Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cracking in Piano Soundboards

Some piano owners have been dismayed to learn from their piano technician that their piano has a crack in the soundboard. While this may sound disconcerting, it does not automatically mean that the piano has to be rebuilt or replaced. The fact of the matter is that pianos are sensitive to changes in the climate and in the room conditions. The greatest factor affecting piano tuning and stability is humidity. Over many years, solid (usually sitka spruce) soundboards dry out. This drying out process eventually could lead to a split occurring along the grain somewhere on the soundboard.

The criteria as to whether it is necessary to repair the soundboard is whether there is a distortion in the sound of the piano at various frequencies or notes. In other words, there might be a distinct "buzz" that develops when certain notes are played. This would mean that a repair should be done. In most other instances, there is no sound distortion so no action needs to be immediately taken to repair the soundboard.

A basic repair for this in an upright piano is to insert glue between the soundboard and the ribs closest to the crack and draw the soundboard back to the ribs either by screws or by some other method. This usually will eliminate the offending noise when the piano is played.

In grand pianos, this condition is a little more serious mainly because of the visibility of the soundboard. Soundboards in grand pianos are very visible especially when the top lid is propped in the open position. Depending on where the crack is, the piano technician will usually have to loosen the tension on the strings directly over the crack to access the affected soundboard area. Then he will take a specially shaped chisel and widen the crack so that a wooden shim can be inserted into the widened area. This shim is glued in and then, after the glue has dried, the shim is sanded flush to the existing soundboard area. A light finish such as lacquer is applied to make the repair look good and the strings are then replaced.

In severe cases, the entire string set and plate have to be removed to expose the crack. This is a shop repair which means that there will be an additional expense in moving the piano to the shop and returning it to the customer's home. It is important to get a professional estimate done with a reputable technician before this repair is undertaken.

Playing Guitar and Singing - Six Things to Know to Sound Like A Pro

Accompanying yourself on guitar or backing up another singer requires the right approach and a certain set of skills. Your job is to play the kind of guitar part that supports the singer and the song and there are six things you can do to make that happen.

Keep it simple. In order for the singer to deliver a song in the most effective manner, the guitar can't be getting in the way. Start with a simple strum of basic chord shapes (this works as a great starting point) then go from there. A complex, busy guitar part can get in the way of the singing and ruin the song. Whether you are accompanying yourself or someone else, always keep in mind that your job is to support the singer, not wow the audience with fancy guitar licks.

Choose the proper technique for the style. Many songs sound best with a simple guitar strum while others really shine if you use a gentle finger picking pattern. Or you may find you need an electric cranked up a bit to give a song the needed energy and push. Make sure you discover the best way to create the perfect guitar background while staying true to the style.

Fill in around the vocal. In any song, there will be places where the vocalist takes a break, even between phrases. This is where you need to play a little something extra to keep the music interesting and entertaining. If you have an extended part of a song, such as an instrumental break, that's where you can stretch out a bit and play "more" guitar. It's best to keep the melody in mind and stay within the framework of the song.

Choose the best way to play each chord. There are a number of ways to play the same chord on guitar so it's a bit of challenge to play the right one (at the right time) for a particular song. For example, playing an Am chord in the first position might work best for a folk song but playing the same chord as a bar chord at the 5th fret might work best for Blues or Rock. Knowing a number of different chord shapes comes in handy.

Be consistent. First and foremost, keep the rhythm consistent. If there are trouble spots such as difficult chords in the song, practice them separately until you get them down so you don't interrupt the flow of the music. You may find you have to play certain chords in a simpler way to get the job done.

It's also important to be consistent in how you play including strumming the song the same way throughout or using the same finger picking pattern from start to finish. When backing a vocalist, keep your experimenting to a minimum.

Know how to use a capo. A capo allows you to change keys without having to play a whole new set of chords. Typically, if you play a song for a male vocalist, you can play the same song (and use the same chords) for a female voice by placing the capo on the 4th or 5th fret.

If you take the right approach and keep in mind that it's your job as a guitar player to help the singer sound great, you'll play like a pro in no time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Prepare Your Music Room for a Taiko Drum Lesson

Taiko drums are a form of Japanese percussion that have grown in popularity over the years. These huge drums are big (in fact, that's what 'Taiko' means!) and due to their huge size can produce a truly powerful sound.

