Guest Author: Peter Morales
Blues Players – Here are the 5 greatest tips of all times made by famous people and how they can apply to guitar playing. I’ve heard and read these tips over several years and all of them have earned their weight in gold.
5 Best Blues Guitar Tips of All Time:
1) “What You Think, You Become.” – Ghandi
I came across this quote in the book entitled “Fearless Creating”, which is written by Eric Maisel . It emphasized the possibilities that the things we try to make all begin in our ideas, and imagination. I cast this quote on my wall, my notepad, my hand, everywhere for a number of years to remind myself to keep my purpose present in my mind, and it always assisted me to not give a whole lot of attention to uninvited negative thoughts.
2) “There is Always a Way” – Vinnie Colaiuta
I’ve read this in an interview with Vinnie in a friend’s magazine some years back relating to drums. The entire gist of the article was that when he was faced with a abstract problem, or when he was trying to pick up something especially challenging, or new, he was of the mind that there was “always a way” to get it, be it an adjustment of posture, a new way of looking at the execution of it, a new way of playing the blues guitar instrument, something to change to accomplish what was previously believed to be “impossible”. I always try to use this when moving up the food chain, trying to get to the succeeding level. It has resulted in some great results, if not necessarily technical prowess, certainly something creative and unique.
3) “Poor Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal” -Picasso or Stravinsky
I have overheard that it was either one of these extraordinary artists who said this. Also a corrolary…”To be a really good guitarist, you must copy the styles of other blues guitarists.”-Frank Gambale.
Well, first what can we steal? Chord progressions, tempo, groove, melodic phrase, (backwards melody!) Expressive style, mental attitude. What is the difference between that and “borrowing”? I think the great artist turns his thievery into something entirely his own, perhaps by unabashedly admitting the theft and developing it into a whole new foundation. Think –The Beatles, Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Page, Clapton, Ornette Coleman, Elvis. Whereas the “borrower” is feigning to us that his original work has never before been heard and they have a contrived quality. This can be a very fine line.
Prior to ever reading the interview with Frank Gambale, saying that imitating styles was a invaluable tool, I was intrusted to some obscure concept of “being original”. When I acquired the accuracy of that affirmation, I set about to work, and it has changed my life. I embraced the point of view that I was a student, and had a great deal to learn from those who preceded me, that music and its history was outside of myself, and was greater than I was. I am now a firm believer that both of these aspects expand one’s growth to an immense degree. They give the player completely fresh languages to speak, and once you speak new languages, you will be able to create your personal great stories. Stories with depth and richness.
4) “The Impossible Can Be Accomplished Through Meditation and Concentration” – The Cup and Saucer Guy
I recall being kind of trapped on a plateau with my blues guitar playing at one point. I had achieved a good deal, but I didn’t know how to really move ahead. I was watching a variety tv show on television one night. A man came on balancing one hundred cups and saucers. He did this for what appeared to be a very long time and then he allow them to all crash around him. As the audience applauded his effort, the host asked him how he had learned to do this. His answer was that through meditation, he was able to achieve the necessary concentration. I began my own meditation methods, first applying a easy technique of being still, which I had discovered in the pieces of writing of people like J. Krishnamurti, and Tara Singh. Nothing which requires years to master, but a simple way of continuing to quiet the mind, increasing concentration, focus, and listening, just being in a very calm and relaxed state, paying attention. I now carry this stillness and relaxation to all my guitar performances.
5) “The Three Month Rule” – Roger Mckinley
Roger Mckinley was a associate student at Berklee. Roger was also a very gifted rock and blues guitarist, who, when I first came across him, was imitating Pat Martino. Just 2 years later, had created his own explosive unique style. ( see tip#3!) He left the jaws of many around him agape (and he never seemed to be committing any effort into it!) I was surprised that he befriended lil’ ol’ me and was willing to jam with me. I understood and learn so much from him on just a single jam session. One of the things he told me is that it takes a good 8 weeks to bring an element of originality into your playing. This has saved me a good deal of frustration, and tempered my natural impatience. I have come to a conclusion that no matter how much I practise something, it is usually the better part of 8 weeks before I actually can master it.
I hope you can use these practical and inspiration quote to bring your music and guitar playing to greater heights.
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