I have been invited to try out for a band as a lead guitar player, so this has got me thinking about what is a great lead guitar break. When i was studying music my guitar teacher was a mature jazz player and he started off by giving me all these sax and trumpet solos. He said to go and learn them on the guitar and come back to him. It was a bit like “Karate Kid” – ” Wax on, Wax off”. I had no idea why i was learning solos by brass and woodwind players but i respected him so i did it. After 3 weeks of doing this i finally decided to ask why. His answer has become central to my approach to lead playing. He said they have to breathe, so there are gaps in the music, there are pauses and the really good players think in phrases that they can play in one breath. The solo ends up being something that sounds like singing. There has a purpose and a message to the solo, it communicates something that is part of the songs charcter and adds something to the song that the singer could not.
Before i think of what notes to play i always ask these questions:-
Does the song need a guitar solo?
What is the mood of the song?
What scales best create that mood?
What guitar effect best suits the mood?
When you think in these terms it stops the attitude that produces the “play as many notes as you can, distortion everywhere, scream and wail until there is smoke coming off your fingers, self indulgent guitar solo” to every song that crosses your path.
Believe me i have stood in an audience and thought this guy has amazing technique. That was a brilliantly played solo, more notes than i could dream of. But after the 3rd time i was left feeling there had to be more than this blur of notes and twenty effects running at once. You just end up wanting more.
Now i look for a solo that says something to me, that shares emotions and paints a picture.
I have always been inspired by B.B.King because he gives me time to enjoy his playing before playing the next bit. He breathes into his solos and the audience do too. He is passionate about communication.
Below is him doing what he does best. Enjoy.
One of the interesting things about creating this website is that i have been able to create things myself. The audio tracks are quite basic at the moment, especially as i have much grander things in my head. However it has brought me to a place of deciding that the advancements in technology still cannot replace the thrill of playing alongside other musicians. There is that moment when it all connects and you can feel everyone going with the moment. When i grew up and first started playing the guitar the technology just wasn’t there. We didn’t even have computers, let alone the ability to record at home. We recorded onto cassette tapes and the quality never matched the sound of the moment. Now you only the ability to cut and paste loops of someone elses genius, plug in a mic, sing someone elses words and burn it as a remix.
To be honest those days when it took effort and practice to get it right and you co-ordinated 4 or 5 people to meet together to get those precious moments, it just seemed hard. But now, looking back, I would still prefer jamming in a shed to creating a masterpiece sat in front of a computer alone.
If you are beginning on this journey or you feel like its all a bit sterile go and find some musicians and play just for the fun of it. At first it will be hard but you will begin to gel and then watch the music flow. Music is best felt and shared with others. Don’t talk about money, band names or stardom just the music.
So often music is about the money these days. It has to happen quick or not at all. So many people have asked me how much money have you made from the website so far. I haven’t but i am enjoying myself creating. I know the money will come.
I am glad for all the great moments i had that haven’t been recorded but they are in my memory. The pleasure of just being around people, musicians who love to play.
Good music still takes time, effort, skill and heart. Enjoy before you earn. Experience as you learn.
I have added some of my recorded music in the section “Instrumental Music”. Have a listen and let me know what you think. Please.
I haven’t posted for a while as i have been busy preparing for a performance. Recently a friend and i have been jamming, with guitars, in his shed. We started getting some good comments from the neighbours and so when the opportunity came to play at an event we took the chance. The only thing is my friend had never played to an audience before. I also planned for my wife to sing some songs. We didn’t get the chance to practice much and the days before she was very nervous and not completely happy with me. My friends nerves also began to fray. The day before the event there was much practising and still a lot of nerves. I have performed many times alone and many times with my wife, who has a beautiful voice, and nerves are not something i have to deal with much but even i was nervous. We got there on the day to play for a breakfast crowd and a lunch crowd. The food was plentiful and very tasty so the crowd was in good humour. After a nervous start we grew in confidence and the 45 minute set passed at lightening speed. There was applause and as we moved amongst people there were compliments for both my wife, with her beautiful voice, and my friend who was singing better and better. I really felt good for them, especially my friend who couldn’t wait to get into the second set. The day finished on a high as the choir, who were singing after us, applauded our performance and congratulated us.
I know this performance will not make any headlines but for my friend it was a triumph where he overcame his fears and enjoyed the memory. My advice to him and anyone else is “you are going to make mistakes and you are going to forget words but those moments of pure genius when it all goes right will carry you through.”
Every musician lives for those moments when that indescribable something happens and you feel the music taking you to another place. If you get the pleasure of sharing it with an audience it is so incredible that you will dream about it years later.
When i arrived on that day i didn’t know how we would go but there were a couple of indescribable moments that we would never have had if we had stayed in the comfort of the shed, locked away from the world, playing it safe.
There are no incredible moments in playing it safe, only regrets. When i am older and all i have is my memories i would much rather dream of incredible moments than be subject to regrets. What about you?
There are many types of passion in this world but one that always inspires me is the people who go about their business day in day out, quietly doing what they know is right. The person who loves to write and so commits to write a newsletter every month. When you ask them how long they have been doing the calmly say twenty years. Their passion is not restricted to bursts of genius but a steady heart that never wavers. There are people that i have known and worked with that understand that people living on the streets are just as hungry when it rains as when the sun is shining. Their passion saw through the weather forecast to something more than being warm and dry.
What does this have to do with music – not a lot, but the passion is the same.
I have known some musicians who will never be famous, as in the record sales and concert tours famous, but their memory will live in the many lives that their music has touched.
