Now that the New York Guitar Method Bundle has been created I’d like to talk in general about everyone’s overall organization of practice both on the macro and micro level. I bring this up because the New York Guitar Method Bundle encompasses pretty much everything you need to learn as a guitarist, and combines it all into one very large course. (While those books are meant for guitarists the overall ideas relate to all musicians.) I tend to divide various aspects of music into improvisational concepts. Scales and approach notes are two of the fundamental improvisational concepts a musician needs to master first. While concentrating on these two areas many other problems may come to the surface. Here are some common ones:
- A weakness in music theory understanding so that it takes too long to think of various relationships in music.
- A lack of knowledge of the notes found on one’s instrument. This is by far most commonly found with guitarists.
- Weakness in a host of other things such as rhythm, time, ear training and sight reading.
- An inability to easily apply scales and approach notes to real musical situations.
What is unique about the New York Guitar Method Bundle is it already assumes you have some or all of the problems I just described and has work built into the course to improve in all these areas. First thing to understand is you can’t tackle all of these things at once. You need to see the bigger picture and tackle one improvisational concept at a time while also working on your overall weaknesses of rhythm, time, ear training and sight reading.
Note: If you are a guitarist, you really should check out the Guitar Technique and Physiology Course to make sure you are playing correctly before jumping into this. You would be surprised how many folks have essential misconceptions in this area, and these can cause severe problems later on, both technically and physically.
So to review, you need to have one improvisational concept that you are spending most of your practice time mastering and in what time remains you are tackling one or more of the other issues depending on how much time you have to practice. Let’s say you have very limited time to practice; perhaps only one hour a day. Let’s use that as a template so you can see the overall organization and then expand the amount of time you spend on each subject if you have more than an hour at your disposal.
The New York Guitar Method Bundle starts with the scale improvisational concept. If you are not a guitarist then you would also be using the Essential Scales book which covers the 22 most commonly used scales. You want to spend one week on each of these 22 scales. Think of this first go-through of scales as just getting a general idea of how the scale works on your instrument. Things to remember:
- By no means are you trying to master these scales right now; you are just playing them all through in the key of C and introducing the sound to your ear and organizing it on your instrument.
- You are not memorizing fingering patterns, you are thinking about the notes names or degrees within a key center. In this case it is a “C” key center.
- Most importantly, use the MetroDrone so that you improve you ability to hear these scales as you practice them.
- If you are a more advanced student but don’t know all these scales you can start fairly soon in applying the concepts found in Long Line Rhythm to this practice of scales.
You should spend 20 minutes of your hour practicing the scale on your instrument. If you are more advanced you could add in some of the modal sequencing as found in the Essential Scales book or the New York Guitar Method Bundle or expand out into Two Note Modal Sequencing or Three Note Modal Sequencing. All of this sequencing will give you more melodic ideas and more physical ability with the scales.
You also need to apply these scales to real music so use either Jam Tracks Volume One or Jam Tracks Volume Three for 10 minutes each day and apply the scale you are learning. Again these are only baby steps for now. You are just getting an introduction to each of the 22 scales over 22 weeks. Next you need to concentrate on one of your weaknesses for 10 minutes.
- If it’s sight reading and you are a guitarist, use the New York Guitar Method Bundle books. They are great because they start out easy and by the end you are doing professional level reading. Use the Sight Reading Solved Beginner Level if you play another instrument.
- If your weakness is music theory use the New York Guitar Method Bundle if you are a guitarist, or the Music Theory Workbook for all Instruments if you play another instrument.
- If your weakness is rhythm, start reading the rhythm exercises found in the New York Guitar Method Bundle ensemble books or start with Rhythm Primer then the Rhythm Series Books to start introducing you to all the rhythms you need to know.
The next 10 minutes for guitarists concentrates on chords and applying them to chord progressions. This is built into the New York Guitar Method Bundle but I would also recommend using the Complete Blues Comping Both Major and Minor MP3s which approximates having me play a duet with you as you apply chords to chord progressions. If you don’t play guitar you should concentrate on arpeggios like those found in the Ultimate Arpeggio Course. I can make suggestions on applying arpeggios if you are going down this path.
Finally, you have 10 minutes left so work on anything that you want, but make sure it is FUN. It’s psychologically important to have some fun in your music practice because you need to be consistent in practicing every day and if practicing is only a drag, then you won’t want to do it every day.
You should also work on ear training, which I would do as you take breaks in your practicing, or commuting, or other down time throughout the day. If you are just starting ear training use the Ear Training One Note Complete and Contextual Ear Training.
I hope this gets you organized and started on a path. I’ll discuss how to tackle approach notes in my next post.
Bruce Arnold Music Education Genealogy Chart
You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by Muse-eek.com which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!