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5 essential things you need when practicing

Practicing is crucial if you are wanting to learn an instrument and be any good at it. In our previous article we explained how to practice effectively, and to continue that further here are 5 essential things you need to get the most out of your practice sessions.

 
 

1. Music with speakers

Playing along to music is important if you want to hear how it is supposed to be done. If you are learning a blues scale, then listen to B.B. King or John Mayer using it in action. If you are learning a new style of music then immerse yourself in it. Playing along to music will help you to improve your ear and help you with rhythm and much more. Make sure the speakers do the song justice and are loud enough so you can play along and hear the track at the same time.

Sign up to a free subscription of Spotify, or use free music on YouTube so you have all the songs you will ever need. Or subscibe to the paid subscriptions on Apple Music or Spotify.

 
 

2. An instrument that is ‘good to go’ and a place to practice!

If it takes you more than 5 minutes to get started playing your instrument you are probably going to lose interest and move onto something else. So get your instrument sorted, make sure it has all its strings on it (or restring it if it has been a while). If you are a guitarist make sure you have a tuner on your guitar that works and you can use instantly. For piano players ring up your local piano tuner and get it sounding it’s best. Check out the music shop Hobgoblin or Mickleburgh Music for all your music equipment needs.

Secondly have an area in your house, apartment or room where you have everything set up, your guitar on a stand, a music stand with all your music and somewhere where you won’t get disturbed. 

 
 

3. Books/music that are organised.

Music notation is an amazing thing, you can get books on everything and anything. Different techniques, different styles, different songs, bands, albums, and everything else you can think of. But it is important to stay organised and keep everything together in a way that makes sense to you. Or if you have sheets of music, get yourself a folder so you can keep them all organised neatly and it is easy to flick through the pages.

Be sure to check out our first book release which is available in paperback and on kindle. Every chord shape you will ever need is out now. 

 
 

4. A metronome of any kind

Rhythm is important and having a metronome can really help with improving your ability to play in time on your chosen instrument. Nowadays metronomes come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy an old fashioned physical one, a digital one, an in-ear metronome (like the drummer and bass player above), there is even a metronome ap and one built into google. Check it out for yourself.

Another great way to play along to a metronome is to play to drums. If you simply write into YouTube… drum beat 100bpm (or whichever tempo you require), there are thousands of free beats to play along to. 

 
 

5. A practice diary

In our last article on how to practice we gave a way a practice diary download and showed an example of how to fill it in. Go check that article out and download that HERE. Having a practice diary will make your practice sessions have clarity and structure, keep you on point and help you to get the most out of your sessions.

We have gone one further in this article and you can download a whole practice diary book, that you can print at home for free. Remember to print double sided. 

 
 
 
 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music. 

5 different ways to play a dominant 7th chord using the CAGED Method

The CAGED Method is a tried and tested system that allows guitarists to play chords, scales and arpeggios in different positions on the fretboard. It is very normal as a guitarist to spend most of your time playing in the open position especially in the first few years of picking up the instrument.

However to really progress on the guitar there comes a point when you need to push your playing to the next level and break out of your comfort zone by exploring the rest of the neck.

Let us look at the dominant 7th chord. These chords feature a minor 7th over a major triad.  They are widely used in jazz, and seen in sequences such as ii7-V7-Imaj7.

G dominant 7th - E Shape

First up lets look at the E Shape, which is featured in lots of blues songs…

 
 

G dominant 7th - D Shape

Next up the D Shape. This resembles the D7 open chord you may have played before, however we are playing it in the key of G minor.

 
 

G dominant 7th - C Shape

Now we have the C shape, again a very popular chord in jazz and blues.

 
 

G dominant 7th - A Shape

Then we get the A shape, a nice inversion of this chord which you will see in many songs in all different keys.

 
 

G dominant 7th - G Shape

Finally we get the G shape. An inversion on the bottom four strings that will give you a different inversion to use over a dominant 7th chord.

 


DO YOU WANT TO LEARN ALL YOUR CHORDS?

We have released our first book (featuring 167 different chord types, each in 5 inversions - 835 shapes in total!).

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 
 
 

5 different ways to play a minor chord using the CAGED Method

The CAGED Method is a tried and tested system that allows guitarists to play chords, scales and arpeggios in different positions on the fretboard. It is very normal as a guitarist to spend most of your time playing in the open position especially in the first few years of picking up the instrument.

However to really progress on the guitar there comes a point when you need to push your playing to the next level and break out of your comfort zone by exploring the rest of the neck.

What better place to start than learning some minor chords in each area of the neck?

G minor - E Shape

First up let’s look at the E Shape, this is one of the first minor barre chords most guitarists learn.

 
 

G minor - D Shape

Next up the D Shape, this resembles the D minor open chord you may have played before, however we are playing it in the key of G minor.

 
 

G minor - C Shape

Now we have the C shape, a little trickier to get under your fingers but if you persist you can get it just as good as any other.

 
 

G minor - A Shape

Then we get the A shape, this is another very popular barre chord you see in lots of songs, usually in the key of B minor. Check it out in the key of G minor.

 
 

G minor - G Shape

Finally we get the G shape. It may be difficult to play all the notes suggested in the chord box below, so you may decide to play some of the notes instead of the whole chord entirely. Check out the video to see what I mean (this same idea can be applied to any chord).

 


DO YOU WANT TO LEARN ALL YOUR CHORDS?

We have released our first book (featuring 167 different chord types, each in 5 inversions - 835 shapes in total!).

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 
 
 

How learning chords will help your playing...

