Monday, April 29, 2013

Learn the notes on the guitar fretboard

Why is it important to memorise the notes on the fretboard? - Firstly knowing the notes will help you to quickly navigate your way around the fretboard not just for finding notes but also to locate chords. Secondly you will begin to see patterns which helps when structuring solos, riffs etc. Thirdly it will help you to learn songs faster. So what's the best way to memorise the notes?

Memorising the notes on the fretboard
Memorising all the notes on the fretboard is actually very easy and just 5 minutes a day for a month and you will have it down. Here is what you need to do.

1. Learn the chromatic scale. Just remember a simple rule. B and E have no sharps.

A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G.

Note that the sharps can also be called flats. E.g. A# can also be called Bb.  

2. Memorise the names of the open strings. The best way to remember anything is with a completely ridiculous saying. The more ridiculous the better. So here goes..

Easter Bunny Goes Driving At Easter (for kids)
Easter Bunny Gets Drunk At Easter (for adults)

Now you know the chromatic scale just begin from each open string and work your way up the neck.


Exercise. Try finding one note on each string. E.g. Find the C note on each string as quickly as you can.

5 Week Free Introduction to Guide

The G4 Guitar Method is a structured method of learning how to play guitar. A structured method means you don't waste time because every step has been tested. G4 Guitar is a unique system built on 27 years of research and experience based around a series of checklists. To view a video and learn more please visit our website at

*Master the Guitar Fret Board using The Pickin' Tool.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Shortcut to Learning Guitar

This is a short article about a very important topic for those who wish to learn guitar but can also be applied to really learning just about anything. I'm often asked the question “What does it take to learn guitar?” It is the burning question that anyone who sets out to learn guitar would give almost anything to know. The difficulty with such a question is music is like language and it's the same as asking how long would it take me to learn to speak Chinese. Learning to speak Chinese will vary from person to person depending on a multitude of factors such as 'Do you have previous experience in the Chinese language?' or 'Do you already speak a similar language like Japanese which shares many of the same characters?' or 'Are you living in China right now?' and so on.

"How long will it take me to learn guitar?" 

As you can see the question is difficult to answer so lets ask a different question. . What is the one characteristic that stands out over and above all others when it comes to learning guitar? Answer. Effective communication. I have been working with guitar students and guitar teachers for 27 years and the one thing that seems to stand out among the best students and the best teachers is their ability to communicate. It trumps natural talent and even long hours of practice. Although these two particular traits give students a definite advantage effective communicators outperform other students for one simple reason. They waste less time.

The Dip will make or break you

I want to use some statistics to help illustrate the point. One of the most common scenarios that occurs with beginner students as described by the author Seth Godin in his book 'The Dip'. When we begin anything new we are highly motivated. In the case of guitar you may have went to a concert or heard a great song and decided it was time to learn guitar. After a few weeks or in some cases months the motivation begins to diminish. The honeymoon is over so to speak and guitar practice becomes a chore. This is known as 'The dip'. Now the dip is where most people start to skip practice and/or their lessons. In short they lose interest but more to the point they lose confidence in their ability to learn guitar. I would say almost everyone experiences the dip.  But there is a very obvious difference between those who get through the dip and those who do not.

The secret to getting through the dip

So how do we get through the dip? In a word 'COMMUNICATION'. This is without a doubt the one thing that stands out with those students who make it through the dip. These students will ask questions when things are not going well or their motivation is low. Students who do not communicate are far more likely to throw in the towel. This is even more likely with young children because parents often perceive their child's lack of interest and/or practice as a sign that they no longer wish to play guitar. Parents who communicate (i.e. speak to their teacher) dramatically improve the chances of their child getting through the dip. This is because in the majority of cases a loss of interest is really a loss of confidence. Parents play a pivotal role in their child's guitar learning experience. In fact I would go as far as to say the parents are often the deciding factor and those parents who communicate regularly are the ones who are most likely to see a successful outcome for their child on guitar.

Communication really is the key

In summary just remember communication is the key. If you aren't sure or feeling unmotivated, frustrated, bored or just lacking confidence make sure that giving up is your last option and your first option is to ask questions.

The G4 Guitar Method

The G4 Guitar Method is a structured method of learning how to play guitar and can be taught in groups or privately. Its a unique system built on 27 years of research and experience based on a series of checklists. To view a video and learn more please visit our website at

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Guitar lessons: Private or Group? Which is better? The results may surprise you.

