Micro Lesson 015: "E Major" Triad Rhythm Riff

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 015" 

This micro lesson teaches a Riff in the key of "E Major." 

This Riff is organized around the harmony of the key of, "E Major." It uses the Tonic chord and the IV and V chords to push the groove through the changes. The progression functions around a series of triads built between the 4th to 2nd guitar strings.

Micro Lesson 015: "E Major" Triad Rhythm Riff

It's Supposed to be All About The Music... Right?

Digital music sales have declined by as much as 14%, according to Apple's annual report filed with the SEC. iTunes music sales took a rather extreme dip over the past 12 months, according to Apple's latest regulatory filing.

In an 88-page annual report, filed Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple said the iTunes Store overall raked in more revenue in fiscal year 2014 -- which ended September 27 -- than in fiscal year 2013, but noted that music sales have fallen.

Apple didn't reveal specifics on how much digital music sales have declined. But on Friday, the Wall Street Journal cited "people familiar with the matter" who said that music sales at the iTunes Store have dropped to as much as 14 percent since January 1. The Journal pinned the blame on growing competition from cheap music, such as free videos and $10-per-month unlimited music streaming subscription plans.

In its regulatory filing, Apple also acknowledged competition from such rival services.

"The Company's digital content services have faced significant competition from other companies promoting their own digital music and content products and services, including those offering free peer-to-peer music and video services," Apple said in its filing.

In other words, why pay for digital albums and songs when you can listen to them for free on YouTube, or on the cheap through such services as Pandora and Spotify?

But, Apple is far from alone...

A drop in digital music sales is hitting the industry as a whole. On Monday, The Guardian cited one example of mobile app Shazam, which has witnessed the number of songs purchased drop from 1 million in March 2013 to 400,000 this past September. The Guardian also cited an August report from Midia Research, which found in a nutshell that streaming users are buying fewer digital albums.

Hold on... It's Supposed to be All About The Music... Right?

This is a year we are at the end of October and there has been no album that has gone platinum. Not a single one! The most anticipated album of the year is a set of "previously unreleased material" by Pink Floyd, who of course date back to the early 1970s. Other big music news, Led Zeppelin continues it's remastered reissues of albums from that same decade.

The record companies got what they wanted, which was a raft of interchangeable acts that are chosen by audition and do what the producers tell them, mostly relying on marketing image to sell. It's bland, corporate product with no artistry, but hey at least the record execs get to keep control of the product and the profits. No more bands becoming big names on their own merits and turning into brands in their own right that can set their own terms and write their own ticket, cutting out the middleman. The middlemen have put a stop to that and are now fully and completely in control.

Of course, a deliberately mediocre product is going to inspire mediocre levels of fan excitement. Nobody but the older, powerhouse bands can inspire that kind of fierce devotion anymore. But the record execs don't care if the pie shrinks a little so long as the return on investment is solid and predicable, which a music as commodity product business model produces. Nothing less than a complete collapse that destroys the RIAA conglomerates entirely will end the unending sea of blandness.

At least there's still great music being made overseas and domestically - if you look in the underground scene. Don't expect any better from the big corporate labels though. The days of excellent music from the majors is over.

Micro Lesson 014: "F Minor 9" Arpeggio Lick

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 014" 

This micro lesson teaches a Lick in the key of "F Minor." 

This lick uses the framework of an "F Minor 7th" arpeggio. However, the interesting twist on the arpeggio's application comes at the end of the lick when the resolution takes place on the note of, "G." Since the "G" is the "9th" chord tone, we generate a sound of Minor 9 to the lick.

Micro Lesson 014: "F Minor 9" Arpeggio Lick

Micro Lesson 013: "Bb Major" Soul /R&B Riff

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 013" 

This micro lesson teaches a Riff in the key of "Bb Major." 

This Riff uses the popular "I, VI, II, V," chord progression. This chord progression was popular in 1940's and 50's era jazz music, but is also used in a lot of Soul /RandB music as well. The Riff uses a feel more in line with Soul /RandB.

Micro Lesson 013: "Bb Major" Soul /RandB Riff

Andy Aledort Lesson: Zeppelin, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"

In this video (from the vast Guitar World archives of song TAB's), long time Guitar World staffer and veteran transcriber "Andy Aledort" shows us how to properly play "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," a track from Led Zeppelin's debut 1969 album.


