As a musician, the most important instrument that you can learn is the piano. Discussion on how piano and guitar theory are related.
My first step into my music career was learning to play the trumpet when I was 10 years old. It came naturally for me and I enjoyed the instrument. When I turned 11 years old my sister began taking piano lessons. One day I sat down at the piano and my sisters beginning piano book was on the piano. I opened it up and proceeded to play the entire book in one afternoon. That book was John Thompson’s – Teaching Little Fingers To Play. It was easy to read and learn from and my soul as a musician drank it all in. Naturally my parents had been listening to me working on that book and suggested that I may want to take piano lessons along with my sister. I did and from that point on the piano became the musical root of everything I have done musically since.
If you want to get stronger, faster and more accurate on your instrument then there’s no substitute for practicing with a metronome. Metronome’s are perfect for building up the muscles in your hands. Today I want to turn you on to the free online metronome at www.metronomeonline.com.
I always figured if I practiced long and hard enough that I would become a good enough musician that my skills would guarantee a successful show every time I played. So I practiced and I became a good musician but I found that a good show doesn’t just depend on musical skill. A good show is a collective effort between several different factors.
When comparing yourself to other musician’s it’s all about perspective.
If you’re like me you’ve probably pondered the question “Am I a good musician?”. I know that for me, I’ll just get to the point where I think I’m a really good musician and then something will happen and humble me back down. I’ll go hear a great band or jam with an unbelievable guitarist and I’ll be back in the practice shed trying to get better at what I do.
It’s not a bad thing to get humbled like that if it motivates you to do better. We all feel like giving up from time to time but what makes you a great musician is rising to the challenge. I’ve always been able to use those times where I’m blown away by another musician and use them to make myself better. You can learn so much from other musicians that it’s in your best interest to search out musicians that are already great to see if you can learn from them.
I’ve had a lot of guys tell me that they think they suck badly after they hear me play. I know, I’m stroking my ego quite a bit there but now that I’ve been playing for so many years I’m a pretty good guitar player. The thing is, I remember when I was just starting out playing in bands. I felt so far behind the others that I didn’t think there was any way I’d ever be as good as the guys I was playing with. It would have been very easy for me to say “That’s it, I suck so I’m hanging it up and quitting.” but I didn’t do that. I kept fighting to get better. When you play with other musicians that are better than you are then you can use the situation to your advantage.
What is good tone? Well, the dictionary defines it as “The distinctive property of a complex sound.” I define tone as “The sound that brings me the most pleasure to listen to.” As a guitarist, I’m especially tuned in to the tone of my guitar. My guitar’s tone is the result of my guitar, amp and player’s touch working together to create that “distinctive property” that is the most pleasurable for me to listen to.
How many times have you wished you could be better at your instrument? Or wished you could be a better singer? We all know that the best way to improve is to practice our craft. It’s the biggest no-brainer there is about being a musician. To get better, one has to practice. I’ve read interviews with the worlds elite musicians and they’re quoted all the time saying things like “I practiced 8 hours a day.” or “I even practice my guitar on the toilet.” That’s all good and fine but how many of us really have that kind of time, or actually want to practice on the toilet? Not me, but I have found an excellent bunch of ways to practice that really work and won’t take all your time.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know some music theory. It’s really not that hard to understand music theory and once you get a basic knowledge you can apply it in many ways. Having a working knowledge of music theory has helped me in my songwriting and my ability to communicate with other musicians. Music theory is like learning to speak the language of music and it’s a very easy language to learn. Once you know it then you can really communicate with higher level musicians. Knowing how to determine what key a song or chord progression is in has helped me immensely when I’m jamming with other musicians. Continue reading “Learn Music Theory”
One thing that most musicians struggle with is playing accurately in a groove. It’s a huge necessity to be able to play things on the beat especially when you’re playing with other musicians. That rhythmic pulse is what keeps us all on the same page when we’re playing together in groups. I’ve played with bass players and guitar players that have a tough time even playing an eighth-note rhythm consistently. I myself struggle to play extremely fast guitar solos on the beat from time to time and it used to be a real struggle for me until I started practicing with a metronome. The metronome did me well but boy is it boring and irritating after a while. Continue reading “Practicing to a beat…not a metronome.”
As musicians, we’ve all heard the same word repeated over and over our entire carreer…Practice! I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned, if you love to practice you’re probably not playing out very much. I personally don’t love to practice. I love it when I have a brand new instrument or when I’m learning a new instrument but that newness wears off quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I practice regularly and so should you. But don’t you like to practice when you’re having a lot of fun at the same time?
I have to tell you that the new game Rock Band by Harmonix has had a profound effect on my singing. I knew the game would be fun, whacking away on a toy guitar controller and pounding on electronic drum pads but I didn’t give the singing a second thought. When we got the game, I found the singing portion to be easy and fun. The game detects when you sing in tune, sing on the beat and say the correct phrases. Then you get scored on those abilities and if you suck too badly, you kill off your whole show. I have to admit, that’s real world when it comes to bad singing. People don’t stay at your shows very long when you have a bad singer.
Since I’ve been playing Rock Band it’s helped my singing several ways and I’ve noticed it when I’ve played gigs. These are the ways it’s helped me the most in terms of singing:
I sing a lot more in tune now.
I have tons of stamina and can sing a whole show without losing my voice.
It’s helped my timing with getting the words into the rythmic groove with the rest of the band.
I can hit high notes a lot easier now.
I can hold notes out longer and keep them in tune.
That’s just how Rock Band has helped me with my singing. It helps on the other instruments as well although not as radically. The next instrument it helps the most with after singing is drums. It doesn’t help you with technique such as the proper way to hold sticks or the proper striking technique. It does really help with hand and foot coordination. In fact, it radically helps with that. It also helps you keep a steady beat. If you’re not steady, the band gets booed off the stage. Again, true to life.
On guitar, Rock Band helps primarily with rhythm and a little bit with finger coordination. You probably get the least real-world benefit from playing guitar in Rock Band.
On all instruments, it helps you as a musician to follow a chain of notes or phrases that you must complete on the beat to be able to continue playing. This does somewhat translate into reading music notation even though you don’t have to read the entire musical staff. It does help you keep your eye on the page while playing without looking at your hands all the time.
So I’m recommending Rock Band for all of those reasons. It really is a good purchase for a musician. Is it the same as playing in a real band? Kind of, but not nearly as fulfilling as a crowded room of people going crazy over a killer performance that you really played. Does it help your live playing? YES IT DOES! So get it, I put some links in this post so you can find the game easily. Have fun!