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General: Guitar Articles & Insights

Life as a Hired Gun

For those of you that don’t know, I am currently on tour with The Three Degrees. They had worldwide smash hits in the 70’s such as “When Will I See You Again” and “Dirty ol’ Man.” They were formed out of the Philadelphia music scene in the 1960’s and were on the Philadelphia..... (read more)

Delving Even Deeper into the World of Music Therapy

"Rhythm is there in the cycles of the seasons, in the migrations of the birds and animals, in the fruiting and withering of plants, and in the birth, maturation and death of ourselves. Mickey Hart Miracle of modern marvels is the advent of Music Therapy, known to have been utilized as..... (read more)

Thoughts on Practice Part 2

I once had a student that used to practice for 6-8 hours a day, and had been playing for nearly 30 years...The only problem was that he sucked! I then realized that it is possible to practice badly. Simply practicing for 8 hours will not necessarily make you an awesome guitar player. In fact,..... (read more)

Thoughts on Composing

Composing is one of those elusive “in the moment” type of things that one cannot force. However, there are a number of techniques that I believe can help act as a catalyst for your creative juices. Simply sitting down with our instruments and “waiting” for inspiration is not only..... (read more)

Work Your Schtick

Shtick is a funny word. It’s your gig, your hook, the thing you do that makes you who you are. It’s also the thing that’s going to get your career as a musician off the ground. Think of Shtick as a shop door that’s already half open. It’s so much easier to see what’s inside and..... (read more)

Partial Capos : A Whole New World

Last time I got to talk to David Wilcox about his partial capo work, he said something pretty insightful. “The environment for wonder is mapped,” he said. “Everybody already knows pretty much most of what the guitar can do. But the partial capo is a whole new universe.” David’s..... (read more)

Making it Work

The transition to being a full-time performer is tough. It’s hard to make a living as a musician. Even relatively established performers find themselves scraping by between gigs, or taking less-than-satisfying day jobs to make ends meet. Despite years of working on this stuff, I still don’t..... (read more)

Fine Tuning Your Vehicle

Almost anybody can write some lines of text and play a few chords on the guitar to deliver a message. But creating a good song is another matter entirely. This article gives ideas about how to texture the music that we use to deliver our words. A few months ago, David Wilcox gave me an..... (read more)

Diversify

It’s not easy to be a full time musician, and it’s a tough road to get there. There’s no pre-fab success roadmap that works for everyone, but there is one bit of advice that is just as applicable to musicians as it is to corporate moguls and corn farmers: diversification is vital. Diversification..... (read more)

Creating Creativity

As musicians, the creative process is vital to us. It’s key to our performance, our writing, and even who we are as people. But what is it? What are the building blocks of the creative process? Can we encourage creativity or shape it? How do we get back in the groove if we don’t feel creative? ..... (read more)

Changing Gears

We’re musicians – creative types. This much we’ve figured out. Most of us have also discovered that there’s no boilerplate roadmap for making sense of our craft. Processing lofty philosophical questions seems to be part of the deal, but implementing our discoveries can be tough. One..... (read more)

The Importance of Music to Brain Development

”Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.” Oscar Wilde For many years there has been a growing debate between those who claim that music has a profound, even miraculous effect on the overall development of various areas of the brain and those who simply hold fast to..... (read more)

Thinking Outside of the Box

One of the things about any style of music is that most people tend to be confined by specific musical influences that they have surrounded themselves with. For example, for most people growing up in the western world, we are very used to hearing the 4/4 time signature and modes of the major..... (read more)

Music: The Balance Between Creation and Consumption

Perhaps it's the time of year, or the fact that I just got a whole mailbox full of Holiday gear catalogs in the mail, but recently, I have been doing some introspection regarding the balance between creation and consumption in my musical life. As musicians in this hi-tech, highly object and..... (read more)

The Powerful Influence of African Culture on Modern Music

“The curious beauty of African music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope...” Nelson Mandela Since no one single person can truly pinpoint the precise moment that..... (read more)

Singers Hear My Plea

Singers Hear my Plea! Causes and solutions for Vocal Problems "Lost in my thoughts I wandering find a place in my mind to unwind, it's a tiny dark corner with a stool and a loner who strums and sings in the night no audience there to bear witness or share in the melodies fair, only..... (read more)