Video Lesson:

An acoustic masterpiece, this song features a bittersweet circular chord progression presented as ringing, fingerpicked arpeggios. Particularly noteworthy is the way Jimmy Page spins numerous subtle melodic variations on the theme throughout the song (check out the one at 3:40 in the original recording), sweetening the aural pot with dramatic dynamic contrasts. 

This might be one of the most perfectly recorded and mixed acoustic guitar tracks ever. Notice how, in the song’s intro, the “dry” (up-front and un-effected) acoustic guitar is in the left channel while the right channel is mostly “wet,” saturated in cavernous reverb.

Micro Lesson 012: "G Minor" Blues-Rock Lick

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 012" 

This micro lesson teaches a lick in the key of "G Minor." 

This lick is a fast-paced G Minor idea that flows through the G Minor Pentatonic, and the G Blues Scale. It's a very busy line, but yet very connected and a whole lot of fun to learn and play.

Micro Lesson 012: "G Minor" Blues-Rock Lick

Hard Rock Rhythm Guitar

When it comes to the rhythm guitar parts found in Hard Rock music, there aren't very many other styles that apply the rapid fretboard movements and those crunchy over-driven guitar tones that are found within this unique style of rhythm guitar playing.

It goes without saying that power-chords are at the center of this styles' chord harmony. But, when we listen to hits by the classic bands, there seems to be a little more going on than just a collection of palm-muted 5th intervals.

Next to power chords, (5th intervals), one of the most popular sounds generated by the chord harmonies in Hard Rock are small, (generally two or three note), versions of major and minor 3rd's, as well as, 4th intervals. These can be found in almost every section of a piece. However, since they carry such a strong, and busy, harmonic sound, they will tend to be used most often as intro sections, or as breakdown sections.

In example one, I have a fairly typical sounding hard rock riff that we might find used as an intro section in an 80's hard rock number. Listen to the audio clip, then study the TAB and notation to learn how to properly perform the part.


Hard Rock guitarists will commonly apply a number of phrasing concepts, (hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends), alongside of busy single-note scale phrases and interesting harmony. To demonstrate some of this, I've composed a short example below of a fairly typical sounding Hard Rock rhythm guitar part, (i.e., verse, bridge or chorus riff),  that applies a number of these concepts.

In example two below, I've applied some single-note passing-tone lines, hammer-on and slide phrasing devices, as well as, some interesting harmony by way of a, "B Augmented," (B+), two-note chord. Listen to the audio clip, then study the TAB and notation to learn how to properly perform the part.


One of the most popular sounds found in Hard Rock rhythm guitar is the palm-muted two-note chord riff. The palm-muting technique used along with the classic crunchy overdrive sound, really brings out the thick 'chunky push' of the Hard Rock feel.

A lot of the color and contour of this sound will come from the way we dial in the over-drive on our amp. When it comes down to generating this sound through an amplifier, sometimes it can be very difficult to reproduce the right kind of classic low-end, "thunk," without the use of either an analog, or a tube amp. The new digital modeling amps are getting better, but many still cannot adequately reproduce that classic Hard Rock sounding guitar tone.

In example three, I have a palm-muted chunky riff that mixes power chords with some upper register interval chords. This style of riff would work well for a typical verse, or chorus section of a Hard Rock tune. Watch how you apply your palm-muting technique. Too much pressure can make the chord loose it's dynamic response, and not enough will cause a lack of the required, "thickening distinction," necessary for the unique palm-muted chord sound. Listen to the audio clip, then study the TAB and notation to learn how to properly perform the part.


Hard Rock Rhythm Guitar is not just excellent for developing better control over using a heavily distorted guitar tone. This style pushes us further as guitarists to be able to develop higher level picking control, as well as, an abundance of techniques. Phrasing ideas like; palm-muting, slides, vibrato, bends, hammer-ons and pull-offs are used constantly in this style and must be developed to a decent ability level. However, since this style is both popular with guitarists and a whole lot of fun to play, it isn't difficult to sit down and work on to polish up a lot of unique harmonies and guitar techniques.

- Andrew Wasson

Micro Lesson 011: "A Mixolydian Riff"

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 011" 

This micro lesson runs down a riff in the key of "D Major." 

