Learn the Notes on Your Guitar in 3 Days...

From scales, to soloing, to chord positions and progressions, knowing where each guitar note is (without having to think about it) will put you well ahead of other guitar players... 

Learning the notes on your guitar fingerboard is one of the most important things you can do to advance your guitar playing skills. Knowing this information opens up an enormous amount of possibilities and can help ease the learning curve for future guitar exercises.

This simple "3-day" notes on the neck study guide will give you some background information regarding how the notes on your guitar fretboard are laid out and of course provide you with some helpful tips, tools and exercises to assist you in learning the notes on your guitar fretboard as quickly as possible in as little as 3 days time.

The most important notes to learn when first starting out are the natural notes (i.e. notes that are not # or ♭). Once the natural notes are memorized, it is much easier to incorporate the sharps or flats, as they will be directly in front or behind the natural note.

As the image below demonstrates, the natural notes of the chromatic scale (which are: C – D – E – F – G – A – B) and identified where each note is located on the guitar fretboard.

DAY 1:


Now that you know where all of the natural notes are located on the fretboard, we can now add the sharps or flats.

Sharps and Flats:
Sharps raise a natural note by a half step (1 fret). Flats lower the natural note by a half step. Between each set of notes ( except between E-F and B-C ) there will be a sharp/flat note.

For example, the note between F and G is F# or Gb, they are the exact same note just with a different names. Notes that sound the same but have a different name are called enharmonic.


Next, we can re-name the sharp notes with their flat equivalents. This concept in music is referred to as "En-harmonic Notes," (same sound, different name). The fretboard below re-names the sharps from the above example, to their equivalent of flats.


The natural notes are the most important to memorize first. If you know where the natural notes are on the fretboard, you can easily fill in the blanks by adding a sharp note next to every natural note, except for E and B (as they do not have sharps).

Once the fretboard is populated with all of the sharp notes, it will look like this:


DAY 2:

Notes on the 6th and 5th Strings of the Guitar
After learning the open strings and how notes sit across the entire neck, you can start your memorization process. Learning the names of the notes on the 6th and 5th strings of the guitar is the first priority.

The most basic barre chords and power chords have their roots on either the 6th or 5th strings. And the most basics scales and arpeggios you'll tend to learn at first will have their tonic notes on the 6th and 5th strings.

In music we use the first 7 letters of the English alphabet for different notes. A B C D E F and G (these are known as the Natural Notes). A "Whole Step" is a term used for the distance of "2 frets" on the guitar. And a "Half Step" is "1 fret."

As long as you know this important music theory principle, you can find any natural note on the neck of the guitar.

Learning the Notes on the 6th String:
Now let’s apply that idea of whole and half steps to the 6th string. The open 6th string is an E. The F would be up a half step at the 1st fret. G, A and B would all be a whole step apart. Then between B and C is a half step. Then between C, D and E are all whole steps.

Once you reach the 12th fret, the note names start over. "E" on the 12th fret of the 6th string is an “octave” higher than the open string. You could continue on up the neck, but for our purposes right now we will stick to the first 12 frets.

Practice both playing and naming the notes up and then back down the neck. You can also give yourself additional fingerboard training by using the "Fretboard Cyber-Trainer" to help you further study the names of the notes on the neck. It's a fantastic online tool to help you develop the location of notes on the guitar neck.

Learning the Notes on the 5th String:

Now try the same thing on the 5th string from the open to the 12th and back down.

DAY 3:

Playing a note an octave higher means that you would play the exact same note but at double the frequency of the current note. Octaves can go either up or down in frequency, thus, you can half the frequency or you can double it. Either way, it will all end up being the same note.

There are multiple octaves for each note on a guitar’s fretboard. For example, let’s say we take the A note on the low E string. This note is located at fret position 5. However if we move up 12 frets (aka semitones) on the same string, we will end up at fret position 17 which is also an A note, just an octave higher.

