Pedagogy and Products July 31, 2015

Lesson Plans and More. Whether you teach music or just want to broaden your own musical horizons, check out these valuable resources from Lesson Planet, the website which shares videos, worksheets, and lessons for teachers and parents who home school their children. The newest offerings from the site include several videos on the subject of the music/math correlation. The first is titled A-rhythm-etic, and is a lively presentation by drummer Clayton Cameron. It's just the thing to attract young musicians! In a similar vein, Music and Math: The Genius of Beethoven shows how the artist used mathematical formulas to convey emotion in his works through careful applications of dissonance and cons

Getting the Most out of Licks Pt. 1

It seems as though there are two big schools of thought when it comes to learning licks. In one extreme, you learn every possible lick you can get your hands on. You spend all day and night digesting ideas from the greats so that you can replicate them exactly. In the second extreme, you barely learn any licks. You don’t want to sound like a copy cat, so you sit in your room and try to reinvent the wheel. In my opinion, neither of these methods are as effective as people would like to them to be. I find that students who come to me from the first school of thought have some pretty decent chops, a good sense of time, and sound pretty comfortable in an improvising situation. However,

Pedagogy and Products July 24, 2015

A new idea in picking. You find them lying on every flat surface in most music studios: guitar picks that is! Thick ones, thin ones, long ones, short ones; picks made of wood, plastic, nylon, stainless steel…Wait, stainless steel? Turns out that a company right in our own backyard in Cleveland, Ohio is making really cool guitar picks out of stainless steel, quite appropriate since Cleveland was one of the great steel cities back in the day. Jerry Mearini-- scientist, rock guitarist, and founder of a new company Rock Hard Guitar Picks-- spent years working to create the premier guitar pick. A member of a rock band since the ninth grade, Mearini says he was torn between two desires; one was t

Metronome Hacks

It’s the most useful, but hated, tool in every musician’s arsenal. No matter how much time you spend with it, it seems like you still never really enjoy its company. Never. Yet, we push forward and let it click away at us tauntingly. Why would we put ourselves through such torture? So that we can learn to play in time better, duh! That’s all this evil device is good for! Wrong. I find that a lot of musicians only see the metronome as a means for developing their sense of rhythm, and I think this is a bit of a waste. No one likes using the metronome, so when we do, why wouldn’t we at least try to get the most out of it that we can. Here are some other simple ways to use the metronome that

Jimmy Bruno Scales

Jimmy Bruno is definitely a well known jazz guitarist, but in my opinion, is underrated as an absolutely awesome teacher. His video No Nonsense Jazz Guitar totally changed the game for me when I was first learning to play jazz. I still revisit it from time to time to brush up on some ideas, or just listen to the man talk (he has a great sense of humor). It is a great educational tool in the sense that it shows you some great methods, techniques and ideas, but I think it can also be used as a great reminder about how to think when we play music. These are always the most valuable lessons. Jimmy's philosophy is just to keep it as simple as you possibly can. This seems like a no brainer, but to

Pedagogy and Products July 10, 2015

Monitoring the Pulse of Life. They are everywhere: those vibration-sensing wristbands that track steps, breathing, and movement and allow fitness buffs to keep monitor their performance throughout the day. So how about a wristband that helps musicians keep internal track of the beats or pulses just as an external metronome might? The inventors of the Soundbrenner Pulse, the first wearable SMART metronome, are betting their IndieGOGo campaign on just such a device. Capitalizing on the fact that most musicians are bothered by external metronomes, feeling them to be a necessary evil (while effective as a practice aid, they can often lead to a favoring of technicality over musicality). Instead o

Segovia's Famous Scales

It definitely doesn’t look very intimidating, but “Diatonic Major and Minor Scales” by Andres Segovia is by far one of the most classic and dense scale books that almost every guitar player goes through. Segovia is without a doubt one of the greatest guitarists to have ever touched the instrument, and has a whole host of big names that have called him their teacher. He was very strict with his students (they had to practice just scales and exercises for at least 2 hours every day, let alone the other stuff!), and his ideas on scales were nothing short of revolutionary. With this week’s post, I wanted to touch on just a few of his famous scale shapes and talk about the thinking behind them. H

Pedagogy and Products July 3, 2014

With the passing of blues guitar legend B.B. King in May of this year, publishers have been quick to offer up a full range of performance repertoire designed to appeal to guitarists at all levels. This month, Hal Leonard Online is promoting a line of books, DVDs, and sheet music selections to appeal to blues lovers of all types. The selection includes multiple volumes of their popular Play Along series of CDs and DVDs which make you the star musician! Each features split tracks to give you a choice of listening and playing along to the full stereo recording, or isolating out the guitar, piano, bass, or horn parts so you can add your own instrumentals to the track. Leonard offers up a full va

Jam Session- June, 2015

This is probably my favorite Jam Session book yet! It's been so great watching these grow. Make sure to check out the other ones here and here. Download June's by clicking here. New to our Monthly Jam Sessions? Here's a quick description: The idea behind these Jam Session books is to foster creativity among all Falls Music students as well as bring them together into one big learning community. Students get a sense of accomplishment from seeing their creative ideas written out, but they can also learn ideas from other students of all ages and styles that they may normally not have any connection with. We are very excited to share some of the creative ideas our students have put togethe

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