download (2)There are many different types of guitar fingerstyles for rock and different for blues and this technique can be best learnt on an acoustic guitar. Mastering diverse fingerstyles will assist you to effectively render blues music and backing tracks.

When you are playing your guitar, the technique by which you strum the strings or pick your guitar strings without using a pick is called a fingerstyle. Blues Fingerstyle has been in use for quite a long time in jazz, blues, rock and is even used for improvisation over blues backing tracks. There are some greats of the world of blues music like Mark Knoprfler, Jeff Beck and Chat Atkins who do it very well. Some of the blues guitar players who do the fingerstyle better than anyone else include John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Otis Rush and Albert King among others

That’s by far the most common question asked by students of jazz. I mean, learning jazz is no small feat. There’s a ton that goes into it. There are thousands of books, articles, lessons, DVDs and websites dedicated to learning jazz. There’s just a mountain of information to go through. Let’s talk about a few ways to make your practice choices much, much easier.

There are several things you want to consider when you’re putting together your jazz improvisation practice routine. First of all, your present abilities will weigh heavily on these choices. As a general rule you want to make sure that whatever you are practicing is challenging but doable. In other words, success with the practice topic needs to be within the realm of possibility. If you are a relative newbie to jazz you don’t want to be working on ridiculously hard tunes like Coltrane’s Giant Steps or Count Down, or working on some wacky odd time signatures, or blazing up-tempo playing, etc.

On the flip side if you’re an advanced intermediate player you don’t want to be practicing the same stuff like etudes or exercises you’ve already got nailed. You want to be sure that the material is pushing you out of your comfort zone. But not by too much. Again, challenging but doable. Another major consideration is your long-term goals with music. What kind of music do you want to play? What music do you like? What players do you dig? What styles do you want to master and take further? I’m all for being well rounded but the fact is you can’t master it all. In fact you can only master a few things.

Now, there are 6 fundamental areas that make up the core of your musical training. This stuff comes from my friend and mentor, Hal Crook, a badass trombone player and an equally skilled teacher I met at Berklee. They are as follows:download

1. Instrumental Technique- this is control of your axe. Topics to study would include, arpeggios, scales, scale patterns, accent patterns, range, articulation, dynamics, rudiments, coordination, etc.

2. Etudes- These are any classical or jazz pieces written for your instrument and designed to bring the instrumental techniques together into a musical setting relating to execution, technique, expression and interpretation.

3. Sight-reading- this is, of course, the ability to read new material at will. You can choose appropriate material each day to hone and practice your sight-reading skills. This material could include rhythmic sight reading, reading lines with no rhythms, chords, classical pieces, music written for an instrument other than your own, etc.

4. Repertoire- jazz is a language of music built on and around tunes. You should constantly seek to expand your repertoire by learning tunes from the whole library: standards, jazz tunes and modern tunes.

5. Ear-training- this is your ability to recognize musical elements by ear (pitch, harmony, rhythms, forms, articulation, dynamics etc) and respond on your instrument.

6. Improvisation- this is what it’s all about–creating art in real time. Topics for improvisation would include chord-scale soloing, rhythmic values, phrase lengths, pacing, motive development, etc. Again, I’m gonna plug Hal here. Check out his books, “How to Improvise” and “Ready, Aim, Improvise” for a comprehensive list of improvisational topics and exercises to master them.

Now let’s talk briefly about two of the most important areas. Technique and improvisation. Technique is most important in the beginning and intermediate stages of your development. There is just no way around it. You gotta have control of your instrument in order to become a player. Now many cats continue to practice technical exercises, even after they have already achieved technical mastery. But the closer to the beginning you are as a player, the more technique heavy your practice sessions will be.


imagesGuitar Players – “Have You Ever Wondered What The Difference is Between a Really Good Weekend Amateur Rock Player And a Top-Notch Professional Jazz Guitarist”? Read On And I’ll Tell You. Okay… Let’s just create a scenario here… Let’s pretend were comparing the incredible fingerstyle jazz Guitarist Martin Taylor to a talented weekend Rock Player. The first glaring difference between the two playing wise is going to be Martin Taylor’s huge advantage and understanding of harmony and chord melody construction.

The jazz guitarist Martin Taylor would have spent years studying chord construction and Big Band arrangements. This would include being able to improvise over all chord progressions 1,V1,11,V,all forms of blues,chord substitutions,diatonic playing,analysis and transcribing jazz piano parts etc…On the other hand the weekend rock player would have an understanding of the 1,1V,V, chord progressions and 12 bar blues.

And of course he would understand rock chord progressions,and has probably studied all the classic rock players like Hendrix,Van Halen,Chuck Berry,etc… Okay now here’s where it gets interesting…lets pretend we’re going to switch gigs for the night. Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor is going to play in the rock Quartet and the rock player in the jazz quartet. And both of them are going to substitute for each other,and both going are going in cold no rehearsals, and they don’t know the song list beforehand.

I guarantee Martin Taylor will have no problem sitting in on the rock gig and playing 12 bar blues and standard Beatle tunes and rock standards,etc…Sure he probably won’t know the Van Halen tapping, and his lead playing will be more jazzy blues based than hard rock…but even going in cold you won’t loose him on any of the progressions. He’s got ears like antenna,and his solos will blow you away even though their jazzy. A premiere jazz guitarist like this would have no problem at all playing “Yesterday”,”Something”, or “Day Tripper” or any of “The Rolling Stones” tunes and the reason why he would be able to play these rock songs right off the bat,is because rock and country are easier forms of music to play than jazz.

That is why most beginning guitar players start off playing Rock’n'Roll and Country. And then after playing 8-10 years or so they may start to incorporate jazz and even classical into their guitar styles. On the other hand the rock player sitting in on the jazz gig would be totally lost and would freeze on stage. Lets say the first jazz standard called out is “Stella By Starlight” or “Here’s That Rainy Day.” He would have absolutely no idea what the chord changes are and would have no chance of being able to improvise over a song hes never heard…I’m assuming he’s playing by ear and has no music or chord charts.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m talking about your average weekend rock player here. There’s always exceptions some guys might have gone to the Berklee School of Music for 8 years or so and of course they will be versed in jazz and rock and will be capable of handling a jazz or rock gig. I’ve used Martin Taylor as an example here,but you could throw in any great player past or present… Wes Montgomery,Pat Metheny,Barney Kessel any of those type of jazz guitarists. Oh and by the way…if you haven’t heard these players you should immediately go to YouTube and check them out and you’ll see what I mean by mind-boggling guitar playing.

Guitar solos are a melodic passage, section, or entire piece of music written for an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Guitar solos, which often contain varying degrees of improvisation, are used in many styles of popular music such as blues, rock and metal, jazz styles such as swing and jazz fusion.