Book a Teacher

Although drum teachers are fairly easy to come by, Taiko drummers are a bit more of a rare breed! A well renowned teacher will have extensive experience in Taiko drumming, will have run workshops with a range of students, and will be familiar with using all different types of Taiko drums no matter what their size or material.

Drumming lessons can be great for individuals, but also are good fun for groups to take part too - just make sure when you book it that you are clear about how long you want to have the lesson for, and how many people will be taking part.

Prepare a Space

If you have a room in your house dedicated to musical instruments, then great. Not everyone has the space though, and because Taiko drumming can be very loud, clearing a space in your basement and only rehearsing underground is a great way of keeping your noise to a minimum and keeping your neighbors happy.

When playing the drum, you will generally use a lot of your body and a lot of arm movement to get the best possible sound out of the instrument, so take this into account when you are choosing a space to practice in.

Get Suitable Accessories

Taiko drums are large instruments - this is why it is important to have a stand for the drum when it is not in use, so that it keeps the drum and your floor protected; just make sure that you get one big enough for your drum.

You may also want to get a cover for your drum if it is small and light enough to move around, and you will need bachi (the sticks used to beat it) to get the best sound from the instrument.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Not only a cool hobby, these drumming sessions are also known for their calorie-burning uses as well. A great workout for your upper body, this type of drumming involves exerting your arm muscles and because of this, comfortable and stretchy clothing should be worn to allow for a better range of arm movements. Keep some water handy too - and enjoy yourself!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

How To Play Electric Guitar - A Beginner's Guide

Learning how to play electric guitar can be a challenging, yet very rewarding thing to do. It can be fairly easy to pick up the basics though, and actually, with the right guidance, you could be playing some of your favourite songs in next to no time. To fully master the instrument however, can take years of practice and dedication; indeed, it can take an entire lifetime. How far you want to take it is up to you. In this article I'm going to discuss some of the key things you'll have to know if you want to learn how to play electric guitar, and cover some of the techniques that are used by professional guitarists.

The electric guitar is a very versatile instrument, and it can be heard in many different styles of music. Whatever the type of music though, broadly speaking the electric guitar will usually fulfil one of two roles - either that of an accompaniment or rhythm instrument, or that of a solo or lead instrument. First of all then, I'll explain briefly how to play electric guitar effectively as a rhythm instrument, to accompany a solo voice or lead instrument.

The rhythm guitar forms part of the rhythm section of a band, usually along with the drums and bass guitar. The role of the rhythm section is to provide a backing over which the lead instruments or voices can be played or sung. Because of this, it is very important for all instruments in the rhythm section to play together in perfect time, in order to keep a steady tempo to what is being played. If you hear a band with a good, tight, rhythm section, it's a sure sign that they are very competent musicians, whereas one of the biggest giveaways of an amateur band is sloppy timing amongst its rhythm players. To achieve good timing when learning how to play electric guitar you should always use a metronome when practicing. This will make you sound much more professional when you come to play in a band.

You'll find that in a lot of music, the role of the rhythm guitar is primarily to play chords in a rhythmic pattern so, for this reason, learning as many chords as possible, and being able to change between them fluently is an essential part of learning how to play electric guitar. You'll need to learn different strumming patterns and rhythms as well as the chords themselves, but strumming is not the only way chords can be played. Individual notes of the chord can also be picked, one at a time, either with the fingers or a pick, as arpeggios, or broken chords. This is another very common thing to hear rhythm guitarists playing. It is a lot more difficult than simply strumming in time, so will require a lot of practice. Care should be taken to play all the notes cleanly and evenly, and in time, in order to sound professional.

But there is more to rhythm guitar than just chords and arpeggios. Another common type of rhythm guitar playing involves the use of power chords, particularly in rock music. A power chord is basically a two note chord containing just the root note, and the perfect fifth. Sometimes the octave is added to fatten it up, and there are variations whereby the fifth may be diminished or augmented for example. Power chords are usually played with some amount of distortion, and are often moved around the neck in quite fast sequences. It is best to play power chords using down strokes and palm muting to keep it sounding tight. Anyone learning how to play electric guitar should spend time practicing power chords cleanly and rhythmically, in time to a metronome, as a lot of guitar music relies heavily upon their use.

