Take Guitar Lessons from Performing Nashville Artists
Guitar teachers Shane Lamb and Sam Farkas are professional guitarists and bring years of musical experience to their students’ guitar lessons. This knowledge is shared help students learn the guitar skills they need to reach their own goals.
AREAS OF STUDY
Topics of instruction include:
- Electric and Acoustic Guitar for all ages & levels of experience
- Preparation for recitals, contests, or music school auditions
- Rock/Blues/Country Guitar Styles
- Advanced Lead and Rhythm Guitar
- The CAGED Guitar System
- Nashville Style Guitar
- Bass, Mandolin, and Ukelele
- Songwriting and composition: lyric, melodic, harmonic, form & structure
- Picking Technique
- Open Position Chords, Strum Patterns, and Fundamental Rhythm
- Scales and Improvisation
- Sight reading and notation
- Ear Training
- Music Theory
- Nashville Number System/Lead Sheets
- Slide Guitar
- Open Tunings/Alternate Tunings
- Classical Guitar
- Songs and Repertoire Development
- Recording, demo recording, arranging, performance techniques, and preparation and coaching.
Jazz Guitar (beginner and intermediate)
Jazz music is both highly enjoyable and often challenging. Having a solid understanding of the basics is the first step for any aspiring jazz guitarist. Topics covered include:
- Jazz harmony – understand chords that contain extensions and alterations
- Chord voicings – chord spellings that are unique to the guitar and allow you to play complex chords through an accessible fingering
- Scales, modes, and arpeggios – these are the foundations of playing melodies and improvising solos
- Common jazz chord progressions – learn some of the common chord progressions that can be found frequently in jazz music
- Chord-melody arrangements – playing the chords of a song and the melody of the song simultaneously
- Walking basslines – create rhythm and motion in the lower register of your guitar
- Improvisations – developing motifs, “singing” your solo, and transcribing the solos of jazz greats
A common approach in country, blues, and folk music, fingerstyle guitar playing is all about representing the bass, harmony, and melody simultaneously with one instrument. Basic fingerstyle playing is a great way to break away from strumming the same old chords and achieve a more musical and interesting sound. Topics covered include:
- Alternating bass – “bouncing” the thumb between notes
- Travis Picking – a common style often credited to Merle Travis
- Finger independence – breaking out of a repetitious finger pattern
- Alternate tunings – achieve different sounds and textures through common alternate guitar tunings (DADGAD, open tunings, etc.)
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What You’ll Learn in Guitar Lessons
As guitarists, most of us spend a lot of time playing and learning in standard tuning. But eventually, we will run into music that requires us to have some knowledge of alternate and open tunings.
In standard tuning, the guitar strings are tuned in from low to high: E A D G B E. In an alternate tuning, it can be as simple as changing the tuning of one string. For example, Drop D tuning is achieved by detuning the 6th string a whole step from E to D.
Alternative tunings give the guitar a different sound and open the performer/composer different chord voicing and harmonic richness, fingerings, timber and sonorities.
Open tunings are achieved by tuning the guitar in such a way that when you play all the stings open, the end result is a chord. For example, open G would be tuning the:
- low E string down a whole step to D
- A down a whole step to G
- D stays the same
- G stays the same
- B stays the same
- and the high E down a whole step to D.
- When all of the strings are strummed without putting a finger down, the end result is a G chord.
Open tunings are common in blues and folk music.
A great place to start learning guitar is with the open position chords. What this means is learning the major, minor, dominant 7th and minor 7th chords in the first 3 frets of the guitar neck. Along with pressing your fingers onto the string, there will be at least one string that will be un-fretted and will be struck open. You can see my chord sheet of open position chords HERE. The “X” means don’t hit this string, the “O” indicates to hit this string open along with the fretted notes.
Along with learning these open position chords, you will learn how to count whole, half, quarter, eighth and tied notes and play rhythms in different time signatures like: 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 6/8 and 9/8.
Learning these chords, time signatures and rhythms will allow you to be well on your way to having a fundamental knowledge and ability as a rhythm guitarist. These open position chords are used in ALL styles of music.
Keep in mind, there are THOUSANDS & THOUSANDS of GREAT songs written with these open position chords. If they are good enough for the Beatles, Merle Haggard, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, these open position chords are good enough for the rest of us!
If you are going to take a sub gig, play on the road, play on demo or recording sessions or just about any other scenario you can imagine, you need to know and understand the Nashville Number System. This method/system of writing and reading charts is being used outside of Nashville now as well.