Octaves aren’t only found by moving up 12 frets on a particular string. You can also find different octaves for the same note on different strings. Study the five octaves shown below. These octave layouts make up a huge part of the training involved in the Creative Guitar Studio - Intermediate Guitar Program.

The best way to make a study of octaves is by selecting one note and plotting it's location all across the neck.

Use the "C Octaves" note chart below to practice this idea all across the neck.

"C Octaves"

With this simple 3-day guide you'll understand the layout of notes on the neck, how sharps and flats operate and you'll be able to plot out the octaves for any note. Continue practicing this, and over time you'll develop a keen sense for how every note sits upon the fingerboard.



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Secrets of the Guitar Masters: Developing Speed

For most guitarists speed playing is a mystery. When developing speed it can feel like it's some kind of talent bestowed only upon a few lucky ones: Paco De Lucia, Yngwie Malmsteen, John McLaughlin to name a few...

At some point almost every guitar player becomes fascinated with speed and virtuoso guitar playing. Initially, most players interested in gaining speed will be specifically frustrated with the struggle of attaining fast picking.

Accuracy is the goal when learning to play fast, but if you're not accurate and cannot attain lightning speed. (at least not without pull-offs and hammer-ons), there's a lot of work ahead for you.

To most guitarists, speed playing is a mystery. When developing it, speed can feel like some talent bestowed only upon a few lucky ones: Paco De Lucia, Yngwie Malmsteen, John McLaughlin to name a few. This is exactly why we need to explore these types of world class guitar players (speed players) and learn what they did and how they attained their speed. Through this, we will learnhow to move forward in developing out own speed abilities.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s analyze the backgrounds of these legendary guitar speed-masters:

Paco De Lucia
Excerpt taken from Wikipedia: “His father introduced him to the guitar at a very young age and was extremely strict in his upbringing, forcing him to practice up to 12 hours a day, every day. At one point his father took him out of school to concentrate solely on his guitar development. Combined with natural talent, he soon excelled and in 1958, at age 11, he made his first public appearance on Radio Algeciras.”

It has been said that he was seven years of age when he started with this 12 hour military workout. Stop and think about what would happen to your guitar playing if you had a mentor and coach (in this case Paco's father) who pushed you to practice 12 hours a day EVERY DAY. No doubt you would also develop speed and agility! Every day means; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!That's a serious guitar workout for anyone.

As much as I admire Paco, it was not all natural talent – he practiced his backside off!

Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen started playing the guitar at the tender age of 10, (after he saw Hendrix’s smash and burn his guitar on TV – he thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever witnessed)

He even formed his first band called “Track on Earth” in the same year. He then proceeded to practice day and night making his guitar his best friend.

Here’s Yngwie’s remark on speed:

From his website:

Dear Yngwie:
I often get stuck inside a scale (e.g., Dorian, Lydian, Phrygian, etc.) and my fingers just go up and down that scale. So I wonder if you’ve got some hint about how to overcome this? Also, can you please tell me some exercise that will increase my speed?
- (David Almstrom, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Yngwie says:
“Both of these questions I get asked a lot of the time. The first one is difficult to answer, because it is really a question of creativity rather than skill. Anyone can learn the notes of the scales from a book or a teacher, but deciding what to do with them actually depends on what you hear in your head . . . your musical inspiration. I can’t teach anyone how to do that. All I can say is to play with your ears open–if you don’t like what you hear, try something else. About speed, I never used any specific exercises to build speed. For me, it took just playing for hours a day, becoming so familiar with the instrument that I didn’t have to think about where my fingers were going next . . . and maybe that answers the first question, too!”

John McLaughlin
McLaughlin was born in Doncaster, England. He is very intellectual distinguished gentleman and one of the world’s best guitarists /musicians.

One of the first guitar heroes who made a massive impression on the young McLaughlin was Django Reinhardt.

McLaughlin was impressed by this virtuoso Gypsy Jazz guitarist.

When John McLaughlin was around the age of 21 in London, he had fire in his eyes and carried his guitar with him wherever he went. He played guitar day and night burning with passion to become absolutely great and practiced 15-20 hours a day.