Another important aspect of playing rhythm guitar is learning how to play riffs. A riff is a repeating melodic pattern, chord progression, or refrain which makes up the basis of a composition. Although they can be used in any genre of music, they most commonly appear in rock music. They can be very simple - just a few repeated notes - or very complex and fast, as might be heard on heavy metal records. They can be one of the most technical sides to rhythm guitar playing and, therefore, it's important that you get to grips with playing riffs early on when learning how to play electric guitar, so that you become comfortable and confident incorporating them into your playing.

So that explains a bit about rhythm guitar, but what about electric guitar as a solo or lead instrument. Thanks to the vast array of sounds, and the expressive timbre that the electric guitar possesses, it is perfectly suited to this role. Learning how to play electric guitar as a lead instrument is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling aspects of guitar learning, as it allows you to truly express yourself as a musician. Mastering lead guitar, though, will require you to become proficient in a number of specialist techniques, as well as gaining a thorough knowledge of scales and theory. Let's take a brief look at some of these techniques.

Most of the time, lead guitar consists of single note melodies, runs, and licks, so it is vital, when learning how to play electric guitar as a solo instrument, to master the art of picking correctly. In order to pick cleanly and accurately, you should hold your pick close to the tip, so that only a small part of it touches the strings. This will give you more control when you pick. Try to keep all movements as small as possible, and don't allow your picking hand to become tense. The actual motion for picking should come from the wrist, not the elbow or fingers. As with all guitar practice, picking should be practiced with a metronome, and you should pay attention to the dynamics of the notes as well - try to play all notes at consistent velocities.

The next two most important techniques to master when learning how to play electric guitar are string bending and vibrato. These closely related techniques are a fundamental part of lead guitar playing, particularly if you want to play rock or blues. Having a good vibrato will really make you stand out as a good player - a bad vibrato is the hallmark of an amateur - so it's important to spend time working on yours. Vibrato is achieved by bending a note slightly sharp, and then returning it to its original pitch, over and over again. The motion for this should come from the wrist, not the fingers, so it's a good idea (contrary to what you should do normally) to hook your thumb over the top of the neck, to get a good grip. You should then use a twisting, rocking motion of your forearm and wrist, whilst keeping your fingers straight and still, to produce the vibrato effect. One key mistake made by amateurs is not returning fully to the original pitch after the bend up, making the note sound sharp and out of tune, so pay close attention to your intonation at all times. You can vary the 'width' of the vibrato by increasing or decreasing the amount of bend you apply, as well as the speed. The important thing is to stay in control of the vibrato, and don't let it run away, out of time or too fast. This will require a certain amount of muscle strength to be built up in the wrist and forearm, so you should practice this regularly, and be patient.

String bending uses the same technique, but instead of alternating between two pitches, you bend up, usually a semitone or a tone, to a new note and stay there. You can add vibrato to this new note, or bend it back down as you wish. You can also bend up to the note before you pick it, and then release the bend the bend once it is played. It is best to use either your second or third fingers to do bends with as these are the strongest. Again, it is important to watch your intonation when playing with bends. Another technique, which gives a similar sort of sound to bending, is sliding. This is another very common technique heard in lead guitar playing, so needs to be mastered by anyone serious about learning how to play electric guitar. To play a slide simply pick a note then slide your fretting finger up or down the fretboard to another note. This second note can be picked once you reach it, or left ringing from the original note as you like.

Picking every note you play can sound a bit jaggedy and harsh; sometimes you want a smoother sound. Playing notes smoothly is called legato, and on the guitar this is achieved using hammer-ons and pull-offs. To play a hammer-on all you do is play a note, with your first finger say, then to play the next note you hammer the string with your next finger, say your third finger. You do not pick this note, the sound is produced by the hammering action of your third finger. At first this is quite a difficult technique to master; many beginners find it hard to get adequate volume from the hammered-on note. Therefore, when learning how to play electric guitar, you should practice this technique regularly, as always with a metronome, and pay particular attention to achieving even volume and tone with all hammered-on notes.