This riff operates around a really funky 16th-note groove that creates a push toward the V chord of "A Major" within the progression. Since "A" is the fifth degree of the key of "D Major" we end up with a nice feel for the Mixolydian Mode.

Micro Lesson 011: "A Mixolydian Riff"

Micro Lesson 010: "E Minor Guitar Lick"

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 010" 

This micro lesson runs down a lick in the key of "E Minor." 

This lick is charted out over a set of chord changes that reflects the harmony of "E Dorian" Mode (minor tonality) and functions using both, "E" Minor Pentatonic, as well as the, "E" Blues Scale.

Micro Lesson 010: "E Minor Guitar Lick"

5 Ways Indie Artists Can Increase Music Monetization...

From the INgrooves newsletter.

Today's music scene ain't what she used to be. Having a great band, playing a few gigs each week, and building a decent website are soooo 2003. Today's bands and artists need to fully realize the digital marketplace. Social media is only the beginning. Keeping an active FaceBook fan-page, a popular YouTube channel, posting valid Twitter feeds and maintaining an interesting up-to-date blog are key beginnings. But, streaming is the new trend for the years ahead. And, learning to promote "listens" and generate multiple income streams will mean the life or death of all future musicians.

1. Monetize today's music marketplace! 
Understand how to maximize monetization for all platforms. Two key examples are YouTube and Spotify. YouTube channel maintenance should focus on: regular updates, thorough claiming procedures and integration with other social media channels.

2. Get On-board with Spotify
Spotify fanbases should be built from within: get profiles verified, create dynamic playlists to engage fans, preview exclusive content on Spotify where appropriate, use the embeddable Spotify player across social platforms and explore the D2C merchandising opportunities that Spotify now offers. 

3. Its Not About "Sales" ...its About "Listens"
Music marketing is taking a major mind-shift: Marketing teams need to begin moving from driving "sales" to driving "listens". Placing streaming links across the web from playlist domination to fan-to-fan social sharing to promote driving the listen is the future.

3. Learn to Maximize Multiple Income Streams
Capture additional and ancillary sources of incomes like publishing and neighboring rights. Also, be sure to consider and include all of your metadata for future opportunities (i.e., Neighboring Rights requires metadata that most labels have not captured anywhere over the past few years. This is lost money!

4. Focus on your Core Fan Base. 
Create focused D2C strategies and high value physical products (CDs, Merch, experiences, etc) for your core fan base(s). Stay connected to those fans by offering them something unique, as opposed to a simple anonymous sale in a shop.get their email addresses and use a good mail-service to deliver mass emails that are targeted, relevant and offer new products for sale to your fans.

5. Its all in the Data! 
Use data to inform and market. Big or small, know how to analyze key data points from multiple sources and take actionable next-steps based on what you learn. Look to break apart, aggregate, match, and compare data from social accounts and multiple revenue streams. This will allow you to focus your attention onto which markets are your key platforms and which ones are a waste of your time.

Micro Lesson 009: "D Major Rhythmic /Melody Riff"

Welcome to...
"Micro-Lesson 009" 

This micro lesson runs down a Riff in the key of "D Major." 

This riff operates with both chord strumming, as well as, using some scale oriented passing phrases as well.

Micro Lesson 009: "D Major Rhythmic /Melody Riff"

Iggy Pop: "I Can No Longer Make a Living as a Musician!"

Last week, music legend Iggy Pop gave a lecture for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.) called Free Music in a Capitalist Society. 

Artists have always been ripped off by corporations, he said; now the public is in on the free ride, too: “The cat is out of the bag and the new electronic devices, which estrange people from their morals, also make it easier to steal music than to pay for it.”

To keep skinny body and maverick soul together, Iggy’s become a DJ, a car-insurance pitchman and a fashion model. If he had to live off royalties, he said, he’d have to “tend bars between sets.” As I listened to his enthusiastic stoner Midwestern drawl, I thought: If Iggy Pop can’t make it, what message does that send to all the baby Iggys out there? 

In a society where worth is judged by price, for better or worse, what are you saying to someone when you won’t pay for the thing he’s crafted?

