Music Theory

Guitar Student Profile #2 : Gareth

Hello and welcome to GUITAR STUDENT PROFILE #2

It’s always interesting and inspiring to read about other peoples journeys, especially in a pursuit you may be interested in yourself…..in this case learning to play guitar..

Gareth is an adult learner with a very demanding and often unruly profession.  He has a great love of music as a wind down and always puts time aside to play his guitar.  This really comes across in our guitar lessons and makes him very easy to work and chat music with!  In the time we have been having lessons together we have covered a lot of finger-picking songs such as Breathe by Pearl Jam, Who Says by John Meyer,  a few Steve Earle songs….the list goes on!  The current development is to build some Music Theory knowledge by working through some of the RGT Grade books.

Here’s what Gareth has to say about his journey and his guitar lessons……

Student:  Gareth

1) How long have you been playing the guitar?

I originally started playing the guitar at senior school learning to play the electric guitar. I passed my GCSE Music but unfortunately gave up. Fast forward 22 years and I decided to start learning again. I have been learning to play again for just over one year.

 

2) Why did you begin guitar lessons?

I began learning guitar as I have always enjoyed listening to music at home and love live music. I listen to many different genres and when I was younger I grew up listening to music my older brother liked which was predominantly rock and metal. I originally started to learn rock songs etc. More recently (as I have grown up) I enjoy a variety of music however recently enjoy music based around acoustic guitar. I would always look in the window of my local guitar shop at the acoustic guitars and one day decided I wanted to learn again. I am learning for personal enjoyment and as a hobby, I find practicing and playing a way to relax. It would be nice to reach a level whereby one day I could play fluently with confidence and possibly to play for friends or with other musicians however I am aware I’m still very much a beginner.

 

3) What do you enjoy most about lessons and playing the guitar?

I currently have one lesson weekly. I enjoy my lesson as Jo helps to tailor the lesson to suit my needs and current playing ability. In the time spent with Jo she has worked out some of my favourite songs / pieces. With practice I have managed to play some songs I would have struggled with or not even known where to start with this time last year. I particularly enjoy and started to listen to pieces using finger picking techniques, although I have only learnt basic techniques I find when playing on your own and practicing it can be rewarding as I think it produces a much more interesting sound. (When I get it right that is!) Jo is a very patient teacher and has always made lessons interesting, helping to break songs down so it’s manageable to learn and not overwhelming. I even enjoy lessons to have a chat with Jo about different types of music / artists. More recently I have decided to learn some basic theory and currently working towards Grade 1 Acoustic RGT. Again Jo is very supportive and knowledgeable and has helped to explain some basic theory aspects which I have found interesting and will hopefully help develop my overall playing and knowledge.

 

4) What do you find most challenging about the lessons and playing guitar?

I think learning any new skill can be challenging, it can be frustrating to know the sound you need to produce however learning the technique to accomplish it can be difficult. I struggle with-new chords and techniques that are unfamiliar.

 

5) Do you have any advice for people who may be thinking about having lessons and playing guitar?

As an adult beginner it can be hard to find the time to put in some serious practice with day to day life commitments, but don’t let it put you off beginning. Don’t go into it with the expectation it is easy, but at the same time it can be very rewarding even learning some basic chords and playing along to simple songs. Everybody has different learning styles / musical tastes and skill level, but personally have a think about what you are realistically looking to achieve from learning and tailor your lessons to this. Set small goals, don’t be disheartened when you listen to some of your favourite artists and instantly want to replicate the sound / song. It may sound obvious but try not to pick songs that are too advanced, I have done this but I hope to return to them in the future. You will get frustrated, I do at times, but don’t be at war with it or you won’t enjoy it. Keep your guitar out if you can, and even if you can’t find set time to practice, even just picking it up for 5-10 minutes and playing keeps you familiar with it. There is no need to buy expensive instruments to learn, pick up a decent lower end to mid-range guitar to start. Always consider a second hand guitar from a reputable shop. If it isn’t for you then you haven’t lost out a great deal on expensive instruments. I would definitely recommend Jo as a tutor if you are considering lessons as an adult or for children. Jo has always been flexible when I have had to rearrange a lesson and just one half hour lesson weekly can really help you to improve. Above all have fun with it, practice and play when time allows, stop thinking about and go do it!

Guitar Lessons Liverpool Gareth

 

Thanks Gareth!

Categories: Advice and checklists, Goals, Guitar / Theory Grades, Learning, Lessons, Music Theory, RGT, Student Profiles, students | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Guitar / Theory Grades, Lessons, Music Theory, students | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Guitar / Theory Grades, Music Theory, RGT | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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!

Categories: Guitar / Theory Grades, Lessons, Music Theory, RGT, Testimonials | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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