As a guitarist it is very easy to get sidetracked by playing lead guitar, learning solos, riffs and basically anything that is fast and fun to play. Usually chords are at the back of our minds, other than the first few months when we learn open and power chords, most guitarists will stop learning chords and move onto something more exciting.

There is nothing wrong with this as lead playing gets your chops up and it makes learning really fun. However here are some reasons why it might be time to go back over some of your chords and learn them in different positions around the neck.

 
 

1. Chords will help your lead playing

Yes! Sounds crazy, but spending some time learning different chords, in different positions on the neck will actually aid your lead playing. Chords can be tricky and the time spent mastering some of the harder ones will make your fingers stronger and faster at changes.

 
 

2. Write more interesting chord progressions

Are you sticking to playing open chords in every song you write or play? This is a common issue and can really affect your ability to progress with songwriting. It is easy to lose interest when playing the same old chords all the time. You may even find all your songs are starting to sound the same. Learning different chord types and inversions will give you new sounds and shapes to inspire you!

 
 

3. Hear different sounds

Chords are magical, and when you first hear some chords they may sound strange or you may really love them. Stick with them and learn as many as possible and you will be shocked by what chords you like the sound of. We have diminished, major, minor, augmented, altered, suspended chords at our disposal so we might as well use them!

 
 

4. Play songs in many different ways

If you spend some time studying chords and the different shapes, it will mean you can use everything you have mastered in many different situations. When learning a song, try out all the different ways to play each chord and see what sounds best to you!

 
 

5. Be able to work out songs quicker

Being able to identify chords will allow you to move away from relying on tablature to learn a song. All chord types have particular feelings and sounds and it takes playing through them to start understanding how they are different to one another. Spend some time learning your chords and your ear will improve.

 
 

6. Learn the notes on the guitar

Memorising the notes on the guitar seems like an impossible task, especially when you are new to the instrument. Learning chords however is a fun way to master the fretboard as each position of the neck you will be able to play chords and even identify the intervals within them.

 
 

7. Play with any other musician or instrument

If you are serious about being a guitarist then chords will allow you to play with any musician out there. If you rely too heavily on using a capo and still call an ‘E minor shape’ an E minor chord when your capo is on the fifth fret and it is actually A minor, for example, then it is time to learn the real names to some new chords. If your dream is to be a session player, recording artist, or in a band then chords will get you there!

 
 

8. Relate scales and arpeggios to chords

Learning scales and arpeggios can seem like a big task. However on guitar you are lucky as in each position of the neck you can play a corresponding chord that will highlight the scale or arpeggio you are playing. Learn the CAGED system and each chord in every position and this will allow you not only to remember your scales, but to hear the tonality of where the scale should be used.

 
 

9. Unlock the fretboard

The CAGED system allows you to play chords in the five different positions of the neck and it is a great way to get around the fretboard. Learning the fretboard will allow you to play in different keys and get you out of the open chords box (within the first 3 frets).

 
 

10. IT’S FUN!

Music is the best thing in the world and you never stop learning! Chords are just another string to your bow as a guitarist and learning chords is super fun. It will make every time you sit down and pick up your instrument more exciting than the last.

 
 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

BOOK RELEASE - Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need

We are proud to announce that we have released our very first book. “Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need: Using the CAGED system - For Guitar’ written by James Ashbury and edited by Kit Bennett.

Playing guitar has many stages: you start off learning a few chords, followed by riffs, solos, and then hopefully some songs. The next few months or years are filled with playing anything you can get your hands on. Most guitarists then hit the stage where they don’t know what to learn next. You might spend lots of time looking on YouTube and endlessly searching the Internet for something that will get you to the next level of playing.

We have been through this process and seen endless guitarists hit the same wall. That is why we created Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need, a book that is based on the CAGED Method, a simple way of mastering the fretboard and getting you out of the open position. 

 
 

•167 different chord types, each in 5 inversions (835 shapes in total!)

•Clear diagrams with interval names and fret numbers.

•Featuring Major, Minor, Dominant, Diminished, Augmented, Suspended, Altered Suspended and Altered Chords.

•Easy to read and quick to find each chord.

•All chord formulas detailed in an easy to understand layout.

This book is perfect for a songwriter looking for new chords and sounds to inspire them to write more songs. Flick through this book and challenge yourself to play the different shapes and make your songs sound how you want to! Also if you are a guitarist in a band and need a second way of playing a chord progression to give you different harmonies and parts, then this book can make this happen! Have fun with it and remember to keep trying out new chord shapes and ideas.

 
 
 

Paperback and Kindle version available to buy today.

Please show your support for this book by getting the book and sharing with your fellow musicians!

 

How to conquer learning an instrument this new year!

The new year is fast approaching! Learning an instrument is usually on lots of peoples list of resolutions each year, but it can be very difficult to stick to the plan. Statistics say only 8% of people actually stick to their new years resolutions!

We are here to help and have 5 tips to ensure you finally conquer learning an instrument this year…

 
 

1. Find the right tutor!

Everyone learns in different ways and at Bristol House of Music we believe that having one-to-one private lessons is the perfect way to grasp an instrument. But you may prefer learning online, learning via Skype or in group classes. Also it is important that you enjoy your lessons and get on with your teacher. Find someone who is enthusiastic about teaching, understands the best way for you to learn, and gets the best out of you.

 
 

2. Create a practice diary

Having a practice diary and planning each practice session will help you get the most out of your learning. Create goals and targets of what you need to work on. Check out our article on how to practice and download our free practice diary by clicking HERE.

 
 

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself!