I remember a movie called Mr. Holland’s Opus. Mr. Holland wanted to be a composer but he started teaching to pay the bills. At the end of the movie he completes his Opus but the crowning moment comes when it is played by his former students. It is only then that he realises the impact of his love of music and his love of his students. it was a great moment but also sad that it took him so long to realise it.
I know that i will probably never be famous but my hope is that when i pass away that i will have inspired some people enough that they will miss me.
Below is the performance at the end of the movie. the beginning is a bit grainy but if you persist it is worth it.
Please check out my teaching notes. There are new ones coming in the next couple of days.
One of the things that seperates people from machines, when it comes to music, is the way which people can produce a pulse in music. Technical ability is good but some of the most memorable songs written are the simplest technically. What they have is that quality that enables use to connect with them. The writer and performer put their emotions into their music.
I can play everything correct on the guitar put if i have no passion for what i am playing then it will sound robotic. Many of my students have learned songs this way and simply say to me “when can i play it the way it sounds”. I have tried to explain that what they liked about the song wasn’t the chords and rhythms but they way it made them feel.
I was about 10 when i played in my first band. I only knew 4 chords but i played them with passion. We wrote 4 songs. I don’t remember what they were about but i remember the enjoyment of making them come to life.
So to you i can say from experience that for those you that think you are not talented enough learn from the rock’n’roll masters who songs are still played now. They weren’t the cleverest musicians but said what they wanted to say with heart.
Here are some of my favourites, i found on you tube.
I have always found it interesting the way judges on talent shows say they are looking for that hidden talent but still seem to judge someone by their appearance. I was looking at Britain’s Got Talent 2012. The auditions give us the good, the bad, the ugly. Then there are those who look like they should be bad when they really are so much more than good. They are inspirational! They have to endure the humiliation of being judged before they are allowed any sort of opportunity. Then after all of that they blow everyone away.
The following clip shows a teenage singing duo that fit into this category.
The incredible thing for me, as a music teacher, is that their teacher saw more than just two voices that may work together. The teacher saw a teenage boy who needed to sing with another singer who was passionate about people’s rights, passionate about his right to be respected. The teacher chose a partner that met his needs. She was so much more than another singer, she stood up for him, she encouraged him when he faltered, she saw his genius.
When he was offered the opportunity of individual fame he knew that she was of greater value to him than fame. She had supported him and when the opportunity came he showed how much he valued her.
For me this is where passion unlocks a world that simple mechanics cannot.
The teacher knew they could sing, alone or together. The teacher knew that there is more to a performer than the mechanics of their instrument. Performers need to be vulnerable to be great, they are passionate and that passion can be as destructive as it can bring out the genius.
For me these young singers have a lot to thank their teacher for. This teacher is passionate about them as people.
If you are looking to learn anything from a teacher, look for someone who will be passionate about you.
Good luck. They are out there.
So you might be asking, why another guitar teaching website? What do I offer that is so revolutionary?
Quick Fix or Lifetime of Creativity.
I think that through my teaching that I have found that people often want a short term fix and so many teachers are forced to give their students classic riffs and the latest and greatest song turned into its simplest form so the beginner can play it.
This then carries on until the student realises that they can play a bit of this and a bit of that but they have no clue why it works and most of all how to be creative themselves.
I chose early on that I would teach students to be creative from day 1. Those who stayed the distance are still playing and creating music for themselves.
So there are plenty of sites that offer the quick fix but if you are prepared to work and learn you can have a lifetime of creativity.
In my opinion there are four parts to being a complete musician and they are:-
The level that you achieve in these four parts will determine the quality of your music.
I believe that being a musician is about being creative. To do this you need to understand the language of music and communicate it so well that you touch people’s hearts. Does your playing enable others feel things that only music can help them feel.
It is about being vulnerable and real and finding confidence in these things.
I believe I have the understanding to offer to help you gain the tools you need. I cannot do it for you but my aim is to encourage you every step of the way to think for yourself and begin creating with what you have at any given point.
If you will allow me to walk this journey with you I can help you realise your full potential. Will you walk with me for a while?
All the best Steve.
I have been trying to put together a site for a while. For one reason or another it hasn’t happened, so I thought I’d have a go myself. I chose “Music for the Passionate” because I love music and I have found that passionate people inspire me, even if I don’t agree with them. I have always tried to inspire people to be passionate about all musical forms and expressions.
I love looking through You Tube and finding music that I can enjoy.
I am a guitar and bass player and I also teach. I have learned a lot over the years and I just want to share what I have learned.
There were all sorts of questions about how much to charge and how to market. It all became something that took me away from my goal – to share my passion for music.
So I decided to keep it simple. Everything is free.
Look at the pages and if you like them download the corresponding pdf file. (Pdf file download).
If you like what I am offering and it is helpful to you, please give me the price of a cup of tea or two if you wish.
I am English and I love tea. I have travelled a lot and tried tea from all over. You could say I am passionate about tea. Just as I am typing this my wife is boiling the kettle for a cup of tea – Lady Grey. Fragrant and uplifting.
At the moment I have put some teaching material on the site. This is only a fraction of the material i have and i will be adding more each week. I have been writing material for the last 15 years for my private students so there is plenty to add.
There are also more titles to come, like Contemporary Guitar and Lead Guitar. I also intend adding audio and video tracks to all the teaching material ( i am on a learning curve at the moment and this is the next step) so you are welcome to come back and download the updates if you wish.
Please leave any comments you want to make. I am just beginning on my journey so I would appreciate any help or feedback I can get.