happiness

Step by step, applying the LISP routine with a lot of aural comprehension, then you add quite a few repetitions and you will end playing fluently the song .  

Step one 

In Step one you will learn the C scale, with open strings, the alphabet, with which all these melodies are constructed. In other words, you will practice the pathway, where to find all the melodies. This the first step for how to play a melody.  

Step two

In Step two you will learn to play slowly each of the individual 4 melodies using the L.I.S.P routine.

Step three

In Step 3 you will consolidate with: On your own routine.

Step four

In Step four you will combine all the 8 melodies.

Step 1 – The C scale

I will start on the 6th string and play it from E. Play along with me and sing the sound.  I will now play it descending from the G note. 

C scale first position How to play a melody

Let’s play now two notes per beat.  How do you count two notes per beat ? You add the word and, in between.  In order to play each note two times per beat you will need to alternate your index and middle fingers as in the video.

Play along with me. 

Play along with me descending from G.

Rewind and repeat.

Step 2 – L.I.S.P Melody 1

  • Listen
  • Imagine 
  • Sing 
  • Play Comprehend 

Before you play, comprehend what happens on each beat of the melody, in order. Ask your self the following questions, sing and point to your fingers. This will help learn how to play a melody.

How to play a melody on the guitar?

Per Beat

How many notes?

Per Note: 

Same, up or down?

Beat one  

How many notes are there? None.

Beat two

How many notes are there? Two. 

Are they both the same? Yes. 

Beat three  

How many notes are there? Two.

Are they both the same? Yes. 

Beat four 

How many notes are there? Two.

Are they both the same? No.

1st note, same, up or down?It goes up. 

2nd note, same, up, or down? It goes up. 

Next bar 

Beat one

How many notes are there? One. 

Same as the previous, does it go up, or down? Same.

Beat two

How many notes are there? One.

Same as the previous, does it go up, or down? It goes down. 

Beat three

How many notes are there? One. 

Same as the previous, does it go up, or down? Same.

Beat four 

How many notes are there? One. 

Same as the previous, does it go up, or down? Down.

Note: These two bars are repeated twice.

On your own 

Stop the video and play the two bars on your own. Consolidate your how to play a melody.

Play along with me 

Play along with me at half the tempo.   

Play along with me at the original tempo 

Rewind and Repeat full L.I.S.P of Melody 1

L.I.S.P. Melody Number 2

  • Listen
  • Imagine 
  • Sing 
  • Play Comprehend 

Before you play, comprehend what happens on each beat of the melody, in order. Ask your self the following questions, sing and point to your fingers. This will help you learn to play a melody.

Per Beat: How many notes?

Per Note: Same, up or down?

Beat one 

How many notes are there? One, it is a D. 

Beat two

How many notes are there? One.

Where does the note start? On beat 2 and. 

Same as the previous, does it go up, or down? It goes up.

Beat three and four 

Same as one and two.

Next Bar 

Beat one and two  

Same as previous  beats one, two, three and four.

Beat three

How many notes are there? Two.

Are they both the same?No

1st note, same, up or down?It goes down. 

2nd note, same, up, or down? It goes down

Beat four

How many notes are there? One.

Same as the previous, does it go up, or down? It goes down.

On your own 

Stop the video and play the two bars on your own. 

Play along with me 

Play along with me at half the tempo.   

Play along with me at the original tempo. 

Rewind and Repeat full L.I.S.P of Melody 2

Practice the song 

  • Play along with me Melody one and two 4 times. 
  • Play along with me the chords of Melody one, 4 times. They are the same as you have played in Song number one and two. 

Assignments

Repeat the video as many times as you need to until you have memorised how to play the scale and melody number 1 and 2.

L.I.S.P  Melody 1, 2 

After you have L.I.S.P the melody , write in detail your replies  to:

  • Per beat: How many notes ?
  • Per note: Same up or down ?

Record yourself

Once you have memorised the melody (pitch and rhythm).  Record yourself in video, with your phone, playing along the corresponding melody trac.k

Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording to the teacher.

Check questions 

  • Did you turn on your metronome ? 
  • Did you tap your feet while recording ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing what you were doing? 

You have access to tabs of all melodies in your drop box folder.

Music Production and Songwriting

A thorough understanding of how to hear and play a melody will help you write your songs matching closely your emotions and words to the appropriate chord and melody. Read more about how to write a song.

How to play The Em and G chord, Beginners Guitar

Lesson 3 – How to play the Em and G chord.

This is the transcript of lesson 3 of the Beginners course

Click on the link for the transcript of lesson 1 of the Beginners course: How to find notes on the guitar fretboard

Click on the link for the transcript of lesson 1 of the Beginners course. How to play the C and Am chord

1 Introduction 

 1. 1 What will you learn 

In this lesson, you will learn to play a new section of our final song, and how to play the Em and G chord. 

Once you master this new section you will have further musical vocabulary,  better right and left hand coordination and improved finger picking technique.

You will also build on the song from lesson 2, and start exploring different styles of guitar playing

1. 2 What will happen after this lesson 

You will feel positive that you can learn to play the guitar with fun, as you will have understood that you are able to target all goals, by dividing the learning process into manageable, satisfying  steps.

2 Warm up 

Warm up with the following phrase:

Learn it slowly.

Count it in. 

  • Listen
  • Imagine  what I have  just done. 
  • Sing  what I have  just done.
  • Play with me. 

Play the notes on the 6th string with your thumb. Play the notes on the 4th string alternating  between the index, and middle finger. I will play the phrase 4 times. Notice that I play louder the ands

Play it with me a bit faster.

Now play it with the recording.

3 The Song

Learn this song with the Em and G chords. Learn how to play the Em and G chord

3.1   The Goal

In order to  learn how to play the Em and G chord and play this song you will need to practice:

1 Each chord on its own

2 How to join them and create the groove 

3 The melody

4 The song from start to finish.

Note:

This practice routine breaks up your learning of   how to play the Em and G chord, into manageable steps. If you jump any step , for example practice directly step 4,  you most probably will end up playing the song very poorly, and feeling very frustrated. So, practice the full routine in order.

3.2 Step one Practice each chord on its own 

3.2.1 Chord Learning Routine on Em

Apply the chord learning routine to the Em Chord.

  • Place your fingers in order
  • Name the bass   
  • Play one string at a time from the bass 
  • Clarity Check. Adjust your hands
  • Repeat and Play one string at a time from the bass 

3.2.2 Chord Learning Routine on G

Apply the chord learning routine to the G Chord.

  • Place your fingers in order
  • Name the bass   
  • Play one string at a time from the bass 
  • Clarity Check. Adjust your hands
  • Repeat and Play one string at a time from the bass  

3.3 Step two- Join them 

4/4  |Em | G  | Em | G| 

This is a visual representation of what you have to do. Each chord, between the brackets, lasts  a specific number of beats, or taps with your foot.