Learning an instrument takes some time, and to be honest it’s something you will continue to improve on forever! Recognise the things you are good at and what you have achieved and be proud of what you have learnt already. This will give you confidence to keep going!

 
 

4. Tell everyone you are learning!

Be proud that you are learning an instrument! Tell the world, tell your friends and family and make sure they know you need time to practice and improve. If you have the support of your friends and family it will motivate you to continue having lessons and to pick up the instrument every day and work on something.

 
 

5. RELAX AND ENJOY IT

Learning an instrument should be enjoyable, so relax, play as often as you can and enjoy the process. This may require some patience, but it will be worth it! Learn songs that you love and you will be amazed at your progress!

 
 

At Bristol House of Music we believe everyone can and should learn and instrument. We teach guitar, bass, piano, vocals, ukulele, songwriting and music theory. Book your first free lesson today and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

3 essential Christmas songs every guitarist/ ukulele player should know! Play-along with free TABS!

IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!

Yes it’s that time of year again! The most magical time, when all your favourite Christmas songs start appearing on the radio, getting you in the festive spirit!

As a Christmas gift from us at Bristol House of Music, here are 3 songs that every guitarist or ukulele player should know! Play through them and enjoy…

SLADE - MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY

One of our favourites, Wolverhampton band Slade. This song was released in 1973 and remained in the charts for nine weeks and continues to dominate the Christmas charts each year!

ELTON JOHN - STEP INTO CHRISTMAS

Elton John’s hit Step Into Christmas was released in 1973, and was once the ninth most played Christmas song in the United Kingdom. It has sold over 200,000 copies.

THE POGUES & KIRSTY MCCOLL - FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK

We reckon this is one of the harder Christmas songs to perfect, but it is our absolute favourite, and it only has four chords! Originally released in 1987, it has become a classic and is the most played Christmas song in the UK in the 21st Century. WOW!

Get learning and have a sing along this Christmas! We hope you enjoyed this lesson, please check out our other articles.

At Bristol House of Music we teach guitar, bass, piano, vocals, ukulele, songwriting and music theory. Fill out the form below to book your first free lesson today:

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

How to write a hit song - A focus on chord progressions

Writing a hit song takes a certain amount of skill and requires the ability to write lyrics, melodies and chord progressions. Many hit songs follow certain patterns, whether by accident or intentionally. In this article we are focusing on three hit songs by LP, First Aid Kit and John Mayer. We will identify how they have made each chord progression and why it works so well to deliver a hit song.

First things first we are going to harmonise a major scale to find some of the possible chords within it, starting with three-note chords (otherwise known as triads). The chords we find will go together nicely as they are from the same scale.

 

We can do the same thing with the natural minor scale, again here are the triads we get:

We can also add an extra note on to the top of the chords, which is called a 7th (seven notes up from the root of the chord).

Here is the C natural minor scale harmonised in 7ths:

 

By harmonising the scales we can see what chords are available to us when songwriting. Next let’s analyse some hit songs and see what is going on…

LP - Lost On You

 
 

First up is LP (Laura Pergolizzi), a very successful songwriter from New York. This song is one of her breakthrough hits and it went Gold and Platinum in many countries. Check out THIS video where she talks about the song’s success.

It is comprised of 3 chords… Yes!!! Only three chords make up the whole song. They are Bb minor, Eb major and F minor. Play through the chords below (or take a listen).

 
 

If we look at our F natural minor scale we find the above three chords within the harmonised version. This chord sequence can be called a iv-VII-i.

 

JOHN MAYER - GRAVITY

 
 
 

Next up we take a look at John Mayer’s hit song ‘Gravity’, a song that is #84 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time. John Mayer has lots of hit songs and this one in particular has a clever chord progression.

 

The initial chord progression is in the key of G major, all the way up to when he plays Gm/Bb to the Ebmaj7 chord. These chords are not found in the G major scale, but are taken from the Bb major scale. So during these two chords there is a key change happening. Then in order to return to the G major key, he uses the D7 chord because it is a dominant chord and contains the leading note (F#) that wants to resolve back to G major. Clever!

Take a look at both of these harmonised scales and try to find the chords used above.

First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

Finally let’s look at First Aid Kit’s song ‘My Silver Lining’; the first single from their very successful album ‘Stay Gold’, which charted all over the world.

This song is a classic pop song, which has a very simple verse (F#minor, A major and E major), and a chorus that uses the same chords but with the addition of D major.

All of these chords are within the harmonised F# minor scale. The verse chord progression can be called i - III - VII - i and the chorus is VI - III - VII - i.

Take a look at the harmonised F# minor scale below:

So now you see how important getting the right chord progression is when writing a hit song. Set yourself the task of writing a verse and chorus, using a maximum of 4 chords from one of the scales above. We can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson free and offer lessons in songwriting, guitar, piano, vocals, bass, ukulele, and music theory. Book your first lesson today!

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

The cost of learning an instrument and why we believe in affordable lessons

At Bristol House of Music we believe in giving affordable lessons at a high standard. Learning music shouldn’t break the bank, and you should want to come to your lessons and really enjoy learning. That is why we offer the first lesson free, so you can try it out and see if it is for you (you can even borrow an instrument).

 

Here is a breakdown of how much it is likely to cost you to start learning…

 
The instrument.jpg
 

1. The instrument £0-150

You are going to need an instrument if you are going to learn to play, mainly so you can practice what you learn each week. We have put this down as £0-£150. You can get very reasonably priced instruments nowadays. In Bristol there are great music shops including Mickleburgh Music and Hobgoblin who have a whole range of starter instruments available. There are also lots of good second hand deals on websites like Gumtree, Ebay and Facebook. We are always here to help you with buying your first instrument and are happy to advise you.