A few days before Iggy’s lecture, Australian novelist Richard Flanagan won the Booker Prize, the most prestigious in the literary world, for his Second World War story The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Just in time, it sounds like: Mr. Flanagan told reporters that he was making so little from his writing that he was thinking about packing it in and becoming a miner. (He comes from a small mining town in Tasmania.) The prize money of about $90,000 and the following sales bump will allow him to continue, but most of his colleagues aren’t so lucky: “Writing is a very hard life for so many writers,” he said.

This is borne out not only in the quiet sobbing you hear in corners at poetry readings, but in the numbers. This summer, the Guardian newspaper reported that professional writers’ salaries in Britain are collapsing, falling almost 30 per cent over eight years to a mere $20,000.

Here, the Writers’ Union of Canada estimates that authors make an average of $12,000 a year from their words. That will buy approximately two wheels of a car or a door knob on a house in Toronto or Calgary (a broken knob, if the house is in Vancouver).

I hear your cry-me-a-river sighs. You’re thinking, “Nobody asked writers to write. Don’t they know a nice degree in commerce will serve them better in the long run? Nobody asked Iggy to roll around on stage in broken glass. He could have had a nice job as an actuary, although he would have had to keep his pants on.”

But in truth, we do ask: Every time we go to a library or shop, we want it to be full of new books, and when we search various channels (legal and illegal) for new music and movies, we expect to find them. Someone has to produce this content – this art – and sadly, the shoemakers’ elves are all busy stitching elsewhere. And after it’s been produced, someone has to buy it. Or not buy it, as is more likely the case.

It comes down to a question of value: Do we value artists’ effort? The boring years spent in the studio or rehearsal hall, the torched drafts – Mr. Flanagan burned five early versions of his novel before he got it right – the slow, fungal growth of something that lives in the dark and may never be ready for the light? Sorry, that’s the novelist in me talking. Never mind.

I’m glad Iggy Pop and Mr. Flanagan have brought the issue of artists’ earnings out into the open, because it’s too often avoided as embarrassing or demeaning or irrelevant to the process. In fact, it’s crucial. 

As author and cartoonist Tim Kreider wrote in a recent essay about not getting paid for his work, “money is also how our culture defines value, and being told that what you do is of no ($0.00) value to the society you live in is, frankly, demoralizing.”

Or, to give Iggy the last word, which I think he’d like: “When it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail. It just happens to be a huge unimportant detail.”

Adrian Galysh's - "Pentatonic Workout"

In this lesson, I’m going to run through a pentatonic scale workout that helps you get the five positions of the pentatonic scale memorized and under your fingers, increases left-hand strength, delivers some great-sounding sequences and even includes some string skipping.

We’ll use the A minor pentatonic scale at the fifth position as our example in this lesson, but you’ll want to make sure you can perform this routine in all five positions.

This workout starts with playing the A minor pentatonic scale ascending and descending (Example 1), using consistent alternate picking.


After this “establishes” the fingering for your left hand, the workout continues with a two-string sequence, where you ascend four notes, go back one note and start again, ascending four notes.

This continues across the fretboard until you run out of strings. At this point, you simply turn the sequence around (Don’t repeat the top C note) and play the two-string sequence in reverse — from the high C note, you descend four notes, go back one note, descend another four, etc. (Example 2).


The third part of this workout is a sequence that ascends in six-note groups (three strings' worth of pentatonic scale), then back a string, start on D (fifth string) and ascend another six notes (three strings).

Continue this pattern until you start the sequence on the G string, at which point you simply turn the pattern around (Don’t repeat the top note C), then perform the sequence in reverse: from the high C note, you descend six notes (three strings), go back a string, start the six-note pattern on the G note (second string) and continue back in the same fashion (Example 3).


The fourth and final part of this pentatonic work out involves string skipping. This starts by playing the two notes on the low E string, skip the A string, play the two notes on the D string, go back to the A string and play the two notes on it, then skip the D string, and play the two notes on the G string. This pattern continues, gets turned around just like before and then works its way back in reverse (Example 4).


These sequences tend to be a very user-friendly for guitarists, as they start on the first note of each string, as they travel across the six strings.

I like to string these four examples together, playing then back to back, without stopping. I find this forces me to think ahead, be able to change gears and mix things up in my regular playing more easily.