He used to jam at Ronnie Scott's, and the jam’s often went on into the early early hours of the morning. It’s a shame there’s no recordings of those days… it must have been absolutely incredible!

As you can tell, McLaughlin practiced and played day and night and really pushed himself to the edge. That's how he attained his level of guitar mastery.

What these masters have in common

The key and the secret to developing great technique in music is basically WORK YOUR BACKSIDE OFF day in and day out.

Look at all these maestros – they all did the same thing… practiced, practiced, practiced – day and night. They made it a love and passion and it consumed their life! (at least for a chink of their years). This extreme dedication is actually the only way to develop such a technique. Most great musicians including Franz Liszt, McLaughlin, Vai, Paganini had a period in their lives where they really went all out and practiced day and night.

So talent plays a role… but the good news is that no-one is born with a silver spoon in their mouths when it comes to learning to play guitar at an exceptional level. It’s long hours, dedication, passion and hard work that pays off over time.

I leave you with this all important thought from Yngwie Malmsteen:

"Anybody can learn to type write really fast, but not everybody can write a great book"

- A fantastic resource for building speed:
Jason Beckers' transcription of Pagannini’s 5th Caprice, (an absolute exercise in musical precision and complex harmony), is one of the best studies you could ever undertake to help you develop your ability for speed. Download it here

The best way to build your speed and technique:

Most of these maestros are absolutely unreachable. You cannot take a lesson with Malmsteen, McLaughlin or Paco De Lucia.

The best method for developing your speed and accuracy on the guitar is by signing up to my guitar programs website. Not only will you develop your chops, but the theory and musical knowledge you'll learn about the guitar will pay off in dividends over time.

You can review all of my programs by signing up for a FREE lifetime membership to the site.With a FREE membership you'll have access to the first video of every lesson plan, and you'll have full access to my popular "QwikLicks" series.

To give you an brief overview of what we will work on with respect to chops building:

- Right hand picking
- Left hand fretting
- Building speed
- Creating a technique logbook



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Using a Guitar Solo to Develop Scale Patterns

Using a Guitar Solo to Develop Scale Patterns

Make your next solo a perfect guitar solo by studying an entirely  new perspective of how scales are applied over chord changes...

One of the most frustrating (often confusing) areas for guitar players tends to be the application of scales. It's easy enough to do a quick Google search and find a few hundred articles covering guitar scales, with patterns on the neck and shapes all across the fingerboard. That's the easy part... 

The hard part is understanding how to apply them over a group of chords. In this lesson, we'll reverse engineer a 16-bar guitar solo and examine how the chord changes were covered using both Major and Minor scales out of the key signature. Once we're done, you'll have a whole new perspective for how scales are realistically applied over chord changes to create a guitar solo.

PART ONE: The lesson begins in example one with the first four bars of the  lessons 16-bar guitar solo. The initial eight bars of the piece are in the key of "F Major." Our study of the solo begins by examining three scale patterns used within the first four bars. They include the "F Major" scale shapes of; Pattern #1, Pattern #2 and Pattern #3.

Example two shifts to working on the solo's next four bars. The scales used in bars 5 to 8 operate out of four different scale patterns. The "F Major" scale shapes used in those measures include; Pattern #4, #2, #1 and #5.

PART TWO: Example three heads into the next half of the guitar solo. This second section jumps to the relative minor key center of "D Minor." In bars 9 and 10 we begin with a scale line that applies the "D Natural Minor," scale shapes of; Pattern #1, Pattern #2, and Pattern #3. In bars 11 and 12 the Pattern #4 "D Minor Pentatonic" scale is used to finish the melodic line.

Example four examines the final four measures of our guitar solo with a look at bars 13 to 16. The "D Minor Pentatonic" scale becomes a primary fixture of this part of our solos' melody line. Scale shapes of; Pattern #1 and #2
"D Minor Pentatonic" operate across measures 13 and 14 in the 5th position. The solo shifts from the 6th position to a full step bend at the 13th fret in the final measure.

