Killer Chord Swap - Spice Up Your Jazz...

If you've been trying to make sense of jazz chord progressions but you think they mostly sound kind of boring... 

I've got a chord substitution trick for you that will spice-up those boring progressions and start getting your jazz jams sounding a lot smoother...

Example of traditional diatonic progression:

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Example of jazzed up progression with Vm and IV7:

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Watch the video:

So, there ya go... a simple chord swap idea that will spice up your jazz progressions... pop these chord ideas into any traditional jazz progression and you'll be well on your way to much cooler sounding jazz jams...

And, if you want more cool ideas like this... head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership...

And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium package! ...Thanks for watching, and we'll see you again on the next video.



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Texas Blues Shuffle Riffs "Key of A"

NEW: QwikRiffs Series - Video (005)

The latest QwikRiffs video, Texas Blues Shuffle Riffs "Key of A" is available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikRiffs are one of the new lesson series that are available to members at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikRiffs Series run through collections of rhythm guitar riffs covering all types of playing styles. I cover different 'famous artist' playing approaches and I will demonstrate ideas based on rhythm guitar techniques...

Episode #005 covers three "Key of A" Riffs.

Riff one covers a dominant 7th arpeggio riff. This riff closely resembles a bass line and is almost entirely composed of the tones from a dominant 7th chord. Chromatic passing tones and a major to minor 3rd lick work to connect the part. This riff can be performed on the IV and V chord of the key. A demonstration of this is provided in the performance. You can study the application of this idea further by watching my YouTube lesson titled, "Texas Blues Riff You'll Love."

Riff two involves an open chord shuffle riff. This sound is popular with players like Johnny Copeland and Jimmy Vaughn. The riff highlights the major and minor thirds. And, it includes some nice lower register walking bass tones.

Riff three breaks down a higher register dominant 7th chord riff that includes three string chords and filler tones. This is a popular sound applied by artists like Stevie ray Vaughn and T-Bone Walker.

Sign into the website (or create your free members account) to join the members site. Sign up for the Basic Monthly or Premium (annual) membership to download the PDF handout for this lesson and study all of the other classes available on the website. 

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5 Things You Won't Learn in Music School

If you've been to music school, or you're thinking of going, you should realize that when you're done they'll be a number of things that you're still unprepared for. 

In this video, I'll be breaking down 5 things that you won't learn in music school...

Watch the Video:

The first thing that you won't learn is "How to get over your analytical musical mind." As musicians, we tend to be highly detailed people, which will often lead us to drastically over-analyze a lot of what we do, what we play, how our projects are going to go, etc.

I've noticed, (in my experience), that this can damage a lot of musicians in their career. Rather than take action, they instead, over-analyze their plans, (and their music) to death. And, years will end up going by without them getting done half of what they could've hoped they might have accomplished.

When you catch yourself over-analyzing, you'll have to be clear on the reasons. All too often, it has to do with perfection. So, get over that and get over it fast. You're human, you'll never be perfect. Just do your best in every situation and get your projects finished. Get them completed and get the project out into the public. Most things you'll create in the digital world can be corrected or edited later on. Just get your work out.

Allowing yourself to get hung up on the use of complex "text-book" musical terms can be one of the horrible left-overs after completing music school. Trust me when I say that both non-educated and long-term established musicians do not want to hear anyone sprout off complex musical terms.

Learn to speak in very basic terms. Everyone you work with will appreciate it more. Keep in mind that most established musicians have been away from music school for 10, 20 or 30 years. Most of them do not process the concepts of music using text-book terms.

And, non-musicians will feel like you're being arrogant if you call out every movement in a song as if you were reading from a music encyclopedia. So, in the working world of the musician, tone it down with the terms. Everyone will appreciate it in the long term.

When you're done music school, you'll need to start making money (and fast). Why finish a 30, 40 or $50K music diploma only to get a job working as a bus boy or as a waiter /waitress?

Here's the underlying problem, 99% of the music schools out there won't teach any of this. Once you graduate, you're pretty much on your own. But, if there's one thing you need to do, it is to have a plan for income, even before you start school.

Whether that's teaching, or creating an online music business. You'll need something solid. And, please don't say a YouTube channel. I've had a YouTube channel for nearly 10 years and I can tell you that it is not a stable income. It goes up and down and it is entirely at the discretion of the way YouTube happens to be running its algorithms (and that changes all the time).

