Monthly Archives: February 2017

Learning Jazz Guitar Scales

Published / by mimin

What’s the Best Way to Learn Jazz Guitar Scales?

Every new musician wants to find the easiest path towards becoming a pro. Like anything in life, however, there are certain steps that must be taken to master the process of playing guitar.

To help you learn scales accurately and with precision, here’s a step-by-step approach any newbie can take.

Step 1. Figure out the notes.
For example, let’s start with a minor scale which has a pattern of A-B-C-D-E-F-G. Experiment with this pattern as much as you’d like. Build up using the notes from each pattern each day you practice to explore how it works. You could do this on the E string starting with the lowest note in the scale. Play that outline up and down your fretboard several times to completely memorize it. Once you have it memorized, the next step is to start improvising for at a minimum of 10-15 minutes, using just the notes from that outline. Do your best to always improvise the pattern in a higher octave beginning at the 12th fret.

Step 2. Build on the previous scale.
The next session you tackle should begin with improvisation from the previous pattern. Starting with the second note, perhaps G after E. Then you would create an outline that has the same format as the previous step only building on it.

Step 3. Rehearse and repeat.
Next, you’d want to do improvisation from the previous day’s note, building on the note the same way you did previously. Always play what you’ve learned in the previous session so as to not forget it. The goal is to memorize and improve. Continue to create the new pattern the same way you did before, building up the fretboard.

Step 4. Memorize and play.
Next, you’ll want to begin improvising to use all the patterns you’ve learned simultaneously. Feel free to adjust the patterns at will. Practice this until you can find any note no matter the scale position and without thinking of the outline. The goal is to master playing these different note structures and to play them without worrying about not being able to remember their location.

Once you have successfully mastered using all these patterns at will, you can safely assume you’ve learned the guitar scales you need to know.

Commonly Used Scales

Learning and understanding the most important notes and patterns in Jazz is critical to becoming a master at playing the jazz guitar. Here are the most commonly used and important to memorize patterns in jazz theory.

• The Minor Pentatonic
• The Blues
• The Natural Minor and Aeolian Mode
• The Major
• The Dorian Mode
• The Mixolydian Mode

Once you understand these patterns and how they function in relation to some of your favorite songs, you can begin to improvise and explore your own talent a bit more.

Putting It into Practice

Clearly, when you start to tackle jazz theory and how to learn scales, you’re up against somewhat complex structures that you may not fully understand. After you’ve practiced scale positioning, how ascending and descending works, and memorized the most common structures, you’re ready to start putting it all to practice.

Practicing these guitar scales is the key to making jazz music your life. Anything worth attaining requires hours upon hours of practice. Ingraining what you’ve learned into your muscles and brain takes extreme effort, but once you have it, you can’t ever lose it! Understanding and recognizing the sounds these notes make is equally important and valuable for you to cultivate your talent.

Once you move past this point, your next focus should be experimentation. Experimenting with every note and pattern on the fretboard is a critical element in becoming a musician. Use sounds and notes that resonate with you and sound like something you’d like to listen to. Once you do this, the next step is to scale over backing tracks-a key element in becoming a pro! As you begin to practice this process, your music and movements will become automatic. Search the internet to find the best backing tracks.

The Importance of Theory

Learning how to form chords from a scale that can be put together and used in the same key is an important part of becoming an expert in playing jazz music. Forming chords from complex patterns may not sound easy, but it is possible. In combination with learning how to form the modes, you also need to know what the modes of each major scale are. Intervals are also important to understand in theory, so be sure you explore all of these elements thoroughly to grasp the essence of the process.

To learn scales, you need patience and an understanding of the elements we’ve outlined in this article. Guitar scales are a basic building block of both jazz theory and experimentation. When coupled with hours of practice, anyone can use this information to become a pro musician.

Perfect Music for Your Wedding

Published / by mimin

To help alleviate the headaches, here are 3 tips to consider as the big day approaches:

Tip #1: Pick music that you LOVE!

It is important to have discussions with your partner to decide upon pieces of music that you both LOVE to listen to. Regardless if you are into classic jazz, if you are into country, if you are into simple melodies, or if you are into heavy metal, pick pieces that show your personalities. Of course, for a wedding ceremony, consider picking pieces of music that fit the setting (church vs hall). At the end of the day, go with your gut instinct. If you are having trouble picking pieces, ask others for ideas.

Tip #2: Don’t worry about “being cliche”

As a professional musician, I cannot tell you the number of times I have been asked to perform the following pieces: Canon in D Major, Ave Maria, The Wedding March (Mendelssohn OR Wagner). I am not complaining in the least, believe me!