Take your time working through each segment of this 16-bar guitar solo. It will take a few practice hours to fully comprehend how every measure of the guitar solo is related back to each major and minor scale pattern. 

As you slowly develop each section of the solo, spend some extra time referring back to the scale pattern and understand how each scale shape was applied. You may even be surprised at how little of the overall scale shape was used to form the melody line of each segment of the 16-bar guitar solo. Enjoy the lesson!

Using a Guitar Solo to Develop Scale Patterns

Related Videos:

Using a Guitar Solo to Develop Scale Patterns

Simple Guitar Soloing Exercises

Improvised Guitar Solos



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

7 Basic Guitar Chords for Beginners...

If you are looking for easiest possible guitar chords for beginners, then these are the ones to start with...

This lesson covers the most basic guitar chords for beginner players. These beginning guitar chords are the first ones every guitar player should learn.

They are sometimes referred to as open position chords, because they are played in the first few frets of the guitar and all contain at least one open string.

E Minor Chord:

The Em ranks as one of the first beginning guitar chords that you should learn. It uses all six of the guitar strings. It’s one of the most basic guitar chords not only because it’s easy, but because it’s used all the time in a lot of different songs. The small "m" after the "E" designates the minor chord quality. Think of minor as a darker color of sound.

C Major Chord:

Another important basic beginner guitar chord you should learn is the C, or "C major." You technically don’t have to say “major” in the name of the chord. If you just say "C chord" it’s recognized by other musicians that it’s understood to be a major chord. You only want to strum the strings 5 through to 1 (that means the highest "sounding" 5 strings, not their relationship to the floor) The X in the guitar chord chart means "do not to play" that string. This can be done either through the strumming hands coverage of the strings, or through muting technique.

G Major Chord:

The G chord is another important beginner's chord to know. For the G major guitar chord there are two fingerings listed. The one in black is the fingering generally recommended. The one in black may seem more awkward at first (only because you are using your 4th finger, which is your weakest finger). That fingering makes the smoothest transition with C, which happens all the time in different songs.

D Major Chord:

With the addition of a D major guitar chord, you can play the chords to literally thousands of songs. Write yourself some catchy lyrics and you could use the chords discussed so far to compose a short song. The biggest problem encountered with this basic guitar chord is getting the first string to sound clearly. Make sure your third finger is not touching the first string. Get the string on the tip of your 3rd finger to solve this issue.

A Minor Chord:

An "A minor" guitar chord has two fingers in common with the C chord. And, quite often in songs we will find a switch occurring between these two. To switch from C to Am just lift up your third finger and move it to the 3rd string, 2nd fret. You will only have to move your 2nd finger back slightly within the fret to make room for your 3rd finger.

E Major Chord:

An E major guitar chord is the same shape as the Am chord, (only moved to the 5th, 4th and 3rd strings). The E chord is also like the Em chord, only the "E Major" is adding your first finger on the first fret of the 3rd string. Many guitar chords will have similar, or the exact same shapes, when moved between string sets, (especially between a 6th-string root to the 5th-string root). Watch for this as you learn more chords. It will be a great help to their memorization.

A Major Chord:

When learning the "A" chord, there are a few different fingerings. They are going to be useful in different situations, so over time explore different techniques. However, the most common approach will use a "Barre" technique to flatten the finger down across the strings of the second fret and cover the interior strings of 4th to 2nd. The upper string (1st), needs to be muted with the underside of your index (barred) finger.



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

Players Who Made These 5 Guitar Techniques Famous

Certain musicians have experimented with new ways to make sounds never before heard on a guitar and that's what makes the instrument so versatile today...

The guitar is something that has had various updates and reworks – but fundamentally, it’s really just the same as it’s always been. Six strings and a piece of wood, maybe throw in some electronics if that’s your thing… an E note is an E note and a B is a B, these are all things that haven’t changed.

Perhaps what has changed more so over the years than the guitar itself is the way in which they are played. Here’s a few techniques we all know about and where they came from.