The symbol 4/4, indicates four taps of your foot between brackets, hence, each chord has a duration of 4 counts. Join them and learn   how to play the Em and G chord.

3.3.1 The goal

Your goal will be to play: 

 4/4  |Em | G  | Em | G|

likes this:

Get ready

  • Place your fingers in order
  • Name the bass
  • Play the bass

3.3.2 Slow it down 

In order to learn how to play the Em and G chord fluently, you first need to practice it slowly. I suggest you first play it numerous times without tempo striving for clarity of sound as follows.

Get ready

Play along with me.

  • Place your fingers in order
  • Name the bass
  • Play the bass

and 

1 and 2 and 3 and strum 23, make sure you place your fingers down exactly when you say 23,  

now check for clarity and reposition your hand, 

and 1 and 2 and 3 and strum, move, make sure you lift your fingers 2 and 3 when you say move, 

and , place your first finger down, make sure you place it exactly  when you say one, 

now check for clarity and reposition your hand,

and 1 and  2 and 3 and strum 23, 1 and 2 and  3 and strum.

Rewind and repeat this routine 10 times.

3.3.4 Play the goal 

Now you should be ready to play it in tempo non stop. Play along with me. 

3.5.5 On your own 

Stop the video and do it on your own. After each repetition ask yourself the following:

Check questions

  • Did you turn on your metronome?
  • Did you tap always your foot while playing?
  • Did you count it in?
  • Did you sing or say what you where doing?
  • Did you play non stop?

Repeat 

Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to, until you can answer with a yes all the check  questions.

Still not able to jump between chords ? 

It would be quite normal,  at this stage, if your are still not fluent in the chord change. If so, rewind and repeat step two a few times, and you will soon notice improvement. 

4 Step Three – The Melody

The Goal

Your goal is to play this melody.

4.1 Apply the LISP routine

Learn the melody slowly and effectively, by applying the LISP routine: Listen, imagine, sing, play.

How to hear music

Get ready

Get the Em chord in place.

  • Place your fingers in order
  • Name the bass
  • Play the bass
  • Listen to what you have to do. 
  • Imagine what you have to do. 
  • Sing what you have to do.
  • Play what you have to do.

Notice that I play the lalalala with the index and annular fingers alternating between them on each note . Also to play the lalalala on the G chord, I lift the 3rd finger up and place it on the D note.

4.2 On your own

Now Stop the video and do it on your own. After each repetition ask yourself the following:

Check questions

  • Did you turn on your metronome ?
  • Did you tap always your foot while playing ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing or say what you where doing ?
  • Did you play it non stop ?

If your answer is no to any of the questions, Repeat the full LISP routine 

5 Step Four – Play the song 

Play the full song with me.

Get your Em chord in place

  • Name the bass 
  • Play the bass 
  • Clarity check 
  • and play along with me. 

Repeat this step a few times before moving on.

5.1 On your own

Now Stop the video and play the song on your own. After each repetition ask yourself the following:

Check questions

  • Did you turn on your metronome ?
  • Did you tap always your foot while playing ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing or say what you where doing ?
  • Did you play it non stop ?

If your answer is no to any of the questions, repeat this whole video from the beginning. Have fun. 

6 Consolidation exercises

As mentioned,  in each lesson you will learn a new section of the full final song of this course. This final song, brings to life all the musical objectives of this course. If you can play it and have fun at the same time, will mean that you have learnt effectively. 

Therefore, I will ask you in every new lesson, to consolidate all you have previously learnt, but,

Please make sure you have completed all previous assignments, in a satisfactory manner, as they are designed to break up the learning process into fun, and comfortable steps.

Play along with me song number one but at a quicker tempo. 

6.1 On your own

Stop the video, and play the song on your own, at your comfortable tempo, which is the slowest tempo you can do it at.  After each play ask yourself the following:

Check questions

  • Did you turn on your metronome ?
  • Did you tap always your foot while playing ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing or say what you where doing ?
  • Did you play it non stop ?

If your answer is no to any of these questions, repeat the exercise until you only have yes answers.

If after a few repeats, you still cannot play it right, and start feeling frustrated, stop and repeat lesson 2, to further consolidate this song, by practicing it in more manageable steps.

7 Assignments 

Quiz

What does lisp stand for?

Why learn a melody with the lisp routine? 

How many bars does 2, (warm up), have?

How many bars does the Song 3 have ? The new song of this lesson

On what bar of the Song 3 does the melody section start?

Extra

Draw on the fretboard the C scale, then draw 6 shapes of the C, Am Em and G chords.

7.1 Record yourself

Record yourself in video, with your phone, playing 2. ( the Warm Up.) Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording.

Check questions 

  • Did you turn on your metronome ? 
  • Did you tap your feet while recording ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing what you were doing? 
  • Did you play it non stop ?

7.2 Record yourself

Record the song in video, with your phone, playing 6 ( The song for the first lesson at a quicker speed ). Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording.

Check questions 

  • Did you turn on your metronome ? 
  • Did you tap your feet while recording ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing what you were doing? 
  • Did you play it non stop ?

7.3 Record yourself

Record yourself in video, with your phone, playing 3 ( The song in this lesson with the Em and G chords). Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording.

Check questions 

  • Did you turn on your metronome ? 
  • Did you tap your feet while recording ?
  • Did you count it in ?
  • Did you sing what you were doing? 
  • Did you play it non stop ?

8 Recommended Listening 

Follow these links to my you tube channel and listen to a selection of guitarists in jazz, blues, rock and flamenco styles. 

Recommended listening Jazz Guitar

Recommended listening Blues and Rock Guitar

Recommended listening Flamenco Guitar

Lesson two: The C and Am chord

 

Chord learning Routines: The C and Am chord  

1 Introduction

 1.1 What are you going to learn?

In this lesson you will learn a C and Am chord, and use them to play this 4 bar song song. 

You will learn the shapes, how to play the chords with clarity and above all, play them in a context that simulates the real thing. This means that you will learn to hear in advance the music you wish to play, so as to prepare and synchronise your left and right hand to play it, to a beat.

You will not be reading what you have to play, but rather, hearing what you have to play. This way of learning and playing, will be more rewarding, it will increase your learning speed and therefore your final satisfaction.

You will also consolidate a routine, for learning other shapes, with a self assessment criteria that will prove to you that you know it. 

 1.2 How are you going to learn?

Step by step, having fun, and following strictly my guidelines to help you immediately create some beautiful music. 

So, rather than simply playing two chords with no logic, you will learn how to use them to play a song with feeling. This end result feels better, it also makes sense and as a consequence you have more fun and learn quickly..

You will learn the chords and songs in four steps. 

1.2.1 Step one

In step one you will relate visually the shape of the chord,  to the fretboard, to place your fingers in a specific sequence and arpeggiate the chord to create a four beat musical phrase. 

You will identify the foundation of the chord, the note on which it is constructed from. That is our target note, the note to look for whenever we want to play any chord.

