Change your Burger Sauce

Onto breaking rules, this article does not follow in the lines of any of my previous threads, but is my music business contribution one can get by signing up for the free mailing list….. now onto our burger sauce!

It is safe to assume that a good 9 of 10 guitar players started out hearing some other player’s music, what turned them to the guitar in the 1st place. What makes each of them prefer one or more music styles over others is their very pre-exposure to their fave genres which even form comfort zones within their minds regarding what to expect out of music, and hence the very reason why one prefers the subtleness of a nylon string performance over the more fiery chainsaw playing used in early industrial music, or vice-versa, and any sound in between that the different forms of axes may produce. At some stage, guitarists then turn to lessons and to us as educators.

As educators we play the foremost role of capturing our students’ dreams, aiding them in their quest to turn them into reality. For most it might just be to interpret some cover songs at their local pub or at a family bbq, but for others getting their name out there just as their idols before them is the name of the game. And this is where music itself takes a back seat and the actual business mind is to be called to the forefront.

guitar_awesome_sauce_postcard-r7b82062ffc0743f49ea866017d3a8abd_vgbaq_8byvr_324For a moment, imagine one runs a worldwide take-away food franchise. Ask yourself if it was love for fast-food that made you start, and probably your answer has nothing to do with burgers & chips than with the opportunity of a fruitful long-term business. Which makes one observe that while musicians have way progressed from just playing their instruments well to learning more about backline, accessories & sound (from choice of strings, electronics, effects & amps to producing, sound engineering & mixing), some still do not recognize the extent it would benefit them if they put their hands on actually promoting their name.

Not via cheap or free routes the Internet nowadays provides, but in actually financially investing in their product to see it hit off the ground.

To return to the take-away concept, it might be less satisfactory running a junk-food franchise than playing music, yet look at the way they run forward – every now and again they change bread, add a sauce or whatever, thus making a new menu out of it. In other words, they create opportunities for themselves. Easy to them nowadays after so many years of success, but in their humble beginnings, there definitely was lots of investment (maybe at a loss of money, but close to surely at a loss of time). So why does it turn out that sometimes musicians do not tend to see the opportunities ahead of them, figure even create new ones? After all musicians are doing what they like most, playing their instrument, so one probes if, by logic, promoting oneself should only come as 2nd nature, same as owning professional gear to sound good! Needless to say, playing music brings a higher satisfaction than selling take-away food not? 🙂

The point comes in the conclusion. The music industry (as any other) runs on the expectancy that nothing rains free from the sky, but anything has to be worked for. As educators, we are to foster such a way forward in our students, at least the most ambitious. This will pave itself in our students managing their time even further as they start thinking more as self-employed dogs in a world of many more competing for the same bone! I once read in an innovations management blog that “If the tree cannot be moved, a new route has to be found”. This is an area that musicians – educators and performers alike – might like to look into.
Modern approaches to guitar, bass & music theory tuition
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The fingerboard – the be all, maybe even end all!


In whatever country we live, that is the very act we cannot do without on a daily basis. Even if we spend a day alone at home, we end up more than once speaking to ourselves.

The very skill of associating pronunciations to single letters, and how their sound may vary according to their placement in words of our own mother tongue, became innate with ourselves from the very moment of our inception, if not earlier inside our mother’s womb. And daily we use this very skill to communicate opinions to others, presuming – maybe by a good abundance of hypothesis – that the listening party will understand everything exactly as we mean it. Yet when this often results otherwise, we speak again to explain further. Daily, constantly and effortlessly we use speech to explain ourselves.

Now let us bring this to the guitarist world. The fingerboard is our alphabet; the scales, rhythms, chords, voicings, etc the very tools to put letters together to form words, which form sentences (including conjunctions etc.) that form both short and long paragraphs – all joint together to express our opinions in a clear way.

As musicians, at some point in our education we learn the theoretical knowledge that defines what scale may be used and when, and as lead players when presented with a chord chart we recall a multitude of scale patterns that fit. Presented with some one else’s opinions (compare your chord chart to this very blog for a moment), we react to what we are reading by adding our opinions (by adding your own thoughts to my opinions here as you read along, by adding melodic licks and improvising while reading a chord chart). How? By recalling and playing around scale patterns that fit.

That is one way, and a successful one. Yet have you ever considered the maybe more primordial approach of totally forgetting the patterns learnt. Here we go – let us start breaking the rules!

Guitar Fingerboard, Cool Gool Music LondonApproach the fretboard only as a series of notes and if, for example, the key chosen is G major (having only one sharp being F), then apply an A-B-C-D-E-F#-G alphabet across the fingerboard, free of any patterns. All you have at your disposal is this flashy fingerboard with each fret representing a note. Feel free to play all notes as naturals except your Fs that have to be #. You are more than likely to be using scale shapes you have learnt, but you are not thinking of them – you are thinking only of letters! And this is what gives you the freedom a growing child has when unaware of grammar mistakes, a freedom that paves a more adventurous explorative path.

Speak! Play whatever you hear in that inner ear of yours – it is an opinion and it can only get better by speaking it out, getting feedback about its presentation from others, even your own self on hearing it back. This is how solo playing and phrasing is improved. Learning by doing! Think less scalar, think more phrasal.

You get politicians the world over speak bull for a career and still making a name in history, so why not with us musicians whose words, speech, and opinions are of a higher value?

As the Romantic playwright Victor Hugo once wrote “Music is that which cannot be silenced”, so speak as this world is nicer with more melodies!
Modern approaches to guitar, bass & music theory tuition

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The discourse of musicology and timbre

  1. How was it possible for Beethoven to create music well after he turned deaf?
  2. What was the very fact that made the rumble of bass-guitar-voice-drums that was The Sex Pistols appeal so highly to music researchers from a scientific point of view?
  3. What makes an experienced journalist write about music without being a musician the same way you and I recognize the contrasting tastes of two different chocolate cakes, despite neither of us have the culinary expertise to break down their composition as a chef would?


Creativity always having been the epicenter of what I consider makes an artist, innovations to one’s music allow its listeners more anchor points to experience it differently out of “the musician’s box”.

Hence, the above, similar and others, are some of the many questions & answers I approach throughout this blog, as to convey a sense of looking at music composition not only from a chords’ & scales’ point of view, but further!
Modern approaches to guitar, bass & music theory tuition
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