The Steve Vai Guitar Method - Episode 1 - Getting Started

30-Minute Guitar Workout (For Endurance, Speed, and Accuracy)

You can dedicate 20 minutes to each category for all three days of the Workout, or just focus on one different category for an hour each day.

You can dedicate 20 minutes to each category for all three days of the Workout, or just focus on one different category for an hour each day. Go buy a book that has all the basic chords as well as all the weird ones.

Then, set a goal. For instance, decide you'll learn and memorize five new chords a day. Listen closely and thoughtfully to the sound of a chord as you play the notes it comprises, and try to picture an image that it evokes. Learn a type of chord quality such as major, minor, major seven, dominant seven, minor seven, in as many positions and voices as you possibly can.

Sing the notes as you play them to help internalize the sound of the chord. Figure out and understand why a chord is called what it's called.

(Guitar Educational). Since its appearance in Guitar World in ,...

What scale degrees does the chord contain? You will need to understand chord theory for this. That will come later in the theory section. In addition, strum chords cleanly, gently, harshly, tenderly, brutally and so on, to get a sense of how they sound with every possible style of playing. You don't need to know a ton of chords by name in order to be a great musician or songwriter.

I have heard that people like Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth and many others may not be familiar with the names or the theory behind all the chords they play, but each player has such tremendous ears that upon hearing a chord, his mind opens up and he knows just what to do on his guitar. I happen to find great satisfaction in having a complete understanding of the theory behind it all. Then again, I've always wanted it all. The most important thing to keep in mind when stumming is to groove!

After you've chosen a perticular strumming pattern to work on, practice it endlessly with a drum machine or a drummer. At first, it will be a little awkward and sloppy. Focus on making it cleaner with every strum; it will get better. Next, listen carefully to the groove and try to stay locked in with it. You will not be able to do so unless you can play the material cleanly or without thinking about the changes.

In addition, you must be able to separate yourself a bit from what you're doing and just listen to the beat. By doing this while you're playing, you can really focus on locking in with a drummer. Once you're locked in, keep trying to lock tighter and tighter. You'll know when you're locked in with the groove because it will start to feel really good. Once you get to this point, you can then experiment by making the groove sound stiff and mechanical, and loose and warm.

You can also try to play in front of the beat, behind the beat and so on. When you're playing along to a metronome or a drum machine, try to ''bury'' the click track. By this I mean get right on the beat; when you do, the click will sound as if it's disappeared, since your attacks will be so "right on" that they'll cover the clicks. Being able to lock with the beat and groove is one of the most rewarding feelings one can experience as a musician.

It's better than the party after the show Play each across a full range of tempos, from very slow to very fast.

The following techniques can help: When you come across a chord you like, add it to your personal chord library. Experiment with all these things to come up with unique chords. Training your ears is the most important practice in making the crucial connection between your imagination and your fingers. Most people spend very little time developing their ears, but the payoffs from doing so are extraordinary. Some people are born with a natural ear for music, while others need to work on it.

It can be tedious and time consuming, but it's very rewarding. The following are some exercises for training your ears. A good voice isn't necessary, but you do need to get the pitches accurate.

If you can't sing the notes perfectly in pitch, work on it until you can. This is a challenging drill that takes a tremendous amount of discipline. Just imagine, though, how much your ears will improve when you can do this. Start with something simple, like a fifth, then move to a fourth, a major third,a minor third, a major sixth and so on, until you're able to sing a harmony part like a minor second perfectly to an improvised atonal solo.

Understand that this ability could take years to develop. One way to do this is to record yourself playing an interval and, after a few seconds of silence, speaking its name. Fill up a one-hour tape in this way, then listen back and try to name each interval in the silence that follows the notes. You'll know if you're right when your voice comes in and names it properly. Record yourself slowly plucking each note of a chord, and allow a few seconds of space between the notes.