1. The Power Chord
How would punk and thrash metal have got anywhere if it weren’t for the use of the raw, stripped down, straight to the point power chord? The power chord is, simply put, two notes played at the same time. 

They consist of a root note, and that note’s perfect fifth. While in theory, this sort of chord may have been used in music way before Pete Townsend blasted them out with his “windmill” strums, but it was the sound of over-driven guitars and rock music that really made them popular.

Use of the power chord on the guitar can be traced back to the early ’50s, in both Willie Johnson and Pat Hare’s playing – but perhaps the first mainstream and recognizable use would be by Link Wray in his hit song “Rumble”.

When you play more “full” chords with major or minor intervals, and add a bunch of gain and distortion to it, often times the resulting sound can become very messy and unclear – especially when paired with a full rock band.

The frequencies within the two notes of a power chord mesh with each other in a way that allows them to remain clear, allowing you to crank the gain and really put some “power” behind your playing. A nice bonus is the fact that the shape of the chord remains constant all the way up and down the neck, allowing you to move between playing the chord and riffing much easier.

One issue of using strictly power chords is the difficulty in understanding key center. The power chord is neither major or minor, so clarifying the key center of a piece played with power chords can often be confusing. Watch my video on "Finding Key Center When Using Power Chords," to learn how this process works.

2. Controlled Feedback
When the electric guitar was first invented as an instrument, feedback was an unwanted noise that came along whenever a guitar was played at very high volume levels. Over time, methods were discovered that could significantly reduce and even prevent these noises from occurring.

Then, at some point in time somebody said “but I want that sound… how can we use that in my song?” Allegedly, the first known deliberate use of Feedback in a rock song appears in the intro to “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles. John Lennon created the sound by leaning his semi-acoustic guitar against a guitar amp.

Since then, controlled feedback and noise has been used by guitarists everywhere, most notably by artists like Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Pete Townsend, Ted Nugent and Lou Reed. More recently, manipulated feedback has become a signature sound among noise rockers and shredders alike, being featured in recordings and live performances by artists including Sonic Youth, Steve Vai, Nirvana, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Robert Fripp.

Speaking of Robert Fripp, here’s an interesting quote from Tony Visconti on Robert’s work on David Bowie’s “Heroes”: “Fripp [stood] in the right place with his volume up at the right level and getting feedback…Fripp had a technique in those days where he measured the distance between the guitar and the speaker where each note would feed back. For instance, an ‘A’ would feed back maybe at about four feet from the speaker, whereas a ‘G’ would feed back maybe three and a half feet from it.

He had a strip that they would place on the floor, and when he was playing the note ‘F’ sharp he would stand on the strip’s ‘F’ sharp point and ‘F’ sharp would feed back better. He really worked this out to a fine science, and we were playing this at a terrific level in the studio, too.”

3. Fingerpicking
It’s not that playing an instrument with one’s fingers was first done on a guitar, but there have been many evolutions and intricacies of this method particular to the guitar.

Fingerpicking is what you could refer to as a sub-category of the term “fingerstyle guitar”, which is a broader term used to describe the “playing of a guitar with one’s fingers”. Specifically, fingerpicking as a technique is used to play types of folk, country, blues, and rock music, and can be dated back to the days of “Ragtime” music in the early 20th century.

As ragtime became popular, southern blues-guitar players sought to mimic the piano style by using their thumb as the pianist’s left hand, and their other fingers as the right. As a result, the style typically incorporates a steady rhythm pattern using the thumb on the bass strings, and a melody using the index, middle, and ring fingers on the treble strings.

Some of the earliest known recordings of this style can be heard by blues guitarists Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, and Memphis Minnie. It wasn’t long before country artists such as Merle Travis and Chet Atkins picked up on the style, and added their own signature twist to it. Since then, countless guitarists have used this style across a wide spectrum of music, all contributing to the technique we know today.

If fingerpicked guitar playing is new to you, watch my lesson titled, "Fingerstyle Guitar Primer," to learn how to begin developing this critical guitar technique.

