Saturday, April 20, 2013

5 Albums to take on a deserted Island: By Royce Chambers

John Coltrane:  “Giant Steps”:  Revolutionized chord changes and blistering tempos make this one of the finest recordings of any kind ever made.

Miles Davis:  “Kind of Blue”: The largest selling jazz record of all time, this record established the “cool school”, which is also identified as “west coast” jazz.  This record focused on very simple modal chords, a departure from his earlier recordings.

Art Tatum Solo Sessions:  This blind pianist’s virtuosity is captured in these masterpieces.  Tatum is still regarded as the most technically proficient jazz pianist of all time.

Bill Evans: “Everybody Digs Bill Evans”:  Includes his most famous recording “Peace Piece”, which was improvised in the studio.  The Machine just happened to be running, and you can even hear the drummer adjusting equipment in the background.

Dave Brubeck:  “Take Five”:  A landmark recording exploring odd time signatures and unusual structures.  Brubeck is also known for incorporating a European jazz approach in his improvisations, i.e., the use of classical influences and heavy handed chord voicings.

Record Labels:  Blue Note; Verve; Half Note; Concord; Impulse; Black Lion; Sharp Nine; Naxos;

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Royce's Recommendations for Musicians


Saxophone:  John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Sonny Stitt, Dave Liebman, Bob Berg, Steve Grossman, Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Joe Henderson

Trumpet:  Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Blue Mitchel, Woody Shaw, Dave Douglas, Tim Hagans, Wynton Marsalis

Piano:  Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Drew, Red Garland, Wynton Kelly, Kenny Kirkland, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Uri Caine, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, George Shearing

Bass:  Paul Chambers, Eddie Gomez, John Pattitucci, Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman, Neils-Orsted Peterson, Charles Mingus, Scott Lafaro, Ray Brown, Jaco Pastorious, Stanley Clarke, Mike Pope, Drew Gress

Drums:  Art Taylor, Jack Dejohnette, “Tootie” Heath, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Badal Roy, Bill Stewart, Art Blakey, Joe Jones, “Philly” Joe Jones (Different JJ) Omar Hakim, Adam Nussbaum, Jim White

Guitar:  Wes Montgomery, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern, Charlie Hunter, John Mclaughlin, Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Howard Roberts

Metacognition: Learning about Learning

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Guide To Basic Music Theory - By Trevor Cornwell

I highly Recommend this document my friend has written, He is a very accomplished musician and has alot of information to share.  All credits to Trevor Cornwell.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

The secret to creating memorable guitar solos by Tommy Merry

A very wise musician once said, "now that you know all of your theory, scales and modes....forget them all!"  And its true, knowledge on guitar is power, but that knowledge can only take you so far.  Look at all of the work you have been doing all these years, as just the training wheels of your craft.  If you've done all your homework, its time to leave it all behind now and begin the journey to the mastery of your instrument.

Are you ready for a change?...Then lets begin.

 You need to consider yourself from this moment on as an artist.  Not a guitarist.

Imagine for a moment you are a painter.  Your guitar is your brush, your knowledge of your instrument is your palette, and the listeners ears are your canvas.  A painter would never paint the way guitarists play.  "Let me see I'll paint this shape, connect it to this shape and then do something really cool with my brush that will be very flashy and the people who see it will be wowed!"

Being a true artist of any craft requires getting in touch with ones soul, living with it, understanding it, and then letting it pour out of you like a dam breaking!

Here is some food for thought:

How do you stop playing riffs, scales and modes, and get on with the melody and feeling?

How do you tap your anger, your fears, yours sorrows, and your joys and put them into a song the that Smuckers packs jelly into jars?

Why does some music change our mood so drastically that it can turn happy into introspective, or moody into optimistic?

The answer is emotion!  Every feeling you have ever felt, expressed, or ever will feel can be placed into solos and songs.  The formula is so basic that many overlook it.

Your emotion-->Your solo. -->The listeners ears. --> The listeners emotion.

If this technique is polished, they will feel, what you feel when you are playing.  This is probably the closest thing to mind reading there is.

A personal story:

I once wrote a song about a place that I often vacationed to as a child. The song was called "Cambria" Cambria was an ocean town, and the mood I wanted to portray was the way I felt while down by the seaside.  I wanted the listener of this instrumental song to be able to smell the sea.  I did this by constantly visualizing Cambria in my mind while writing the song and formulating the solo.

The end result?  Several people who have no idea as to what the song was written about told me that the song had a fluid quality and reminded them of THE OCEAN!!

This was the first time that my theory had been tested and proven.  And anyone can use the same concept to enhance or be the root quality of any song or solo.

Flea, the bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, came up with an amazing technique for harnessing emotions in one's playing.  The following is my version of his concept.  Like many exercises, it is deceptively simple in its description.  But trying it is a whole different ball game.  So don't just read the exercises, go through them, and then invent your own versions of them.  Also try not to be self conscious, just let it out!!