Once you are able to play these four elements back to back without any problems, try it with the other four pentatonic positions. Use a metronome to gauge your progress, and push yourself to play these at a faster tempo once they become comfortable.

MICRO LESSON 008: A Minor Smooth Jazz Melody

Welcome to"Micro-Lesson 008." This new video series runs Monday to Thursday on my GuitarBlog channel. Friday's lesson will be the weekly comprehensive class found on my other Creative Guitar Studio YouTube channel. Be sure to tune in on Sunday for the premiere weekly GuitarBlog video!

Thanks for your kind support of "Micro-Lessons." 

Micro Lesson 008: "A Minor Smooth Jazz Melody"

Howard Alden's 8 Secrets of Jazz Guitar...

Howard Alden is one of the greatest jazz guitarists working today. He learned his craft under the legendary Howard Roberts, and his jaw-dropping fretwork has graced everything from Hollywood soundtracks to duets with his mentor, seven-string pioneer George Van Eps. Here, he shares some hard-won secrets on how to play jazz guitar better.

Ask any clued-up jazz guitarist who the best players are today, and Howard Alden's name always comes up. His playing is classic yet full of invention; distinctive yet inspired by the work of the giants of jazz who were his tutors, including the late, great Howard Roberts.

His advice for anyone interested in starting to climb the mountain of jazz guitar is practical, down-to-earth and based on getting the hang of easy fundamentals, instead of getting mired down in theory too early on. You don't need to be a jazzer to benefit from his advice, either - his method of starting with the basic melody of any tune and getting that under your fingers as soon as possible is a shot in the arm for any style of playing. Check out the great video of Howard Alden with George Van Epps (below) then read on to find out Howards "8 Tips"...

1. Nail Fail
"I wanted to play a piano when I was a teenager. I started to play a little bit, but then I also tried to study a little classical guitar. So every time I went to my piano teacher he would say, 'Cut those nails off '. I'd go to the classical guitar teacher and he'd say, 'What happened? Go and grow some more nails'. I had already spent enough time on the guitar that I said I'd just stick with one thing at a time."

2. Be Economical
"One of my first guitar teachers in Los Angeles was a guy named Jimmy Wiebel. He was a great guitarist, who was also a student of [seven-string jazz-guitar pioneer] George Van Eps at one time. He gave me a few ideas when I was getting started and I continue to marvel at how much they pay off.

"One of the simplest is keeping every finger down on the fingerboard until it absolutely has to move to another note. This can be applied to melodies, scales... anything you play on the guitar."

"He really encouraged the idea of economy [of movement], for two reasons: to minimize effort, and to develop your technique to where one finger could move without the rest of the hand having to move along with it."

3. Roberts Rules
"Later, I studied under Howard Roberts, and he was an amazing teacher." Howard Roberts was a jazz and studio player for a number of years and he was very much into learning useful things: the idea that everyone learns what they want to learn when they need to learn it.

"It's amazing how just playing something for someone else can help reinforce it in your mind and in your fingers"

"He really believed in getting the tune off the paper and into your head as soon as possible and then playing it for someone as soon as possible, too. I can't tell you how many times - I suspect you've all had this experience, too - you'll be playing something at home, playing it perfectly and beautifully, and you'll go out and say to someone, 'Let me play this new thing for you' and all of a sudden, 'Oh s**t...' [you screw up].

"So it's amazing how just playing something for someone else can help reinforce it in your mind and in your fingers. That's one of the important lessons I learned, and that I keep in mind over the years."

4. Bass Is The Place
"One of the most valuable things you can do when learning tunes is to just play the melody and the bass notes - the roots of the changing chords. Just that one exercise alone gets you to hear the melody and its relationship to the bass note. You'll get used to quickly knowing where that root is and hearing it in relationship to the melody."

5. Power Of Two
"When you're thinking about accompanying other guitarists, or a vocalist, try pretending for a while your guitar has just two strings. In this case, I'm thinking of the third and fourth strings. Just lose those other four strings, take them off, tape them off or just mark them with an X and don't play them. Because these middle two strings are really a great little centre ground. They're out of the way of the bass player, if you're playing with a bass player. They're out of the way of the melody if you're playing with a singer.

"It forces you to focus on just making two notes sound good and sound complete amongst themselves. Just pretend for a while that you have a two- stringed ukulele that's all you have to make music on and you have to make it sound as good as possible."

