After "The Principles",the metronome is the most important
practice tool you can use.
Used as shown in
" The Principles", it will increase your rate of progress faster than anything
below for further info:
Why must I use a metronome?
should I get?
Folk Guitar Song Collection
It's time to add an additional
resource to our curriculum in order to assimilate and integrate the skills
covered so far, and make them usable in our playing. If you don't have the
book shown above, order it from this link. The supplier ships world-wide,
and you will have it in a few days.
You can read my
review of the
In order to gain an understanding of where
we are going, and why, and how we are going to get there, read this
GENERAL GUITAR DEVELOPMENT: STAGE TWO
In my essay "What Should I Practice?
General Guitar Development Stage One", I outlined the goals that a
person pursuing development in what I call "General Guitar" should be aiming
for. These are the abilities that every guitarist should have, regardless of
what style they may specialize in, or plan to specialize in. If you know you
want to be a rock guitarist, there are still certain things you should know
and be able to do that don't necessarily have to do with rock guitar. The
same is true if you plan on being a classical guitarist or a specialist in
any other style.
So, this means that there are certain common denominators in the learning
process for the first few years of guitar study. There are certain elements
that should be there that are common no matter if you walk in for your first
lesson and say " I want to be a rock guitarist", or "I want to be a jazz
guitarist", or "I want to be a classical guitarist". However, it does get a
little more nuanced than that, because depending on the style and individual
involved, there may be more or less of something, and things may be taken in
a different order from one student to another.
In the above mentioned essay, I
summarized the goals that should be
common for ALL developing guitarists, regardless of style, they are:
1) Ability to Practice Correctly,
2) Beginning to Build the Correct Foundation (and the
discovery of the proper physical sensations) with the Foundation Exercises
from "The Principles".
3) Applying the developing abilities to music with simple
chord changes and songs, until a few songs are well on the way to being
mastered, and the student is not developing habits of tension in their
playing. The means to develop these skills and reach these goals
are found in "The GuitarPrinciples Path
Level One: Chords & Rhythm.
The attainment of these goals is begun immediately, from the first lesson,
and will be well underway within 2 months, and accomplished in anywhere from
3 to 6 months. At this point, we begin to set about accomplishing other
goals common for all players, regardless of style. These goals are:
1) beginning the study of music theory, with and/or without
direct application to the instrument.
This will include these things:
the musical alphabet
the study of musical intervals
the construction of major scales
the study and understanding of keys and key signatures
the study and understanding of chord functions within keys
as applied to simple songs
2) applying the increasing knowledge of music theory to the
guitar in the form of more sophisticated song accompaniments.
learning a variety of increasingly complex strums
learning how to use bass notes effectively in the context
of chord movement. This will take the form of alternate basses on first
position chords in all the common keys, and then the use of bass runs
(using the knowledge of scales and keys as described above).
3) continuing the technical development of hands, body and
mind that will provide the means to use the musical understanding gained in
goals 1 and 2 above.
It is because of all these necessary areas of study that I
have recommended the use of the Mel Bay Guitar Method as a basic study text
for the development of general guitar skills. With the addition of The
Principles, and The Path to fill in all the vital missing elements, this course begins the
accomplishment of all the above goals. Of course, along the way, other
resources must be added, and many of these resources will be chosen
according to the long term goals of the player. For instance, if a student
knows they want to be a great rock guitarist, we would certainly be studying
all the Pentatonic Scales, and mastering all the basic techniques, like
bends, vibrato, etc, as well as studying the solos of the greats.
Studying a method book like the Mel Bay Method accomplishes
the goal of learning to read music. Now, it must be acknowledged that
reading music is not an absolute necessity in order to be a good
guitarist, or a rich and famous guitarist! There are
plenty of good, rich and famous guitarists who don't read music. In fact,
there are plenty of great and famous songwriters who don't read music.
Reading music will not make you a musician, and it will not give you
"talent". You can spend 20 years studying music and never play a blues lick
as good as B.B.King, or write a song as great as a Paul McCartney or Bob
However, reading music will make anyone at the very least a
"capable" musician, and can enable those with true musicality to get the
absolute most from their ability. The bottom line is it sure isn't going to
hurt anyone to learn to read music, and I have always tried to include that
with all students where appropriate (it is not appropriate when teaching
young children, unless specifically requested. It is more important to get
them playing first, singing and strumming).
One of the additional resources I recommend, and am going to
provide guidance on, is an excellent collection of Folk Songs by Jerry
Silverman called "The Ultimate Folk Guitar Song Book". Whether or not you
think all the songs are "excellent" as far as music goes, that is not really
the point. What I like about the book is that it is a systematic
presentation of more advanced accompaniment techniques, grouped together by
Chapters One and Two present Bass Runs in Major and Minor
Keys. Those working with Mel Bay will learn to use bass notes in
accompaniment patterns by the middle of the book, in the form of Alternate
Basses and Bass runs. However, even though the student will learn to play a
few examples of these techniques, they are restricted to the key of C. In
addition, simply learning from the Mel Bay will not give the student a real
understanding of what the techniques are, and the ability to use them in
other songs in other keys.
Additional explanation and experience is needed, and I will
use "The Ultimate Folk Guitar Song Collection" by Jerry Silverman for this
purpose. You can read about the book, and order it here
Folk Guitar Song Collection
As we continue to work through Mel Bay, the Mel Bay Study
Group participants should get this book, and begin to master the material
therein using the guidance I will give. We begin here
Ultimate Folk 1: Bass