Our Fall Student Showcase is Saturday, September 15th at The Pullman from 2:00-4:00 pm. Registration is limited to 30 students and you can sign up in our student portal. This is what we like to call an “informal” performance opportunity, (performances that don’t include a big stage and a big audience). Other informal performance opportunities could include playing for your friends and family, at an open mic, in a song circle, at a campground of a music festival or for your significant other. With each performance, our hope is that students become more comfortable playing music in front of an audience. This is also a great platform to test out new material that you have been working on.
Scheduling performances give you a concrete timeline and goal to work towards. This time of year, students and parents are working on getting into a new groove and establishing a practice routine. I recently listened to an interview with Yo Yo Ma on NPR about the value of incremental practice. He describes how he has been playing the Bach Cello Suites since day one (his first lesson when he was 4 years old). Not that practicing is akin to homework, but he does mention that there are days that the homework is a bit harder and days when it is easier. I encourage you (and your children) to establish a practice routine with the new school year that is realistic and works well with your schedule. I don’t like to quantify practice sessions, but playing your instrument several times a week is a good goal!
With much of our lives focused on instant feedback, whether it is getting instagram likes, taking a test at school, playing a video game, there are fewer and fewer meaningful long term goals that we have to work towards. Playing music is a lifelong pursuit and I am still playing the same songs that I played when starting out, Twinkle, Oh Susanna, When the Saints Go Marching In, and other folks songs. Not only am I still playing these songs, but I am still learning them. Learning how to interpret them in different ways, learning how to teach them and learning the history of them. Have you ever read a book as a child and then re-read it again as a teenager and then as an adult? Even though it is the same book, your relationship with it and interpretation changes with each read.
Children are always modeling the environment around them, so next time you tell your kid to practice… pick up a book, pick up an instrument, paint a painting, write in your journal, build something, or cook a meal… use that time do something for yourself as well. Go forth and create!
Brandon here! I’m reaching out to let you all know about my upcoming Guitar 101 workshop on Saturday, October 27th. I’ll be discussing the basics: proper technique, good practice habits, playing single notes and chords, reading tablature, and much more. This workshop is being offered to beginner teens and adults ranging from total beginners to self-taught players who may have missed out on some of the fundamentals and find themselves at a plateau.
If you are a parent of a younger student, this is a great opportunity to be exposed to some of what your kids are learning. It would allow you to help your children practice and might even spark your own interest in learning to play!
The Guitar 101 Workshop is a one-time class on October 27th, from 10:00am-11:30am in the Guitar Shed lobby. The class costs $30 for current Guitar Shed students(and/or parents) and $40 for new students. If you’d like to sign up or if you have any questions, email us or call Guitar Shed at (404) 500-5375.
Parker is teaching a Guitar Workshop on Saturday, March 31st from 10:00-11:30 am. The workshop is titled “Exploring the Fretboard” and is great for intermediate to advanced teens and adults.
This session will focus on how to use five open chord shapes to map out the entire fretboard using the CAGED system. This chord based approach to soloing is helpful for the beginning to advanced improviser. If you are tired of playing the same licks or if you are looking to improvise for the first time, this is a great opportunity to learn among fellow Guitar Shedders.
Differences between harmonic concepts, practice techniques and ear training will be discussed. Below are the details…
Saturday, March 31st at Guitar Shed
$30 for current students
$40 for new students
Limited to 20 students
To sign up either send an email to email@example.com, or register in the student portal.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar. Marc-Andre was kind enough to reach out and create a custom blog post for our students at Guitar Shed. I mentioned to him that one of the main things our students are struggling with is being able to keep the form of a song. Read on for some very insightful tips and advice. Thanks Marc-Andre!
Tips to Learning Chord Progressions
Learning a new song song, especially the sequence of chords, can be a long and daunting task. Here are a few tips to help you memorize the order of chords in any song you wish to play. Although the first suggestion is quite simple, the rest of the article is really something you should take your time with. If you manage to incorporate this into your musical understanding, you will reap the benefits in the long term and have an easier time understanding music in general.
Break the song up into sections
If you take the time to divide the song into sections and then smaller chunks if needed, you’ll have a much easier time remembering the music as a whole. For example, take the time to identify the choruses as opposed to verses. Usually, these will have different progressions and will have lengths of 4 or 8 bars. It will make things a lot less daunting and easier to chew on. Some songs have also bridges to consider.
When starting out, it’s a good idea to actually write the chords out on a piece of paper. Draw out a grid with 4 bars per line (I simply draw 5 vertical lines with even space between them to make up the 4 bars). Then, making sure you count the beats, write in the chords. For every beat that repeats the same harmony, write a single slash to keep track of the harmonic rhythm, which is simply a nice way of saying when the chords change. Keep track of each section and label them when needed. Once you’ve written out the whole song, seeing the music in parts like this will help you memorize the music by breaking it down to smaller, more manageable pieces. Here is a short example to illustrate a simple chart:
| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | D / / / |
| G / / / | / / / / | D / / / | / / / / |
At this point, if you are a beginner or simply having trouble committing songs to memory, it’s a matter of memorizing the chords, by name, until you can play each section by heart. It’s a tedious process, but it’s part of the bigger picture which will enable you to see patterns and accelerate the learning process.
Calling the chords by roman numerals, rather than by name
Eventually, once you’ve spent enough time simply learning songs chord by chord, it’ll be time to enhance you’re theoretical knowledge to eventually help you learn faster and even transpose music quickly.
