Friday, July 27, 2012

Stuff Music Students Should Know

A couple months back I put up a facebook post intended for my private students about what I expected them all to know.  From time to time I would quiz them on some of the things we'd gone over in the past and a few of them put some of those fundamentals out of their brains for good.  So I made a short list of what they should know at all times.

Since I posted this, a lot of musicians have been asking me to post the list again.  I'll re-post it, but I just want everyone to understand a few things.  This is a list I made for some of my students at this particular phase in their development.  For your own musical development, you may need more than this, or you may not need any of this.  There are plenty of very successful musicians who know none of this and have done wonderfully without it.

Here goes:

Chords:  Know all 12...
Half Diminished
Dominant 7th (plain ol' 7th)
Minor 7th
Major 7th
Minor/maj 7

By all 12 I mean C, C#, D, D#, E  etc....

The more shapes you know, the better.  At the very least, be able to play one type of closed shape for each.

Of course it helps if you know the neck.  Make a chart of the neck and write all the notes on it.  This will be a good reference.  Don't download this chart.  Make it yourself.  Make a bunch of them by hand.  Each time you make one, you'll learn the fretboard better.

Scales: in all 12 keys (easy on guitar)

Pentatonic Minor and Major in all 5 positions.  Let's be honest. We're gonna spend a whole lot of time playing this scale so it would be really helpful to know it all over the neck.

Harmonic Minor

I know I left out some really good scales.  But with these, you'll be able to cover a lot of bases.  It also helps to know these in multiple positions.  I also find it helpful to figure out how to play these scales where they sit on top of the pentatonic position 1.  This way if you panic mid-solo, you can always go back to the comfort zone.

A lot of guys like the 3 note per string scales.  I do too.  Those are great for sequences, but I do find that when first learning a scale a lot of students have trouble improvising with 3 notes per string.

Of course I'm leaving out a whole bunch of important stuff in this list.  Again, please don't take this to be the end-all be-all of lists.  At the very least I hope this is helpful.


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