 
 

2. Lessons - £20

Having lessons is going to start you off on the right path. The teachers at Bristol House of Music offer the first lesson completely free so you can ‘try before you buy’. You are welcome to use our guitars and other instruments to see if it’s something you want to pursue. Lessons are just £20 per hour (we also offer 30 minutes for £10 and 45 minutes for £15). 

 
 

3. Musical accessories - £20

There are a few items that make learning a little easier. If you are learning guitar or ukulele, you will need a capo, a plectrum and maybe a strap. Also it is good to get yourself a clip-on tuner so you can tune your instrument. These are also very inexpensive. If you play piano you may need a couple of books none of which are very costly.

TOTAL

INITIAL COST = Minimum of £20, Maximum of £170.

LESSON COSTS = Minimum of £40 per month. Maximum of £80 per month (not forgetting the first lesson is free).

 

Having a one-hour lesson each week is ideal as it gives you plenty of time to learn effectively and to go over new ideas thoroughly. At Bristol House of Music we think everyone should have the opportunity to learn an instrument as it is one of the best things you will ever do, hence our affordable rates.


Fill out the form below and book your first free lesson today:

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn?
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

How long does it take to learn an instrument? With tips to learn faster

One of the most common questions we get at Bristol House of Music is how long does it take to learn? Or how long did it take us to learn?

 

James and Kit’s (the teachers at Bristol House of Music) stories are quite different with learning guitar and piano. 

 

James Ashbury (Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Songwriting Teacher)

James ‘I started playing guitar when I was 14 at school, all my friends were playing and my dad bought me my first guitar when it was the summer holidays. I instantly became attached to it and tried to learn everything I could. I had guitar lessons with my school but they were terrible, and I didn’t get very far! Luckily I then got accepted to the Academy of Music and Sound where I started studying guitar. It was hard because I was a lot worse than everyone else, but I put the effort in and the results were incredible. I would say it took about a year before I started feeling comfortable and got over the initial annoyances of learning an instrument. I have now been playing for nearly 15 years and it has been an crazy ride!’ 

 
 

Kit ‘I grew up with a piano in the house and started having lessons at around 6 years old. Like most children who start that young I took to it right away and could sight read pretty much from the outset. I also took up the guitar when I hit my teens, and started songwriting which I absolutely loved. This took me away from the piano for a while, and in my early 20s I fell back in love with it and I gave myself a summer to practice intensely and get my skills back up to scratch. I became obsessed, playing between 4 and 8 hours a day 7 days a week, going to work in the evenings. This continued for a few years until I joined Wildflowers and started touring.  I still practice between 1 and 6 hours a day and always will. So depending on your schedule I would say that it takes anywhere from a few months to a few years to get good.’

Kit Bennett (Piano, Vocals, Songwriting and Music Theory Teacher)

 

Everyone’s story is a little different learning an instrument, but here are 5 tips of how to learn faster:

 
 

1. Practice, Practice, Practice 

So it may seem obvious, but you are only going to improve on your instrument if you practice. It is very important however, that you practice correctly. Playing the same old things for weeks on end aren’t going to get you anywhere. By practicing to a structure and constantly challenging yourself you will see amazing results. Click here to read our article on how to practice.

 
 

2. Have lessons! 

Taking lessons with a good teacher is a sure fire way to learn an instrument. Lessons nowadays can be affordable and at Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson free, then it’s £20 per hour. By having someone give you things to practice that challenge you each week, you learn the instrument much faster than if you are trying to figure it out on your own.

 
 

3. Play with other musicians

Playing with other people can really progress your learning. When you are put on the spot and have to play along with someone else it can really make you get to those chords faster.  It will also make you come up with cool ideas that you’d have never thought of playing alone.

 
 

4. Pick an instrument you actually want to learn

If you really want to learn an instrument then it will make picking it up and practicing it so much more appealing. Learning an instrument is fun and enjoyable and the achievement of getting better on it feels amazing. But there are lots of moments where it feels like a struggle, so if you have that drive to learn it you will get better so much quicker.

 
 

5. immerse yourself in music

Surround yourself by music. Listen to songs that you are learning and others you are interested in. Focus on the instrument you are learning and single out what they are playing. Go to gigs and listen to as much music as possible! It really does help you to better understand what is going on.

 

At Bristol House of Music we teach guitar, piano, ukulele, vocals, bass, songwriting and music theory. Our lessons are affordable, fun and will get you playing in no time! Book your first free lesson below by filling out the form:

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?
direct/friend/google/facebook/twitter/gumtree/otherteachingwebsite/flyer

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

What happens in the first free lesson?

Bristol House of Music has been buzzing since we opened in August 2018 and lots of people have taken advantage of the first FREE lesson!  It is a great way of experiencing what it’s like learning with us and to find out if it’s something you’d be interested in pursuing.

 
 

1. Meet your tutor!

If you are a budding guitarist, bassist, ukulele player or songwriter you will meet James. James has been playing and teaching for over 15 years and has taught well over 200 students of all levels. Aside from teaching, he and his band Wildflowers have toured the world with the likes of Robert Plant, George Ezra and Tom Odell, James also went out as the guitar tech for Jake Bugg.

If you are a budding pianist, keyboard player, vocalist, songwriter or music theory learner you will be having lessons with Kit. She is equally as qualified and experienced having written hundreds of songs and been classically trained. Her songs have been played on radio shows such as Graham Norton and Bob Harris (BBC Radio 2) and she has gigged all around the world in front of huge audiences.

