The human body

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Recently I put my back out… again! It is something I deal with about twice a year- an old injury from my teens. As a guitarist it’s not surprising that I get back and neck issues due to the awkward position of playing the guitar. Each instrument has its own related body issues- saxophone and the forearms, drummers and almost all the body etc! I have been making yoga a daily practice in order to release the tension in my back and neck with the hope of getting some longevity on the guitar. I also would recommend floatation tanks to any Melbourne music student. It has properties in the water that I’m not smart enough to understand… something to do with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts. I do know that I feel as relaxed after an hours float as I do after an hours massage. For any Melbourne music teachers or Melbourne music students I highly recommend you consider your instrument and how it’s affecting your body- we want you playing until you are as old as Gandalf the Grey!!

Whats the right amount of practise?

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One of the most commonly discussed topics in our guitar lessons is practice. I often compare Music to sports because the analogy of 1% talent vs. 99% hard work is applicable. This is what I love about music – like sport no one is handed the keys to the kingdom without a lot of hard work and practice being put in. When a student asks me “how much practice should I do” the answer is “well how quickly do you want to advance?” Sometimes as a guitar teacher in Melbourne we are like personal trainers who see their client once a week and then write out a lesson plan for them to follow for the remaining weekdays. If followed you will see the most amount of gains and the goals set out will be met. So when it comes to your Melbourne guitar lessons, talk honestly with your teacher about what you want to achieve and than try and follow the practice schedule. Michael Jordan may have grown 6 inches in his senior year of high school but he  also put in countless hours of dedicated practice each day to become one of the great basket ballers of all time!

Guitar 101: Tone, effects and strings selection

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GUITAR TONE:

Something that has been on my radar over the summer break is guitar tone. Yes I know we are all obsessed with it but usually we look at our instrument, amp or pedals for the solution of getting great tone. I have been enjoying playing with some new guitarist over the holidays and hearing their individual tone was eye opening because all we were doing was playing on acoustic guitars- no pedals no amps! Some guys were finger pickers, some were hybrid and others flat pickers. Their individual sound came through because of the technique they had developed and players they had listened to and tried their best to emulate. My tip to both myself and you is to look at your right hand approach (strumming hand) and see what technique best serves your ears and the song.

GUITAR LOOPING

In the 1950’s the first tape looping was being pioneered in studios and stages around north America. It was a dual tape machine approach that would be edited in the studio, becoming known as the genre “Music Concrete”. Fast forward to the 21st century and you now start seeing looping pedals gracing the pedal boards of many guitarists and musicians. It has been a revolution that has seen artists develop their sound and even tour with just them and the looper- Ed sheeran 2015, Michael Franti 2014.

One of the unseen advantages of this pedal is that you are now able to hear your playing back in real time and analyze yourself. This is a huge part of being a musician. You can easily be too harsh on yourself or overly positive about your playing as what you hear in real time is often tinged with other musical distractions or crowd interactions. My tip for your practice is always to listen to yourself play and improvise. Take note of what needs improvement and areas of your playing that your happy with. Try out a loop pedal and enjoy this ability at the press of a foot switch.

THE RIGHT STRINGS

Guitarists are renown for being obsessive about tone and gear. The Strings on your guitar are where all this obsession starts. I have been trying out different brands and gauges recently and have been finding that certain brands have been working better with particular guitars. I am not here to tell you to buy a particular brand as im not paid or endorsed by any string companies- but I can encourage you to research and test your guitars out with new strings when possib- be your own guitar scientist! My big revelation is …. Drum roll… Ernie ball slinky’s on my Fender Telecaster. Thanks Ernie ball ill bank that cheque now!!