First:  Pick up your guitar, plug it in and get ready to solo.

Next:  The object is to play on the guitar the feelings you are experiencing.

1.  Your girlfriend (or boyfriend) told you that after 5 years together they want to break up with you.  Now, play that feeling on guitar.  Live it, visualize it, feel it, and externalize those feelings on your instrument.  Play each exercise for about one minute.

Other ones to try:

2.    The way you felt when you had your first kiss.
3.    The flavor of your favorite food
4.    Riding on a rollercoaster.
5.    Prejudice
6.    Looking up at the sky on a warm and starry nightl
7.    The feeling of being really drunk(not for guitarists under the age of 21 hee hee)
8.    A slap in the face.
9.    A heated argument.
10.  Jumping into an ice cold lake.

Make up some of your own, then play them.

If you keep experimenting with this exercise you will soon see how easy it is to express your feelings on guitar.  Use this technique to take your listeners on a ride of emotions and sensations.

Here's two more variations of this

A) Get together with another guitar player friend.  Pick a topic from the list above (or make up one), then trade off playing the feeling/riff and try to outdo each other =)

B) Again with a fellow guitarist:  Write down 10 ideas/feelings on a sheet of paper.  Each secretly chooses a feeling of idea off the list and solos to it.  Then the other tries to guess which one it is!  Then switch roles.  This is a total blast and the guitarist in last band and I used to do this from time to time.

Try to not get self-conscious about it...just have fun!

Regarding playing emotions on your guitar: Steve Vai uses a similar technique, but just the opposite.  He tries to express the emotions outwardly that his guitar is playing (speaking).  I read this a long time ago about him, and if you have ever seen the master play, you can see every note becomes his whole persona.

No matter what style of music you play, rock, thrash, country, whatever...Always remember that guitar is just a tool to express your feelings.  The true instrument is you!

 © 2002 T. Merry

I would personally like to that Tommy Merry for letting me post this wonderful article.  Please be sure and check out his website @


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

With a little help from my friends

Hello my Fellow Readers,

     I hope you have been enjoying the site as much as I enjoy working on it.  Please help me to better help you by posting comments and or suggestions.  Another thing that would greatly be appreciated is if you share/tell your friends about my site.  I need more followers and more people to advertise my site on various social networks and or music forums. Thank you so much and there will be more posts/videos soon.


Max Neal

Monday, April 1, 2013

Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? (part II)

     If you are going to be a successful teacher then I cannot stress enough the importance of being organized.  This means keeping a schedule of all the students and their lesson times.  You also need to keep payment records.  Some of your students will want to pay in advance. Some will pay per session, keeping records of all of this is not only a great idea it will protect your integrity. You will need to keep accounts.  When payday arrives you should only take out what was earned for the week, again this is for your protection.

     Lets talk about where you are going to teach.  Are you teaching out of your home? A private studio? Perhaps out of a music store?  All of the above mentioned have their pros and cons, for instance a music store will probably take a small percentage of what your make, the upside to this is that they will provide you will students.  If you teach out of your home then you get to keep all the money, but you will have to find the students yourself.

As far as your lesson room it should look neat and organized.  All a lesson room needs to have are the following items:

  • a couple of guitar stands
  • a music stand(preferably a sturdy one)
  • an amp that has 2 inputs
  • a guitar tuner(always check your tuning with your students)
  • some sort of filing cabinet to keep all your materials in.
  • couple of comfortable chairs
  • a boombox, mp3 player and or CD player
  • perhaps an inspiration poster or two

Remember you are a professional so if you teach out to your home don't teach out of your bedroom.  I shouldn't have to explain this one.

    As a teacher I asked myself the question, "how would I want to be taught?"  Ive had numerous teachers that spent the entire lesson time writing out the lesson for me.  I never cared for that approach.  Personally, I would rather give the student a handout that has already been prepared and spend the lesson time talking about how to play it.  This is why I like to use a filing cabinet.  My filing cabinet is filled with preplanned lessons for when I teach.  You should have sections made out on all the topics that you teach,  also a folder with blank sheet music and blank tab paper always helps too.  You never know when you might have to transcribe something for a student.

    This brings me to tell you that while its not necessary to be able to transcribe, it is a skill that you as a teacher/musician should acquire.  Ideally you want to have good enough ears to be able to figure out a song or a part of a song within a thirty minute time span.  Speaking of time, be prepared for students that will not show up or that cancel at the last minute.  Most of the time I just excuse it because I want to retain the client.  however it doesn't hurt to have out some type of policy for this.  I would always allow my students one cancellation per month just due to the fact that sometimes life gets in the way.

    Get to know your students, this is a no brainer. Find out what type of music they like and what there goals are as a student.  Remember not all of your students want to learn to be musicians.  Most of them just want to learn a few basic concepts.   Cater to the individual, one size does not fit all.

Max Neal