Sunday, June 13, 2021

Introducing Soloing, pt.IV - My Favorite Backing Tracks

Last month I talked about using backing tracks with students as they begin to get into soloing and start to develop their own licks. It is a good idea for the teacher to create a list of backing tracks with various tempos and grooves for students as different music will elicit a different reaction when playing along with it.   

Here is a list of my Top 10 Backing Tracks I share with my students - the majority are based off real songs. Hope you and your students enjoy them!

1. Pink Floyd – Great Gig on the Sky in G

2. BB King – The Thrill is Gone in B minor

3. Gorgeous Blues in G

4. Minor Blues in A 

5. Slow Whiskey Blues in C minor

6. E minor soft backing track 

7. Jimi Hendrix - Foxy Lady in F#

8. Creamy Blues in D minor

9. The Allman Brothers – Whipping Post in A

10. Mountain – Mississippi Queen in G

Send me a list of your favorite backing tracks and I'll compile a list for a future post! 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Introducing Soloing, pt. III - Backing Tracks

Once your students have started to develop their own licks as discussed in last month's post, they should begin to apply them. One of the most wonderful tools available to musicians of all styles is the backing track. In the past backing tracks were something that could only be purchased or self-created, but with the advent of the Internet and YouTube there is an literally thousands available for free. 

If you are unfamiliar with backing tracks, it is a piece of music written in a certain key, tempo and style for musicians (in our case guitarists) to practice with; most often used to practice soloing. These backing tracks run the gamut from "low budget" to "professional quality". Interestingly enough, backing tracks can be a simple 12 Bar Blues or a "recreation" of a classic rock song. Some tracks even indicate the chord changes and various scales and can run up to 10 minutes and longer!

Although YouTube is filled with endless backing tracks, you may want to give a look. The folks at Guitar Tone Master offer backing tracks for guitar, bass, drums while also giving guitar neck diagrams for all sorts of scales - from pentatonic to the modes. There's a lot there to sift through so enjoy yourself - subscribe to their YouTube channel and like their Facebook page. These folks a fabulous resource for guitar teachers, students and players of all levels!   

If you have any favorite backing tracks drop me a line and let me know. Next month I'll drop a list of my top 10 favorite backing tracks!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Introducing Soloing, pt. II - Creating Licks

Many students struggle learning how to solo because they do not know how to proceed - What do I do? How long should a lick be? Where should I start? This month we'll talk about simple guidelines a teacher can give their students so that they can develop their own licks. 

Guitar players learn to solo by doing two things: 1) They "steal" - meaning students learn other people's licks and incorporate them into their own playing. 2) They develop their own licks applying what they have learned. In truth I like to have students do both at the same time, however the latter is always more difficult as students need to develop confidence and get the creative juices flowing. Ultimately the idea is for players to develop a "stockpile" of licks they can fall back on when they are soloing and string them together to create cohesive solos. 

In February's post I created some simple guitar licks based on the minor pentatonic scale in the key of A; use these licks as a comparison for students as they develop licks of their own. I like to give students two simple guidelines: First, keep the licks short - no more that a measure long. Second, have them use the root of the scale (in this case "A") as the starting and ending note of their licks or what may be called a "target note". This will help them develop an "ear" for licks that will sound good and have a starting/ending point. Have  students develop a series of licks, memorize them and string them together into longer phrases.

Next month I'll discuss how to apply them!