Guitar: Apps, Technology and Practice
Have you ever wondered which apps, software and technology would be best to use in order to best develop your guitar playing techniques and support your practice time?
A few years ago, I began to record my thoughts on this topic as the basis of a useful article for others. It is very easy to spend a long time looking at all the resources out there and become trapped in a maelstrom of videos, articles, apps and technology, when what you know you really need is to be picking up your guitar and practising in a focused and effective way. Hopefully, this article will help you to bypass some of the time which I wasted testing different ways to support my own guitar playing development and help you to order the time you spend better; I know only too well what it is like to not know how to move quickest along your musical path.
Looking back on all my own time practising, the main piece of advice I have for anyone out there learning the guitar is to spend time developing your ear: Meaning, become proficient early on at identifying intervals, pitch, rhythm, chords and harmonies. This will accelerate your learning more than any one other thing! It also increases your ability to transcribe, so you can spend your practice time listening to music you want to play, analysing it and feeling the groove rather than trying to copy music note for note via tabs (a slow and laborious task which does not of itself quickly improve your playing). Having a good musical ear is also essential when playing with other musicians, an activity which once again improves your musicianship, sensitivity and the dynamics in your playing. It is also needed in order to sing, a skill which again develops your ear in itself.
See the article on my website for further details about this and the technology you can use to kickstart this ability, but if I had to point students of music toward any one piece of software, it would be Earmaster – a brilliant piece of software with huge amounts of exercises in all areas for development. This would be closely followed by Transcribe and Ultimate Guitar Tabs. The other thing I would advise is to listen to my guitar podcast, in which my own excellent teacher (Dan Davies) has very generously allowed me to record our lessons, edit them and then share them via SoundCloud, iTunes and Stitcher. See my website for links, support and details: tunein-toneup.com. I advise listening to it for some great advice and then researching yourself through tuition videos for how to play the songs we choose and then returning to the podcast to fine tune your skills. Please let us know if we can do anything to improve this and we’ll see what we can do.
Enjoy your woodshed time with your guitar and play what you find difficult today to see it become easier tomorrow. Be goal driven and decide now what you want your playing to sound like and be like and then put into your practice schedule what you want to hear in your playing. Don’t be discouraged by guitarists better than you, but instead learn everything you can from them. Remember to help those behind you on the path and forget your ego, this is not what real music is about and alienates others. Be determined and persevere if this is the skill you want to develop and if this is the pastime you love. For me, playing the guitar is much more than an empty activity: Instead it is my meditation, mindfulness, introspection, creativity and something spiritual, which informs and deepens all the other areas of my life. Never stop learning!