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Your Best Teacher, Creativity!

Friday, November 4, 2011
The best guitar teacher you will ever have is your own creativity.  There is just something about figuring out something on your own that solidifies it immediately into your memory.  A guitarist gathers information from a variety of sources but it’s only when that information is used and acted upon does it start to become part of your own individual guitar playing.

I know personally some of my most productive learning times have started with a simple idea that I explored on guitar that eventually evolved into an elaborate melodic idea or song.

If you could listen to my thinking while I’m practicing (a scary thought, I know), you would hear a conversation in my head that sounds something like this…“Can I play this idea in another way?  Or, in another part of the guitar? Could I use a different set of strings to play the same idea?  What if I added some bends, slides, hammer-ons, or pull-offs?  Is there a way I can play the same idea using an unusual combination of open strings or harmonics?”

These are important questions to be asking yourself as you play.  Here are a couple of quick tips for increasing your creative power on your guitar.be creative on guitar

1) Leave some time during your practice time to be creative.  Close the songbooks and the exercises and spend a few minutes exploring musically on your instrument.  Perhaps take a riff that you were working on and play it into another key or another place on guitar.  Try adding something to it, or playing it a different way with bends for example.

2) Train your ear by exploring on your instrument.  There is no better trainer for your ear than hearing an idea in your head and trying to play it on guitar.  At first attempt it may be frustrating and you’ll surely miss a lot of notes. But with each mistake and each correct note found your brain and ear learns valuable lessons on making better note choices - and that’s what it is all about.  You’ll find after doing this for a while that you will begin to make better and better choices and soon it will be much easier to play an idea on guitar by ear.

3) Your creativity is what will become your “sound.”  Many times guitarists can be easily recognized by their “sound”.  I can tell Stevie Ray Vaughn within a few notes on a recording and I can identify a Larry Carlton jazz lick even if it is buried in a track.  Each guitarist approaches the instrument differently.  Phrasing, how notes are played, and note sequences are all keys to establishing your own sound as you play.  These are all developed through these creative times.

Make some time in your practice to be creative.  It is an important part of your development.  Books and videos are important but the information is only one-way.  When you begin to experiment creatively on your instrument, the learning starts coming from within you and it can take your playing to a completely different level.
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