Start a real music business, that you control 100% and that always makes you money. And, make sure that you have multiple streams of income, so that if one slows down, you're never relying on that one single income source. You have several others to draw income from.

Professional relationships are one of the biggest factors of working in the music business. You'll have; band members, band leaders, agents, club owners, clients, associates, managers, web developers, the list can go on, and on, and on... And, like the famous saying goes, the "Quality of your Life is the Quality of your communication."

This is the one area, above all others, that you've got to get right with. The main thing is to avoid any phony acts or fake personalities when dealing with people. Be real, be yourself and have integrity. Which really just means being whole and true to yourself.

If every interaction you have with others is with a phony - put on - fake personality, people are going to get sick of that. It might not happen right away, but over time people are going to feel like they've had enough. So, be honest and really work at being yourself. People will appreciate that tremendously.

The last point I want to cover is "Finding your Path," in this crazy business. I get emails all the time from musicians from all over the place and the one common trait from all of the musicians looking for success advice is that they need to find their path of success.

There will be things that set you apart and you'll need to exploit them. In case you didn't know, being a musician is part of the entertainment business, and if you have a problem with entertainment, you're in the wrong business.

Get out there, meet people, be entertaining and discover all types of music. Decide what the best styles are for you. Is it Blues, Jazz, Folk, Rock, Country, Soul, Funk, experience a lot of styles and find your path. One or more of these styles are going to be very natural and easy to play. All you need to do is discover the ones that work best for you.

Once you do this, you'll be able to relax in your style and have success in it.

Okay, so there ya go... 5 Things You Won't Learn in Music School. Take them to heart... if you can implement them, you'll be well on your way to more success...

In the meantime... head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership... And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium package! ...Thanks for being here, I'll see you again on the next post.



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ARPEGGIO DEATH MATCH: 4 Patterns in 1 Lick

Here's a cool sounding multiple position Minor arpeggio run that covers 4 minor patterns in one lick... 

Alright, let's walk our way through this lick in step-by step detail. Watching the video lesson will be the easiest way to completely nail this lick. 

Below the video is the TAB chart. Make a study of how the pattern sits on the neck and fully understand the fingerings you'll want to apply prior to building speed.

Watch the Video:

Get good at that arpeggio idea. Break it up, chop it up, re-invent it and use it in your own playing. Go through the lick in detail using the TAB below.

click on the above image to enlarge full-screen

If you want to learn more licks and more cool guitar ideas, head over to my website at and start with a FREE lifetime membership... And, when you want more, you can upgrade to either a Basic (Monthly), or a Premium (one year), package.



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Parallel Tonality in Chord Progressions

Parallel sounds in harmony are a great way to blend the chords of a key center and create colors in music that bring out interesting sounds. On this weeks "Guitar Blog Insider" we're going to make a study of how you can use, "Parallel Major and Minor Tonality in Chord Progressions."

Chord changes that create this type of harmonic effect can float from Major tonality ideas to Minor tonality. Or, they can make the shift going in the opposite direction. 

Either way you do it, it sounds cool when you produce this effect. And, once produced, the effect of these chord changes will bring out a great sound regardless of the directional method that you use to perform them.

Watch the Video:

I've composed an 8-bar example for you, make a quick study of the chord harmony. It's in the key of "A Major," and it uses the parallel tonality of "A Minor."


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If this is a new concept for you, the application of "Parallel Harmonies" in music, is something that will probably take you a little time to be able to get used to working into your composing.

But, if you follow the basic guidelines I've explained in the video, you'll quite likely start having some success doing this within a short period of time. I personally prefer this sound in a more jazz oriented context. But, it's completely up to you, for how you'd like to apply this into your music.

Just be sure to test the formatting of how you'll produce making shifts between Major and Minor in a number of different ways. Test with Seventh chords, and with triads, and most importantly watch out for, and listen for, these effects in music that you enjoy.



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How Most People REALLY Screw Up Learning Guitar

There's a learning system that musicians can use to help them develop far more advanced music skills - in fact if they use it they'll actually develop super music skills...

This past week, I had two interesting conversations with two different guitar players. One of them is going through the sign-up process right now to start taking private classes with me (here in the studio) next month. And, another was an email conversation with one of my Premium website members (who is studying the courses online).


Both players brought up some interesting points that relate to how they've been learning and both of these points had to do with what I'm going to refer to as the three levels of learning music, "Unfamiliar," "Familiarization," of music and the "Memorization," of material that you're studying. If musicians pay attention to this 3-tier process they can develop far more advanced music skills.

