Over the years I’ve heard of many musicians who are afraid of checking their instruments when flying. Musicians are afraid of rough treatment by airport baggage handlers, and rightly so. But many people also fear that the environmental conditions in the aircraft’s baggage compartment can damage their instruments. I asked some airline captains about the conditions inside aircraft that instruments with be subjected to. Their answers are very reassuring!
Yesterday I saw a press release via the Premier Guitar Twitter feed announcing Dean Markley Blue Steel instrument cables. Promising all kinds of magical tonal benefits due to the cable receiving a brief blast of liquid nitrogen. I say it’s pseudo-scientific nonsense. Dean Markley say that’s just my opinion. Well, this is how I, a guitarist and physics PhD, arrived at my opinion…
At any one time 1/3 to a 1/2 of my students are children and I am frequently approached by parents looking for a guitar teacher for their child. However, as a general rule, the youngest I am willing to teach is about 10 years-old. In this post I explain why guitar poses difficulties for younger children and what I recommend to parents when young children want to play the guitar.
Most of my clients/students are expats in Paris and many are first-time players, just starting out with the guitar. As a result I am frequently asked about where to buy a guitar and to give recommendations on what to buy and in what price range. In this post I answer all those questions for you, and more.
When we start playing barre chords, getting every note to ring clearly can be frustrating. Here are some tips to help solve those problems and an exercise I give my students that improves their barre chord playing, clarity, and stamina.
Beginning guitar players will have some initial difficulty with strumming and rhythm. for many players, part of the difficulty is learning to strum upstrokes. In this video I explain the ‘secret’ to playing upstrokes, along with a simple practice technique that will make your strumming and rhythm playing smoother and more fluid.
Finding time to practice guitar can be tough so it’s important we get the most of the time we do spend. Allowing yourself to make mistakes and being aware of those mistakes, makes your practice time more productive.
Beginning guitar players usually learn their first chords by following the little dot chord diagrams which show where to put their fingers. But this usually results in thinking of chords as shapes of fingers, rather than shapes of notes, ignoring the contribution of open strings to the chord. It’s a common mistake that slows down our learning and progress. I explain why.
Sometimes a bolt-on guitar neck can shift in the neck pocket, causing the strings to be too close to one side of the neck. It’s a common issue and very easy to fix. In this short video I show you how.
No single part of a guitar is more terrifying or mysterious to many guitarists than the humble truss rod. For years we have been told that we can ruin our precious and fragile guitars by just looking at them funny. But truss rods are very simple devices and are nothing to be afraid of. So let’s dispel the fears and the myths.
A love of music and the ability to play is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child, one that will last the rest of their life. As a guitar teacher, my role concerns the lessons themselves. But time spent between lessons is just as important, perhaps more so. That means that you as parents play an important role in supporting your child’s interest and improvement. Here are some pointers that I hope you find useful.
By far the most common mistake I see with new students, be they novices or people who already play, is not about how they place their hand on the guitar neck. In fact it’s about about how they place their thumb. Getting their thumb in the right place is often the single biggest thing they can do to make playing and learning the guitar easier. Let me explain…
Keeping guitars in tune can be difficult at the best of times. Aside from the inherent compromises of guitar construction and how the human ear would rather hear things, we’ve all had those days when we’ve beautifully tuned a guitar and yet two minutes later it sounds like poop all over again. Let’s look at some solutions…
A frequent question asked by my guitar students concerns the lessons themselves – how often should their guitar lessons take place? In an international city like Paris, a lot of my guitar students are ex-pats or international students. With hectic work or school schedules and frequent international travel I understand that finding time for lessons and practice can be a difficult task. So when trying to decide on your lesson schedule, the question comes down to this…
“How often should I practice?” is the most common question asked by my guitar students. Every student I teach has their own unique needs and goals. And they have their own unique schedules and problems too – there is work, or school, and chores, homework, friends and families to see, other hobbies, interests, and activities and they all compete for time. It’s absolutely normal that finding the time to learn an instrument, to take lessons and to practice, can be a difficult task. But no matter who my students are, how old they are, and what other things they have going on in their life, there are a few things that I recommend for everybody.