For many years I taught guitar privately believing that the one on one experience was superior because I could focus on the individual needs of the student. Logic told me that if I am teaching several students at one time it would be of less value to each student. Such logic was not based on any real evidence because up until that point private is all I had ever done. I had simply not even challenged this belief and probably never would have if certain circumstances had not arisen. 

What I discovered about group learning.

Over a decade ago now I started experimenting firstly with adult groups and later groups of children. It wasn't easy for me as a teacher because I was out of my comfort zone. Initially my group teaching was quite poor so I did a lot of research and also attended seminars to learn how to engage groups. It didn't take long before the obvious advantages to group learning were revealed. There have been several studies done on 'collaborative learning' that show people learn better in small groups compared to private lessons. Check out this paper on Cooperative Learning

Small groups are ideal

The group dynamic has a certain energy about it which you don't get from private lessons. It does require a skilled teacher but the results in my experience exceed private learning. I think ideally guitar students should learn in small groups and then supplement with the occasional private lesson when required. At the very least students should form a peer group to share ideas, jam and to generally motivate each other.

The G4 Guitar Method

The G4 Guitar Method is a structured method of learning how to play guitar and can be taught in groups or privately. Its a unique system built on 27 years of research and experience based on a series of checklists. To view a video and learn more please visit our website at

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How to teach your 3 year old to play guitar.

3 year old Mia's guitar lesson

The number question I receive from parents is usually one of starting age. Many parents assume that their child can't start learning guitar until 6 or 7 years. The reality is children can start learning as soon as they are able to physically sit and hold a guitar. I actually recommend starting on a ukelele first because its small and easier for them to play. The best age I have found to start physical practice is between 3 and 4 years. 

Start small

When starting your child at a young age begin small and lower your adult expectations. Some parents get frustrated because they expect their child to sit perfectly still and do everything as instructed. Little kids want to move so sitting still for any length of time is unlikely. The trick is is to start  small. For example spend the first few weeks just getting them in to a routine of sitting and holding their guitar (ukelele). Gradually introduce strumming and counting followed by picking and eventually putting their fingers on the frets. 

The goal is routine

Once you achieve a routine try teaching them a song a simple song like 'Twinkle twinkle little star'. This may literally take months but thats okay because its about establishing a routine. 10 minutes a day now will expand to an hour a day in a few years and this will set them on a course for guitar mastery. Routine and fun are the only real goals in the early months. This is a hugely valuable lesson for children because it teaches them the power of small consistent steps. A concept that tends to get forgotten in our instant gratification world. This is not just about learning how to play guitar. Its as much about learning how to learn.

The G4 Guitar Method

The G4 Guitar Method is a structured method of learning how to play guitar. Its a unique system based on 27 years of research and experience that is based on a series of checklists. To view a video and learn more please visit our website at

Monday, April 1, 2013

The power of musical memory

Musical memory is the ability to remember musical passages whether it be a melody, a chord progression, a rhythm pattern or a song arrangement. According to research our musical memory is encoded in a different part of our brain to language so needs to be developed. They also found that both sides (left and right hemispheres) of our brain are used when storing musical memories but it seems the left side is of greater importance as discovered by Wilson & Sailing in 2008. One interesting finding was left-handers were found to have better short term musical memory. Did Hendrix have an advantage?

How a good memory makes you a better musician

Memory plays a critical role mostly because it frees up the musician to be more expressive. If you are putting all your energy into trying to remember what the next note, bar or phrase should be there is little left for expression. A good memory also allows you to learn at a faster rate. For example if you memorise scales learning melodies becomes easier because most melodies revolve around scales. The same can be said for chord patterns, song arrangements, cadences and so on.  

The secret to a better musical memory

Musical memory is mostly about pattern recognition. When I was a teenager I learned 12 bar blues for the first time. At the time I had no idea what I was learning but it soon became apparent that it was a template to most blues and early rock n roll. Once I understood this pattern I was able to easily recognise a song that matched this pattern. When you learn a new song look for the patterns. You will be surprised how many so called original songs are based on well known songs. Pop songs almost always match a familiar pattern.

Develop your memory

Here is a website where you can do some musical memory training but its best to work with a teacher as they will be able to quickly identify the areas you need to develop.


A structured proven method of learning guitar.