4. “Sweep” Picking
Perhaps most widely associated with speed-metal and shredding these days, the origins of the “sweep” are heavily rooted in Jazz. The technique was first used by virtuoso jazz guitarists Barney Kessel, Les Paul, and Tal Farlow in the ’50s, and didn’t make its way into the mainstream rock world until Ritchie Blackmore and Steve Hackett brought it there in the ’70s and ’80s.

In the early ’90s, jazz-fusion guitarist Frank Gambale brought sweep picking into the limelight with both his music, and his instructional video / book about the technique. Today, it’s rare that you’d hear a new speed metal band that doesn’t use this technique, and shred guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen love to use these all over their solos.

This technique is essentially the playing of arpeggios at a very high rate of speed. That said, the way in which you pick the strings is not how you would typically pluck individual notes. In order to achieve such a high speed, it’s almost as if you are strumming a chord.

Your picking hand moves in one fluid motion, while your fretting hand takes care of the note selection. This is a tricky technique to master, but an impressive one once you wrap your head around it!

If you are having difficulty getting started with this technique check out my lesson plan titled, "A Beginners Guide to Sweep Picking Arpeggios on Guitar." It works through the basic s of getting started with executing the sweep pick approach on guitar. 

5. Guitar Tapping
Tapping is not a technique that is exclusive to the guitar. It can be done on virtually any stringed instrument – in fact there are instruments like the Chapman Stick that require the use of this method in order to play it.

The technique can be done with either one or two hands, and involves the repetitive use of hammer-ons and pull-offs (“tapping” the fingerboard) to create notes. Similar techniques have been around for centuries, both having been used on instruments like the violin or the Turkish baglama, but the first known usage of tapping on a guitar didn’t happen until sometime in the mid-20th century.

This is where things get a little foggy – ask ten guitarists who invented tapping and you’ll get ten different answers! There is footage of Roy Smeck using the technique on a ukulele in 1932, and Harry DeArmond is alleged to have used a sort of two-hand-technique to test his pickups. Jazz guitarists like Barney Kessell are said to have used the technique in the ’50s and ’60s, and Chet Atkins did it in the ’70s – around the same time that tapping started to be seen in rock and roll. Steve Hackett, Leslie West, Frank Zappa, and Billy Gibbons are all known to have utilized the technique at this time, but the one who really launched it into the mainstream was Eddie van Halen. When his guitar solo “Eruption” was released to the world, it was like nothing ever heard before.

Regardless of who “invented” the technique, what’s important is that all of these musicians helped make it what it is today. Tapping is just another technique that’s hard to imagine the guitar being without. 

To learn more about two-handed tapping technique, watch my lesson plan titled, "Two-Handed Tapping." It will help you get going with this incredibly versatile guitar technique.



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4 Methods for Reaching the Creative Zone


4 Methods for Reaching the Creative Zone

Creativity is important and reaching a state of mind where creativity can be easily attained is one of the most valuable skills of any artist... 

The question we need to ask up-front is whether we should think that we need to be in some type of a "creative mind-set" in order to be able to produce a; song, or an improvised melody.

This would mean we would need to question whether or not the concept of "getting into the zone" is necessary at all. Do we really need that for tapping into our creativity? Or, is it better to jump directly into doing the task first (i.e., writing a song or doing improvisation). That way we can just allow everything to "come together from the act" of being involved with creating.

In other words, we just allow the task to become the fuel that creates the inspiration and the creative flow, (instead of going at this from the other way around). We don't need to expect the inspiration and the creative zone to hit first, and then ride the feelings of "that state of mind" to enable us to produce something of substance. 

Why not look toward accomplishing all of this in reverse... Watch the video to learn more.

Methods for Reaching the Creative Zone



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Do You Need a Teacher or a Mentor?

While finding an amazing teacher who can double as a mentor sounds great in theory, finding someone who's actually willing to invest in you over a long period of time can be a real challenge, especially if you’re not that well-connected in the music industry to begin with... 

