Sunday, November 25, 2018

Learning the Guitar Fretboard - Why Knowing How to Read is Helpful

In a previous post I suggested what is hopefully an efficient way to learn the guitar fretboard. The steps I outlined there were:
  1. Find a strategy that simplifies the task of learning the fretboard, and stick with it.
  2. Learn as many of the most important notes as you can
  3. Learn how the "mathematics of the fretboard" results in some easy-to-remember patterns.
  4. Use it or lose it! Practice! You don't even need a guitar to do this. You can just visualize the keyboard even when you're lying in bed at night. Just keep working on it.
Now, in the next series of posts I want to expand on these points and add a few techniques I've found helpful. But before I do I want to emphasize that it is useful to learn how to read traditional music

I know, I know. Guitar players usually think playing from formal music is totally impractical. And in many cases I completely agree! But the truth is, learning the positions of, say, C, at various places on the neck is of limited value if you can't relate it to formal music notation.

And from the learning-the-fretboard perspective knowing "how to read" opens up practice and learning possibilities that you just won't have if you can't read music.

For instance, let's say you want to use some simple melodies as exercises to help you learn note positions. There area number of these simple melodies right here.

Take the melody of Ode to Joy for example. You can play the exact same tune at different places on the neck. This is absolutely the best way to learn note positions on the fretboard.

If you are a complete newbie when it comes to reading music, and if you are interested in learning, here are some blog posts that will help you learn music reading.

So much for that! 

In the next few posts I will touch on the learning-the-fretboard strategy points I've outlined above, starting with: Learning the Most Important Notes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Practical Approach to Learning the Guitar Fretboard

There are lots of guitar gurus who will tell you they have the secret formula for learning the notes on the guitar fretboard. Don't believe them. There is no simple formula. If you know the notes of the guitar fretboard you have probably spent years playing and studying the instrument.

However, having said that, there are effective strategies and not-so-effective strategies. And there is no guarantee that the strategy that works for one person will work for another.

Here are some things about learning the guitar fretboard we can say with some certainty:

  1. The fretboard has a lot of notes. Learning them all at once is very difficult for most of us. You need a strategy that simplifies the task.
  2. Some notes will be used over and over again. Learning the most important notes is an easy and effective place to start.
  3. Because of the way the guitar is tuned there are simple-to-learn, repeatable patterns. Learning these patterns will help a lot in understanding the fretboard.
  4. You have to play all over the fretboard in order to really learn the notes and lock in their locations. Use it or lose it!
There you have an outline of an effective strategy.
  1. Learn the most important notes. See some suggestions here...
  2. Learn the most important patterns. See some descriptions here...
  3. Find some exercises that target note locations up and down the neck...
  4. Play songs and melodies, scales and arpeggios at different locations up and down the neck...

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Free Printable Work Sheets for Bass Players

If you're an aspiring Bass player, you probably know that learning to play the bass guitar - arpeggios and bass patterns at different places on the neck is really important.

Learning about options, different fretboard positions and different patterns can be helped by learning to read bass scores. They can be pretty simple, but the fact that they are written on the bass clef means you will have to pay them special attention.

For someone like me who learned to read many years ago that has provided a special challenge. I learned trumpet music written on the treble clef and became marginally adept at it.

So switching gears to the bass clef took a fair bit of getting used to. Obviously it can be done. Traditional piano players learn to read both clefs from very early in their formal training. In time it just becomes second nature.

 I've put together a series of printable worksheets (in .pdf format) to help you learn the relationship between notes on the bass clef and different positions on the bass fretboard.

 You can find them here: Level 1 Bass Worksheets and Here: Level 2 Bass Worksheets.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Beatles practice track - Let It Be

The song "Let It Be" appeared on the Beatles' album by the same name, Let It Be, and was the twelfth and final studio album by the band. It was released on 8 May 1970, almost a month after the group's break-up. After an unsuccessful attempt to finalize the album in early 1970, a new version of the album was produced by Phil Spector in March–April 1970. Guest musician and keyboard player, Billy Preston, appears on some of the cuts, in particular "Get Back" where he became the only non-Beatle to be credited on a recording. This Let It Be practice track is ideal for Beatle fans.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Exercises and Songs for New Bass Guitar Players

There is an growing number of exercises and easy songs especially for new bass players here: Bass Practice Tracks for new Bass Players We've tried to give you commonly used patterns, and in many cases have indicated alternative positions on the fretboard to help you learn different positions. These exercises and songs use traditional notation, so if you are not familiar with reading music, or if you don't know the bass clef yet, these are ideal for you. Even if you don't feel you need to know how to read music, or if you just want to wing it, these will be helpful. There are certainly many times when knowing some music theory will help you out.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

I Heard it Through The Grapevine practice track

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. The first recording of the song was by Gladys Knight & the Pips released in September 1967; it went to number two in the Billboard chart.
It was recorded by The Miracles and was included in their 1968 album, Special Occasion. The Marvin Gaye version was also released in October 1968.
For a number of weeks it was at the top of the Billboard Pop Singles and was the biggest hit single on the Motown label for quite a while.
The Gaye recording has since become an acclaimed soul classic, and in 2004, it was placed 81 on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the commemorative fortieth anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Marvin Gaye's "Grapevine" was ranked sixty-fifth. It was also inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value.
Creedence Clearwater Revival released an eleven-minute interpretation on their 1970 album, Cosmo's Factory.
This practice track of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" features an alto saxophone lead and a trumpet part.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Practice Track - When I Was Your Man

"When I Was Your Man" was recorded by Bruno Mars in 2012. It was written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Andrew Wyatt. This practice track has a lead line, piano part, part for bass, and simple drum part.

According to Wikipedia: ""When I Was Your Man" topped the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and reached the top ten on the singles chart of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. It was certified six times platinum in the US, Australia and in Canada. "When I Was Your Man" was the worlds eighth best selling digital single of 2013, with sales of 8.3 million copies; joining an elite group of the best-selling singles worldwide."

When I Was Your Man practice track