The art of being prepared.
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”
Have you ever been in the situation where you had to improvise on the spot, and your solo did not work out quite as you have expected?
(Anyone claiming they never have an adverse solo day is simply lying. We all have at times even the best of us).
A lot of intermediate and semi-advanced guitarists have troubles improvising with confidence, primarily due to a lack of knowledge.
Your knowledge of the guitar, neck, repertoire of leads and lines and understanding of theory (e.g. the 9th sounds remarkably nostalgic especially over a minor chord) is probably the primary cause of this “did-not-work-quite-as-well-as-I-expected effect”.
You see, it is more than your knowledge alone; it is also your speed of access. The amount of millisecond it takes to play whatever you hear (which means genuinely know – no one hears it all – it is actually more know than hear) over a particular chord.
So yes, the speed of access is of the essence.
The test if you genuinely know your stuff is a straightforward one. How much effort (in terms of brain work) does it take for you to flick your eyes?
It is instant!
That is precisely what you need to be prepared – instant knowledge!
Now contrary to McDonald’s you can’t simply order it at £5 / $7 a burger and get it in 5 minutes.
This one baby – takes years!!!!
When a mighty general goes to war, he has an arsenal of weaponry, soldiers and strategies under his commands.
People say music is all about peace and while it might be true to a certain audience often times music (or at least the playing of it) can be a war that must be won.
Every time you step onto the stage and an unexpected solo is forced on you – then you are in a war. A war against a mediocre guitar solo.
In this “musical war” your ammunition is your knowledge of the neck and licks that you’ve memorised. Inside out in all five positions of the neck. As well as across them, through them and around them!
In a war, the ideal position is to have absolute control over your territories and potential control over your enemies land.
Having options put you in control – at the very least, it gives you ammunition to have a fierce fight.
Lend me your imagination for a while.
Let’s set the scene – we are jamming at a hugely influential concert, for very high up military officials. We dare not make a mistake; we’ve got to sound good.
Here’s our chord progression:
At first glance, you might think we’re in F# major, not so. The theoretical analysis is:
The first chord is F# major, but its original function is F# minor. We simply super impose the major instead of the minor.
Now here is the tricky part!
If we are jamming, then there is NO TIME to do a theoretical analysis. Zilch!
You have to have the weapons prepared before the war.
Here’s a little bit of lead for you can play over the chord progression: (I would suggest a mixture of tapping and picking)
That means you’ve got to BUILD UP AN ARSENAL of guitar licks and lines for different situations to use as offensive and defensive weaponry when it’s time for war!
It’s wise to learn from the wise!
The Swiss are a nation for one that is prepared to the utmost. They all have underground bomb shelters; their army has “secret mountain chambers” and over 1 million men ready to fight within a moment!
If the Swiss (as a nation) would play the guitar, it would undoubtedly be ready for totally any situation at all times. I’m not saying Swiss guitarists are the best in the world; I’m just comparing how the nation operates with how we should operate.
What’s the secret?
Good old-fashioned timekeeping and being thoroughly prepared by practising in a practice time and working on essential matters!
The analogy of the Swiss (as a nation) shows us that being prepared is essential. The secret of your success is getting to know your guitar neck inside out.
I required all my students to memorise and create a notebook of licks across all five positions.
By creating their notebook of licks, they create a division between success and failure on the success side. Meaning it becomes more and more difficult to fail!
Yngwie Malmsteen stated that it was extremely difficult for him to play the wrong notes.
He has created the division between success and failure, and it’s a humongous division. So it’s near impossible for him to fail when improvising.
At the basic level of preparation, my students are required to know five licks per pentatonic position. This will at least give them 25 licks over the neck along with other sequences and techniques. My students need to know them as well as they know their name. (or they are in trouble)
It takes guts to master the neck, and with patience, a war is won!
In the “Art of War”, Sun Tzu said that the war was won as many calculations had been made.
In guitar playing, the war is won by really calculating all melodic possibilities, meditating on them and playing through all five positions. When you’ve done, that the war will begin to be in your favour!
Becoming a mature guitarist means knowing your stuff. There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard and memorise as well as internalise your licks until you own them!
Maturity means being able to play and improvise with confidence across the entire guitar neck!
You must be to advise on all five positions as well as across and through the neck.
Statistics is a tremendously useful tool in life out of 100 guitarists only one will exceed, four will do well, and one will be excellent!
The majority will suck.
Unfortunately, it is the same in every area of life.
The secret is to take a look at what the 1% are doing. Yes, they practised diligently. Yes, they know their stuff, but where does the inspiration come from as well as knowledge and edge – nine times out of 10 they will have a guitar mentor and instructor to guide them.
They will study with an expert who can show them the way and walk with them until they reach it – risk-free!
Your playing will improve drastically in very surprising avenues, by studying with a virtuoso guitar teacher. You will be able to do what you thought was impossible. This will not come overnight, but with my expert guidance, your dreams will become a reality.
The investment you make into your guitar learning will pay dividends that far exceed the initial investment in due time.
I’m currently accepting a limited number of new students who are radical about improving their entire guitar playing and overhauling their complete knowledge of the instrument.
I have a few options available to you to learn. Depending upon how serious you are, I offer a silver program (3 to 5 people per class), a gold program (two people per class) as well is my “Ultimate Access” guitar program giving you the real privilege to be one of my one-to-one students.
But you have to live in London. Or at least in the UK! If you live abroad, I also offer Skype guitar lessons where you can learn leaps and bounds. (from a distance)
I guarantee that there is no more straightforward method to learn how to become a genuinely proficient guitarist than learning with a master.
By studying with me, you will discover your real capabilities and obtain Freedom from being enslaved to not knowing.