In step one, you will learn how to produce clear chordal sounds with patience and repetition.

1.2.2 Step two 

You will initiate a slow practice routine to memorise and consolidate the shapes of the chords.

You will play the chords in tempo to create rhythm and further consolidate the clarity of the execution.  

1.2.3 Step three 

In step 3 you will play this song, a simple 8 bar song,  where you play chords for half of the time, the rhythm of the song, and the other half you will play the melody, which would be the vocal line, what the vocalist of a band would sing. 

1.2.4 Step four 

You will complete assignments to prove that you have learnt the how and what of playing the C and Am chord. 

2 Step 1: How to memorise a shape ( The C and Am chord )

2.1 The Goal

The goal of step one is to learn to play a chord by applying the following routine.

In this course you will first see the shape of a chord as a diagram, then you will apply this routine:

  • Place your fingers in order 
  • Name the bass 
  • Play the bass 
  • Play one string at a time from the bass 
  • Clarity Check: If a string sounds muted,place a pen underneath the tips of your fingers and lift them, this will clean up the sound
  • Play one string at a time from the bass

Let’s learn this routine.

2.2 How to understand a diagram 

In the following diagrams you will see chord shapes with numbers.

These numbers correspond to the following fingers of the hand, that you will use to apply pressure onto the fretboard. 

Right handed people generally use the left hand to form the shapes. Left handed people generally use their right hand. 

2.3 C Chord

Your first objective in this learning will be to relate the chord diagram to the guitar fretboard. 

This is the C chord diagram. In the diagram you have vertical lines and horizontal lines.

The vertical lines represent the frets. The horizontal lines represent the strings in order from sixth to first.

2.3.1 Fingers

1st finger where ? 

Look at the diagram and relate.

Where must I place my first finger to start creating the shape?

On what fret?

My first finger, as shown in the diagram must go in the first fret.

On what string? 

My first finger, as shown in the diagram, must go on the second string.

Place your finger down.

2nd finger where ?

Let’s move on to the second finger. Please leave your first finger down. 

Ask yourself: Where must I place my second finger to continue creating the shape?

What fret?

My second finger, as shown in the diagram,  must go on the second fret.

What string ? 

My second finger, as shown in the diagrammust goon the fourth string. 

Place your second finger down. 

3rd finger where?

Let’s move on to the third finger. Please leave your first and second fingers down. 

Ask yourself: Where should I place my third finger to continue creating the shape? 

What fret?

My 3rd finger as shown in the diagram, must go on the third fret.

What string? 

My 3rd  finger, as shown in the diagram, must go on the fifth string.

Say three and place your third finger down and strum with your thumb.

2.3.2 Get a good sound 

Are any of the strings buzzing when you strum?  

If they are you need to raise the tips of you finger fingers, grab a pencil and lift them, also extend your wrist. Look at the angle of the hand in relation to the guitar. Look at how my wrist is straight, correct your position and play the chord again.

Are you still hearing some buzzing? Repeat the clarity check. 

Consolidate

I would suggest before you continue to rewind the video from the start and repeat all the instructions.

2.3.3 What is the bass

I hope this question has come to your mind. The bass is the lowest note of the chord on which we build it from the foundation.The bass is the name of the chord.

So the bass of C is c. Where is the bass? The bass c has to be the lowest note of our chord, and in this case, we produce the c note as a bass by pressing the 3rd fret on the 5th string.

2.3.4 Play the C chord

You are now ready to apply swiftly the chord learning routine. Play along with me. 

  • Name the bass 
  • Play the bass 
  • Play one string at a time from the bass 
  • Clarity Check: If a string sounds muted,place a pen underneath the tips of your fingers and lift them, this will clean up the sound
  • Play one string at a time from the bass

Rewind and repeat this last section

2.3.5 Tips

Some tips to keep in mind. 

Keep your hand relaxed
As a general rule, to avoid unnecessary strain, keep your fingers on the fretboard just the necessary time to create the sound you wish and then let go. 

Repetition
I also find it more practical, to help develop long term memory, not to repeat each exercise, more than two consecutive times, before taking a break or moving on to a new exercise.

2.4  Am Chord

Let’s take a break from the C chord and learn the Am chord. 

2.4.1 Fingers

Please look at the shape and where each finger is placed. Play the chord in the following sequence: 

Place your fingers in order

and ….

say aloud the fingers as you do so.

Say one and place your first finger down. 

To do so you must have answered the question: What fret and what string does my first finger go on? In this case fret 1 string 2.

Let’s do it together.

Say two and place your second finger down. 

To do so you must have answered the question: What fret and what string does my second finger go on? In this case fret 2 string 4.

Let’s do it together.

Note: Please make sure your first finger stays in place.

Say three and place your third finger down. 

To do so you must have answered the question what fret and what string does my third finger go on.

Let’s do it together

Keep your fingers in place .

2.4.2  The bass

Name the bass of the chord

What is the bass of the Am chord ? a.  The bass is the name of the chord; on top of which we add more notes to compete the sound. 

Where is the bass of the Am chord?

The bass is in the low register. This is the low part of the guitar. The bass can be an open string or a string I am pressing with my left hand. 

So do I have a low open string that sounds like a?Yes I do. So, this is the bass and the lowest note of the chord from which we play our chord from.

Play 

2.4.3 One note at a time

Play this chord with me, one note at a time, count it in: 1 2 3 4.

2.4.4 Get a good sound

If any of your notes do not sound clear enough, please use the pencil to correct your finger placement.

Play the chord one note at a time.

2.4.5 Play the Am Chord

You are now ready to apply swiftly the Chord Learning Routine. Play along with me.

Am chord

  • Name the bass 
  • Play the bass 
  • Play one string at a time from the bass 
  • Clarity Check: If a string sounds muted, place a pen underneath the tips of your fingers and lift them, this will clean up the sound.
  • Play one string at a time from the bass

Rewind and repeat this last section.

3. Step 2, Play C and Am chord in tempo

To move on to step 2, you must be able to already play with clarity the C and Am chord.

You will now learn to play the C and Am chord in this manner: 

3.1  The Goal

Listen

3.2 Working towards the goal 

3.2.1 Spot the common notes

In order to jump from the C to Am chord you need to find the similarities between them. Practice with me this combination. Get your fingers ready for the C chord but apply the Chord Learning Routine

  • Play one string at a time from the bass. ( 1 and 2 and 3 and  4 move)

3.2.1 Slowly join the chords

Now lift up your third finger, put in on the third string and play the Am,  and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. In the diagram in red, you can see the common notes. 

Common Notes between the C and Am chord

3.2.2 Play along with me non stop

Repeat with me, try not to stop and also say what I am saying: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 move. The word move is your cue to move your finger. This time I will play the chords two times.  

 C Chord. 

  • Name the bass 
  • Play the bass 
  • Play one string at a time from the bass:1 and 2 and 3 and  4 move, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 move  

Do not lift your fingers up from the fretboard.

