Top 5 tips to becoming a skilful musician.

1. Choose a fantastic tutor.!

A good tutor can really help you come on as a musician. There is no substitution for someone who has been playing for many years showing you the correct techniques and secrets to playing that you would never pick up anywhere else.

2. Start early!

Its no secret that Mozart started composing when he was just 5 years old and did his first public performance when he was just 6! The earlier you start playing the better. As a child our brains are like sponges soaking up everything we hear and trying to replicate what we like best.

3.Practice! Practice! Practice!

However much natural talent you may possess you will never get better without loads of practice! I remember getting my first guitar. I couldn’t put it down. I practiced whenever I could. I remember hearing a story once about the late great jimi Hendrix that he used to take his guitar to the toilet with him!

 

4.listen to the greats!

Its amazing how much you pick up from listening to old recordings of the greats. My dad would always be playing Chuck Berry, The Stones or Eddie Cochran and i listened with great interest to their guitar licks and phrasing as well as their different tones and settings. Chuck especially was so influential with his guitar playing and stage presence!

5. Join a band!

I formed my first band at 15. The interaction with other musicians can’t be underestimated at making you a better musician and just as important having fun! After all that’s what it’s all about in the long term.

 

 

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Keith moon. A true bad boy of rock.

Keith moon was famous for playing the drums with The Who. Before The Who exploded onto the rock scene drummers generally went unnoticed and tapped out a simple beat. Moon played with a free flowing energetic swagger, his arms swirling like helicopter blades. When he came off stage he looked like he’d ran a marathon.

Moon was as wild offstage as he was on. Often destroying hotel rooms , drinking and taking drugs. His nickname was Moon the Loon. He got bored when the band weren’t touring.

His drinking got out of hand in the early seventies with him drinking first thing in the morning. He was leading a destructive lifestyle. At a show in the 1973 in California moon passed out on his drum kit. The roadies tried to help him but he passed out again.  Townshend asked the audience if anyone could play the drums and a guy called scot halpin stepped up! In 76 moon passed out again after a couple of numbers.

On the 7th September 1978 Keith Moon died at the young age of 32. He was the first hellraiser of rock and a great musician. As with many great musicians  he succumbed to the excesses of a rock and roll lifestyle. The Who continue to play even now but their best years were when their wild man of rock was behind them.

Bob Dylan show.

I went to see one of my favourite artists on Friday the 6 th of may and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.

For starters Bob didn’t say a word all night which didn’t really bother me but a “hi thanks for coming ” would have been nice.

Onto the music and Dylan played a collection of his songs from across the 6 decades his incredible career has spanned. Standing side on playing a piano for most of the gig and wearing a cowboy hat he also sang a few covers by Frank Sinatra!

Re-working some of his old classics like “blowing in the wind “and “desolation row” were interesting but sometimes it was hard to tell which song was which as he spat out the tunes in a similar rhythmic fashion. I turned to my brother to ask him what he thought of this version of “blowing in the wind” for him to reply ” is that what it is?”

I suppose sometimes it’s nice to hear a song as you hear it on the record but to be fair when you wrote a song 50 years ago it’s hardly surprising when an artist wants to change it

Poor sound quality didn’t help matters but his band were very good and for a guy of 75 to be up there and still touring is a testament to this songwriting genius.

All in all I’m glad I went but maybe in my head I was expecting a 20 year old bob with his acoustic guitar and harmonica singing me a classic folk song with that unmistakable voice of his.

Maybe I was just born 30 years too late!

 

 

 

 

A sad day for music

When I heard that Chuck Berry had died I felt very sad. I had grown up listening to his music because my mum and dad played played all the old greats on our record player.

Chuck is my favourite guitarist. No one plays like him. No one has influenced the genre of rock and roll like him. The duck walk. The Gibson 335. The cheeky grin.

 Chuck mixed the major and minor pentatonic scales to great effect. Johnny b Goode being a great example of this. Of course everyone has their influences and T bone walker was one of Chucks. He was also a great guitarist and performer.

Music is about entertainment and Chuck was a fantastic performer. He worked the crowd and his famous duck walk was his showpiece.

Releasing his last album at the age of 90 his career spanned an incredible 60 plus years. A true genius.

The stone roses

The stone roses were around the Manchester music scene in the early 80s but it wasn’t until their 1989 album produced by John leckie that the band made it big. With the charismatic Ian brown on vocals and a fantastic trio of musicians in John squire on guitar, Mani on bass and Reni on drums the band had some great songs.

Their sound was a mix of 60s psychedelic pop fused with acid house grooves provided by Reni and Mani.  The album simply titled The Stone Roses was a huge success and still sells well today. Check out Made Of Stone and I am the resurrection. Two great examples of their ability to write great songs.

Unfortunately due to legal wranglings the bands second album titled The Second Coming didn’t get released for 5 years and wasn’t as well received but I still think it’s well worth a listen. Breaking into heaven shows the rhythm section at its funkiest allowing John squire to show what a great soloist he is.

The band split for many years but recently reformed and are playing gigs again.

A blues legend.

Son house was one of the very early pioneers of the delta blues. He played slide guitar and his voice was a powerful  mean growl. Real name Eddie James he was born in Mississippi in 1902 and spent his early twenties preaching as a church pastor before he turned to the blues.

