Going deeper with guitar

Welcome to my blog and Happy 2020 to you!


I may be older than you, but I remember watching the movie 2001: A space odyssey in the theater and thought, "it's a long way until that date."


Here we are, almost 20 years past that time. Amazing how time flies!


My topic today isn't about time, but involves spending time with your instrument. I'd like to especially focus on guitar today since that is my specialty, but any instrumentalist could apply the concepts that I'm going to recommend here.


Before I start, I would like to acknowledge the fine artists at Unsplash.com who upload high-quality photos that I and others use. They all do a wonderful job!

For those of you who I'm speaking to today, you may fall into one of the following categories:

  • Novice

  • Amateur

  • Professional

  • Somewhere in between

All of these categories have something in common - It's a journey.


It's a journey because we all are on a journey in life. Some people have been on the journey longer than others, but we all have different experiences and personalities that color our perceptions of music as much as anything else. You're probably like me when you hear a song you heard at some point in life, perhaps when you were very young. All of a sudden, memories flood back as if you were there again. That's why music is such an individual and subjective experience for each of us.


Let's take a look at the first category I mentioned.


For the novice guitar player, you may be satisfied where you are with your playing. Since most people would like to improve, I'll offer a few tips to help.


Spend some time experimenting with your guitar. Knowing the open chords C, D, and G are good, but you want to try other things too.


Try doing some open tuning with your guitar. Open tuning is when you tune it to a full open chord when you play it. Common open tunings are D, G, and E. Other tunings are also popular including open A.


Here's an article with videos to show how to do this from Guitarworld.com if you're unsure. One added suggestion they mention is to use an electronic tuner to ensure you can re-tune your instrument to a standard tuning when finished.


For the amateur, perhaps you've tried some of these tunings and found them useful or even challenging. Experimenting with different methods on your instrument is very helpful to make you a well-rounded musician. You also want to try them out to see where they 'fit' in your repertoire.


The professional musicians who read this are probably thinking: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, tell me something I don't know." If that's you, please remember that everyone is on a journey and that these tips may be useful for you as a reminder of how far you've come.


Another suggestion I have for all of these categories is to play with as many different instrumentalists you can and in as many genres of music that you're willing to. I say willing because there are some musical varieties that are unappealing to each individual. That's something you need to decide for yourself.


There's something very cool about doing music with other instrumentalists. And for guitar, saxophone is one of the best! Here's one of the best uses of saxophone with guitar that I've found with Gerry Rafferty on an old song called "Baker Street."


Listen to songs through the years where the saxophone doubles as a guitar. Candy Dulfer is an alto sax player who has guitarists in her band. They've found a way to blend the two together that works very well.


In the case of larger brass sections, the band Chicago has taken arrangements to another level where multiple instrumentalists are concerned.


What I'm really suggesting is to experiment! There's nothing wrong with something not working out as you thought it would. After all, you didn't learn to walk on the first try! Give yourself some grace and remember, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!


I've outlined a few things you can do to enhance your playing of guitar and would love to hear if you've tried or will try some of these. You can post a comment below or send an email to the address listed at the bottom of the page.


Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!


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#LearningGuitar #Improving #Instrumentalist