3.2.2 Clarity Check

Please take a moment to correct your position and sound both with the C and Am chord. Strum each chord to check for clarity. 

3.3 Repeat all step 2

4.0 Step 3, Play a song

4.1  The Song

Listen

4.2 Learn the chords

This song is made up of chords and a melody.

Let’s learn the chords. First get the C shape in place. 

4.2.1 Listen

Listen to what you have to do, tap your feet and move your body to the beat.

4.2.2 Imagine

Keep tapping your foot, move to the beat and imagine the sound of what I have just done.

4.2.3 Sing

Sing what I have just done.

4.2.4 Play

Play it with me.

4.2.5 On your own

Stop the video and do it on your own. After each repetition ask yourself the following:

Check questions

Did you turn on your metronome?

Did you tap always your foot while playing?

Did you count it in?

Did you sing or say what you were doing?

Repeat
Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to, until you can answer with a yes all the check questions.

4.3 Learn the melody

Let’s learn the melody.

4.3.1 Listen

Listen to what you have to do and tap your feet to the beat.

4.3.2 Imagine

Keep tapping your foot and move your body to the beat, and Imagine the sound of what I have just done.

4.3.3 Sing

Sing what I have just done.

4.3.4 Play

Play it with me.

4.3.5 On your own

 Stop the video and do it on your own.

Check questions

Did you turn on your metronome?

Did you tap always your foot while playing?

Did you count it in?

Did you sing or say what you were doing ?

Repeat

Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to, until you can answer with a yes all the check questions.

Let’s combine the chords together with the melody.

4.4 Play along with me 

4.4.1 Rewind and repeat

5.0 Step 4  Assignments

5.1 Quiz

Please submit your replies to the group forum for peer review. 

  • What is the bass of the Em chord?
  • If the C chord has three notes C E G, draw on the fretboard diagram, two new shapes that have these three notes.
  • If the Am has three notes A C E,  draw on the fretboard diagram ( two new shapes that have these three notes.
  • What is the summary of steps you have to follow to learn a new chord ? 

Place your ……

Name …….  Play  the ………

Play one …….Count ……. 

Clarity……….

Play one …….Count …….. 

  • What is the difference between strumming a chord and playing the chord one note at a time?
  • What is the beat of a song?
  • What is the difference between the melody and chords of a song ?

5.2 Record yourself

Record yourself in video, with your phone, playing example 3.2.2. Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording to the teacher.

Check questions 

Did you turn on your metronome ? 

Did you tap your feet while recording ?

Did you count it in ?

Did you sing what you were doing? 

5.3 Record yourself

Record yourself in video, with your phone, playing example 4.1. Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording to the teacher.

Check questions 

Did you turn on your metronome ? 

Did you tap your feet while recording ?

Did you count it in ?

Did you sing what you were doing? 

5.4 Record yourself

Record yourself in video, with your phone, playing  C | Am | C |Am, each chord lasts 4 beats. Strummingwith a pick or thumb. Your recording must answer yes to the following check questions. Once you are satisfied please submit your recording to the teacher.

Check questions 

Did you turn on your metronome ? 

Did you tap your feet while recording ?

Did you count it in ?

Did you sing what you were doing? 

Are you strumming form the bass ? 

Can you hear every single note with clarity?

5.5  Play the Em chord

Write the routine you have to follow to learn the Em chord. Apply the routine and learn it. 

5.6  Play the G chord

Write the routine you have to follow to learn the G chord. Apply the routine and learn it. 

Note

Songwriting and music production, courses, tips, studio recordings how to write a song, can be found through the corresponding links

How to FIND notes on the Guitar Fretboard – Video transcript

This is the transcript of lesson 1 of the Beginners Guitar Course. Please follow this link for next available starting times.

What are you going to learn 

To identify by sound and name the notes of C scale, on all strings and frets on the guitar.

You will also learn a song,  a rhyme that you will sing and play, to teach you how to anticipate aurally and visually, the next note of the scale you wish to play.

You will also learn to think in a musical way so as to emulate what goes through the mind of the professionals, when we play.  This will drastically increase the speed and fun of your learning, on how to find notes on the guitar.

Why learn how to find notes on the guitar?

So you can locate visually and by sound, the scales, chords and melodies we will use in our course.

What will you do differently after this lesson

You will be able to create musical phrases of four beats duration, which are one of the basic building blocks of music. As a consequence, this will open up  a pathway for your learning that simulates the real thing. 

You will be able to coordinate your left and right hand to play the C scale in tempo, all over the guitar to help you in your how to find notes on the guitar.

And you will be able to look  for sounds horizontally or vertically,  as  on the guitar ,pitch can increase vertically, decrease vertically, or increase horizontally, or decrease horizontally.

How are you going to learn to find notes on the guitar?

You will learn to find notes on the guitar in four simple steps

  1. First of all , you will learn the names of the strings, that correspond to pitches, musical sounds.
  2. Then you will learn the relationship between the pitches of the C scale, and the frets on the guitar.
  3. In step 3, you will learn a melodic rhyme to help you find all the notes in relation to a beat. 
  4. In step 4, you will create your own practice routine, to develop the skill with fun.

Rules

Apply at all times when you play the following 3 rules:

  • Always sing what you are playing. 
  • Always play in tempo.
  • Always tap your feet or move your body to the beat. 

If you do not, you will not be feeling the context, the music,  therefore you will not learn.

Names of the strings 

The guitar has 6 strings: E A D G B E. Each string is adjusted to produce a specific pitch, a musical sound we can sing. These pitches have defined names. In English, we use the letters of the alphabet C D E F G A B to define them.

The fatter guitar string produces the lowest pitch. As we jump from string to string,  the strings get thinner, they also vibrate more quickly  and the sound increases in pitch.

The fatter string is tuned to a frequency we call E. It is commonly called the E string but please remember that this is relative, as this can change, this is not an E string but a string tightened until it produces this pitch, we call E .

So if I press the string somewhere else, Do I produce a new sound? Yes.
Is this new sound an E?

No . It is not  since it  does not sound like an E. It sounds higher in pitch. There fore it has a different name. It is called the G note .

So what frequencies do we generally tune the open guitar strings to ? 

Starting from fat to thin they coincide with the frequencies  of :

E

Acronym

You can remember the names of the pitches, frequencies of the strings, by using an acronym. I like to use the following: 

E very to remember the name of the E string

A  pe  to remember the name of the A string

D  eserves to remember the name of the D string

G  reen to remember the name of the G string

B ananas to remember the name of the B string

E veryday ( to remember the name of the high E string

Play along with me this acronym

Every, Ape, Deserves, Green, Bananas, Everyday

Stop the video, rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need too.

Step 2  Find the notes of C scale

Take it easy

All musicians including myself,  struggle with new exercises. This is absolutely normal.  However, music is a discipline where you learn by repetition. Do not expect to fully understand the following new concepts until you have repeated the exercises, a lot. So , just sit back and enjoy the ride and in a few minutes time you will have learnt the C scale all over the guitar.