In 1930 he recorded with the legend charlie Patton ( whose recordings are well worth a listen even though they are of quite a poor recording quality. ). Unfortunately the recordings didn’t sell very well and though son house remained popular in his local area stardom evaded him.

Throughout the 30s son house influenced the legendary delta bluesmen  Robert Johnson and muddy waters. In 1941 and 42 he was recorded by the library of congress with Alan lomax but shortly after he gave up music and left the delta for Rochester New York

In 1964 he was rediscovered and his career took off once again. He recorded several albums and influenced many young English bands including the Rolling Stones and the who.

Son house died in 1988. A fantastic guitarist whose voice was like a foghorn. Check out death letter blues and grinning in your face.

 

Back to school – learn a new instrument!

As the new academic year starts lots of parents and kids start a new hobby. Quite often this new hobby is learning an instrument.

There are lots of benefits to learning a musical instrument.  These are as follows;

  • Increases the capacity of your memory.
  • Teaches you perseverance,
  • Enhances your coordination,
  • Betters your mathematical ability,
  • Improves your reading and comprehension skills
  • Enables you to express yourself and relieves stress.

On top of the above points I have met many friends through music especially my band mates.

So if you live in lilbourne,Yelvertoft ,Catthorpe, Swinford, Shawell, West Haddon, Newton,Guilsborough, Crick , Hillmorton, Clifton or Rugby and the surrounding area give me a call on 07845 961345 or contact me by email at martin.music.guitar@hotmail.co.uk for more information.

The Last Great Guitarist?

Slash [real name Saul Hudson] is perhaps the last great guitarist to reach such popularity with the hugely influential band Guns and Roses.

Slash was born in 1965 and was raised in stoke on trent but moved to Los Angeles when he was 5. He took up the guitar in 1979 and would practice for 12 hours a day. In 1981 he joined his first band”Tidus Sloan” but it was in june 1985 that he was asked by Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin to join the newly formed G n R with Duff Mckagan and Steven Adler.

By 1987 after being signed by Geffen Records “Appetite for destruction”  was released and Slash was fast becoming a global superstar.With his trademark top hat and his Gibson Les Paul he belted out raucous riffs like welcome to the jungle, paradise city and rocket queen

His guitar playing on the album is sensational from heavy riffs to sleazy solos. As with any genius his playing is effortless and impossible to copy and what I love most of all is the way his solos are melody based, he doesn’t just widdle up and down the fretboard,he will have a hook or riff that makes you think “where did that come from”!

Certainly a true master of his art,and maybe one of the last great players to make it to such heights in an ever diverse music scene where the guitar solo is unfortunately becoming a rarity!

The Rise n Fall of G n R

Guns and Roses formed in 1985 in Los Angeles when two bands became one, Hollywood Rose and LA guns became Guns And Roses.

With charismatic singer Axl Rose fronting the band and Slash and Izzy Stradlin providing the sleazy guitar riffs they were soon signed by Geffen records. Their first album “Appetite for Destruction” with singles “Sweet child o mine” and “Paradise city” helping the album sell 30 million copies worldwide. Check out “its so easy” and “night train”, with Axl snarling about drugs and sex over slash’s dirty blues riffs its classic GnR!  The album ends with “Rocket Queen” , a fitting end to a fantastic album!

Its So Easy – Live version

Rocket Queen

Night Train

A double album followed, Use your illusion 1 and 2 and have sold more than 30 million albums combined. Again we have some great songs here, “Civil War”, “Pretty Tied Up” and “You Could Be Mine” to name a few.

From 1987 to 1991 GnR were the biggest band on the planet headlining festivals and doing sellout world tours. Cracks were beginning to show though and Izzy Stradlin left the band in 1991 due to Axls erratic behaviour,often turning up late to shows and fighting with the crowd and drug abuse was a problem with the band.

GnR never officially split, instead band tensions between Rose and the other members grew and eventually Axl ended up with the rights to the GnR name and by 2008 “Chinese Democracy” was released with just Axl from the original line up left.

Recently the original line up have got back together,well Axl Slash and Duff. Only time will tell how long it lasts. Hopefully for a long time!

A word on Slashs guitar style! Slash plays a Gibson Les Paul through marshall amlificationand uses effects pedals such as the cry baby wah wah and various chorus pedals and stomp boxes. He very skilfully mixes minor and major pentatonics and his solos are very well constructed often starting off mellow and ending up in sixteenth note runs not easy to copy!

If you get a chance to see this legendary band don’t pass it up! The likes of GnR don’t come along too often!

Rockschool Grade Books

The Rockschool Grade books are not only a fantastic teaching aid but my students find the songs great to learn. The songs are based on famous songs by the likes of ACDC, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix etc. In each book there are 6 songs in various styles from rock to blues, funk and reggae.

The books all come with backing tracks to play along to and wether you are learning guitar,bass,drums or piano Rockschool has a book for you!

If you wish to take the grade you simply learn 3 of the 6 songs,learn to play a few scales and complete a couple of oral tests and you’re ready to go.

Going from debut grade right up to grade 8 and with the student gaining UCAS points at grade 5 they really are an excellent learning tool for any budding musician!