Bi-polar Disorder and the Healing Power of Music

Manic depression is touching my soul  I know what I want but I just don't know  How to, go about gettin' it  Feeling sweet feeling,  Drops from my fingers, fingers  Manic depression is catchin' my soul Jimi Hendrix At..... (read more)

Time Management

Time Management a practical guide for the busy guitarist The Problem Have you ever felt overwhelmed when considering the amount of things you want to develop on your guitar? Perhaps there are days when you feel so overwhelmed that you end up almost paralyzed by stress and end up not..... (read more)

Performance: The Ultimate Form of Expression Part IV

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages." William Shakespeare, "As You Like It' Act 2, Scene 7, pps. 139-143. Alright, so you've formed a musical..... (read more)

Performance: The Ultimate Form of Expression Part III

The Duet:Preparation Coming together with other musicians in the spirit of enjoyment and performance can be both the most challenging yet most rewarding endeavor that you have ever taken upon yourself. Assembling a flawless gem of a jam and inciting the crowd to a fever pitch as you pour your..... (read more)

Performance: The Ultimate Form of Expression Part II

The Soloist-continued As previously stated, channeling emotion into one's playing and performance in order to create powerful and inspiring shows is imperative, but it is equally important for the individual to be prepared to play both from a mental as well as physical perspective. Many musicians..... (read more)

Performance: The Ultimate Form of Expression Part I

The idea of musical performance as an art form dates back many thousands of years but frankly its origins are unknown. Many anthropologists speculate that early peoples dwelling in caves began to experiment with the percussion of rocks and other simple utensils in an effort to produce sounds..... (read more)

Schizophrenia and Music Therapy

Schizophrenia is a mental infirmity that can manifest itself in a multitude of symptoms and can be characterized and classified in a number of ways. Most forms of the disease seem to appear in the individual in the later teens and early twenties (usually somewhat earlier for men than women)..... (read more)

Music Therapy and its Myriad of Applications (Part 3)

Looking back at Parts 1 and 2 of this series and utilizing Wikipedia’s definition, music therapy can be defined as “an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve..... (read more)

Introspection

The word Introspection has been defined as “a reflective looking inward: an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings ( Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, Springfield, Mass.1999). Hence the act of being introspective is fundamentally characterized by a close scrutiny,..... (read more)

Music Therapy and its Myriad of Applications (Part 2)

Looking back at Part 1 of this series and utilizing Wikipedia's definition, music therapy can be defined as "an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets--physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual--to help clients to improve or maintain..... (read more)

Music Therapy and its Myriad of Applications (Part 1)

The expression "Music therapy" describes the use of any of a number of different techniques utilizing music to achieve therapeutic goals. These goals can range from alleviation of depressive symptoms to improving motor coordination in people suffering from cerebral palsy, or as simply a calming..... (read more)

Soaring with the Starship

I have been performing all over the Denver metro area for years, from the grey and green hills and Flatirons of Boulder, down south to Castle Rock and now here in my home town of Fort Collins Colorado. I've played the smallest of venues capable of seating only fifteen people, which some might..... (read more)

Taking Half Steps and Whole Steps to Success

Many people setting out upon the adventure of learning a particular instrument, the guitar for example, are naturally filled with various questions, queries and suppositions. Some of the most prevalent questions have to do with how to set up an effective practice schedule, how to hold and play..... (read more)

A Lesson in Blues Guitar, Life, and Eight Ball Pool

Amongst the many older blues musicians I saw perform and learn from in the late 1960s and early 1970s was Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins. I was fortunate enough to have seen "Lightnin'" perform quite a few times. On one of these occasions I received a memorable backstage tutoring from him at a bar..... (read more)

The Intangibility of Learning and Change

How many of us at one point or another in the lifespan of our musical training, have acknowledged to ourselves or others that we have hit an impasse in the educational process? How many of us have exclaimed that in no uncertain terms we have hit a plateau that we are unable to bypass? How many..... (read more)

Musical Empowerment

Musical Empowerment (to be referred to as M.E. from this point forward) is an intervention that I co-created a couple of years ago based on my belief that music, in its various forms, can be therapeutic for children. Whether encapsulated in the form of lessons, composition, performance, or..... (read more)