The C scale has seven notes

The C scale has seven notes: C D E F G A B . After the B we go to C D E F and so on.

So this is a low c and this is a high c. The high C doubles the frequency of the low C. The frequency is the number of times the string vibrates per second.

Therefore, as I go up in pitch, I start  to repeat the same notes, but in a higher octave, a higher pitch,

Frets and notes

In order to answer how to find notes on the guitar,  all you need to understand is that between the notes of E F,  and B C there is only one fret distance and between all the other notes there are two.

How to find the notes on the guitar
How to find the notes on the guitar

This is one fret distance. This is two frets distance.

So let us start with the sixth string.

What is the frequency we tune the 6th string to  ….. E  ? So this is an E sound. 

Play the note

Sing the sound

What is the next letter in the alphabet ?

F

How many frets is F away  from E? 

One 

Play the F  

Sing the sound 

So F is a musical note that is higher in pitch than E, and we produce the sound by shortening the string by one fret. 

Next note

What is the next letter in the alphabet after F  ?

G

How many frets is G away from F  ?

Two

Play the G

Sing the sound

So G is a musical note that is higher in pitch than F, and we produce the sound by shortening the string two more frets.

Next note

The next letter in the alphabet is: 

A

How many frets is it away from G ?

Two

Play the A 

Sing the A 

So A is a musical note that is higher in pitch than G, and we produce the sound by shortening the string two more frets.

Next note B

The next letter in the alphabet is: 

B

How many frets is it away from A ?

Two

Play the B

Sing the B

So B is a musical note that is higher in pitch than A, and we produce the sound by shortening the string two more frets.

Next note C

The next letter in the alphabet is: 

C

How many frets  is C away from B?

One

Play the C

Sing the C

So C is a musical note that is higher in pitch than B, and we produce the sound by shortening the string one more fret.

Next note D

The next letter in the alphabet is:

 D

How many frets  is D away from C?

Play it

Sing it

So D is a musical note that is higher in pitch than C, and we produce the sound by shortening the string  two more frets.

Next note E

The next letter in the alphabet is: 

E, So we are back to the E , but a higher E 

How many frets  is E away from D

Play it

Sing it 

So  E is a musical note that is higher in pitch than D, and we produce the sound by shortening the string by two more frets.

Step 3 The Musical Rhyme

You will now learn a short musical rhyme to play in tempo the notes of the C scale, in a manner that will help you memorise both names and sounds and increase the speed of your learning drastically and ther fore learn how to find notes on the guitar.

The C scale on the 6th string 

Notice: that I sing the sound of the note I play,   and then sing what I will do next with the same sound,
Also notice that the rhyme lasts 4 beats, four taps of your foot.

Play along with me, 6th string

Let´s play together the rhyme on the 6th string.

Play along with me 

Stop the video , rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need too.

Play along with me, 5th string 

Let´s play together the rhyme on the 5th string.

What is the frequency we tune the 5th string to  ….. A  ? 

So this is an A sound. 

Play it

Sing it

Play along with me 

Stop the video, rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need to.

Play along with me, 4th string

Let´s play together the rhyme on the 4th string.

What is the frequency we tune the 4th string to  ….. D  ? 

So this is a D sound

Play it

Sing it

Play along with me 

Stop the video, rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need too.

Play along with me, 3rd string

Let´s play together the rhyme on the 3rd string.

What is the frequency we tune the  3rd string to ?

So this is a G sound. 

Play it

Sing it

Play along with me 

Stop the video, rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need too.

Play along with me, 2nd string 

Let´s play together the rhyme on the 2nd string.

What is the frequency we tune the  2nd string to  …?   B  

So this is a B sound. 

Play it 

Sing it

Play along with me  

Stop the video, rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need to.

Play along with me, 1st string 

Let´s play together the rhyme on the 1st string.

What is the frequency we tune the 1st string to  …?  E

 So this is an E sound. 

This is also an E sound,  but this E is higher and this E is lower in pitch.

This low E vibrates exactly four times slower than this E.  They are the same notes, but in different octaves.

Play it 

Sing it

Play along with me  

Stop the video, rewind and repeat this exercise as many times as you need too.

Assignments

Now it is time for you to complete the assignments for this lesson on how to find notes on the guitar.

  • Play along 

Repeat twice a day all the play along examples of lesson one.

  • Fill it in 

Fill in the blank sheet with all the notes of the C scale .

  • Quiz

 Please submit your replies to our google group for peer review. 

  • Why are there different Cs on the guitar ?
  • Why are there different As on the guitar?
  • Why do we have two strings tuned to E?
  • Indicate with an X on what two other strings and positions can you play the C note, you create on the B string  when you press the second fret.
  • Record and create

Record yourself singing the rhyme, non stop on 6 different strings and send it to me.

Note: Choose a very slow tempo 

Check questions

  • Are you singing the notes in exact relation to the beat?
  • Are you tapping your foot non stop while singing and playing ?
  • Are you moving to the new note only just before you sing it ?
  • If your answer is no to any of the these questions, repeat 4 more times all the play along examples.

What will you be able to do at the end of the course?

Students that complete the two beginners course will move on directly to Guitar for songwriters focused towards music production.

how to play the guitar

Do it right from the start

I want you to be able to experience music, with the same enjoyment it inspires in me every day. Let me share with you some tips, on how to learn to play the guitar.

Guitar learning will be your life time adventure. I want to create a track for you,  where you can jump on, follow and learn, but, I want you to avoid the typical mistakes all students fall into, especially now-days, due to mass distribution of meaningless learning on the net. 

how to play the guitar

Follow a structure and succeed

I want you to have fun but also to understand that music learning requires time, work, repetition,  in other words: discipline.   All the hard work is definitely a rewarding experience, if we set a goal with practical exercises, to help us in the process of how to learn to play the guitar.

At the Creative Guitar School I have designed all my courses to help you develop your well being through creativity and self expression.  However, we need structured learning to make sure we learn with fun, and also in a meaningful manner, where we can at the end of each journey, be able to play meaningful music from start to end.

Book a free 30 minute assessment;  discover your guitar skills and the most adequate Guitar Course for you.

Work hard, be patient and enjoy the results

We study guitar to open the door to have more fun in our lives. Personally,  I study guitar because it allows me to have more and more fun everyday, as I am able to express and flow with my feelings, to the utmost satisfaction.

The real joy occurs, when we are to be able to perform a piece of music, from start to finish, with love and especially if we do so, for an audience. Here I include some tips on how to learn to play the guitar.

Avoid frustration

I find that studying can be a frustrating experience, if we do not target, what we need to do, to emulate the final performance. Thus, we must find a learning pathway, that reduces repetition and increases our effectiveness in our goals. We need to have fun by reducing, frustrating learning pathways. 

Read more on all guitar courses offered based upon contemporary structured learning.