 
 

2. Talk about your goals with music!

We acknowledge and enjoy the fact that everyone likes different music, or has been playing for varying amounts of time. You may have never played before or you may have been playing for most of your life. This is really important, and understanding why you want to learn and what you hope to achieve will help us plan out the future lessons with you.

 
 

3. Start playing!

If you haven’t played before we will instantly get you on the instrument! We will introduce you to chords and notes, perhaps teach you a song or a riff. You will be amazed at how much you can learn in this first lesson. 

 

If you have been playing for a while, we will quickly assess what level you’re at and introduce you to some new ideas and start playing through them. For example if you are looking to improve your improvisation, maybe we will look at some minor pentatonic shapes and how best to use them and what chords work when using that particular scale. 

 
 

4. Play through everything learnt

Finally at the end of the lesson you will recap everything you have learned and set some targets for your week of practice.

 
 

5. Plan when you want lessons

We will finally make a plan for your next lesson (if you are wanting to continue). Lessons can fit around your busy schedule, and we are happy to change your time each week or book you in for a regular slot. We want booking a lesson to be easy and stress free.  

 

As you can see you will get a lot from this first lesson! Take advantage of this great offer and book your first lesson today, you won’t regret it. Fill out the form below and we will be in touch about booking the first free lesson - 

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?
direct/friend/google/facebook/twitter/gumtree/otherteachingwebsite/flyer

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

5 reasons why the ukulele is for you

The ukulele is an incredible instrument and has become very popular to learn over the last 10 years! It originally found its fame in Hawaii and since then has appeared in many modern songs. Here are five reasons why it might be time to start learning…

 
 

1. The perfect instrument to accompany yourself 

If you like to sing but can’t play an instrument, you might find that the ukulele is the perfect place to start. It sounds great in many different styles of music and once you get the hang of it you will be able to accompany yourself and play all your favourite songs.

 
 

2. It’s tiny

 Being small has its advantages. You can take a ukulele with you everywhere you go; on holiday, on a camping trip, on the train, the bus or on your bike. You will always be able to play music and never struggle to take an instrument with you.

 
 

3. It’s cheap

There are some lovely expensive ukuleles but  you can pick one up for a very good price. Learning an instrument doesn’t mean breaking the bank and some of the cheaper ukuleles play nicely and have the authentic sound. The teachers at Bristol House of Music can help you pick the right one.

 
 

4. It converts to guitar 

 Spending time learning the ukulele provides a skillset that can be transferred to the guitar and other string instruments. Playing the ukulele is like playing the bottom 4 strings of a guitar but up 5 frets. So if you make the switch you will start recognising shapes and positions all of which will give you a head start. The music theory is also the same and will convert to any instrument.

 
 

5. It doesn’t take long to get going!

Learning an instrument is fun! The ukulele has nylon strings which means that it doesn’t hurt the fingers when playing notes on the fretboard. This is perfect for younger hands and those who have never played an instrument before. You will find yourself playing a song right from your first lesson.

 

At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson free and offer lessons in ukulele, guitar, piano, vocals, bass, songwriting and music theory. Fill out the form below to book your first free lesson:

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?
 

2 months at Bristol House of Music!

It has been an incredible couple of months at Bristol House of Music. We started teaching our first lessons on September 6th August and it has been so fantastic what with all the support we have had and the great people we have met through the lessons.

 

Studio Room

 


We never expected to be so busy so quickly and we want to thank all of those who have booked lessons with us and who have got in touch to find out more. Our studio room has been packed full of classical, acoustic and electric guitarists playing everything from the Beatles, to Michael Jackson, to Travis, to Metallica!

What a fab teacher James is ! He can help improve your guitar playing in a friendly and professional way. I highly recommend Bristol House Of Music.

We very much appreciate everyones likes and follows on our Facebook page and spreading the word about Bristol House of Music.

Our piano room has been full of budding pianists of all ages, as well as vocalists and songwriters.

 

Piano Room

 

We bought the vintage Yamaha piano especially for all the students to get the most out of their lessons.

Kit is an excellent piano teacher! She makes the lessons very fun and I am always learning lots about my playing, I have improved so much since my first lesson. I can now read music and play many songs!


Spaces are filling up quickly and if you are interested in taking advantage of our first FREE lesson offer, then fill out the form below and we will be in touch straight away to set up a date and time around your schedule.

 
Name *
Name
What Instrument(s) do you want to learn? *
Find out more information by clicking on the individual class pages. Feel free to select more than one!
I want to learn via... *
Studio or Skype
Are you a Beginner/Intermediate or Advanced player?
Any favourite bands/artists?
direct/friend/google/facebook/twitter/gumtree/otherteachingwebsite/flyer
 

Alternatively you can call 07378485558 or email jamesashbury@me.com to get in touch about booking a lesson.

5 ways to get better at your instrument without playing it!

Look, we would all love to be playing guitar or piano (or whatever your chosen instrument) all day long! But unfortunately for most people this isn’t an option. The complexities of modern life mean that in between work, emailing, chores, driving, shopping, going to the gym and everything else you fill your day with it can be very difficult to find time to practice. 

 

But don’t fear!! We have come come up with 5 ways of getting better on your instrument without playing it!

 
Listen to Music.jpg
 

1. Listen to Music

Listening to music during your day, whilst at work, or whilst driving. Is a great way to get better at your instrument. Listen to the song you are learning or wanting to learn. Become familiar with the tempo, listen to the rhythms, listen to when the chords change and when it goes from one section to another.