The opposite of a hammer-on is a pull-off. This is played by playing a note, this time with your third finger for example, then with another finger already in place on a lower fret, say your first finger two frets lower, you pluck the string with the third finger of your fretting hand by pulling it towards the floor - hence the term, pull-off. Again, the second note is not picked, the sound is produced by the pull-off action. This is a slightly more difficult technique to learn than the hammer-on, but anyone wanting to learn how to play electric guitar as a lead instrument needs to master both. By combining these two techniques you will be able to play very fast, impressive guitar solos.

I've covered the most common techniques used in lead playing, and those are the ones you absolutely have to master when learning how to play electric guitar as a solo instrument, but there are other, more advanced techniques that you might like to look at as well. I must warn you that these can take a lot of practice to get to grips with, and their applications are more limited than the techniques discussed above, but they will set you apart from other guitarists if you do take the time to master them. The first of these is tapping. Tapping is an extension of the legato technique looked at earlier, but this time you use fingers of the right hand to hammer-on, or 'tap', notes that the left hand can't reach. In its simplest form only one right hand finger is used, and often it just taps repeating three or four note patterns at very fast speeds. This technique does produce some very impressive results, and with a little practice it's actually quite easy to master.

This simple, one finger, tapping technique is just the beginning though. Taken to it's logical extreme you can use all four fingers of your right hand to tap, in what's called '8 finger tapping'. In practice, 8 finger tapping often uses only 7 fingers, as the first finger of the right hand keeps hold of the pick to allow easy transition between techniques. Using this technique enables players to play things that would otherwise be impossible, like full scale single string legato runs, large intervals, and very fast arpeggios. The principles of right hand tapping are the same as those for left hand hammer-ons and pull-offs. As I'm sure you'll appreciate, to get really good at this will take a long time, and a lot of practice and, with its limited application, only players who are really serious about learning how to play electric guitar tend to worry about it.

Another advanced technique, one with perhaps more application, and certainly more common, is sweep picking. Sweep picking is used as a more efficient way of moving the pick from one string to another, particularly when you are only playing one note on each string, such as when playing arpeggios. The technique itself is quite simple, but it takes a lot of practice to master it. It involves playing successive strings using all downstrokes, or all upstrokes, depending on which direction you are going, in a 'sweeping' motion, similar to strumming. The key is in maintaining control of the timing of each note played with the picking hand, whilst making sure only one note at a time is being heard by careful muting with the fretting hand. Once mastered, this technique will allow you to play amazingly fast arpeggios with ease, but when done badly it can sound terrible, so you really have to practice this technique before attempting to use it in your playing. It can also be used when playing scales or runs when changing between strings - in this case it is often called 'economy picking'. When learning how to play electric guitar as a lead instrument many people leave sweep picking till late on, as it is very hard to master, but I would advise anyone who is serious about their playing to try and tackle it early on, for precisely the same reason. It's definitely a technique worth having.

All this technique however, as important as it is to develop, is useless if you don't know what to do with it - in other words, what notes to play, and when. The only way you can learn this is by becoming proficient at playing, and understanding, scales. A scale is a group of notes that work well together over a given chord or backing. Examples of common scales include the minor and major pentatonic scales, the major scale, and its modes. When learning how to play electric guitar it is vital, especially if you want to be able to improvise or compose your own solos, to be able to play as many scales as possible, and in any position on the neck.

Scales must be practiced until they are ingrained in your head, so you can play them without thinking, but playing scales up and down is only one way to practice them. You should play them in thirds, melodically and harmonically, fourths, fifths, and all other intervals. Practice different sequences of the scale notes too. For example go up three notes, then down one, up three, down one, etc. Or up six, down three, or up three, down one. There is virtually unlimited number of ways to practice scales; play them all on one string, on two, or three. Play them up and down skipping one string all the way. By practicing scales like this you will become fluent at playing the right notes, without just going up and down the scale, enabling you to improvise and compose guitar solos that are much more musical. Anyone learning how to play electric guitar should make learning scales a priority.