In many instances, the true classics are set-in-stone for a reason: they work! If you love the sounds of the scale passages of Canon in D or love the familiarity of The Wedding March, do not let this natural interest in these musical selections: at the end of the day, the musical selections that give you the most meaning and enjoyment will be the pieces of music you will remember for the rest of your married life! (especially if you have a videographer on-hand to capture the magic of the moment!)

Tip #3: If you are stuck, ASK FOR HELP!

Let’s face it, there are many decisions to be made during the planning stages of any wedding! Musical selections for the ceremony or reception might be at the bottom of the list.

During my performance career (of 15+ years), many newly-engaged couples have asked questions about the music that would suit their needs, especially for the wedding ceremony. In each case, I always provide a good “go-to” list with many of the most-popular pieces and YouTube clips. This always helps to narrow down the search for the perfect piece.

If you have a piece in mind for your wedding ceremony or reception, but you are unsure if the piece will work for a particular musical instrument combination, don’t be afraid to ask. Good wedding musicians will always answer with their honest opinion; in some cases, a compromise can be met to help create the perfect ambiance for the big day!

Ian Green, pianist, composer, teacher, musician, and owner of Music By Ian Green Inc. provides professional musical accompaniment to all events that call upon his services.

If it is a wedding reception, wedding ceremony, wedding rehearsal, or champagne reception, Ian has the skill and versatility to provide an enjoyable atmosphere to please all musical tastes.

All About Electric Guitars

Published / by mimin / 1 Comment on All About Electric Guitars

Les Paul. Fender. These are just two very famous brands of guitars, and you don’t have to be a musician to have heard of them, they just, by their name imply a quality product.

An electric guitar differs from an acoustic guitar because it uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. With an acoustic guitar, the musician plucks the strings and the air inside the body and outside in the world plus a wooden soundboard makes the notes shine. An electric one takes it one step further and uses a pickup, usually of the magnetic variety which in turn is plugged into an amplifier and then sent to a loudspeaker which makes the sound loud enough to be heard. An electric guitar on its own makes little noise which isn’t helpful when you are trying to make your music heard.

The amplified electric guitar was invented in 1931 and was instantly a big hit with jazz guitarists who could then, for the first time be heard in the large band ensembles of the age. Early pioneers of the sound included Les Paul, T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian and by the time the 1950’s and 1960’s came, this invention became the most important instrument in all popular music. Quick, name a band that doesn’t use an electric guitar. Hard, isn’t it?

Like with acoustic guitars, the electric variety varies greatly between brands and models; the shape of the body, the neck, the bridge and the pickups can all be different and thus produce different sounds and allow you to do different things with that sound. Not only does the fixed bridge allow the musician to bend notes up or down in pitch, but there are always new playing techniques coming out that allow a whole new sound from that same guitar. Things like hammering on, string bending, tapping or slide guitar playing are all used to change it up and add interest to the music.

Like with most things, the electric guitar comes in various models such as the typical six string, a seven string, a twelve string, hollow body and solid body varieties. Popular bands today will use two or more guitars as they grind out our favourite tunes which allows for more melody, chord sequences, rhythms and the like that set them apart.

The electric guitar, what would we ever do without it?

History About Acoustic Guitars

Published / by mimin

You can play it with your finger or a pick. You can strum it quietly or you can amplify it for maximum sound. What is it? It’s the acoustic guitar, something that, in one form or another has been around for centuries. The main source of sound comes from the strings which vibrate at different frequencies depending on their length, tension and mass. You simply pick the strings to create different notes and tones and, when you put it all together, you are playing music.

In the Middle Ages these instruments were called gitterns, and they looked like and were played like the lute, they even had the rounded back like a lute. As we got into the Renaissance era the size of these instruments got larger and the shape changed into something we would consider more modern guitar like. They originated in Spain and were called vihuelas. This name was a broad term given to many string instruments so in the 16th century they were divided into two categories: vihuela de arco which was like a modern day violin and vihuela de penola that was played either by hand or with a plectrum. If the instrument was played by hand, the term vihuela de mano was used and this is what became the modern day guitar as it used hand movements on the strings and had a sound hole in order to create the music.

While Spain is the birthplace and homeland of the guitar, the real production of them really ramped up in France. They were so popular that people started to produce copies of the famous models. Some even went to prison for stealing famous maker’s work. It was a father son duo named Robert and Claude Denis though who really increased the popularity of the instrument, as they produced hundreds of them during the period.

By the late 1700’s only a six course vihuela guitar was being made and sold in Spain. This became the standard guitar and had seventeen frets and six courses with the first two strings tuned in unison so that the G was actually two strings. This is when we finally see the shape and similarities to today’s instruments. Of course now we have single strings instead of pairs, and by the 19th century, the instrument had fully evolved, except for size, to be the six single stringed guitar that we know today.