After a moment of silence, announce the chord and its component intervals. I spent an entire summer doing nothing but sight -reading. I remember leaving the apartment only two times for social events the entire summer. I attempted to sight-read everything I could get my hands on--clarinet studies, piano pieces, John Coltrane sax solos, Joe Pass chord charts and even phone books.

At the end of the summer I was a mediocre sight-reader at best. I believe the guitar is the most difficult instrument on which to sight-read because there are limitations and many variables involved. Having said that, I can provide some pointers. The two most important elements in learning to read music well are being able to identify patterns and to look ahead as you're playing. Beyond these tips, I recommend you do the following: I have never been a fan of reading guitar tab.

Although it can give you a bird's-eye overview of how to play a particular piece, I feel that it eventually becomes limiting. Sight-reading is really about identifying patterns, so this will help. Once you have completely mastered a song and you're capable of playing it flawlessly and with great feeling, go ahead and play it many more times and watch what happens.

Build a repertoire of songs and play through each one every day, or on a regular basis at least. This will aid your ability to look ahead. It's been proven that the most effective way to improve your sight-reading ability is to attempt to sight-read something at a strict tempo, such as with a metronome or drum machine. The'key is to proceed without stopping or slowing down.

Keep going, as if you were giving a recital with other musicians. Don't stop and dwell on the note s you missed until you've finished the entire piece, then go back and see what you missed. Practice sight-reading a piece of music at a tempo that's not going to make you mess up every two measures. You'll be amazed at how your sight-reading ability will improve when you force yourself not to slow down when you come to a tricky spot.

In addition, read music for instruments other than guitar, such as the clarinet, flute and piano. Also, get ajazz "fake" book and read throughthe chord changes. There are many ways you can go about building a catalog of original material. When I was a high school freshman I had an incredible music theory teacher named Bill Westcott. One of my assignments was to come in every day with a newly written piece of original music that he could play on the piano.

It had to be completely notated and not just show chord symbols and melody, and it had to be written specifically for the piano. Having him play the music for me was not only a treat but tremendously educational. If you're interested in learning how to notate music properly, the best reference book on the subject is Music Notation, by Gardner Read. It's an exceptional book, and it outlli. You may be able to find it by calling the bookstore at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

I can't tell you how irnportant this is if you want to be a songwriter. Moments of inspiration are sometimes few and far between, and they can hit you at the most unlikely times. You need to be ready to capture them when they present themselves.

There are books, such as Music Notation, that outline the limitations and proper notation for various instruments of the orchestra as well as more unconventional instruments. Get some manuscript or score paper and try composing music for instruments other than the guitar.


Study the range, tone, timbre, limitations and notation for one instrument at a time, be it violin, harp or harmonica played through a Marshall stack or a Carvin Legacy stack.

Ideally, he or she may be someone who possesses certain skills that you lack. Doing this is truly liberating, because you're creating instantaneously, and there are no limitations to where you can go or what it can sound like. Remember that people write songs based on anything from events in their life to social commentary to fantasy. When a person taps into that creactive portion of their brain, they usually gravitate to things that stimulate them the most. Although knowledge of it is not a prerequisite for being a great guitar player or musician, I feel that if you're going to learn to speak a language, it helps to know how to read and write it.

Many people are intimidated by theory, but it's not that difficult, really; the system is actually very logical and straightforward. What confuses a lot of people, I think, is having to struggle with thinking in unfamiliar keys, such as A flat or F sharp.

Bill Westcott taught me music theory in high school, but it wasn't until I took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani that I learned how to apply a lot of it to my instrument. There are many books that teach music theory basics, including notation, time signatures, key signatures, the circle of fifths, chord theory and modes. I recommend that you take everything you learn in a theory book and figure out how it applies to the guitar and how you can incorporate it into your own style.

Hours 8, 18 and 28 JAMMING In this section, I'll explain methods to help you find your unique voice as a guitarist, and explain techniques that can aid your expression on the instrument.

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