Music Theory

Congratulations! University & Distinctions..

This week was my last guitar lesson with one of my long time students heading off to University.  Maisie began lessons with me at 13 years old and we have spent the last 5 years working together through RGT Acoustic Grades and ABRSM Theory, as well as some composition and learning songs.  The final achievement being her Distinction at RGT Grade 6 level.

I’m very proud and it’s been quite a journey. It has been very enjoyable for me to work with a student over that period of time, to see the development and get to take part in that. She now gets to begin the next chapter of her life studying for a Degree in Music. Exciting times.

Best of luck, it’s been a pleasure and thank you for the gifts!

maisie

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Grade 7 CONGRATULATIONS

I’m very happy to announce the well-deserved DISTINCTION attained by my guitar student Luke in his recent RGT Electric Guitar Grade 7 Exam.  Each grade always goes up a significant notch in exploring and developing a guitarists knowledge, expression and maturity of playing.  This is a great achievement.  I’m very proud!

Jo

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RGT Grade 4 success!

I have heard the news this week that one of my students has received a Distinction in her recent RGT Grade 4 Acoustic Guitar exam.  Super news for this time of year and a job well done.  All the hard work pulled off 🙂 Congrats to Maisie Scannell!

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Should I / my child work towards guitar grades?

To start off with this week I’d like to congratulate my student Luke on getting a Distinction in his Grade 6 RGT guitar exam.  It’s an inspiring and fantastic achievement and much hard work paid off.

Luke is 16 and he’s a great guitarist.  He plays a variety of styles of guitar and also other instruments and is hugely interested in music and playing music.  I’m a very proud guitar tutor 🙂

This brings me to the subject of my blog today…..

How important are grades for the guitarist?  Are grades essential?  And, what are my opinions on them?  

I am frequently asked these questions by my students and the parents of my students.  It is a subject not short on discussion amongst many a musician and on many a forum and it has as many varying viewpoints as people have opinions…

My story

To start off with, my story is that I passed my grade 8 guitar and my grade 5 Music Theory in college, whilst studying for a BTEC in Popular Music.  I then chose to go to University to study music. I’ve since gone into a career in music. Were grades essential for me? Yes.  They helped my theory and motivation. I felt encouraged by having certificates and benchmarks to work towards.  They contributed to me getting onto my University course.

The part to take note of is…

I didn’t ONLY do grades… the graded aspect of my guitar playing life was a very small percentage.  I was mainly out playing in bands (a lot!) and writing music, learning songs etc. The balance was very important for me and the grades complemented everything else.   I did the work but I also enjoyed playing.  That’s the thing to remember.  Work on feel and performance, play and creativity as well as theory….if that’s your thing it will all work together.

My opinion as a teacher?

As a guitar teacher my feelings have changed more than once and ultimately there is no overall fixed opinion for this subject.  Having taught many different styles/abilities/ages I can see that working through guitar grades is definitely the best choice for some and definitely not for everyone.   There are so many reasons why people enter into the world of playing guitar and it is here that will help you to decide whether working towards grades is relevant and/or useful to you or your child.

Ask yourself why you are playing guitar. 

The next step…?

What will grades offer you?

  • A recognised system of measurement for your playing.
  • A qualification regulated by Ofqual – grades contribute towards UCAS/A Level/GCSE points.
  • A structured and digestible progression. Discipline.
  •  A certificate from a recognised body – markers of achievement and deadlines for your learning.
  • Learning the theory and techniques to create an all round foundation for your playing.

If the above list appeals to you then I would encourage you to look into attaining grades a little bit further.  If it doesn’t appeal then maybe it’s not for you.  This doesn’t make you any more or less allowed to enjoy playing this awesome instrument 🙂

As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to follow the music education/career route then grades are most likely expected of you.   For children (and indeed adults!) who are motivated by achieving awards they will also be beneficial to you too.  Many people have the ability to self-discipline and can structure their own learning.  Others require help from an external source and hence look for a teacher.  This helps with focus, structure and an organised lesson with a deadline.