 

Task - Put on a song you are learning. Whilst listening, tap along to the beat and count. If the song is in 4 count 1-2-3-4 or even better count 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-& or greater subdivisions. 

 
finger exercises.jpg
 

2. Finger exercises

Finger exercises are something you can do pretty much anywhere. They are a great way to loosen up your fingers and get them used to working independently.

 

Task - For string players: number your fingers 1 to 4 and with the palm of your hand on a flat surface, run exercises over and over with a sequence of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 1 - 3 - 2 - 4, 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 and so on. 

For pianists: number your fingers and thumbs 1 -2 - 3 -4 - 5 and run through some combinations such as 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5, 1 - 3 - 2 - 4 - 3 - 5 and so on.

 
visualise your instrument.jpg
 

3. Visualise your instrument

Thinking about your instrument and the way you play it is a great way to improve your playing. Think about the chord shapes and moving between them. Visualise scales, arpeggios, melodies, riffs and all the good stuff. By visualising your instrument you can gain a deeper connection with it and the results might surprise you.

 

Task -  When you can’t sleep or as you are drifting off to sleep, think of a piece of music you are learning, or would like to learn and visualise playing it.

 
watch live music.jpg
 

4. Watching live music!

Watching live music is the perfect way to improve your musicianship. By watching music you are seeing what musicians are doing right in front of you. You will also be exposed to different styles and sounds, this is very important if you want to become the best musician out there!

 

Task - Go and see a show that is a different style than you normally would. Whilst at the show, watch the person playing the instrument you play and try and figure out what they are playing. Identify chords or scales they might be using. Then go home and try and copy them.

 
Read through music.jpg
 

5. Read through some music

Always have a piece of music on hand, or take a picture of some music and have it on your phone. If you can find a few minutes during your day to look at it and analyse or think about it in detail then next time you sit down to play it you will find you are so much more familiar with it.

 

Task - Read through a new piece of written music. If you are still unsure of note names, then take the time to figure out what the notes are. If you are good at reading music then try and imagine how it sounds and how you would play it.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this has given you some new ways of practicing when you are not with your instrument! At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson completely FREE! So what better reason could there be to get started? We offer lessons in guitar, piano, ukulele, bass, vocals, songwriting and music theory. Click here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn

 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

5 riffs every guitarist should learn

 
 

Riffs are cool! When you start learning guitar, it is important to learn a few riffs to get your fingers moving in the right ways. A riff is a short repeated phrase typically used as an introduction or refrain in a song. There are millions of riffs in music and guitarists love them! Here are 5 riffs that every guitarist should learn:

The Strokes - Under Cover of Darkness

Strokes songs are pretty much all riffs and chords, this riff is actually featured in the verse and it is really fun to play. Featuring lots of arpeggios, give it a go!

 
 
 
 

2. John Mayer - I Don’t Need No Doctor

Originally a Ray Charles song, John Mayer’s live version of I Don’t Need No Doctor features an incredible riff. Give it a go.

 
 
 
 

3. Muse - Hysteria

Turn up your overdrive and give this alternate picking masterpiece a go. It is actually a bass riff, but it’s too much fun to not play it on guitar!

 
 
 
 

4. Michael Jackson - Beat It

An incredible riff in Michael Jackson's huge hit Beat It. Fun Fact: Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo on this track.

 
 
 
 

5. Arctic Monkeys - DO I Wanna Know?

A super cool riff that is a little slower than the others but still has everything we like in a riff!

 
 
 
 

Hopefully you have enjoyed learning these riffs and make sure you play along to the backing tracks and send us videos of you playing!

If you are looking for lessons in guitarBristol House of Music offer one-to-one lessons in guitarbasspianovocalsukulelesongwriting and music theoryBook your first free lesson now and start your musical journey with us!

 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

Why mastering your instrument improves your songwriting

Songwriting is a pretty amazing thing to be able to do; creating a song that otherwise wouldn’t have been in existence is a really fulfilling way to use your musicianship. 

 

At Bristol House of Music we believe that improving your ability on your instrument can really affect your songwriting in an incredible way...

 
 

1. Vocalists can play along to their songs.

There are lots of great singers out there who are capable of creating brilliant song ideas, as they spend all their time thinking about melodies and lyrics. However for singers who can’t play an instrument, or only know a few chords, it can be really frustrating. Improving your skillset will give you the independence you need to become a master songwriter.

 
 

2. Create more interesting parts

The further you advance with your instrument, the more ability you will have when it comes to writing with it.  Even the simplest of exercises can broaden your playing horizons and inspire you to write more interesting rhythms, melodies, chord structures and more. 

 
 

3. Understand what chords go together 

Music theory is here to help guide us on our way. It may seem daunting learning music theory but once you start relating it to your instrument and using it for songwriting it will be way more fun. Understanding what chords go together will help you find that missing chorus or middle 8 you have been searching for.

 
 

4. Use different chord inversions. 

Are you playing the same chords all the time? Do you tend to stick to open chords on guitar or C major and all the white notes on the piano. This can make all your songs sound the same and can also make you lose excitement for them! Learn all the different ways to play chords on the fretboard or piano and your songs will start sounding much more professional.

 
 

5. Change strumming patterns. 

Another common thing we hear is that you are playing the same strumming pattern all the time. Believe it or not rhythm is one of the most important aspects of songwriting and having more insteresting or even complex rhythms can make a boring song sound so much much exciting. 

