Monday, September 23, 2013

Do your expectations for learning guitar match reality?

Early on in my guitar teaching career I realised many of the guitar students who came to me grew increasingly disappointed with their progress on guitar over time. This made me question my own ability as a teacher and led me to try and understand why. The answer became more obvious as I researched the problem.

Great expectations

Everyone has an expectation. For some to be able to play a few basic chords and strum out some simple songs is enough. For others they set the bar very high and as a result become disappointed. I would say the great majority fall into the later. We also compare ourselves to others believing if we are not progressing at the same pace we are failing. Fact is we are all very different. Some will pick up the guitar quickly while for others it will be a slower process. The trick is to lower your expectations and treat it like an experiment and do not compare yourself to anyone.

How feedback will help you

My students were not always aware but I was constantly reassuring them and giving them feedback in regards to their progress on guitar. This is critical because it keeps things in perspective for the guitar student. When they imagined being able to play guitar like their favourite guitarists they often overlook the fact that the guitarist they imagine has had years and years of experience. Some practicing for thousands of hours. Expecting to be anywhere even close after say 20 hours of learning is just totally unrealistic. I would begin by putting things into perspective for students by explaining that learning guitar takes time and then reassuring them of what they needed to do to move closer to their goal.

Staying on track

Constant feedback also helps you to stay on track. Our minds are easily distracted. Having someone keeping you focused and on task will literally shorten the amount of time it takes you to achieve your goals. Even if a teacher teaches you nothing new the value of them being there and keeping you on track will be worth the cost of the lesson. After all the goal is simply to be able to play guitar in the shortest amount of time. 

You might also like the following blog:

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why guitar practice is better than Facebook

I know you love Facebook and nothing compares to the hours of pleasure you get but hear me out. Facebook has been shown to be addictive, largely time wasting and offers little in return for the time invested (the exception being if you are in business).  Our brain produces dopamine when it anticipates pleasure. We perceive Facebook as a pleasure activity in the same way we might find eating a sugary snack pleasurable. The dopamine in our brain is what motivates us to eat one more donut or read one more Facebook post. The problem is we are rarely left fulfilled. In fact we almost always feel worse. The donut is unhealthy and realising you just wasted 2 hours on Facebook creates a feeling of guilt.

So what about practicing guitar?

Guitar practice on the other hand creates the opposite. We might prefer Facebook in the moment and it might feel good compared to doing our guitar practice but I guarantee you that you will feel much better after even 90 minutes of guitar practice compared to 90 minutes of Facebook. If you don't believe me try it.

We are programmed for Facebook

Throughout our evolution our survival was largely the result of our ability to work in social groups. Our ancestors lived in tribes and  Facebook plays on our social instinct to be part of a tribe. The problem is that Facebook exaggerates this reality so we end up investing way too much time in to our network of so called friends. Times have changed and today we need to be aware of such technological traps. Facebook is fine in moderation but try matching your time on guitar with your time on all devices and I imagine you will become pretty damn good on guitar in a year or two.

 You might also like the following blog:


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Friday, September 13, 2013

Why online guitar lessons are starting to become popular

When I speak to students many say that they are not interested in online lessons because it feels strange and impersonal. I then follow up by asking if they have tried an online lesson and in almost every case the answer is no. I now teach exclusively online as do many teachers across a range of industries and it is highly effective but comes with a few added benefits. 

The benefits of online learning

Online learning is very convenient for both teacher and student. Guitar teachers for as long as I can remember have had a conflict of interests. Guitar teachers want to be playing gigs which often means touring. This leads to lesson cancellations and students being forced to change teachers mid way through their learning. Kids especially will often quit guitar when their teacher leaves because they don't like change. Online lessons solve this problem. Guitarists can now take their students with them wherever they go. 

But wait...there's more

A big benefit students get is the convenience of learning from home. This saves parents having to organise their busy schedule to get kids to and from lessons. Guitar lessons are typically 30 mins and if you allow for travel its at least an hour out of the parent's day that could be better spent I am sure. Learning online while not the same as having a teacher in front of you is just as effective and I believe will become the standard in the next 5 years.

 You might also like the following blog:

Would You Like A Structured Method For Learning Guitar?

 5 week Structured Beginner Guitar Course
Please follow the link to subscribe to our free online course. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

What Are Modes And How Do They Apply To Guitar?

Basic Introduction to Modes
Modes are simple in theory but can take a little time to understand. Think of the major scale as the first of 7 modes known as Ionian. If you were to play for example a C major scale you would also be playing a C Ionian mode. The 7 mode names are as follows;
1. Ionian  2. Dorian  3. Phrygian  4.Lydian  5. Mixolydian  6. Aeolian  7. Locrian
The second mode Dorian simply starts on the second note of the major scale. The Phrygian starts on the 3rd note of the major scale. The Lydian the 4th note of the major scale, Mixolydian starts on the 5th, the Aeolian the 6th and the Locrian the 7th.
Lets use the key of C to better understand the modes.
  1. C Ionian mode (Same as a C major scale): C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.
  2. D Dorian mode (starting on the 2nd note of the C major scale): D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D.
  3. E Phrygian mode (starting on the 3rd note of the C major scale): E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E.
  4. F Lydian mode (starting on the 4th note of the C major scale): F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F.
  5. G Mixolydian mode (starting on the 5th note of the C major scale): G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
  6. A Aeolian mode (starting on the 6th note of the C major scale): A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.
  7. B Locrian mode (starting on the 7th note of the C major scale): B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
Begin by learning the modes above that relate to the key of C. This will get your ear familiar with each mode as well as helping  you to learn the shapes. Once you are comfortable with each mode shape move to a different note using the same shape. For example D Dorian is D to D but if you take the same shape and start on E it will now be an E Dorian and will relate to the key of D major. Understanding which modes fit which keys will depend on the notes in the mode and this will take a little more explanation.  
The above example uses the key of C. The challenge is learn each mode associated with each key. Example if you playing an B Phrygian do you know that it relates to the key of G major? Once you understand which mode fits with which key theoretically you will have mastered the modes. Practicing them on guitar then becomes the real challenge.

 You might also like the following blog:

Would You Like A Structured Method For Learning Guitar?

 5 week Structured Beginner Guitar Course
Please follow the link to subscribe to our free online course.