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Showing posts from April, 2011

Practice tip: Strumming

Here are a few things to try while working on your strumming technique. Hold the pick between the thumb and index finger with the tip of the pick coming out of the side of your thumb.Listen to the tone of your strum.Is it loud or brash?Maybe you’re gripping the pick too tight.Loosen your grip a little and try skimming the pick a little easier over the strings.Practice strumming in all dynamic ranges from barely audible to very loud.It’s very difficult to play softly if you are gripping the pick too hard.Listen to the balance of your strum.Do you hear mostly bass notes?Then your pick is not making it all the way through your chord or you are missing the higher strings on the up strum.Are you missing notes or hearing a lot of buzzing.That could also be a fret hand problem.Play each note of your chord and make sure it sounds. Here is the biggest tip of all – LISTEN.So often we reduce our music down to mere mechanics.We all need to be better at listening.Remember, we are in control of the…

Practice Tip: Repetition

One of the ingredients in getting really good at anything is repetition.When a student says to me, “Why am I not getting this?”I usually find out that they just haven’t tried it enough, or they are trying it too fast  (see Practice Tip: Go Slow).
Sometimes students think of repetition as a boring, tedious process and that it isn’t fun.I won’t say that repetition isn’t work, but I will say you can learn to enjoy the work!The key is to not lose sight of your goal.The goal is to play the song, for your own enjoyment, or better yet, to share with others.
Pick something today that you will commit to practicing until you get it.Set a goal for how many times you will try it on a daily basis.As the days go by, notice how you’re playing it a little smoother and a little faster.Celebrate those little victories!
As you sow the seeds of repetition, you will see the fruit of your labor show up not only in what you committed to practiced, but in other songs as well.  Now, stop reading and go practice!…

Practice Tip: Go Slow

When one of my students is having difficulty playing a phrase or switching between a pair of chords, I often find out that they are practicing it too fast (or, not practicing it enough – more on this later).
Let me ask a question.  If you try something ten times in a row, would you like to get it right more times, or get it wrong more times?  Of course, you would rather be more right than wrong.  If you practice a passage faster than you are able to perform it, most likely you are getting it wrong 9 out of 10 times.  The one time you get it right, you probably got lucky!
If you practice something slowly and repetitiously, you’re setting yourself up for success.  By slow, I mean at a speed that you can accurately perform your musical exercise (phrase, chord switch, scales, etc). 
A metronome will help you play at a slow and even tempo.  For example, say you are having difficulty switching between a G and D chord.  Set your metronome to 50 and switch chords every 4 beats (or 8 beats, if y…

Lesson Twelve: Aura Lee

If you think this song sounds like Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender,"  you're right.  Here's what you should keep in mind when practicing this song:


This song plays best in the open position.  That is the first three frets, including the open strings.Be sure to play the melody legato "smooth and connected."Be sure to learn the new chords - E and G7.A basic 4/4 strum is all that is need to accompany the melody.