Many guitar players are often searching for that missing practice element that will make a difference in their playing. My contention is the #1 "secret" to playing well - if there is one - can be found in learning songs and solos from the recordings - using only your ears.
A lot of players may know a lot of songs, but how many of them were learned with the help of TAB's? If the answer is "a lot" then this challenge is for you.
Conversely, many players DO spend a good deal of time learning songs by ear. But many of these cats may be missing one critical element - analysis. After a song or solo is learned, it should be checked over to see what makes it tick. It is during this process that really valuable observations happen.
The more you do this, the more these observations become increasingly clear. Insight like this can be very handy the next time you are required to improvise, or work your way through an unfamiliar song.
So here is the challenge.
ONE MONTH, nothing but this process for the entire practice month.
Here is what I want you to do.
- Pick a guitarist that you know is good and really like how they play (eg - David Gilmour of Pink Floyd)
- Pick your favourite album (eg. Dark side of the moon)
- Learn EVERY SINGLE guitar solo on the record, using only your ears
As you complete track one, go back and figure out:
- What key the song was in
- What chords were played behind the solo
- What scale was mostly used in the solo
- What notes were chosen and how many of them were chord tones from the underlying rhythm part
- Were there any triads, or chord fragments present in the solo, played as single note lines
- When there is a bent note what was the note bent to?? A chord tone or non?
- What was the time signature
- Track how long time-wise did it take you to complete. (Track this so you can see your progress and your ears improving.)
- Move onto track two, progressing until you complete the album.
Pick a new album and carry on...
- If you choose another album of the same artist, you will gain a MUCH deeper insight into that players habits and approaches.
- If you pick an album from the same genre, it will give you a better understanding of that genre.
Print this out and fill it out like a questionnaire as you do this process.
Use a software like Transcribe! to assist you.
Some people will say "this is too hard"... or that "I guess I just don't have good ears". If this is you, you need to read this... in fact, read it any way!