Hey Guitarists –
I love technology. I enjoy my mac laptop, my blackberry, my wide screen tv and my wireless router.
Some things, however, are not all that improved by technology. I love my guitars. They are wonderfully imperfect devices, played by imperfect human musicians that make music that can give goose-bumps to imperfect listeners. And it’s been that way long before Pascal invented his first Counting Machine (Pascal is considered the father of the Computer).
Don’t get me wrong, I like Tuners and model amps, and hot pickups but we’re still playing an “analog” instrument. Yeah, they try to make digital guitars that tune themselves but forget it. It won’t replace your Les Paul, your Strat, or your Ibanez. They are all beautifully imperfect.
I took a long time off from teaching after I got married. Like 15 years. When I started playing again, amps had changed, but guitars really hadn’t. Then I started teaching a few folks again where to put their fingers, what chords to play, and what scale to play against it.
I specialize in teaching my students how to improvise over select chord progressions. That includes jazz progressions that might change key (modulate). In order to practice this, it is best if the student has some background chords to work against. This is critical, actually. Your ear needs to be developed to hear your notes against these chords, as well as developing timing and eventually phrasing.
So the student has a couple of options:
1) Have me come over everyday to play chords for you. Not likely.
2) Have a friend play chords and then you do the same for him. This is actually a great idea and teaches the student to take turns playing lead and rhythm. However, not every guitarist’s best friend is another guitarist.
3) Record the chords on a tape recorder and play them back. This is how I learned for years, and what I would do for my students back in the 1980’s if they brought a cassette in.
The cassette tape recorder was my “wing man”. I even had one with a variable pitch control so I could tune the thing to me when students brought in tapes of their songs.
What I discovered when I started teaching again was no one had a tape recorder anymore! I mean no one. I think the last tape recorder anybody possessed was on a boom box and those have been shoved aside for ipods and mp3 players.
What is a budding guitarist supposed to do?
You have some options:
1) Get some sort of recording software and record yourself on your computer. Cost unknown. GarageBand comes with all Macs and I like it and use it. It’s a bit of work to set up (compared to popping a tape in) but you can do it.
2) Buy some backup music software like “Band in a box”. One of my students had that. This costs over $200 so be prepared.
3) …or get my practice CD.
I decided to fill this void for my students by providing an affordable practice CD that comes with tuning tracks for al 6 strings, then 8 tracks of rock, jazz, and blues in various keys to help the guitarist over this hump. Keys include G Major, A blues, Bb blues, E “funk” blues, C Major/A Minor, and the cycle of fourths (all 12 keys covered in that one). 45 minutes of music for you to work those scales and great ideas against.
Each track has me on rhythm guitar, me on bass, and some cool drummer named “midi” (ok, joke, midi is a computer binary file that sounds like a drummer and is actually quite nice).
Check out my practice CD at http://fastfingersguitarlessons.com and start hearing what you’re missing from your practice sessions.