In this article I've given a brief overview of the most common techniques used to play electric guitar, but there is another important aspect to the instrument that I'd like to quickly look at before I'm done, and that is getting a good sound. This will require an amplifier of some kind and, perhaps, some effects. It's very important, when learning how to play electric guitar, to understand the importance of producing a good, professional sound out of your instrument and equipment. Whole books have been written on this subject, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I'll just mention some of the most important things to think about. Of course, the sound initially comes from the instrument itself, so make sure it is well looked after, properly set up, with good strings, and in tune. Take full advantage of the controls on the guitar, as well as the different pick-ups. The real secret to getting a good sound is in the way you play. Experiment with different pick angles, and velocities, and pay attention to the sound of the notes you play. Always try to avoid unwanted string noise.

As for amplifiers, there are so many to choose from, it really comes down to the type of sound you're looking for, how much power you need and, of course, how much you're willing to spend. Whichever amp you use though, you should spend time familiarising yourself with the controls, and experiment until you find some sounds you like. It is worth noting, however, that often a sound which sounds great on its own will be lost in the context of a full band as it fights for space with the bass and drums. If this happens, you usually need to turn up the mids. Also, you usually don't need anywhere near as much distortion as you think you do, as this can also muddy the sound, especially in a live context. Finally, a brief word on effects units; use them wisely. When done correctly, effects can add a whole new dimension to your guitar sound, but when over used, or miss-used, they can ruin it. Often, over-use of effects is a means of hiding bad technique, so don't fall into that trap. If you can play well, you shouldn't need to smother your guitar with effects in order to sound good.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Inside Look At Midi Sequencing And Production

If you feel that you need a creative challenge, and you're interested in music and music production, you may want to check out MIDI sequencing and the latest technologies and products associated with it.

What's so special about MIDI production? Well, one unique aspect is that technology has evolved so much, that you can actually use the same software as famous Grammy-winning artists, without paying a fortune for it. This is not like toying with a small drum kit in your basement; you'll get access to the same technology as pros, and you can test your limits to the maximum. Who knows, maybe you'll even come up with the next number one hit in the process, but, until then, you'll definitely have a lot of fun with all the new and exciting features.

If you're just starting out with MIDI production, you may want to take a course first. Almost all suppliers provide extensive tutorials and manuals for their products; but it may be a good idea to enroll in a short training course, just to make sure you understand all the options.

A typical such course in MIDI production may take anything from one day to a week, and will explain the basics. Previous knowledge in music production may be an advantage, but don't worry if you know nothing about the topic, as you'll catch up quickly. This is a good opportunity to figure out whether this hobby is right for you or not, before actually investing in equipment and software. Plus, you will get a general overview of unique features and individual capabilities of each application, so that you can make a better informed purchase decision in the end.

The fee for the training in MIDI sequencing will probably be around $500, maybe even less, depending on your location and the number of training companies available in your area. In order to make the most of it, try to find a course that includes practical activities, so you have a chance to play around and make some mistakes of your own in the process.

Also, there will probably be one or two introductory sessions about music theory in general and the basics of MIDI sequencing, so, if you're already familiar with these concepts, you may want to skip ahead and save some time.

When it comes to actually purchasing the DAW, make sure you understand what you're paying for, and shop around for the best option. The most common mistake among the beginners is to look for the very best audio quality. Of course, all producers claim they offer the very best, and the reality is that the race is so tight, the quality varies very little - pretty much to the point that it cannot be distinguished by the human ear.

So, with audio quality taken out of the equation, you can select your product based on how comfortable you feel with it, how compatible it is with the equipment you own, and, of course, the price. Enjoy the experiment, and remember - louder is always, always better.

Friday, September 14, 2012

3 Double Bass Drum Techniques For Improved Speed And Power

Over the years, bass drumming has gone through many stages. Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich amazed the masses with their hand speed, but little attention was paid to their kick foot. Jazz drummers like Ed Shaughnessy began using double bass drum set ups in the 40's and 50's and rock drummers like Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and Carmine Appice made the double bass drum setup popular.

The creation of the "slave pedal" allowed drummers to have 2 beaters hitting one bass drum, allowing for smaller setups without sacrificing the double bass ability. The use of the double bass is predominant in heavy metal, death metal and punk music. There are 3 predominant playing styles for the bass drum pedal.