6. Customize Chords
"If you're playing by yourself, you might want to have more bass notes involved to get a little more full sound. If you're playing with just a bass player, or you have other instruments in the band, then you'd want to go back to just thirds or little three-note chord voicings."

"You have to have a lot of possibilities in mind, and be able to choose whichever one is appropriate at the time. But again - sorry to keep harping away at this - it all comes down to really knowing the essential melody so well that you can play that perfectly by itself, and knowing where those bass notes are."

"Learning guitar effectively is like learning a language: you don't open a grammar book and memorize every single rule"

7. Seventh Heaven
"I started playing a seven-string guitar in 1992 after I did the first couple of recordings with George Van Eps. You know, it's funny, even though I'd been listening to his records for years and knew about the seven-string, I was never really motivated to start playing one because I was perfectly comfortable on the six-string."

"I'd picked up a few other people's seven-strings over the years and they always felt cumbersome and not entirely necessary. But something about sitting in a studio next to George, watching him play for a few days at a time and seeing how it handled it, all of sudden it made it click for me.

"Another thing which drew me to playing a seven-string is that I'd hear pieces by some of the great piano players which I wanted to play on the guitar but needed a little extra range. Some of my favorite piano players like Bill Evans played in these clusters of four or five notes within one octave,which is impossible when you're playing [six- string] guitar."

8. Keep It Real
"Learning guitar effectively is like learning a language: you don't open a grammar book and memorize every single rule of conjunctions and where the verb and adjective goes, and whatever. You just learn how to speak in phrases, and then learn how to use it more efficiently. Then maybe after the fact you might go back and look and see what you're talking about."

Micro Lesson 007 - "B Minor & C Major" Arpeggio Lick

Welcome to"Micro-Lesson 007." This new video series runs Monday to Thursday on my GuitarBlog channel. Friday's lesson will be the weekly comprehensive class found on my other Creative Guitar Studio YouTube channel. Be sure to tune in on Sunday for the premiere weekly GuitarBlog video!

Thanks for your kind support of "Micro-Lessons." 

Micro Lesson 007 - "B Minor & C Major" Arpeggio Lick

Micro Lesson 006 - Arpeggiated "add" Chord Riff

Welcome to"Micro-Lesson 006." This new video series runs Monday to Thursday on my GuitarBlog channel. Friday's lesson will be the weekly comprehensive class found on my other Creative Guitar Studio YouTube channel. Be sure to tune in on Sunday for the premiere weekly GuitarBlog video!

Thanks for your kind support of "Micro-Lessons." 

Micro Lesson 006 - "Arpeggiated 'add' Riff"

Steve Morse's Top 5 Tips for Guitarists...

In the parking lot of guitar greats, not only does Steve Morse get a lifetime reserved spot, but he also has his own entrance. Try to name a more celebrated guitarist on earth – he's won all the guitar polls numerous times and even consecutively; pick a current six-string whiz kid and he'll cite Morse as a major influence – and you'll very well come up empty.

But the Deep Purple/Dixie Dregs/Flying Colors and solo guitarist, whose command of genres is so vast that he's almost impossible to bracket, insists that he's really just a student of the instrument. “I’m always learning, on a daily basis, in fact," Morse says. "Working with other musicians, I pick up all kinds of tips, or I'll gain some new insights. I'm curious about the way things work – all kinds of things – and I try to be like a sponge. How people play and why they do what they do is always fascinating to me.

“It happens kind of naturally as a result of playing with other people," he continues. "Whenever a thought is raised that I didn’t think of first, I want to know how somebody arrived at that idea. ‘Was that the result of influences, or did that come about because of a new way of thinking? Why did that work so well?’"

On the following pages, eternal student Morse offers some of his own insights, his top five tips for guitarists. “Some of these might be considered life lessons," he observes, "but to me, life lessons are what music is all about.”

Tip #1). Do What You Say You're Going to Do...
“Nothing irritates me more than a lack of professionalism. For example, when somebody says, ‘I’ll be there at 2 pm.’ Does that mean 2:30? Does that person think they can just roll in whenever and expect everybody to be in a good mood, knowing that they've sat there for 30 minutes? I don’t think so.