Nine tips on how to play the guitar and get results

Nine tips on how to play the guitar and get results

1-Sing

As a general rule, if you can imagine what you wish to play in tempo, and can also sing it, then your learning will be by far, much more efficient, and satisfying, than what students achieve by solely repeating mechanical movements, or in other words,  practicing frustration. Learn more.

2-Emulate the live performance

Only practice in a manner that emulates the final performance. Try to do it right the first time, and at the slowest speed possible. 

3 -Do not think

Do not think while you play, but rather sing the music in your mind. The more you think,  the more non musical, you will play.

4- Feel

Feel what you want to express, and produce the feeling in your music. If you are bored with your playing, it might be because you are bored in wishing to feel good, and have fun.  

Seek the desired articulation, notes, chords and silence, that will allow you to pinpoint, your personal feel for the music. Do not be a spectator of your feelings. Decide and portray. Feel is one the best ,tips on how to learn to play the guitar.

5-Do not judge, but create

Make sure the music, the sound is in your head, before you play and not after. If you do not do this, you will always be judging yourself, and only concentring on the final sound, and not on the enjoyment of the process of creating it.

6-Play soft

Play more soft than loud. In the loud, you will have less room for for increasing intensity. Remember, intensity does not come from playing loud,  but from choice of register, harmonic tension, and also rhythmic density.

If you play loud, you will tire your muscles out soon and will perform poorly; You might feel you are expressing yourself, but in the end you are only shouting. 

7-Practice what you know

Practice what you know and also what you do not know. You practice what you know, to enjoy yourself, and practice what you do not know, to further enjoy yourself in the near future.

Please consider that a new musical concept, will take up to 6 months of learning, before it becomes fluent, and part of your personal expression. So, if you just practice only what you do not know, you will end up on a journey, into the world of frustration.

8- Refresh your repertoire 

Build up a repertoire, but never forget to refresh it. This is fun and rewarding.

9-Do not stop

Once you start playing a song, do not stop. If you do stop, this means you have not imagined what you have to play, the tempo, and how you play in relation to the tempo. 

Personally, I need to have a clear understanding of the beat,  and the subdivision, to make sure I can coordinate efficiently, especially at quick tempos.  This advice, is also one the most important tips on how to learn to play the guitar.


Five common mistakes guitarists make

1- Students learn bits and pieces of music, and not the whole song. 

When a musician plays a song, they will interpret the melody line, with or without accompaniment, from start to finish, of the full structure.  If you can do this, then you are ready to say, that you can play a song.  At the Creative Guitar School you will learn to play full songs, in a group or solo situation and with fun.

2-Students think they know how to play a song because they can play the chords.

A song has a melody,  for example: what the vocalists sings. This is what makes it recognisable.

If you can play the melody, then you are starting to play a song. However,  if you can only play chords, then you are simply playing a progression of chords, that can be found in hundred of others songs.

3 – Students learn the chords, but do not know how to fit them, or sync them to the original track.

Only, if you can play the chords of the song, along with the original recorded version, from start to finish, then you can say to yourself, that you are starting to understand how to play them. 

If you get lost while playing along the track, then you might not be aware of the structure, or be familiar with the melody. You might also have coordination issues. You might not be aware of the tempo , or how to subdivide such. 

If you can play the chords, but when you try to play them with the original track, you get lost, then you do not know how to play the chords.

 Also, If you can only play a verse and not know what comes next, then you do not know the chords.

If you cannot explain how many bars each section of the song has, and how the sections repeat, then you do not know the chords.

At the Creative Guitar School you learn to play songs from start to end. You learn how to play the melody, how to play the chords and develop them to create variations in intensity. You learn how to play in tempo, anticipate and sync your movements with the desired beat.

Book a free 30 minute assessment;  discover your guitar skills and the most adequate Guitar Course for you

4- To learn a solo or lick, with no tempo associated.

Students believe they have learnt a solo,  or a lick of a song, because play it in a sort of recognisable manner.  If you cannot play it, along with the original  track, that you can slow down,  then you have not learnt the solo or the lick, and you have wasted your time.

All learning must be conclusive. Learning fragments of music, without structure, may tend to create more frustration than well being, and have a negative impact, on the method of how to learn to play the guitar .

5 – You think you can play a solo, because you can play a few notes that sound ok .

You will be able to solo, only when you can sing what you want to do, know where you are in relation to the beat and the chords.  If you can play the chords, and sing a solo, even if you sing out of tune , then you are ready to start soloing and have the required skills to develop a good one.

If you have difficulty in understanding what to sing on top of some chords,  then you need to learn the basics. You need to learn full melodies and songs. Also, you need to internalise a musical library, that will be the foundation on which you will base all your creative output.

Consider music as a language.  You need to know the alphabet, words, how to combine them and make sentences, and paragraphs.  How can you do that in music ? Well, you need to learn songs in a efficient manner.

Please read through the six different levels of guitar learning. Throughout each level you will acquire and develop the necessary skills, to be able to play songs, create them and vary them either as lead, rhythm guitar, or in a fingerpicking manner, in all styles of contemporary music.

Give me a call. I would love to share your musical journey with you. 


Guitar Scales. The 1-4-2 Chords

Cool Jazz Guitar Soloing techniques. Advanced  Jazz Improvisation.

This is an introduction to my jazz improvisation course. This course will soon be available online, but at present, you are welcomed to learn in person, at my Creative Guitar School in Melbourne .

In my Jazz Guitar courses, you will learn how to develop melody and harmony of a given song, to the limit of your creative abilities.

You will learn to choose what sounds good or bad, and there fore, maintain  the flow of your creative dialogue.  This is an extremely rewarding  experience.

I love to improvise, to flow, and create constant variations of a motif a song of any musical idea. It feels great. 

It did not feel good

At first, in the 80s, when I started playing professionally,   I was not  comfortable improvising, since  even though I was playing the correct notes, I did not like what I was doing.  It did not feel good. 

I knew I needed more information on how to choose, how to be aware of what sounds good or bad. I needed more options to express those feelings, I had an urge to scream out. 

Berklee College of Music

So, I went to Berklee College of Music, Boston, U.S.A  for 3 years, and I was bombarded with practical good and evil. I loved it.

While at Berklee, I came across Jon Damian,  who taught one of my  favourite guitar players, ( Bill Frisell ). I soon discovered an amazing pathway, to harmonic and melodic variation, to cover, for the rest of my life, all my creative and artists needs.

Guitar Scales: The 1-4-2 Combination

Did you know there are 24 ways of creating chords on the go and you can combine them,  play them any way you wish as long as it sounds good for you.

Listen to the guitar scales

In the intro of the video on this page, I used a combination of sounds based upon the 142 pattern of a scale but, applied only  to one chord. There fore, imagine the colours that can pop up, in a song with many chords and with all guitar scales.

Check out the video to hear this combination of a G scale. 