 
 

6. Write more complex time signatures.  

Time signatures are fun to play around with as well. You might find yourself sticking to 4/4 and may even have ventured into 3/4 or 6/8 but there are lots more time signatures you could be thinking about. Some songs have a change of time signature within them and this can really bring a lift to a song and catch the listener out. 

 
 

7. Hit higher notes! 

As a vocalist, really understanding your voice, singing in the right range and pushing your voice to go further can have massive benefits to your songwriting. Being able to belt some of the choruses up an octave to make a song epic is a cool tool to use to make your songs really hit the limits!

 
 

8. Solo! 

Solos are cool!! They appear in lots of modern songs! Check out John Mayer for reference. Being able to play some scales and improvise on the spot can be a great thing to enhance your songs when playing live, but also to give a break within the song structure when you are looking for somewhere new to go! 

 
 

9. Be able to play faster (or slower) songs! 

The tempo of a song is a very important thing to think about. Changing the overall pace can really affect the feeling of a song. Don’t let your technical ability to be able to play fast (or slow, playing at a really slow tempo can be hard) affect your songwriting.

 
 

10. Take inspiration from the greats! 

Part of being a songwriter involves taking influence from the great songwriters of the past and the current musicians. When you begin to master your chosen instrument it will allow you to understand what is happening in the songs that you have listened to throughout your life, to take inspiration from them and use their little tricks in your own creations.

 

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to start your musical journey! At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson completely FREE! So what better reason could there be to get started? We offer lessons in guitar, piano, ukulele, bass, vocals, songwriting and music theory. Click here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn.

 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

How to practice effectively

Some of the most common questions we get asked at Bristol House of Music are “how long should I practice” and “what should I spend my time practicing?”. These are great questions as getting better at your chosen instrument is all about practice, practice, practice!!!

 
 

1. Practice what you’re “bad” at.

Most people don’t improve because they spend all their time practicing the same old things over and over again. However, to continue getting better you need to work on the things that you aren’t so great at, or can’t do at all! By pushing yourself a little each time, you will soon find the difficult or seemingly impossible tasks easier and look for new challenges. 

 
 

2. Alternate reading music and learning by ear.

This is the best way to learn music as you will become good at both which is the ideal outcome. It’s really good for your musicianship to sit down in front of a piece of music you’ve never played before and try to play it.  It’s equally good for you to listen to a song or piece of music and try to play it from ear. You don’t have to play the whole thing, even just a few minutes of trying this will help you more than you realise. 

 
 

3. Be realistic about time.

All of us would love to have the time to play our instruments all day, but reality doesn’t often accommodate our wishes, so it it best to have a solid idea of how much time you can spare from your busy schedule. 

Even 10-20 minutes a day can keep the music fresh in your mind, and in some ways it is better to practice little and often rather than once a week for a long time.

One hour a day is the ideal commitment if you are wanting to progress quickly, but it is not essential. 

 
 

4. Relax. 

Practicing your instrument is not meant to be a chore or stressful in any way.  It is time out from the world, and if you relax and enjoy it you will reap the rewards and feel a great sense of achievement as you increase your repertoire. This is where practicing often and little helps, as you don’t end up with any anxiety from not practicing all week and dreading the lessons!

 
 

5. Make a plan!

Making a practice diary is a great way of getting into a practice routine. Buy yourself a nice new notebook, set yourself goals and targets of things to work on, with notes on how to improve, what do do next and other things that you may find useful. 

Here is an example of a practice diary: 

 
 

 We hope you have found this useful, let us know how you get the most out of your practice schedule! At Bristol House of Music we teach guitar, piano, vocals, bass, songwriting, ukulele and music theoryClick here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn.

 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

Using your ear to improve your guitar playing...

We’ve all been there… you’ve been playing guitar for a while and you are searching for the next song to learn and spend hours upon hours sifting through tablature, trying to find the right one. Or you go on YouTube and watch endless videos, trying to find someone who teaches you the song correctly.

 

There is another way!!! Guitarists get very reliant on tablature. There is nothing wrong with tablature as when you start learning it is a really useful tool for reading music. However you don’t need to waste any more time learning from terrible tablature!

What is Ear Training?

 

Ear Training is improving your ear as a musician so you quickly identify what note is being played, or chord, or diad, triad etc.

 

Let's start with intervals; take a look at the following intervals and make sure you listen to each one carefully-

 

In the key of G (so starting from the note G), we are going to play every possible interval.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Once you have listened to each example above, play through them one at a time and listen to how they sound.

 

 

Exercise 1 – G chromatic scale

Exercise 2 – G chromatic scale, playing root then different intervals (down the neck)

Exercise 3 – G chromatic scale, playing DIFFERENT INTERVALS then THE ROOT (up the neck)

 

 

There are several different tricks to help you recognise intervals, using song examples that you know. For instance the Jaws theme tune is a minor 2nd, Here Comes The Bride is a perfect 4th and the Star Trek theme tune is a minor 7th. 

Whilst this is a fun tool, I feel the best way to improve is to listen a song and try to identify what's going on and attempt to recreate it. Try this with songs you know first if that helps!

John Mayer – I Don’t Need No Doctor

 

We are going to focus on John Mayer's adaptation of I Don’t Need No Doctor, which is actually a Ray Charles song!

 

First take a listen to the live version-

 
 

So the first thing to identify is the key and the chords. Play along to the song and see what you come up with.

EXERCISE 4 - (SPOILER ALERT) – Chord progression

 

There are actually some interesting chords in this song, but the chord progression basically resolves around the key of E major, with the main progression (you may have been hearing) going between the chords Em, G and A.