Each person has an individual need in this case and I would suggest if you have more questions after reading this then you should have a more detailed conversation with a professional (many professionals)…

please feel free to email me at:   jo@jobywaterguitartuition.com

Beware the myths…

Some people feel that working towards grades contributes towards making your playing ‘serious’ and ‘heavy’ or that it ‘stunts’ your creativity.  It doesn’t have to.   It is down to the person. Be a balanced player.

Have structure but ultimately remember how to play and have fun!  🙂

See you next time

Jo

RGT Grade books for Electric Guitar 

For those who would like to read further, here are links to the 2 main recognised popular guitar grading systems in the UK:

RGT

Rockschool

I teach grades where requested.  I’m happy to not teach grades. Guitar is about the individual.

Anybody who would like to add to this or comment by way of discussion please do.

Categories: Grades, Music Theory, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Electric Guitar Diagram

Well after sitting honing my Illustrator skills I have completed my labelled diagram of an electric guitar.  After playing guitar for 20 years it never ceases to amaze me how much I learn and relearn about things I already thought I knew!

I’m primarily putting up the diagram with labels this week and shall follow with some descriptions of the labels very soon.  The PDF will be again on my Free Resources page to be downloaded and printed at your leisure.

Anatomy of the Electric Guitar diagram

What I have learned through doing this is how many different shapes and sizes and mere ideas of guitars are in existence.  It has made me wish to play every single one of them just to hear and feel the fine – tuning differences.  I only learned yesterday that Pythagoras was responsible for the way we use the divisions of notes in music today.  The physics of music seems to interest me greatly 🙂

My weapons of choice in electric guitar world are currently a Fender Thinline Tele ’72 which has a beautiful sound and my Jackson DK3 from my metal band and University days (this will never leave).  I’m now eyeing up everything..

Enjoy!

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, pythagoras, teaching resources, the physics of music | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basic ‘Open Chord’ chart

This week in the world of my guitar tutoring I heard the cries for a chord summary on one sheet.  A selection of the basic open chords on a single reference sheet.  Easy to glance at and a digestible number of chords to work towards achieving.

I usually advise my beginner students to master the clean playing of these chords in order to strengthen their fingers and grasp this concept of guitar playing.  We begin to learn chords. 2, 3 or 4 at a time depending on learning pace and then we work at fitting them together and learning to move between them.   There’s usually a song or 5000 which we can learn in order to familiarise the process and have a bit of fun too between the aching fingers 🙂

Open Chords #1

The Open Chord sheet #1 is also in PDF format on my Free Resources page.   A couple of my students are left – handed and so I’ve adapted this for them in reverse format.  Anyone who is interested in this version just message me and I’ll send it on over.

Enjoy and keep strumming!

Jo

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, Open Chords, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

#2 extra

It was brought to my attention yesterday on uploading my Notes on the Guitar Neck diagram that people have different ways of viewing guitar diagrams/tabs/chords.  I had a little think and decided to offer an alternative.  This new pdf to go alongside yesterdays one shows the guitar neck from right – left. This means the open strings are on the right hand side of the page.  Yesterdays version goes left – right with the open strings shown at the left hand side of the page.

The choice is now yours!  Head to Free Resources for them in their full glory.

Jo 🙂

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (right to left)

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (right to left)

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, notes on the guitar fretboard, teaching resources | Leave a comment

#2: Notes on the Guitar Neck

Week 2!

In continuation of my downloadable and printable materials I have compiled a diagram of the guitar neck complete with the notes on all 6 six strings.

The guitar neck can be a bit intimidating at first but once you start to see the patterns you will find your way around it in no time.  To begin on your journey feel free to print off my guitar neck diagram. It shows the notes on the neck from the open strings E, A, D, G, B, E all the way up to the 15th fret.

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (left to right)

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (left to right)

The guitar frets/notes ascend and descend chromatically. Once you become familiar with the different frets and chords as actual notes (and not just shapes) you will open up a whole new understanding of the guitar as an instrument.

Any questions send me a message and i’ll help as much as possible.

Other than that enjoy and head over to  Free Resources to see what else you can benefit from in the world of Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition!

See you next week!

Jo

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, notes on the guitar fretboard, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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