In case you were wondering why I haven’t posted in a little while…I’ve been practicing my rear end off! This year, we’re doing most of our Stampede shows 4 piece, and have added new tunes as well. So, with keyboard, drums and a bass player, that leaves all the guitar work up to yours truly. So rather than just strumming through all the guitar parts, I am really working hard on my lead guitar. It’s pretty cool to learn actually – the more you do it, the more patterns you find on a guitar. Learn a scale, and shift it to play the next scale…in some ways its easier than piano that way, with the difficulty just being getting lost on the fretboard as to where your start point was! I often think of it like a piano with all white keys…everything looks the same, so where was it again??
So how to you learn to play lead guitar? I had some lessons last year with Morgan Turk last year, and although I progressed a lot, I still felt like I had a long way to go. I find my best method is just putting on music, and playing along, and improvising. When there’s something I want to be able to do, for example, imitate another lead guitarist’s lick, I just stop and go over it, and over it, and over it, slowly. If it’s too hard, I find a way to simplify it, or try different fingering or try using different strings. The most helpful things I did were learning a major scale in two octaves in the middle of the fretboard, so I could slide it anywhere, and learning a blues scale in two octaves, again so I could slide it anywhere for any key. I also learned a single octave two-note scale pattern on any two strings. All of these are so much easier if you think of each note of the scale as its number, rather than its letter. Then the key you’re playing in doesn’t matter at all. You just think of yourself as on the 2, 3, 4 etc of the scale. Then if you have the right scale for the tune you’re playing pretty well any note sounds good, and you can improvise pretty smoothly. Cool- really enjoying it!
I also have been working to find a way to get to the next level of songwriting by trying on co-writing for the first time. While I did write the one tune with my band (Jacquie, what are you making us do??) I think what I need is other people who are more keen on songwriting…so this weekend I’m going to hash out some ideas with Kit Johnson. Kit’s a very accomplished musician and songwriter, and last time we did a little work in studio I asked him if he’d like to try co-writing with me. So we’re having our first session tomorrow at 11:00…it’ll either be awesome or we’ll kill each other. Stay tuned!
In other news, Lynn Prichard, our new booking manager, has really been working hard too, meeting and connecting with event planners, learning social media, and generally kicking my butt. She is terrific, and you can credit her for making me get off my arse and writing this little blog. More frequent updates to come soon!