3 Mistakes You Must Avoid When You Learn To Play Scales On Guitar

You probably already know that scales are important for your guitar playing, but very few guitar players know how to practice scales correctly. This makes it hard to improvise guitar solos and limits how good of a guitarist you become.

Here are 3 big mistakes you must avoid when you practice scales on guitar:

Mistake #1. Learning Without Application

Learning more scales doesn’t make you a better guitar player – applying the scales you know on a deeper level does.

When you learn any new scale, learn how to improvise with it and become familiar with its sound. Listen to guitar players who use this scale, create your own guitar licks with it and learn how this scale is applied in songs you love. When you feel confident enough with a scale to use it in improvising, you have mastered it on a deep enough level to learn another scale if you wish.

Note: this does NOT mean you must only practice one scale for years… just don’t overwhelm yourself with dozens of scales you never learn how to use.

Mistake #2: Learning Scales In 1-2 Positions On Guitar

Do not make the same mistake as most guitarists by overwhelming yourself with tons of new scale patterns in only one or two positions. To master any new scale, you must learn to play it all over the fretboard. Getting stuck playing scales in 1-2 areas on the guitar severely limits your creativity.

To avoid this problem, you must consistently practice fretboard visualization. Visualize the guitar neck as ONE giant scale pattern and learn to navigate it fluently.

Warning: many systems for learning scales make this step very hard (more on this below). Work with a proven guitar teacher to learn how to visualize scales easily and fast.

Mistake #3. Not Following An Effective Process For Learning Scales On Guitar

You must have an effective process for: learning, visualizing and applying any new scale in your guitar playing.

Do NOT assume that “any system for learning scales is equally valid”. Many systems for learning scales on guitar are incomplete and damaging to your progress. The CAGED system is one such system. Using it creates A LOT of problems in your guitar technique and musical creativity.

Learn why the CAGED system sucks and what you should do instead to master scales on guitar. Avoid these mistakes in your guitar practicing and you will become a better guitarist and musician a lot faster.

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Inspirational Female Singers That I Love

As a touring inspirational singer, I meet a lot of amazing musicians and singers. I really do love female singers probably because I have a lot in common with them. That’s not to say that male singers are not incredible, I will just focus on the female singer for today’s article. These are all singers that I have met at one time in my life.

One of my favorite inspirational singers is Jennifer Russell. Jennifer combines the high mysticism of Mother Mary and numerous other ascended masters and angels with the soft sounds of piano. She plays piano in a very beautiful way. Of course her CDs are layered with bass, guitars, string instruments, drums and angelic voices. The result is songs that make your soul sing. She has an abundance of releases- ‘Lie down in that grass’ (one of my favorites), ‘One with the One’ (another favorite), ‘There is Only Light’, and so many more. A lot of her songs will draw the listener right into a meditational bliss. I often listen to her music while driving long distances. Her vision has to do with empowering the world through songs that open the heart. Go ahead, Google her!!

Another one of my favorites is Gia Ciambotti. Her powerful, sultry voice immediately moves the listener. Her song ‘Right as Rain’ blends spirituality with daily human experience. It gives me a sense of peace and easy-going joy. Gia is one of those artists where you feel like you’ve known her for years at the first meeting. She is always right in the pocket with her sometimes raspy, sometimes angelic voice. I highly recommend her!

Georgia Anne Muldrow is another incredible female musician. Her voice emanates hip-hop, jazz and a variety of vibrational sounds that blow me away. Her song ‘Great Blacks’ is nothing short of transformational. With lyrics like ‘My direction has shifted from being ignorant and gifted suicidal and explicit to being humbly committed and prayerfully submissive to the source of all existence’ you just know that she’s an incredible force to be reckoned with… And with her mom being the amazing Rickie Byars-Beckwith, we know she’s got it going on.

Finally, I’ll talk about Christy Paige.This amazing rockstar moves me to the core. Her music has a powerful folk style. Christy plays the guitar with a strum that pulls the audience into the song right away. She covers everything from feeling un-worthy to feeling free. Her energy and conviction are contagious. She even does a cool rap in her song “New World”. In this song, she talks about how we ‘say how it goes’… And everybody should put their weapons down. I love it.

