TUTOR TIPS FOR GUITAR
The Heart of Veevar Guitar
Welcome to this fourth post in our series of articles introducing you to Veevar Guitar. In the last few posts, we've looked at our improved website and awesome new features like the tutor search engine and live chat. We also had a preview of our syllabus and interactive videos with lessons on basic guitar technique from Level 1. You can check these out in part one and part two in case you missed them.
So, in this instalment, we wanted to introduce you to the most important element of Veevar Guitar; the tutors!! Even with the shiny new features and awesome interactive learning materials, it is the tutors that are at the heart of what we do.
We are strong advocates of looking to the future and moving forward with technology. Integrating new technology and approaches into how we teach guitar is something we believe in a great deal. We keep this in mind with all we do here and think this is evident in our website and syllabus.
Even so, we never forget that without the human element, all of this modern technology is superficial. This is why we believe so strongly in guitar tutors. It is why we have gathered a growing team of expert tutors to help students of all levels and abilities. We firmly believe that tutors will always be a fundamental aspect of learning to play the guitar.
With all this in mind, we thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to the tutors in our team. We caught up with a number them recently and asked them to share their top tips for learning the guitar. As always, they stepped up and have provided some really valuable tips for guitar players at all levels.
We've compiled them all below and every one of them is worth taking on board. They cover a range of topics and situations that every guitarist will come across at some stage. We've also included some background on each of the tutors to help you get to know them better. You can also find out more about them over on our find a tutor page.
So, without further ado, we present to you the tutors of Veevar Guitar.
Michael is a guitarist who started out in the 90’s with a keen interest in indie and alternative rock. He later developed his skills further in blues and jazz while studying music at Manchester City College and Salford University. Michael has been teaching guitar professionally since 2005. (Read more about Michael here)
‘When you're trying to learn a lot of complex chords, learn the theory of why the chords contain those notes in them. This will help you work out how to play any chord you need, sometimes even if you've never even played it before. This is much better than learning chords as abstract shapes that eventually you will forget.'
Tone is in the Fingers
'I love exploring effects as much as the next guy. But be careful and try not to spend days surfing the internet researching which is the very best 'transparent overdrive'. Especially if deep down you know your tone would improve much more by spending that time practising. Tone is often in the fingers.'
Emiliano is a professional guitarist, tutor and music consultant covering many different styles from Rock to Pop, Blues, Funk, Metal. He has more than fifteen years of experience as a performer and teacher. (Read more about Emiliano here)
If You Wanna Play Fast, Practice Slow!
Learn super-fast licks at moderate speeds and keep practising until you can play it with no errors or sound mistakes before raising the speed.
If You Don’t Move, You Don’t Groove!
Try to follow the groove with your body when practising funky rhythm parts. Dance along with it! Nile Rodgers does it!
Gareth is a professional musician with higher diploma and degree qualifications and is a graduate of A.C.M Guildford. He plays in several function bands performing at weddings and corporate events across the UK with his band "Got You Covered" as well as the house band at the popular local venue MK11. (Read more about Gareth here)
Location: Milton Keynes
Practice Standing Up.
The angle is surprisingly different and can change how the guitar feels in your hands. Don’t have your awesome solo fail because you only practised sitting down!
Is This A Performance or what?
How would you feel if you went to see your favourite band and they just stood still and tapped a foot? OK, I’m not saying you should be doing knee slides, windmills and playing your guitar with your tongue. But at the end of the day, we are entertainers! This goes double for any of you in originals bands. Give your fans a reason to come and see you again and again!
Lee has been performing, teaching and recording music for over 20 years throughout the U.K. He has a BA Hons Degree in Popular Music and Music Technology and a distinction award from the legendary Academy of Contemporary Music in guitar performance. He is a dedicated, passionate, and enthusiastic music professional with much experience. (Read more about Lee here)
Location: Milton Keynes
Sight reading can be seen as difficult and challenging though understanding notation can help improve and develop your musical understanding. Try learning the notes on the guitar in first position i.e. around frets 1 to 3 on the high e, b and g strings first. Then find these notes on the stave. Also, try writing a few notes on the stave then playing them on the guitar. Next....add in some rhythm to your note patterns on the stave keeping them simple at first. Take small steps and build up day by day, practice makes perfect!