The first is the "heel-toe" technique. The technique allows a drummer to play two strokes in a single motion. It consists of two parts. First, the foot is suspended above the footboard of the pedal and the first of the two notes is played with the ball of the foot. Then, the foot snaps forward, the heel comes up and the toes complete the second stroke. This technique allows for rudiments to be played with the feet, as well as increased speed.

The second is the slide technique, in which the pedal is struck around the middle area with the ball of the foot. As the drum produces a sound, the toe is slid up the pedal. After the first stroke, the pedal will naturally bounce back, hit the toe as it slides upwards, and rebound for a second strike.

Of course, many drummers like simply using the flat foot technique, which simply applies the majority of the foot to the pedal, and only the heel is elevated slightly off the pedal. This method utilizes more muscle groups than either of the other 2 methods. It also relies more on repetition and less on "technique".

The great thing about double bass drumming and the various techniques is that there is no right answer and no wrong answer. It is all about personal preference. If you tallied up the most amazing drummers in the world, you would be able to find each technique in use. What works for one drummer doesn't always work for another drummer - this led to all of these inventions and techniques being created.

Friday, August 31, 2012

How To Learn Any New Skill On Guitar

Chances are you've heard the old saying "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The only problem is, when you want to learn a new skill the guitar (Scales, Chords, Songs, etc.) it always seems difficult to know which step to take to begin the journey. If you've played guitar for just about any amount of time, then you know what it's like to be interested in a new skill (let's say Chords) and begin researching all the aspects of that skill only to be discouraged at the overwhelming vastness of that skill alone (Major, Minor, Dominant, Altered, Extended, etc.).

I thought about how discouraging this aspect of learning can be and decided it would be good to write an article that will show you which "first steps" to take when learning the most popular skills on guitar. So here are my recommendations if you are interested in learning a new skill to better your playing.

Scales & Improvising

Here's a tip: If you want to learn anything new, then the first - and best - step to take is to learn the easiest thing first. For example, if you want to begin improvising then you're going to want to start learning various scales. You'll want to learn these scales straight up and down the fretboard and then begin manipulating the notes to create your own music. So don't begin learning the Phrygian Dominant or Mixolydian scales. (Confused yet?) You want the first step you take to be an easyone.

Probably the easiest, best scale to begin with is the Minor Pentatonic Scale. It only has five notes (hence the prefix "Penta-") and since most scales are Diatonic (seven notes), it will be much easier to learn fewer notes. These notes are repeated once you get to the last of the five notes, so you're actually playing the same notes in different places on the neck. Each position is considered a "Box."

One other thing: Another easy way to learn scales is to break them down into manageable pieces. Learn just the first five notes - plus the 2nd root, or "octave" note - (E, A, & D strings), then learn the rest of the notes (G, B, & E strings). Also notice the repeatable pattern of notes if you take the first position, or "Box 1," of the Minor Pentatonic Scale: Whole+Half step stretches (E, B, & E strings) and Whole step stretches (A, D, & G strings).

This makes it easier to see the scale visually. Lastly, can you see the G minor chord within the scale (Green)? Now you've learned multiple ways to learn a scale thereby cutting your learning curve in half! You can also use these methods when it comes to learning other things such as chords.


Maybe you're a complete beginner and want to learn chords. Don't start with the hard ones: Gmaj7, C13, Emin7b5, etc. No, no, no! Remember, your first step must be an easy one. Otherwise you'll get discouraged and give up. Once you learn the easy chords, scales, etc. you'll have the motivation to tackle the more advanced stuff.

So start simple. Learn the "Five Basic Major Chords" (you can also learn basic minor chords - not pictured). Their shapes spell the word CAGED and are very useful later on down the road when you want to learn the CAGED method of fretboard memorization.

If you're already familiar with basic chords and want to learn more advanced chords, the easiest way to begin is to take what you already know and add/subtract your fingers. Take, for example, the C chord and lift (subtract) your 2nd finger from the D string on the 2nd fret (Csus2) and see how different the C chord sounds. Now put it back and press down (add) on the 3rd fret of the D string with your pinky (4th) finger (Csus4). And voila... you've just created two more chords for the price of one!