One of the most common pieces of advice that musicians receive about advancing their career is the advice to find a good teacher who can double as a mentor – someone you look up to, someone who is successful and who can guide you along the path of building a successful music career.

Perhaps, then, it’s time we took a look at what "mentorship" actually looks like, compared to a teacher - especially in a creative and dynamic field like the music industry.

The difference between teachers and mentors
Many of us have had great music teachers, and some of those teaching relationships may have developed into mentor-style relationships, but it’s important to note that teaching and mentorship aren’t necessarily the same thing.

As Paula Marantz Cohen writes in The American Scholar, "A teacher has greater knowledge than a student; a mentor has greater perspective."

TEACHERS: To apply that to the music world, a teacher can help you develop the skills you need to become a better singer or better drummer, but they won’t necessarily help you move forward in your career, or inspire you to improve creatively.

MENTORS: A mentor will work to advise you and help you grow by drawing off his or her own experiences, skills, and connections.This will not only teach you the ground-work that is the music skills, but it will also aide with your long-term development in the industry.

Take a formal approach
For those in search of guidance beyond the level of what their music teacher can offer, the most straightforward path is to take part in a formalized mentorship program either through a professional organization or by hiring someone as a paid consultant.

While this approach can work well in the more business-oriented side of the music world, finding a mentor as an artist through a mentorship program can be more of a challenge.

That’s not to say that the formal approach won’t work for musicians, but in many cases, musicians have to think more creatively and more business-like in order establish the types of relationships that will truly benefit their career.

Finding a teacher who possesses both attributes can be ideal. However, you may need to leave your local region, or have communications with an instructor who is like this via Skype.

Learn from the best
When Bob Dylan first moved to New York City, he told his audiences he had "been travelin' around the country, followin' in Woody Guthrie's footsteps." Dylan later met Guthrie, his childhood idol, and played him a song he had written called “Song to Woody.” Guthrie gave the song his blessing, and the two became friends until Guthrie’s death in 1967.

For many of us, this is what we think of when we think about mentorship in the music industry – an established career veteran giving guidance to an up-and-coming protegĂ©. And there’s good reason to think this way; many other successful musicians, from Quincy Jones to Willie Nelson have found career success through this type of mentorship.

The problem for many of us, however, is that these friendships can be difficult to find. We don’t all have friends in high places, and if you’re not already connected with an established person of influence like this, making that initial connection can be a real challenge.

In order to find a teacher at the level of mentor, it can be helpful to think not just about what you can gain from being around this person, but also about what you can offer. Mentorship is a two-way street, so think about what a more experienced artist might get out of working with you.

Woody Guthrie, being the legend he was, probably had plenty of kids approach him or even write songs for him, but he could tell that there was something special about Dylan when the two met. What do you have that would make someone (perhaps like Woody Guthrie) want to work with you?

Explore unexpected relationships
Mentorship (whether through a fantastic music teacher or through another artist or business-person), tends to be described as a top-down method, but this approach can obscure our vision when it comes to some of the people who could have the most impact in our lives.

While many of us in the music industry will never have the opportunity to work with our childhood heroes, we will hopefully will all have the experience of working with people who inspire us, even if these people aren’t all that much older than us or all too more more advanced in their careers.

These could be people like fellow musicians, other music industry professionals, or even visual artists or poets who inspire you to move forward in your own artistic journey.

While we may not naturally think of some of these people as mentors, we may actually be able to learn more from them than we would from someone who is more advanced in their career; there’s something about going through a journey together that can be truly inspiring for everyone involved.

Because the music industry is based on creativity, sometimes you need to be creative in the way you navigate your career as well. Mentorship won’t always come in the most obvious form, so make sure you’re not blind to the people in your life who could have the most impact.

Remember, too, that mentorship isn’t just about learning skills – it’s about inspiration, challenge, and learning to be the best artist you can be, and sometimes, this inspiration can come from unexpected places.

Casey van Wensem is a freelance composer, musician, and writer living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. You can hear his musical work at birdscompanionmusic.com



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