  • one string
  • in one position

But, more magic occurs when you apply the 1-4-2 sound to a more complex harmonic structure.

Since this combination creates a lot of tension, we can then use it, when we need tension on a note, or area of a chord in relation to the guitar scale.

The 142 sound in a more complex harmonic setting 


Guitar Scales  all the things you are

This is the melody of the Standard: All the things you are. 

The red lines are the places I have decided to play with more tension, than what the chord will give me.  If I play without the red feeling I produce a  static sound, boring.

See video

When I play, and apply the 1-4-2 pattern to the red section, I get more movement, more excitement and it just feel great.    

See video

You can apply this sound also to a solo.

See video

So come along and let´s explore together more of these sounds . Send me an email, get in touch. Book Your Course now .

Creative Guitar School Concert September 22

On September 22, 2018,  we celebrated our 8th Creative Guitar School Concert.

Congratulations

I must say thank you, to all guitar students that participated and shared with the audience, their love of music and guitar at our Creative Guitar School Concert. It was wonderful to hear so much hard work come to life, with music that touched all our hearts.

I am looking forward to our next concert, and to hear your progress and compositions. Definitel,  I am eager to join your journey, to self discovery, through music and the guitar.

Join us at our next concert, sign up for a interview and learn more about music yourself and playing with others

Concert Objectives

The objective of all Guitar Courses, at our music school,  is for students to interact in group settings, to develop melody, accompaniment and spontaneous compositions, which is referred to as improvisation.

In all courses, we learn to understood the skeleton of a song, and the skills required to create variations in the melody, background and accompaniment. Students play solo, in duos, trios and quartets; we play jazz, pop, funk, flamenco and blues styles.

We understand how songs can be played in different styles as we learn to modify melody and accompaniment, with the appropriate chord scale relationship.

And we have a lot of fun, as we create on the go. This feels good.

 Guitar School Concert Group photo


Every 10 weeks a Creative Guitar School Concert

Guitar courses last for 10 weeks. As a result, at the end of the course, we all get together, have a nice lunch and celebrate a two hour Creative Guitar School concert, at a public venue.

 Guitar School Concert

At the concert, we have performances of present and past guitar students, on electric, nylon and steel strings guitars. The variety of styles performed , reflect common contemporary urban musical expression as Blues guitar, Jazz guitar, Funk, Rock and Flamenco ( Spanish Urban ) 

Live showcase of compositions

As part of the guitar course requirements, all students must compose a song. A composition would be similar to an essay in a written language. This essay is proof of understanding, of the topic, the students has learnt.

Not only will you develop, a deeper understanding of the musical knowledge, when you compose, but,  you will also learn to explain to others how to play your composition. There fore, all students must learn to use the appropriate language to explain the actions; all students must learn to read and write.

Fun and Practice 

This is all great fun, since while you are learning you can hear immediate results of your progress, at our concerts.

But to really enjoy yourself , you are required to practice daily, to develop aural, rhythmic and performance skills, to help you develop further your creativity. These will not come naturally but only through constant practice.

For example: You will not be able to play a song if you cannot hum the melody. If you cannot hum or sing, what you wish to play, you will spend many hours finding your way through the guitar, with the uttermost frustration.

You must sync all movements to a pulse, the beat. Therefore you must practice with this objective, always in mind

Creativity and Well being 

At the Creative Guitar School you will learn the underlining skills required to play songs, develop them and be expressive in your task.  Creativity is the tool of our expression. The final consequence is that you will feel good about your playing,

Sign up

Join us at our next Guitar School concert, sign up for a interview and learn more about music yourself and playing with others  



Romance Anonimo, How to play on the Spanish Guitar

Background on courses

This composition is part of the level 1 guitar course. In each level, at the Creative Guitar School here in Melbourne, we learn to play the guitar in different scenarios or situations.

We learn to play along with the original tracks

We learn to play along to the original videos of songs we love, but focusing on our role as a guitarist. A Guitarist can play rhythm, fills or lead guitar. Throughout all levels, we learn new skills to help us develop our functions, or roles, in live music situations.

We learn to emulate the live context in our study, to increase learning efficiency

However, music has to be learnt in a musical context, that must have a beginning,  end, and a tempo. We need to coordinate, to develop our motor skills, anticipating what we have to do, in relation to a specific time frame.

We learn to sing what we hear, to memorise the sound and note positions more efficiently

How to play Romance Anonimo

We will remember what to do on the guitar at all levels, because we are anticipating the sound of what we will play. The rule is that if you can sing it, you will be able to play it. There fore,  we sing, even if we are out of tune, what we play. We cannot learn to play the guitar by visually memorising what we have to do, which in popular terms in called muscle memory. This is very time consuming and foments dangerous repetitive moments .

We learn to play songs together as in a band situation

In our guitar courses, we also learn to play songs,  together, in groups. That is, since we are learning in groups, we can then distribute the functions of the song between us. In a band there is a bass player, a drummer, a guitarist defining the groove with chords, and the lead vocalist.

In all our group learning , we also play songs,  where one guitarist defines the groove in a manner as a bass player would,  another defines the chords, as a guitarist would do in a band situation, and the other plays what the vocalist would sing. 

That is why the importance of setting the exact context correctly: to learn efficiently and achieve the most satisfactory results in the shortest time possible. This exercise, as detailed later will guide you through this learning process.

We learn to play songs as a solo guitarist

Romance Anonimo falls into the category of playing both the lead, the vocal line and the chords at the same time. Some guitarists call this classical guitar, and it can also relate to fingerstyle guitar.  This is another form a playing, we learn in all my structured learning courses. 

How to play Romance Anonimo Acoustic Guitar

Romance Anonimo

This is the sheet we will use to learn this song called Romance Anonimo. The numbers represent the fret, where one of your left hand fingers, must be placed on. The numbers also give the cue:  when to play the note.

We will learn the song slowly,  always at a constant tempo, and singing what we are playing.

If you do not play in tempo, you are learning how to play without tempo. If you do not sing, even if such is out of tune, you will relate the position to a number, to a visual cue, and you will loose the opportunity of memorising sounds, which is what music is about.

Context, what to do , instructions.

The context defines what, and when we play.

  • We will set the metronome at 6o bpm.  This indicates that we have to do something with this pulse. The initial instructions are to say a number every 3 pulses or beats.

Remember, from now on and for the rest of your musical life,  you must establish the beat before you play. This will save you hundreds of hours of learning.

  • Please count three,  and on very one you will say the number, in sequence, as you will hear in the video,  all the way up until, you read the word Am.
  • Now that we have read the numbers, anticipating what comes next, we need to relate these numbers to the fret board.  Please place one of your left hand fingers, on the fret board, on the first string, on the fret indicated.  This first number indicates that we will place our finger on the 7th fret.
  • Let’s count three beats, in sync with the metronome, and play these numbers,  one every three clicks.

Remember, you are creating the sound by both placing your finger on the corresponding fret and hitting the string with your other hand, to actually produce the sound.