The system is flexible and allows for quick key changes by a singer, producer or bandleader without having to write a new chart. It requires the players to have an understanding of music theory/harmony/rhythm and know the symbols used to communicate direction and musical ideas to the other musicians…and you can get it all on ONE sheet of paper!
You don’t have to know how to read and writ music to be a great guitar player. But these days, it sure helps to have the ability to do so! Sight reading is a skill that is developed over time. Like learning a foreign language, you don’t do it in a week or a month.
A little bit of time set aside to get better at reading and writing standard notation will pay off. You never know when you will be asked to read another musician’s part, transpose or arrange a piece of music. The ability to read music is always a valuable skill and asset. We are communicating here people!
Guitar Tablature is a system of reading music where unlike standard notation which has 5 lines and 4 spaces, guitar tab has Image result for what is guitar tab 6 lines representing the six strings on the guitar. The top line represents the thinnest string (1st) and the lowest line represents the thickest (6th) string. The numbers placed each individual string indicate what fret to play on that particular string. A lot of guitar music is written in tab, and its good to know and understand for that reason. But, it is also very important to learn how to read standard notation as well.
The CAGED system derives its name from the method of playing guitar based on the five basic open chord shapes: C, A, G, E, and D. By learning how to find these chord shapes up the guitar neck, it really helps to unlock and understand the guitar neck. The CAGED system, combined with the knowledge of position playing, arpeggios and scales, really helps one understand your favorite guitar player’s playing and musical choices. It is a great way to improve your knowledge of the guitar neck, learn music theory applications, improve your lead guitar playing AND your rhythm playing.
A musical scale is a collection of sequential pitches. How those pitches are organized in relation to each other determine what type of scale it is. Each scale has its own formula. For example, a major scale is constructed by starting on a tone, going up a whole step, then another whole step, a half step, a whole step, a whole step, a whole step and then a half step back to the root note one octave higher. A C major scale would be:
C D E F G A B C: Root Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half. Major scale and modes, minor scales and modes, major and minor pentatonic scales. The blues scale.
Learning these different musical scales is important and fundamental. Knowing how to apply these different scales takes time and is essential. Exploring and growing your scale vocabulary and application within the context of the music you love and want to play is a great place to start!
Flat picking – Think Doc Watson. The pick is held between the thumb and first finger and is usually used in reference to bluegrass and folk music but is also used in rock and jazz. Generally produces a bright and crisp sound
Cross Picking – A more advanced technique for bluegrass that integrates the boom-chicka and alternate bass picking techniques. Instead of the typical downstroke strum, crosspicking is an arpeggiated pattern, meaning that each note of a chord is sounded individually, with precision, rather than indiscriminately sweeping the pick across the strings. This allows the flatpicker to achieve the same precision as the fingerstyle player while maintaining the bright, crisp sound of the flat pick.
Alternate Picking – Alternating between don and upstrokes in a continuous manner.
Sweep Picking – Basically sweeping or “raking” across the strings to generate a quick succession of notes, usually used to play arpeggios at a fast spreed.
Economy Picking – Basically combining alternate picking and sweep picking. Usually, one uses alternate picking until changing strings. At this point, the player sweeps onto the next string. For example, if you are playing an ascending 3 note per string sequence, you would play down up down, down up down, down up down, etc. When descending, the pattern would be up down up, up down up, up down up, etc.
Hybrid Picking – Playing by holding a pick between the thumb and first finger and also utilizing the other fingers swell. This allows you pick two or more strings at precisely the same time, making it possible to attack two-, three- and four-note chords the way a piano player would, whereas a standard strumming technique with a pick would require you to sound the notes in succession, one at a time. When arpeggiating chords, it can often produce a smoother/softer result than straight fingerpicking or flatpicking and enable you to give the bass notes a crisp, flatpicked articulation while achieving a softer, fingerpicked sound on the higher strings. And unlike fingerpicking, hybrid picking lets you quickly revert to strumming or alternate picking, or vice versa, which comes in handy in many playing situations.
Gypsy Picking – Think Django Reinhardt. This technique requires substantial use of downward rest strokes (especially when changing strings) and lots of sweep picking (especially on ascending arpeggios and ascending melodic lines for example). Gypsy Jazz requires an agressive and sometimes fierce style of playing that can only be achieved with the downward rest stroke technique. This music is played on acoustic instruments, and the only way to make them bark is to dig in with some emphatic picking. Moreover, it is very difficult to play those lightning fast ascending arpeggios using the up/down approach.