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How Directional Picking Makes Playing Guitar Fast Much Easier

Using efficient picking technique is the key to making fast guitar playing feel easy. Directional picking removes a lot of the struggle to play guitar fast. How? The picking motions used with this technique are smaller and quicker – giving you more speed with less effort.

Main Question: “Tom Hess, doesn’t directional picking only work if I am using 3-note-per-string scales? What about scales that only use 2 notes on a string… 4 notes, etc.?”

Answer: Directional picking technique will work in all cases. The main principle of directional picking is to use the shortest route from one note to the next. Occasionally this means using alternate picking. Sometimes, this means to only use sweep picking and NOT use alternate picking. By combining both mechanics together, you will achieve the fastest speed possible with the least amount of effort.

The core principle of strict alternate picking is to alternate pick regardless of the context… even if it means picking in a very inefficient manner. This causes you to put out MORE effort to achieve less speed.

To master directional picking, you need to integrate sweep picking and alternate picking together. When you practice 3-note-per-string scales, you force yourself to isolate this aspect of playing and master it much faster.

Here are 5 steps to help you master directional picking with 3-note-per-string scales:

1. Focus Exclusively On The Picking Motion

Start by muting all the strings with your fretting hand. This will keep them from creating a lot of noise while you pick. This is crucial for programming the correct picking motion into your picking hand in the early stages of learning this technique. Do the following:

-Pick an upstroke on the muted 1st string (the thinnest string).

-Play a downstroke on that string.

-Play another upstroke on it and pull the hand back towards the B string using ONE sweep picking motion. Pick an upstroke on the B string.

-Play a downstroke on the B string.

-Play an upstroke on the B string again, repeating the same sweep picking motion before towards the G string. Play an upstroke on the G string.

-Keep playing this pattern to complete the rest of the scale.

2. Play With 3-Note-Per-String Chromatic Runs

Once you can pick through the string transition in isolation, start playing 3-note-per-string chromatic runs. For instance: use only your first three fingers to play frets 1, 2 and 3 on every string. This simultaneously trains your 2-hand synchronization skills while maintaining your focus entirely on your picking hand motion.

3. Make The Picking Motion Second Nature Through Continuous Repetition

To form a new habit, you’ll need to train yourself to use the right motions. Focusing intensely gets you through this phase faster. Focus on:

-Using Correct Pick Position: Hold the pick higher up to expose more of its surface area and dig it down deeper into the strings. Don’t merely use the tip. This makes the notes louder without having to pick harder.

-Using Correct Pick Angle: Pick the strings at a 45-degree angle. This will make picking easier and give you a nicer tone.

-Using Strong Articulation: Use more force to pick in order to give the notes more articulation and bring out inconsistencies in your 2-hand synchronization.

4. Put Directional Picking In Context Using Scales

Start practicing any scale you can play using directional picking. Being able to play string changes on 3-note-per-string chromatics helps you play any 3-note-per string scale effortlessly and fast.

5. Use Proven Speed Building Strategies To Become An Even Faster Player

You must have great technique before you can play at super-fast speeds with little effort. You must also have effective and proven speed building strategies that help you achieve your guitar speed potential.

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How To Find The Best Songs

If you clicked on this article that means you are curious about where to find the best music or you just did it by accident. Oh well, you are here now so you might as well stay right? Great, because you’re about to find out how to find the best songs. What I mean by best songs is personal to me and it will be different for you as well. You have had a different life than I, and we may also hear things a bit differently. A bad song to one person could be someone else’s favorite song. The best songs for me may not be the best songs for you, but that is what makes music so great! Now that you see the surface I am going to give you a few steps you can take that could help you find the best songs out there.

The first step you can try is changing your radio station or playlist that you listen too. If you listen to the same set of songs from the same genre all the time you are definitely missing out on some quality music.

