Welcome to a new post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including thoughts on the importance of context, a silly bit of musicality fun, and more.
Here we go…
#1 – Context is king
The last few months, I’ve been dating a lovely lady called Emma.
She’s a personal trainer and the other day we were talking about fitness.
She finds people are quick to give their opinion on fitness to others.
Some will say you need to do cold showers, do HIIT training, or go intermittent fasting, etc.
The problem with those things, she says, is that they can be useful but only in the right context.
If someone eats 3000 calories of junk per day, none of the above matters.
I see this a lot on the guitar too.
I hear others telling absolute beginners they need to learn multiple scales, practice triads, or the worst one I’ve seen, that they should study modes!
The above things can be useful but NOT to an absolute beginner.
An absolute beginner should be focused on playing with good posture, using proper technique, building up good fretting hand habits, learning to be accurate with the picking hand, etc.
Studying modes and more than one scale is not what they should be doing.
It’s all about context.
The advice that someone should give to a newbie is different to someone who has played for 20 years.
It’s obvious really, but the people giving advice rarely ever say this.
So, it’s well worth keeping that in mind if anyone gives you advice on the guitar.
They will often have good intentions, but if they don’t know much about where you are with your playing currently, it might not be the best advice for you right now.
#2 – A silly way to improve your musicality
Me and Archie were doing some colouring the other day.
As we were doing it, we were listening to the radio.
Some songs came on the radio and we were changing up the words to fit what we were doing.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye was playing.
We changed the lyrics to:
“Try not to colour out of the lines”.
(Sing those words to the tune, it’s fun ha-ha).
Yep, the tune was the same, but we changed the words.
It’s super silly, but it’s fun.
I do this stuff a lot and Archie joins in. It’s a nice little creative thing to do.
I’m a big believer in being creative with and without the guitar.
Just singing little tunes, making up a little “ditty” on the spot, humming a melody that comes into your head.
These are all fun things that won’t make you a better guitarist overnight, but they will increase your capacity to be a more musical musician (which is what we all want).
The more creative you are with music away from your guitar, the more creative you will be with it.
I’ve seen it for years with students.
#3 – Shuffleboard fun
On Saturday, I went and played “Shuffleboard” for the first time.
What a fun game.
If you don’t know what this is, it’s where you slide these little things that look like ice hockey pucks down a long table.
The idea is that you get your pucks closest to the edge of the long table.
It was loads of fun.
If you don’t go far enough, you’re in a bad position.
Go too far and the puck falls off the edge.
That is very much like a little metaphor for how people practise the guitar.
Some people try to learn something and push too hard.
Others don’t do enough and don’t make enough progress.
Never is this truer than when learning music theory.
The big mistake I see people make with theory is that they don’t learn it at all for a long time.
…And when they do want to learn theory, they want to learn it all in one go.
So, they overwhelm themselves, and read, learn, and read some more.
…but their brain gets overwhelmed.
The bad thing is this overwhelming feeling can overflow into the rest of your playing.
The way to fix this is to learn theory in small, consistent, and steady chunks, applying what you learn to the songs and melodies you already know.
That’s why new Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy members get sent a copy of my theory book for free.
It’s a paperback version you can leave by your guitar or on your coffee table…
…So you can pick it up and read a page or even half a page, put it down and digest the information.
It’s the way I teach theory to private students.
Each week, I do a little, no more. Reading the book in this way replicates that.
If you want the theory book, then do check out the academy.
We’ve got some exciting lessons coming featuring things I’ve never taught before, all of which will be released on the 1st of August.
…And if you are ready for theory and want the book, you can get started with the academy below.
Have a great day
P. S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.