If you want to start learning songs, the easiest thing to do is learn the "Five Basic Major Chords" and start playing. However, most songs use these - and other - chords in a specific order called a " chord progression." This refers to the "progression" in which the chords flow. The most common is known as a I-IV-V progression. If you count sequentially, in alphabetical order from the first chord you play (the first chord being number I) to the 4th note (IV) and the 5th note (V) you get the I-IV-V progression.

For example, if you start with a G chord (I) and count to 4, you have a C chord (IV: G, A, B, C). If you count from G to five, you have a D chord (V: G, A, B, C, D). Thus, the I-IV-V progression in the key of G Major is G-C-D. It's as simple as counting! Play these chords in any order - so long as you start with the G - and you'll hear some familiar things. Believe it or not, this is the chord progression used in 90% of the songs you hear on the radio! There may be a minor chord thrown in here or there (usually E minor for the key of G), but the main skeleton of most songs is I-IV-V! You can also use this chord progression if you want to begin writing your own songs. Easy!

The "Easy" Way Out

So there you have it; a few "first steps" on your musical journey. Always remember: Start with the easiest, simplest skills and progress to the next level only once you're confident that you've learned the previous skill adequately. And don't stop there! The key to getting better is to keep going back and practicing the simple skills after you've mastered new ones! Once you've learned the easy guitar skills cold, all you have to do is go back and "oil the machinery" from time to time. In other words, you don't have to learn these skills all over again; just pay them a visit from time to time and keep them "awake" in your mind. Here's to hoping you take the easy way out more often than not!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Next Level Guitar - Learn To Play The Guitar

Next Level Guitar is an online portal of online guitar lessons available in video and text form. The lessons can be downloaded to your computer and accessed anytime that you are ready to learn more. One can find more than 150 different beginners lessons available, including chords, chord charts, scales, hand fret positions, strumming techniques, major chords and more.

In addition to music lessons Next Level Guitar offers lessons in the fundamentals of playing a guitar. You can learn how to hold your instrument, how to read sheet music and even what each chord means, all with a few clicks of the mouse to this amazing website. If it concerns playing the guitar you can rest assured that you will learn how to play the guitar!

The Next Level Guitar website makes it easy for anyone to turn pro in no time at all. The website is easy to navigate through, and while it does take a commitment to learning, can be quite enjoyable to visit and learn with each day. There are many who claim that they've went through the entire Next Level course in just 30 days and are now playing like pros!

Video in the series range in time from about 5 to 20 minutes long. David Taub, a professional and highly sought after guitar player, teaches each of the videos. His humor helps you learn how to play the guitar without becoming bored or overwhelmed. It is so exciting to see each new lesson, and with this easy instruction you'll never get behind on a thing.

Furthermore the Next Level Guitar instruction is more than affordable. Unlike some programs out there, it will not cost you an arm and a leg to learn how to play the guitar. Even if you choose to go through all of the available courses it can be done at an affordable price.

Next Level Guitar is a trusted name that all who want to learn how to play the guitar can depend on. You'll get quality instruction that can be done from the comfort of your home at any time you wish. There's plenty of money to be saved with the guitar lessons without sacrificing the instruction that you need as well. All around the Next Level is one of the very best guitar lessons on the market today. When you are serious about playing, Next Level Guitar is there to take you to the next level.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Changing Chords On Guitar Without Stopping

The most challenging thing about playing guitar, no matter how long you have played, is changing chords smoothly and in rhythm. Even the greatest guitar players in the world struggle with a difficult chord change from time to time. But there are a number of things you can do to keep the music flowing.

Plan ahead. It's very important to think about the next chord and how it is played. In other words, make sure you know what fingers go where and where on the guitar the chord is played. In fact, try to picture the next chord in your mind. It will help you get there quickly, smoothly and cleanly. The goal is to make the chord change without interrupting the rhythm (taking too long to make the change).

It also helps to decide which finger(s) of the chord will land first. There are times when you'll be able to land all your fingers at the same time and that's ideal but not always possible. When playing a C chord, for example, it might be best to let your ring finger land on the 5th fret first as it is the bass note of the chord and the first string to play when strumming. Then quickly place your fingers on the remaining strings.