“A lot of the times you can tell how somebody is going to act as a musician by how they budget their time. If they can’t show up when they’re supposed to, can they be expected to be prepared musically? From my experience, the answer tends to be no.

“If you’re in a band, you’ve got to pull your weight – everybody equally. Let’s say you’re going to play a cover tune, and all the other guys have learned the song. They've listened to it, played it, and they’ve got it down. But one guy shows up for rehearsal, and he’s not prepared; he thought he could just follow along and fake his way through it. So what’s he doing? He’s wasting everybody’s time, because invariably somebody is going to say, ‘Hey, that part is wrong; it’s supposed to go like this…’ And then you spend part of the rehearsal showing the guy what he should have known walking in the door.

“Whatever it is, whether it’s learning material or just being where you’re supposed to be, do what you say you’re going to do. “

Tip #2). Take Pride in Your Work...
“I can pick a great musician by the manner in which he sweeps the floor. If you only sweep the floor well when you think somebody is watching, that’s a good indication of what kind of musician you’re going to be.

“Some people think that certain tasks are beneath them, like sweeping floors or cleaning the garage. That could easily extend to practicing music. If you think you can breeze past certain parts of studying music or practicing whatever is in front of you – ‘Oh, I don’t have to learn that stuff’ – then you’re not going to be complete musician.

“So take pride in what you do, whether it’s a simple everyday task or something creative. If you’re practicing the guitar, give it your all, even if you’re just sitting in your room and nobody’s watching you. If you let yourself get away with something or if you think you can do a mediocre job because you’re not being observed, you’re only cheating yourself.”

Tip #3). Learn the Basics...
“It’s human nature to want immediate results. Work is hard, no matter what it is you’re doing. But there’s rewards in learning the basics of anything, and this is especially true with music.

“Whatever it is you want to communicate, whether it's with words or through music, you have to build up your vocabulary, and that means starting with the basics. As a guitarist, there's string bending, vibrato, the different ways of picking, learning to play legato and so on – everything that makes up sound and melody The more tools you have at your disposal, the greater your ability to create music that has no limitations will be.”

Tip #4). Embrace Non-Traditional Thinking...
“That’s another way of saying ‘think outside of the box.’ To be a creative person, you have to embrace non-traditional thinking; otherwise, you’re really not being creative at all.

“To learn basics, you sometimes have to practice things repetitiously, learning different patterns or scales. But there comes a point when you’ll want to switch things up, and that can take you to some interesting places.

“I remember one time I was getting ready to play with Jaco Pastorious. He noticed that I was warming up with two separate scale patterns; I was just doing these mindless repetitions up and down the neck to get the muscles going. Jaco, who had a mind that could never sit still, said, ‘No, no, no, man. You’re doing the same thing over and over.’ I explained, ‘Yeah, I’m just getting warmed up.’ But he said, ‘Don’t ever miss a chance to change it. Play it differently.’

“And then he played what I was doing, going up and down the neck, but he changed the patterns, throwing in different rhythms. If I played an eighth note, he played a dotted eighth note or a sixteenth. He did the whole thing his own way. He was still doing the same basic scales, but he made them his own.

“His whole thing was that you can make a standard practice session into something of a mind challenge. I was really impressed with that.”

Tip #5). Give Yourself a Reward While Practicing...
“This kind of ties into my Jaco story. It’s about taking the drudgery out of practicing something that’s repetitious; it's a cool way of staying motivated.

"After I’ve done some of the mechanical work of practicing, I like to reward myself with something I’ve never played before. Let’s say I’m working on a part that’s giving me some difficulty, I like to make a little exercise out of it – it kills the boredom, and it can lead me somewhere cool and creative.

“I could be playing a difficult part that involves crossing strings with the right hand, doing one of those impossible string skips. What I do is, I make an exercise out of that hard passage, one that involves every note, and I try to make a melody out of it. I basically try to forget about the technique and I just lose myself in the melody. I'll make up a riff and spend five or 10 minutes jamming on it.

“What happens is, I’ll go back to the technical part, the hard passage, and I’ll notice, ‘Hey, that sounds better’ – because I’ve made it more of a creative exercise. So give yourself little rewards like that. Find a riff or a melody within your practice routine. It’ll increase your motivation, and then practice won’t feel like work.”