This Music Workshop educational page is intended for instrumentalists interested in building their overall musicianship, technique and improving their understanding of improvisational concepts. The kind of learning presented here is essential. By learning the building blocks of music and music theory you will open up whole new worlds for your artistic fulfillment. For many of my students it sparks great ideas and helps them get closer to the music inside them.
It goes without saying that to become a great musician it is equally important to develop your creativity–But that does not mean waiting for the muse to pay a visit! Matisse said that creativity comes through work. Don’t wait for inspiration before you practice, inspiration will come; just start practicing. To help you understand this process check out the books: “Matisse on Art” by Jack Fram, “Giacometti Portrait” by James Lord, “Letter to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke, and “The Courage to Create” by Rollo May. These excellent books will help you understand the process of being a creative person.
Always try to apply each of the exercises presented to a musical situation. For example, if you are learning a scale, memorize the notes and degrees but then apply it to a progression, or use it while you play along with your favorite CD. It is easy to lose yourself in theory and technique, so balance your practicing with being creative.
I also must mention that being sensitive and having a good sense of musical interaction is a very big part of becoming a great musician. I have known many great players who could improvise incredible solos endlessly–but no-one would play with them, because they never interacted with the other musicians, and hogged the solo time! That kind of musical self-involvement will eventually cut you off from the contributions that your fellow musicians can give you–remember, having a musical community that you are a member of is key to the free flow of ideas and inspiration!
I currently teach at New York University and Princeton University along with doing clinician work around the country. The exercises presented here are excerpts from my books and are the exact exercises my students use to develop their musicianship. If you would like to learn more about the many books I have written for guitar and instrumentalists in general please check out my publishers website.
Certain sections of this workshop are dedicated to any instrumentalist while others are specifically for the guitarist. The following sections are for any instrumentalist.
The Rhythm section will give you excerpts from my series of books on rhythms. This unique series of books helps a student learn their rhythms by playing along with audio examples that they can download from this site. I have included some free downloadable exercises so a student can check out this approach. If you want more information about my rhythm books please check out the Books section of this website.
1. The Rhythms section is divided into 3 categories:
- Eighth Note Rhythms (Rhythms Book One)
- Sixteenth Note Rhythms (Rhythms Book Two)
- Odd Meters (Odd Meters One)
2. The Scales section covers the basic scales that you need to know. You should work on your scales in conjunction with the theory section on scales. This will help you to understand and memorize this important part of music.
3. The Chords section contains excerpts from my Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One. The basic barre chords you need to know to get started on the guitar are presented with a few progressions to help apply these chords. The open voicings so common in any book on chords are not present here but are included in my book. Also the more complicated chords are not presented here but again are included in my book. In order to memorize chords you need to apply them. Buy a fake book or transcribe progressions from CDs to help yourself memorize chord voicings. Book one of my Chord Workbook series contains reharmonizations in 12 keys of the Blues, Minor Blues and Rhythm Changes which my students then must apply in a musical situation. If you want more information about my chord books please check of my publishers website.
4. The Arpeggios and Sweeps section will cover many ways to play and develop arpeggios and sweeps in your playing.
The Theory section addresses most guitarists’ weakest point, i.e. knowing the notes on the instrument and being able to apply basic music theory to the fretboard. Excerpts from my Theory Workbook for Guitar Series are used to help a student achieve a better understanding of both of these crucial areas. Be sure to use this theory section in conjunction with the Chords or Scales section; this will insure the proper understanding of the materials presented. If you want more information about my chord books please check of my publishers website.
5. The Theory section is divided into 2 catagories:
- Chord and Interval Construction (Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One)
- Scale Construction (Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume Two)
6. The Right Hand Technique section contains exercises and audio examples from my book Right Hand Technique for Guitar Volume One. Right hand technique is one of the most overlooked areas of playing the guitar. The exercises presented here will de-mystify and strengthen this under-examined aspect of playing. I must say that I do not recommend practicing any of the right hand exercises I have provided on this website unless you own or have at least read my Right Hand Technique for Guitar Volume One. There is definitely a right and wrong way to move your right hand and arm when playing the guitar. If you are in pain you are not playing correctly. With the proper right hand technique you should be able to play effortlessly for hours. If you can’t, maybe it’s time to check this book out. If you want more information about my chord books please check of my publishers website.
7. The Further Investigations section contains material and ideas I feel are important to developing a thorough understanding of music. More advanced improvisational concepts will be covered here along with a book list to give you some resources for furthering your understanding of music.
This music workshop is an ever expanding resource. Check back from time to time to see what’s new.
Feel free to download these lists and exercises and let me know how they work out for you.
For more information on Bruce Arnold’s Books please check the Music Instruction Book section of the Muse-Eek Publishers web site.
If you need help locating a music instructor in your area check out the Music Teacher Locator.