Learning chords and shapes is fun and fundamental to songwriting. Try learning your chords in different positions to build on chord theory and structure. This will allow you to understand keynotes/intervals of the chords. It will also allow you to voice them across the neck to produce various tones and textures. This is ideal if you are recording parts in a studio environment.
Tim started playing guitar at the age of 17 with initial interests in Heavy Rock and Metal styles of music. He describes himself as becoming 'obsessed' with guitar whilst at university; often playing for 8 hours a day. Over the years he has played in various bands, in a variety of styles, and has worked as a studio and session guitarist for musical performances and orchestras. (Read more about Tim here)
Have a Dedicated Practice Routine
This could be 5 mins or an hour long. This should be the first thing you do every day when you sit down with the guitar. Make sure it is dynamic too. Review it every few weeks and make changes as necessary.
Failures Are Learning Opportunities
Each failure tells you something. Use it to your advantage. Remember that the master has failed many more times than the student!
David is a guitarist and tutor with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music and music technology. He has a wealth of experience having taught and played guitar professionally for over ten years and has toured extensively across the UK with his progressive metal band ‘End Begin’. (Read more about David here)
Regularly record yourself playing and listen back to hear your mistakes. It’s difficult to be aware of mistakes whilst playing, especially for beginners when you’re busy trying to remember and keep up with a song. Listening to recordings is a useful way to identify problem areas in your playing. It will also help you to develop a critical ear, which is an important skill for any musician.
The Beat Reduction Game
If you’re struggling with a particular chord change, try a method that I call the beat reduction game. You start with 4 beats between the two chords causing a problem. Once you can’t change smoothly during those 4 beats, you reduce the time to 3 beats. Then reduce it to 2 beats and so on until you can change straight from one chord to the next. This works for all levels of playing from beginner to advanced.
Leigh is a guitar teacher with over 13 years of experience working in the music industry. He specialises in rock, blues, soul and pop guitar but can turn his hand to any genre. Leigh prides himself on tailoring lessons to individuals and has developed methods and exercises to get students moving along very quickly. (Read more about Leigh here)
Borrow from Your Idols but Be Yourself
Always be yourself while borrowing from others. Never try to be a clone of your idols. Use your idols to create your own sound.
Be Open Minded
Keep your mind open to as many new things as possible, even if they are things you know you don't like. The more you take in, the more you give out.
Joe is a gifted guitarist, teacher, songwriter and producer who achieved a number one hit single in the UK and USA in 2016. After many years involved with his local music scene, Joe released his first album 'Hidden Words' and toured extensively with his band 'Fell Silent'. He began teaching at the Yamaha music school after receiving his degree in music from the Academy of Contemporary Music. (Read more about Joe here)
Location: Milton Keynes
Think Outside the Box
Try to think outside the box often. Every time I’ve improved as a player, it’s been from trying new things and almost becoming obsessed with it. For example, this year I started “forgetting” my picks, forcing me to play without one. I started studying guitarists like Mateus Asato and John Mayer In more depth to build up my fingerstyle technique
Keep Your Options Open
If you are a serious guitarist that wants to make a career out of it, it’s important to look at all of your options and develop a few. There are so many exciting and fulfilling jobs for a guitarist. You could join a band or start an artist project or get into songwriting for yourself and others. There is also music production, teaching and performing as a session guitarist, to name a few. Music is a tough and unforgiving business, so it’s important to keep your options open while still pursuing your passion!
Charlie is a guitarist and teacher known for his technical riffing in UK metal band ‘Harbinger’. During his degree in 2012, he started teaching at Goodall Guitar School which led him on to running his own teaching business. Charlie has forged a progressive playing style combining his love of melody and technique that sees him through a variety of genres including metal, blues, funk and rock. (Read more about Charlie here)
Try thinking of short rhythms and playing them on the guitar. Combining this with scales and chords can help you get started with the early stages of songwriting and soloing. Start with just one note from a scale or one chord. Once you can confidently play the rhythm you’ve come up with, try applying it to more notes and chords.