This level occurs when a music student studies information that involves learning from scratch. This would be information that is unknown, such as from music reading books. This can also occur when a musician is placed in direct "person to person" contact to learn "unknown" or "unfamiliar" material.

When a player begins developing an awareness for a song. The piece begins becomming understand as far as form and layout. The melody starts taking shape and the chord changes begin making sense. This period has to do with the familiarity stage.

This stage occurs once the piece has been fully developed. The song parts are able to easily be recalled and the songs performance tempo is easy to match. Playing along with a recording of the piece at this point is certainly the best way to judge if you've reached the peak level of playing.

So, what is the difference between "Familiar" material and musical ideas that are "Memorized?" And, are there some grey areas in between. Also, what benefits tend to come out of moving through these three stages of learning that push us from a place of being "unfamiliar," to becoming, "Familiar" to eventually plateauing out at having material "Memorized?"

The whole process of moving across these levels of skill building is actually the big factor right there. Because when we pay attention to these stages of learning, we not only know when we're done working on a topic (or a musical piece we're studying) but more importantly, we realize when we're ready to move onward.

Also, there's an even a bigger factor here. And, it's that, the MORE we can move from "Unfamiliar," to "Familiar" to "Memorized," the better musicians that we'll become.

I'm not saying that this system is better than some other way that a student might connect to learning material, but it is different. And, what I want to stress here is how beneficial that it is - to be engaging in this difference when you're studying how to learn music.

I've had the chance in my career as a guitarist, and as a teacher, to work with, and study from, a lot of phenomenal guitar players. And, if there's one common thread that weaves through all of these extraordinary individuals that I've had the chance to meet, to work with, and study from, is the trait they adhere to constantly of moving across these areas of skill development.

They love finding new unfamiliar material that they can learn from scratch. Especially songs that they can study from a traditional sight-reading perspective, (No TAB, No jam-Tracks), sight-reading - traditional style.

Great musicians love to move those songs up toward familiarization, (which is usually when the song is first listened to off of its original audio recording). And then, finally, bring the song up to the level of memorization, where they can rip it up at the proper tempo - played flawlessly, no mistakes. Moving music across this 3-step process seems to be one of the keys to music super learning!



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LESSON 004: If You Can't Phrase - You Can't Solo

July 21, 2017:
Lesson 004 - If You Can't Phrase - You Can't Solo

This lesson explores all of the standard areas of phrasing lead guitar melody. The examples work to help the guitar player develop better control over building melodic passages. Each of the exercises will take a small section of the basic scale pattern and break it down showing how to add more vitality to the part...

PART ONE:  In example one, the approach works toward spicing up the phrasing of simple scale lines. A simple scale passage from the key of "F# Minor," is established in example 1a. Then, some basic phrasing is applied to the part in example 1b. The phrasing devices used include; 16th-note and triplet based rhythm, along with slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Example two focuses on expanding the principles covered in example one, with further focus placed upon rhythms. The key of "C# Minor" scale passage shown in example 2a, is a basic layout of tones performed in strict 8th-note feel. In example 2b, the phrase takes on new life with greater rhythmic phrasing, (including a grace-note idea alongside slight syncopation with the loss of beats one and three in measure two). Phrasing devices include; slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.

PART TWO: In example three, our purpose is to dress up the phrasing of a melody using harmony as well as, simple syncopation. A melodic statement in example 3a, demonstrates a common sounding descending linear idea in the key of "G Major." 

In example 3b, the melody is expanded to include a series of 3-note triads that appear upon the attack of each chord. An expanded rhythmic feel is generated through the use of 16th-note feel and 16th-note triplets. Pull-offs and hammer-ons are also added to enhance articulation of the rhythmic changes..

Example four works to exaggerate the phrasing of a speedy 16th-note based line shown in example 4a. This key of "E Minor," scale run is composed entirely of 16th-notes and quickly runs across the notes of the "E Minor" scale (Pattern #2 and Pattern #1).

The busy passage is modified in example 4b, by adding some 3-note triads, slides, hammer-ons and most importantly a few changes to the rhythmic structure. The steady stream of 16th-notes from 4a, gets broken up in example 4b using 16th-rests along with slight syncopation. The beats of two and four are both lost in each measure. This is an excellent example of how a straight forward 16th-note passage can take on new life through modifications to the rhythmic phrasing.

Paid members can download the handout along with the MP3 jamtrack in the members area at:



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