There are a lot of different kinds of music in this world and all have something unique to offer. Try changing your radio station to the first song that comes on. Even if you do not like it stay on that station until they have played at least five different songs. If at that point you still are not satisfied with the songs move to the next one and repeat this process as often as you can. If you do not listen to the radio and prefer getting your music online then switch up the websites you are surfing. Or if you are like me just start clicking deep into YouTube, you will definitely find some gems there.

Another step you can take is searching a certain word and listening to every song that comes up with that word! This is particularly great for those of you who use streaming sites or for those of you who blog and use YouTube frequently. It can be really fun picking a random word and seeing what comes up. I sometimes like to scroll all the way down to the bottom and start listening to the last five down there and then work my way up. I would encourage you to use unique words though, simply typing in “you” or “the” will not be as enjoyable of an experience as would be typing in something more original. Places like iTunes and Spotify are ideal spots to do this. Apple’s endless catalog will make sure that you find a great song. I have had a lot of fun in my down time by using this step. There are billions of words so be sure to explore even if it is not English. Use French words and Spanish words to shake things up!

This next step is one that not many people like to do. However, I have found in my music experience that this step can go a long way. Listen to a song again even if you do not like it at first. If you are still unsure listen again. Are you still not sure? One more time. Listen to it until you are truly sick of it. By no means force yourself to like a song, just be willing to give it another chance. Sometimes it can take a few days to fully digest a song and hear everything in it. I find this tactic very useful as far as complete albums go. Most of the time an artist will have albums that contain at minimum ten songs and at maximum twenty songs. This is a lot of music and a full album cannot be fully listened to in one sitting. Sometimes full albums might take weeks to set in and you will realize yourself starting to like a song that did not really catch your ear at first. Do not be so quick to judge a song; sometimes you need to just keep listening. Combining the last step and this step makes a great tool to finding new music you never thought you would listen to and you end up loving it.

The last step here is a simple one. Have your own opinion. I have met way too many people that will pretend they like a song just because everyone else does. I strongly encourage you guys not to be this way. Like what you like and don’t like what you don’t like. Just because a song is the “most popular” song at the moment does not mean you have to like it. Have an opinion that is truly yours. Music is made for the individual and this is the key to understanding how to find the best songs for you.

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Musical Impact on Culture

I love music. There is so much beauty and culture to be found in varying genres of music. Of course, we all have different tastes. I personally am quite partial to what is commonly known as “Indie” music. Artists like Lighthouse and the Whaler, Young the Giant, and Chet Faker dominate a large portion of my car time. I have friends who are more partial to country music, favoring relatable lyrics and catchy melodies. My own brother enjoys the incredibly rhythmic properties of rap and hip-hop. Even within these categories, there are thousands of sub-categories with tens of thousands of artists all with varying degrees of fandom. These fans swear by their taste in music and often belittle those who like anything else. Why is that?

I had a friend in high school who grew up in a very musical family. His mother and sister are both very talented singers and his father composed and recorded music for years. He played in concert band for much of his schooling and is an insanely good drummer. He has a rich background in music, but would often swear that rap and hip-hop do not qualify as music. This style was foreign to him. He did not enjoy it and did not see how it pushed forward music as an art form. It had no relevance to his culture, so he disregarded it.

Music has the unique property of being a sort of second language for a subculture. Rap and Hip-Hop are commonly tied to urban areas and lower-income upbringings. Country music is often played in the Midwest and South. This music provides us with an easy way to relate to each other and to interact on an emotional level with strangers. It can provoke a vast array of emotions from sadness and anger to affection and joy. I hear it often said that artists are influencing youth culture, but I would propose the exact opposite is true. Popular music is a reflection of the culture that produces it.

My friend grew up in a middle-class household surrounded by classical music. Rap was simply not relatable to him. However, my hope is that as he grew up, he recognized that what is often being rapped about in these songs is actually an amazing window into a different culture. Music is an incredibly easy, accessible way to learn about other cultures. I believe that, given the proper exposure, it could be one the most unifying tools our generation has to offer.

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