Substitute a different chord for a bar chord that's difficult to play. Even if the bar chord sounds better, if you can't make the switch in rhythm, you won't be able to make the song work (and that can be frustrating). With a little bit of practice and planning, you can play most songs without bar chords. When choosing an easier chord, keep in mind that you don't have to play all the strings all the time, In fact, for a lot of songs, many of the chords will sound better with three or four strings being played.

Make the chord switching part of the music. This is a little trick that all great guitar players know. For example, while switching from a G chord to a C chord, you can play an open string as you're changing. In this case, you could play the G chords three times, then play the third string open as the fourth beat while you are forming the C chord.

Use a bass run between chords. Try this one: play a G chord, then play the fifth string open, then the fifth string at the 2nd fret. Finally, play a C chord starting with the fifth string at the 3rd fret (the bass note for the C chord). Not only does it make the chord change easier but the bass run adds to the music.

Practice the difficult chord changes separately. Take the most difficult chord changes and practice them over and over until you get them down. The next time you play the song, you can breeze through the difficult parts.

Changing chords on guitar is a challenge for any player but there are a number of things you can do to go from chord to chord without stopping. You'll keep the groove going and sound great in the process.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Guitar Hacks

No Pain no Gain

Chords are notorious for causing pain in fingers and it's a big factor in guitar abandonment. The pain of pressing down strings will go away with regular practice. Just start with E, A & D chords. Play these until you can switch back and forth smoothly. Eventually, you'll have calloused fingers and clamp onto chords with ease. If a steel string guitar is still too painful to play you may be better suited to a different guitar. The classical guitar has nylon strings which are much easier to push down. Electric guitar strings are even easier to play, but don't plug it in while practicing - an electric amp is too distracting for someone simply trying to learn the basics.

Tap your foot

If you can tap your foot in time, then you can absolutely strum the guitar in time too. The key here is to always be tapping your foot, but let it be your master clock. You can trust that foot, so go with it and never miss a beat. This can at first feel awkward, but it's no different than riding a bike. Once you get the hang of it, you'll always have the rhythm. The common problem of stopping and starting over in the middle of a song comes from overthinking. Follow the foot and if your chords are buzzing keep strumming anyway. Don't let a bad chord stop your flow - play right through even if you have to play bad chords. Just keep the tempo and keep strumming.

Get a Tuning Fork

Remember these? You smack it against the dresser and it responds with a perfect tone. Not only does it help tune the strings, but also your ears. There are a tons of digital tuners out there, but they have created a generation of lazy guitarists who tune by sight. These tuners get the job done, but when looking at the colored strobes, the ears can become disengaged. The tuning fork forces critical listening, and activates musicality. This simple tip alone can bring a rapid advancement in playing for everyone from students to professionals. Seriously, grab a set online or at the local guitar shop. Another option is to use an online guitar tuner as a virtual tuning fork.

Learn That Song

We all have one. That song that we know all too well and can be played inside your head, from start to finish. Commit to learning a song or two and playing it all the way through. Start by finding the chords online or in a tablature book at guitar center. After you can play the chords, it's time to play along with the actual song. Playing guitar is 90% listening and 10% doing. While the song plays, just strum along lightly while keeping focused on the song. The trick here is to improve your listening and then use it to self adjust. Music is a subtle art whether your thing is black metal or ragtime.

Turn on the TV

With the television turned on and muted, play the guitar while watching your favorite show. This will improve another subtle guitar skill called Intuition. Simply knowing those chord changes (without looking) will bring fluidity and comfort on the instrument. Getting your eyes off the instrument, while playing it, brings familiarity.

Final tips

Since those E, A & D chords may get boring, a subtle change to the fingering can make things very interesting. Take the middle note out of the E and A chords for a more bluesy sound. Learn all the variations of these chords and you'll soon be improvising and writing tunes. Grab a guitar tuner that suits your style.

After finding your way around standard tuning on the guitar, consider trying an open tuning for a while. The guitar will instantly sound deeper and heavier. All of the chords you've been practicing will sound completely different. Explore a bit in open tuning and you'll feel like a vast horizon opens up right in front of you. Make some music.