The first thing that you’ll need to be capable of doing, is identifying the key of a song. A fast and almost foolproof way of doing this is checking out the last chord of the piece. To be sure though, the simplest way at this point is to first write down all the unique chords present in the piece of music you are looking at. Then, starting from the root of each of those chords, write down the corresponding major or minor scale that start from that note. If you have a 7th chord in a piece that’s not a blues song, chances are that the key won’t be from that scale, so you can skip those. Once you’ve written out all the notes, compare each and every note in the scales you wrote down with the roots of the other chords in your song. If something is out of place (for example you might have a Bb chord in your list when you write out the C major scale – that scale doesn’t include B flats) go to the next chord until you find the perfect scale that fits the roots of all the chords.
Once you’ve determined the scale you are in, you will now be able to attribute roman numerals to the chords and effectively perform musical analysis to explain the music you have. Simply attribute the numerals to each chord in the progression relative to their position in the scale. For example, if you determine that the song is in C major and you see an F chord, that F would be IV (being the fourth note in C major). Repeat this procedure for the rest of the chords. If you wrote out the song in sections like mentioned previously, you can focus on sections and learn the progression in smaller chunks. You might end up with something looking like this for a particular section (with the respective harmony of your music):
| I / / / | VIm / / / | IV / / / | V / / / |
Eventually, this type of analysis will be made in your head and will come very quickly, especially if you do it often. On the guitar, it’s easy to then perform these sequences if you play with bar chords, streamlining the learning process to simply remembering the changes as jumps corresponding to the scale tones rather than a sequence of seemingly open random chords.
Another advantage of this type of analysis and playing is that once you become faster at recognizing the harmony changes as numerals, transposing music will be much simpler. By simply applying the numerals to the new key, it will be easier to call upon the correct chord this way than transposing each and every chord in the progression.
Recognizing common progressions
The more you apply roman numerals to chords, the more you will start to see recurring formulas. Although music itself is limitless, the progressions aren’t and our ears seem to gravitate towards a handful of sequences, preferences that are usually explained with theoretical concepts. You probably have come across a very famous progression called the blues. This relatively simple progression spans 12 bars and visits the IVth and Vth chords of a scale and inspired countless of songs, melodies and solos. Here it is in it’s simplest form:
You should be able to play this at any key and visualize each change before it happens. This kind of rigorous learning will cross over to other progressions and make your life learning things a lot easier. Here are a few other common progressions you should be aware of:
Although there are a lot of things to learn, you should definitely invest time in teaching yourself to identify song keys quickly and break down the chord progressions into numerical grids. You’ll be surprised how fast your understanding and ear training will develop and help you anticipate harmonic movement.
We are excited to announce the return of Guitar Ensemble in the spring of 2018! Students ages 8-12 are encouraged to enroll.
During the classes students will focus on ensemble playing, rhythm, dynamics, good tone, and creativity. This is a great way to augment private lessons and give your children the opportunity to make music with their peers. The classes will culminate in a final performance at the summer recital on June 10th at City Winery!
All sheet music will be provided. There will be no make-up classes, but we are happy to adjust invoices prior to payment if you will be absent. In order to perform in the summer recital, students must attend at least 10 of the 12 classes. The Guitar Ensemble is directed by Alex Gordon and limited to 8 students.
March 11 – June 3 (No class May 27)
Sundays from 1:30-2:20 pm
Tuition is $25 per class. To register, either signup in our online portal or send us an email. Tuition will be pro-rated and added to your monthly invoice.
Art of the Jazz Duo: Where Chamber Music Meets Improvisation
Duets offer an unparalleled opportunity for two musicians to converse in an intimate, exposed setting. Many jazz musicians have used this to their advantage, creating works that sound closer to modern chamber music. Presenters Greg Byers and Parker Smith will explore the rich history of jazz duets, demonstrate strategies each half can employ, and outline how students of any ability level can listen and interact with a partner.
Exploring the Fretboard – Improvising using the CAGED system
This session will focus on how to use five open chord shapes to map out the entire fretboard. This chord based approach to soloing is helpful for the beginning to advanced improviser. Differences between harmonic concepts, practice techniques and ear training will be discussed.
This is my favorite metronome to use because it is easy to use and there are several features for the advanced musician as well. Many kids complain about metronomes because the sound of the “click” is annoying. This app is great because you can choose from several different percussion instruments (i.e. bongos, snare drum, wood blocks, etc.). You can also build your own drum grooves to make a drum loop that sounds very realistic. Within each instrument you can control the volume, probability, and subdivision length. All of that at a very friendly price!
I tell all of my students “this is what got me through college.” As a music major I had many assignments to transcribe complex pieces. The most important feature of this software is the ability to SLOW things down without altering the pitch. There are several other programs out there, but I have been using this for 10 years and they are continually updating it with improvements. In the “old days” musicians would slow down the speed of a record player to try and learn songs by ear. This is the 21st century version of that same concept, time to get on board and use your ears folks!
This app is a game changer. A “Real Book” is a collection of charts that has been used in Jazz for decades. This software takes that concept to a whole new level. There are robust play-a-long features, the ability to create your own charts and vast forums online to download songs from. All of the charts in the forums are free and as you can see from the screenshot, my collection includes bluegrass, blues, jazz and more. If you are looking for software and jam tracks to play-a-long too, look no further.