Find A Practice Buddy
Finding a friend or encouraging one to learn with you can be an enjoyable experience and help you both progress. A bit of healthy competition is always good and can motivate you to practice. I learnt with a best friend of mine and it wasn’t long before we started a band together!
Geoff has played guitar for nearly 40 years and been a professional for over 25. He is a graduate of the Musician’s Institute (G.I.T) Falmouth University and DIME, and a post-graduate of the University of West London. He also holds a B.A (Hons) and a Fellowship from the London College of Music in Music Performance. He has performed over 3500 gigs worldwide, including at Wembley and Docklands Arenas. (Read more about Geoff here)
Sing scales, arpeggios, and lines as much as you can, even if you think you can't sing. Internalise the sounds as much as possible.
Always find the best way to have fun whilst practising. You are "playing" the guitar remember!
Adam is a graduate of the Musicians Institute (G.I.T) and a guitarist with 28 years of experience. He has taught thousands of lessons to students of all ages and abilities, many of whom have gone on to achieve their dream of becoming professional musicians themselves. He has also taught for music industry giants Marshall and Korg and played for some of the world’s biggest instrument companies, including PRS, Yamaha and Vox. (Read more about Adam here)
Location: Milton Keynes
Learn the Notes on the Fretboard
This makes everything you learn much easier to understand from the basics to understanding how chords and scales are constructed. Start by learning the natural notes on the E and A strings and work out the notes on the other strings via octaves. Remember that the sharps and flats don’t have to be memorised as they are easy to find if you know where the natural notes are.
Be Determined and Persist
You’ll need determination to become proficient on the guitar, there is no getting around that. This is way more important than talent. I have seen people with lots of talent, but they don’t have enough commitment, so they end up giving up. On the flip side, I have seen people with no natural talent become excellent guitarists due to their willingness to put the time in. There will be periods where you may feel it’s too hard. Stay persistent and you’ll get there whether your aim is to play a few chords or solo like a pro.
Ryan is an enthusiastic guitarist, teacher and composer. He is a graduate of the British and Irish Institute of Modern Music with a BMus Hons in Popular Music Performance. With over 150 professional gigs under his belt, he is a seasoned and well-rounded performer with expertise in Funk, Rock and Fusion as well as a broad skill set across many areas of the music industry. (Read more about Ryan here)
Always Put What You Learn Into Context.
It's easy to get overloaded with new information. When you're starting out, your teacher might show you the pentatonic scale in A Minor. A few months go by and you can play it perfectly! Up and down the scale at 150bpm. However, you may still be struggling to see how this actually translates to music. Ask your teacher to show you some simple idea's that are based around whatever you're learning. Then take those ideas and change things about them. Maybe it starts on a different beat? Maybe ends on a different note? Try it all! You'll thank yourself that you did.
Always Turn Up a Little Early.
This is a bit of a more general tip for any musician. Sometimes it can't be helped, maybe the trains have gone down. Maybe your car has broken down or maybe you have the flu. But 9 times out of 10 you're perfectly capable of turning up to a rehearsal, lesson or even a gig on time. Nothing is worse than a band member that is constantly late. Not only are they wasting everyone’s time, but they're also setting up a bad atmosphere in the rehearsal. Just turn up a little early! Get comfortable, have a coffee and have a chat with whoever you're with that day! You never know what opportunities might come your way.
That's All...For Now!
Well, that's all for now, but we'll be back soon with more lessons and tips from our fantastic tutors. Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up with all our videos and lessons, and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest Veevar Guitar news. You can also learn more about each of our tutors via our Find a Tutor page where you can contact them if you would like to book a lesson. If you want to learn more about our online guitar syllabus you can visit our How It Works page or subscribe to the monthly membership here.
Thank you for reading and happy practising.
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