Intermediate & Advanced Guitar Lessons in Bethesda, MD
After guitarists have played for awhile and are ready for learning more difficult songs and musical concepts, my approach is different. Mostly, we break it down to rhythm and lead. It is important to become a proficient rhythm guitarist before focusing on lead. Often what happens is that when students improve, many want to start learning to play lead. There’s nothing wrong with learning some scales and riffs at this point, but sometimes students focus more on lead at this point and their rhythm suffers. Your friends and band mates may be impressed with your cool solos, but will be more disappointed if your rhythm is lacking. Rhythm is the foundation for playing songs (and the foundation for playing with others), whereas lead (soloing) is like the candy. It tastes better than the meal, but does’t contribute much to your health.
|• Chords (open, power chords, and barre chords)
• More difficult strumming patterns
• Basic theory
• Finger picking
• Bass strumming
• Bass runs
|• Pentatonic Minor Scale, 1st position
• Lead ideas/exercises
• Pentatonic Minor Scale, 5 positions
• Lead ideas/exercises for each position
• Lead ideas across all 5 positions
• Left hand techniques
• Hammer-ons & pull-offs
• Combine hammer-ons and pull-offs
• Slides and bending
By this time you have probably learned many songs. Remember to practice earlier songs you learned as well as current ones. Keep your sheet music/tabs/lyrics in a 3-ring binder. This is the best way to keep all your songs in one place and keep them from getting folded, creased, etc. Finding a song is much faster with a binder than a folder, for example. Believe me about this. I’ve seen many students bring their music in a folder, in their guitar case, and other ways that are hard to maintain. It wastes time, which is especially important during your lessons.
I recommend grouping the songs you are learning into 3 categories: A, B, C
A – easy songs that can be learned during one lesson
B – medium difficulty, songs that can be learned in 2-3 lessons
C – projects, difficult songs that may take 1 month or more to learn
The optimal approach involves working on one song from each category. If you only work on projects, it may be frustrating and/or discouraging. Learning only A songs isn’t challenging and you may become bored. Try to use this method of learning more than one song at a time, ideally three that are ABC songs. For example, you could learn an easy song(s) one week. The next week start working on medium difficulty song (B). Keep playing/practicing the easy song(s) while learning the B song. When you start working on a project song, keep playing/practicing your B song and warm up with the A song(s). Of course, always start your practice sessions with doing the finger stretching exercises that you learn during 1st or 2nd lesson. They really help warm up, loosen, and stretch your fingers, which makes playing easier. If I don’t do this before a performance, I tend to play sloppier until I warm up. Do the exercises and you will have more successful practice sessions.
Start/Join a band!
By this point in your guitar playing, you might consider starting or joining a band. All you need to start is guitar, bass, and drums. In fact, it is generally easier to start with these three before adding other instruments like keyboards, harmonica, mandolin, banjo, etc. It’s nice to have a singer, but I recommend that the band learn how to play together before inviting a singer. Having band members who also sing is a plus, either lead, backup, or both. I’m happy to talk to you about how to get started.
Advanced players may want to learn more than one style, like blues, acoustic delta blues, swing/jump blues, rockabilly, etc. Although different styles of music involve different concepts and unique ways of playing, several styles share similar conventions that can be applied to these styles. Blues guitar, for example, offers a great introduction to learning other styles of music. In other words, learning one style can help you learn other styles.
Delta blues, usually played on a acoustic guitar, is pretty complex and difficult to learn. Slide guitar can also be fairly difficult too. I am experienced in these areas and regularly perform this style with my acoustic duo, Delectrified, which has guitar/vocals and harmonica. Less musicians are proficient in this style than in playing electric blues, Chicago-style for example.
Teaching advanced guitar players is even more specialized than teaching intermediates. Often, students bring songs to lessons that they have been working on, and need help with certain elusive parts of songs.
Everyone forgets parts of their guitar lessons. You get home and start reviewing what you learned, including tabs, and realize that you don’t remember as much as you thought.
One of the unique things that I use for enhancing the learning experience is recording the lessons. I can record the whole lesson, or parts of lessons, and then email the recordings to student. Making recordings is an excellent way of reinforcing what was taught during the lesson.
Take the Next Step
If you are ready to take the next step in your playing I would love to help you. Contact me with any questions or get started on becoming a better guitar player.