Music Lessons for Justin 4

Musical mileage from a single idea was the subject of this week’s lesson.The general concept is to use a musical idea in a number of different ways so that the lines I play will have a smoother flow.

We started with the Blues Scale, which was not my choice, but is probably a good idea.Students that are working on soloing have heard my Minor Pentatonic/Blues Scale rant.I will not write it here, but let’s just say that I avoid playing these two in their natural state.

I am using these scales from different key centers and the sounds are greatly different from what one usually hears, especially from guitarists.This is exactly why I wanted to take lessons from a player of a different instrument.

Learning ‘guitarisms’ is very important at the beginning and intermediate levels of playing.There is much more to attribute to the difference in sound from a saxophonist and a guitarist than just their instrument’s sound.Playing concepts fitted to a different instrument’s physical structure will give a player unique ideas outside of what will feel most natural on one’s own instrument.If you are interested in this pursuing this idea further, the best way to do so is to play a transcribed solo from a different instrument such as piano, saxophone or trumpet.

I was also given a CD of rhythm tracks over which to play.I have suggested this for all students working on soloing concepts because one must hear the notes being played in some sort of context.Notes by themselves to give us an idea of a harmonic background, but this background is most likely the simplest background available in our minds.It can certainly be no more complex than those harmonic ideas to which we are already acquainted.

To me, all of this is really exciting to be playing and discovering.I am very pleased with all of the new sounds I am getting from such a familiar group of notes.Better mileage indeed.


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Music Lessons for Justin 3

I am less confused now.The exercises are as difficult and awkward as I imagined.For those of you who might know what I mean, the patterns are: ascending/ascending; descending/descending; ascending/descending; and descending/ascending.I am not so great at the last two because I have avoided them for years.

Also, as masterful as I might feel at times in regard to my guitar playing abilities, there are some other things that just kill me.The other weak spots in my playing that we are working to eliminate are: being able to play any scale or key in one position, I am fairly good at this already; and being able to change keys over a certain number of beats through all twelve keys.I am terrible at the second part.

I have a few students working on scales.I do not suggest working on scales until you can play a number of songs of varying difficulty, open chords, barre chords and have an actual reason for learning scales.‘My friend told me I should learn scales’ is not a good reason.‘I want to learn how to create solos’ or ‘I want to be able to create melodies’ are good reasons.

By the way, scales and chords consist of the same bits.Scales are just played as single notes, and chords are played in clumps.This is why it is important to learn both eventually.

Now I just need to practice every day.We all know how difficult this is to achieve.


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Music Lessons for Justin 2

I am confused already.  It may have been that my lesson was at 8:30 this morning.  I could have been distracted knowing that I had a dentist appointment later today.  Maybe I just do not know what I am doing.

As all students should do, I e-mailed my teacher a few times today to clarify some points about my homework.  I was having trouble understanding the practicing patterns.  There are four, and like the exercises that I give my students, there are really two just, but reversing them creates four exercises.

In a nutshell, my homework is to play a four note sequence, up from the lowest diatonic note on my instrument, in a particular key.  One of the patterns is to play from the first note to the fourth; then the second note to the fifth, the third note to the sixth, and so on until my head explodes.

Then I do this in reverse as well as with the other keys, whichever keys are on the list that I left at work.  As well as one other pattern that will also be reversed.  The patterns are also on the same sheet that I left at work.

Oh, yeah, and with guitar, one must also play in the seven positions.