We play Romance Anonimoas follows:

 Please say what you are doing, sing what you doing , and  keep in sync with the metronome.

The common error is not to for-see the following fret number we have to play. We solve this by looking at the next number, we have to play on the guitar, on the third beat of each bar or click  of the metronome.

Checklist

Use this check list to judge if are you learning Romance Anonimo:

  • Have you counted it in?
  • Are you saying what you have to do ?
  • Are you singing the notes you are playing ?
  • Are you not stopping ?
  • Are you checking every third beat what you have to do ?

If you are not following these instructions, you will not learn and possibly repeat endlessly with frustration.

If you follow these instructions, you will play the sequence in three repetitions.

However, sometimes we have trained ourselves in our lives,  to not follow a specific thought process and you will find this process hard to achieve.

Do not worry

Just do it, and only ask yourself the outlined questions .

Distractions

At this stage there is no need to worry to much about the sound , or what fingers to use.  We will work on other variables as we progress. 

I find a lot of students, that when they play in my suggested manner,  get distracted by other thoughts. These other thoughts are valuable, but they should not be a distraction to achieve a goal,

What are we learning

  • With this simple exercise on Romance Anonimo we are learning to think in music, which means to choose what we focus one.
  • We also learn to play and synchronise to a time frame, which is a beat.
  • We learn to only develop our skills based upon a time frame.
  • You are also learning to avoid unnecessary repetition.
  • You are also learning to anticipate sounds and their location.

This is the first lesson of how to play Romance Anonimo

In our next lesson, we will learn how to play the second part of this guitar composition, and also learn how to further acquire guitar skills which will make us independent in our learning, and avoid frustration,  with the consequence of developing personal well being, which is the ultimate goal.

How to improvise on the guitar

How to improvise on the guitar  

Five reasons why it feels good to learn to improvise on the guitar.

1. Create fresh replenishing emotions

To improvise on the guitar, is a creative way of telling a musical story. Let´ s imagine we have a paragraph of 24 words that we narrate, with the objective of explaining a feeling. Consequently, we may also keep on repeating the paragraph, but with different degrees of variations, to further develop the emotion.

To improvise on the guitar is to create variations of the musical story. It gives you the pathway to extend the interpretation, to modify, adapt and change it to your needs and on the go.  As a result, improvisation on the guitar, can produce extremely satisfying emotions, as I believe it is the true gateway for personal expression. 

2. Interaction with others

We all know how much fun we can have, when we play with others. Music can also be a lot of fun, and improvising can be the ultimate game of enjoyment.  

I relate guitar improvisation to the perfect communion of souls, in all possible conscious dimensions. Furthermore, our musical interaction just fills up the space around us, as we bond with fellow musicians and the audience.

Music and guitar improvisation is another humble path to an experience, where we all come together, to share our beloved human values. When we improvise on the guitar, in any style of music as blues, jazz, funk, rock, flamenco, we create the opportunity to interact emotionally with others, without the need of words, nor values, nor judgements of any kind.

Guitar improvisation will make you feel extremely unique, because you freely express yourself in a context, where you are accompanied and heard.

3. To explore ones inner self

I believe life can feel good when we break the rigidness of daily obligations. Therefore, a bit of controlled chaos feels good; learn to improvise on the guitar and you will enjoy a refreshing musical adventure of colours, sounds and emotions. When we improvise, we take on this adventure our dreams and souls.

When we play music knowing exactly what is ahead, and what we have to do, then it feels like we are on a road, set by others to achieve a boxed goal.  However, if we are able to explore other pathways, other boundaries, other colours along the way, and interact with joy with others,  the creative guitar experience will be emotionally rewarding.  This non programmed road trip will become the real musical adventure. We will arrive at the same destination as the programmed road trip,  but  feeling very satisfied, and eager to wake up the next day to jump on board and explore another pathway. 

4. Satisfaction

From my experience, when I improvise and create variations,  as a consequence of my interaction with my other band members, I feel very satisfied afterwards.  Satisfaction is not an easy feeling to come across, and it is the feeling that most will regenerate my whole body and soul. 

Also, the more I improvise, understanding the emotional goals, choosing the right harmonic melodic tools for the job,  the greater the final satisfaction.

Let’s improvise together. Come and join us at the Creative Guitar School, in Melbourne, and learn to play the guitar, to improvise in contemporary musical styles on electric guitar, acoustic guitar or nylon string Spanish guitar

5. To be unique

Music is not a visual experience, nor a competition, it is an auditive experience, that you can enjoy with your internal rhythm, soul and with your closed eyes, unless you are driving. 

However,  there is a lot of guitar music our there,  that is a reflection of what we can do, and not what the musician is trying to express, tell or convey. Music is the gift we can use to develop a virtue, to share with others; our uniqueness, our story. 

A story is not about how quick you can run, or how much you can scream. A musical story is really about sharing an emotion.  Yes, when we scream we portray an egoistic feeling, but the true virtue would be to make the audience feel the need of this excitement, and get them to scream with you. 

It feels good to improvise on the guitar and to be unique in our story telling,  as we can accomplish a very special human interaction, that no other musical form of expression will allow. 

What tools do we need to improvise effectively 

As a guitarist, you will need to master all the musical tools required to know inside out, the melody and harmonic structure of the song. This means, that at any time and moment, you are playing a song, you can effectively,  switch from the role of the soloist to the accompanist, or vice versa.

Once you have the song mastered,  then you are now ready to start creating variations, to keep the song flowing, based upon the interaction with other band members, the audience and your feel, either as the soloist, or the accompanist of the lead guitar.

In order to improvise on the guitar efficiently, you need to learn specific melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic tools, to create variety in tension, in dramatic intensity, as the song develops.

For example, let ´s say you have played your song once, and you want to be able to play the melody, (the lyrics of the song) with more intensity the second time through. A change of octave,  an increase in rhythmic intensity or harmonic tension, will give you all the desired momentum, to produce your climax. 

There are literally hundreds of tools at your disposal, to help develop your creativity on the go, but all you need is just a few, to get going, and to start feeling the flow of creating music.

Improvisation and Guitar Courses

All students, in all guitar courses, I impart at my Melbourne Creative Guitar School, learn to improvise. At a guitar beginners level, you will learn to create basic variations of melody and harmony. As you progress throughout the levels, you will master a vast array of tools, to accomodate all your emotional needs.

I encourage learning through group interaction. Therefore, I teach all basic courses in Group environments . These classes have a maximum fo 4 students per class.

I further encourage the group interaction with the concerts I schedule throughout the year. All students perform live every 3 months. Before the performance, we also organise a nice barbecue to get the stomachs activated and the energy levels up high.

Students will also have the opportunity to enjoy feedback of all their musical accomplishments, since I hold the classes in my recording studio.  Therefore,  we are able to record the group progression, and enjoy how much we have learnt, at the different stages of the musical journey.