Hey, everyone! In this blog post, I'd like to discuss one of my favorite exercises to learn the fretboard and add a little mojo to your lead playing. Before we begin, let me define what an arpeggio is. An arpeggio is a broken chord. We can play a chord two ways. The first way is to play all the notes at the same time; the second way is to play the notes one at a time, consecutively. This latter method is called an arpeggio.
The one thing I'm most proud of in my career is the fact that I've always gotten the gig I wanted, without fail. Whether it was passing the audition for a band, getting accepted into a conservatory, creating a successful teaching business or getting shows, I've gotten the job done.
When one of my guitar students wants to learn lead guitar, I usually show him/her the minor pentatonic scale first. Once that scale is down in all keys, I play different and familiar chord progressions and have my students solo over them using the scales they've just learned. Almost always, the same thing happens: The student's leads sound like a continuous scale. I call it the musical equivalent of a stomach virus.
Before I go any further, I'd like to say I'm sorry to my all my past teachers and instructors. After writing this blog post, I realized how, for the first 15 years of my career, I never really followed the advice I am now sharing with my readers. Please accept my humble apologies; I realize now that if I would've followed my own words, I would've saved myself a lot of time and grief over the years.
Have you ever played a gig during which your gear inexplicably goes dead in the middle of a face-blistering lead? Have you ever been on your way to a show and have the back of the van pop open and watch a drum set and keyboard spill onto the New York State Thruway at 70 mph? Have you ever watched the singer in your band run a bar tab so high that it exceeded what your band was supposed to make that night?
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced player, we need to seek out instruction. There is no way to get to the next level without it. As teachers, we have an immense responsibility to a student's growth as a player and as a person. It is one I take very seriously and I hope you do also. We are entrusted with the authority to shape a student's musical future.
So you're stuck. You're stuck playing the same old tired Eric Clapton/Chuck Berry blues/pentatonic licks you've played for the past 20 years. You're stuck listing to the same bands and songs since high school. Your playing and musicianship is stagnant, spinning its wheels in quagmire of the same old same old. I get the picture. We've all been there.
If you're like me, you have very little time to practice. Between my time as a practicing music therapist, a private instructor, gym time, rehearsing and gigging and various social engagements, I have to use my personal practice time very wisely. Bottom line is this: if I find time to practice, you do too!
One of my many fine guitar students really loves Slash. During our lesson the other day, I mentioned other guitarists I felt he should be listening to just to give him a more well rounded listening experience as a young guitarist. As part of his homework assignment, I wrote down the names of these amazing players and told him to look them up on YouTube — and to not listen to Slash for a week.