Sunday, 17 January 2010


The next blog I was going to post on here was going to be the next installment of the phrasing module that I've been working on and teaching this month although I've been working on the Contemporary Guitar Performance Workshop main course over this week, and I've been working through the closing section which contains some ideas which are very much consistent with what I've found myself sharing with my students when they've tried some of the exercises for developing their skills with phrasing.

From the closing section:

"Take each new piece of information, each new idea, each concept, and each person’s perspective, and use it as a starting point for your own exhaustive experimentation and explorations. If you take onboard other peoples ideas and consider them to be ends unto themselves then that's what you will confine them to be through perspective. Avoid putting things into this 'perspective prison', and try to recognise where other people do this. Some people protect their ideas, opinions, work, and attitudes by presenting it to the world in such a way that you can easily get the impression that there is no other way some things can be done (it’s a favourite amongst politicians). This is sometimes true when it comes to cold, hard facts, but not always. Keep your mind open, and what seems impossible can sometimes be exposed as just a good challenge, and not clear cut 'impossibility'."

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year, New Ideas...

Hello, and happy new year!

This year, I'm going to be focussing on quite a lot of phrasing in the modules that I'm teaching. There is so much information on scales, chords, picking etc with loads of exercises everywhere, that I thought that to focus on phrasing, and really look at it in depth would be offering some "value", rather than to re-print pages of scales and picking patterns so that people can develop the skills required to play super fast scale and arpeggio runs.

While I've called this blog entry "New Year, new ideas", I'm actually going to start with some old ideas from my youtube channel:

"Phrasing part 1"

"Phrasing part 2"

These video lessons, while in essence very simple, actually get to the very root of what "phrasing" really is and offer a good starting point. As a very general rule, (and as always there are exceptions), phrasing is a question of stepping outside the patterns which people seem to practice, but not in terms of notes, in terms of note values and rests. Patterns generate a measure of predictability, but breaking patterns generate a measure of interest. Music actually requires a measure of both of these things. If you think in terms of sentences and paragraphs, and never fear rests and leaving space, you will be "speaking with your instrument" rather than just rambling off a scale you may have learned. Spaces contextualise your note choices and give them a position in time which is essentially what phrasing is all about. "Note choices in context".

In the words of Buddy Guy: "Notes are just a way of getting from one silence to another."

More of my video lessons can be found online here