 

First here are the chord shapes used:

 
 

Next we have the chord progression:

 
 

How did you get on? Don't worry if you could only figure out the root notes of each chord, that is still an achievement to get you started with ear training!

 

Now you know the chord progression, the next challenge is to do something that might feel weird. We are going to have a go at working out the trumpet solo! The trumpet solo starts at 1:48 (skip ahead in the video below). Have a listen and see what you can hear:

 
 

EXERCISE 5 - (SPOLER ALERT) - First note of each bar

Hopefully you have had a go now at figuring out some of the licks of the trumpet solo. Below is the first note of each bar, use this to help if you need! 

 
 

EXERCISE 6- IDENTIFY THE SCALE (E minor PENTATONIC)

Another tip in helping you to identfy what notes are being played is to figure out what scale is being used. After playing along for a little while I started to realise that this solo features all the notes from the E minor pentatonic scale. Here it is below:

 
 

EXERCISE 7 - (SPOLER ALERT) - EVERY 2 BARS NOTATED

Okay here is some extra help if needed! I have notated every two bars of the trumpet solo, take a listen and try and figure out the gaps.

 

EXERCISE 8 - THE WHOLE THING!

Well done for getting this far! Hopefully you have figured the whole solo out, or if you have only managed a few bars that is still great! It is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to not rely on tab. Here we go, here is the whole trumpet solo:

 

HOW DID YOU GET ON?

It is a difficult thing to do, if you have never tried to figure something out by ear before. Here are some tips-

 

  1. Work out the chords.

  2. Find the key.

  3. Figure out what scale to use.

  4. Decide where you want to play it on the neck.

  5. Start by figuring out a few of the licks.

  6. Keep on building and be persistant (don't cheat!)

  7. Slow it down if necessary - there are lots of apps available that slow down songs (this might help you).

  8. Practice, practice, practice.

 

Well done for giving ear training a go! Don't be disheartened if you found it difficult, or you only managed a few licks. It took me a long time to develop these skills, but I assure you if you put in the effort the results will amaze you. You will no longer rely on tablature or YouTube videos! Thanks for watching!

 

If you are looking for lessons in guitarBristol House of Music offer one-to-one lessons in guitarbasspianovocalsukulelesongwriting and music theoryBook your first free lesson now and start your musical journey with us! 

 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

Why learning an instrument is good for a young mind!

School is about to kick off again and it is the best time for children and young adults to start learning an instrument! At Bristol House of Music we teach guitar, piano, bass, vocals, ukulele, songwriting and music theory and we have put together some reasons why learning an instrument is a great thing for a young mind...

 
 

1. Good for your brain

Younger minds have the capacity to learn many new things every day, so why not add music into the mix? From having one hour-long lesson a week, and just ten minutes of practice each day, you can learn a great deal. Playing an instrument can also help to improve your memory as there is much to remember!

 
 

2. Helps to improve coordination

Building up your coordination is important and will help in other areas of your development. Playing an instrument requires you to use many different parts of your body at the same time, and it is believed that young people who play instruments often have better hand eye coordination than those that don’t.

 
 

3. Makes you happy!

It is very important to be happy! What better way than to play an instrument, sing a favourite song and feel the joy that comes with expressing yourself musically and improving on something that is fun? You will impress your family and friends with how far you take it.

 
 

4. Improves rhythm

Rhythm is something that unless you are a dancer you may never really learn about.  It helps you to understand music and notice when something sounds “off” or out of time. Whether you are a singer, a pianist, a guitarist or a bassist, rhythm is integral to your music lessons from the start, as it is one of the fundamentals of music. 

 
 

5. Gets you off your computer!

Computers are amazing! Gaming is fun! XBOX, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Ipad, Ipod, Macbooks, the list goes on of how much fun can be had playing games. However when you are young it is important to develop all your skills, and learning an instrument will be something you want to dedicate some time to.

 
 

6. Fits perfectly around your studies!

Learning an instrument doesn't mean spending hours painfully crawling through music notation, learning songs you hate. It is quite the opposite, you can just practice 10 minutes every day and continue to improve at a pace that comes naturally to you.  We also teach in the evenings and on Saturdays, making it an easily accessible extracurricular activity. 

 
 

7. Something you will be able to do for the rest of your life!

Playing an instrument is a skill that you can take with you wherever you go in life. There is something very cool about forever being able to pick up an acoustic guitar, or jump on a piano and play some songs. Learning an instrument doesn't have to be something you take into your professional career but can be something that you use to relax you and to have fun in the future.

 
 

8. Learn your favourite songs!

At Bristol House of Music, we make sure we teach you songs that you want to learn! This makes learning an instrument so much more fun! You will be able to play those songs you enjoy, sing along and be happy! 

 
 

9. Learn a new language

Being able to read music is an incredible skill to have. It is exactly the same as speaking a different language. After taking lessons you will be able to understand pitch, the musical alphabet, rhythm, timing, chords, dynamics and so much more...

 
 

10. You can play along with other friends!

One of the best things about learning to play an instrument is the ability to play along with friends. If your friends are all playing instruments, you wont be left out and can join in and jam along. Soon you will all be writing hits!

 
 

Buying an instrument nowadays can be very inexpensive. Music shops have amazing deals and you can find some incredible offers that wont break the bank, yet will last the stretch of time. Click here to look at our article on buying your first guitar, also we can help you find your first piano, ukulele or bass, so don't hesitate to get in touch.

 

There are plenty more reasons why learning an instrument is good for young minds. At Bristol House of Music we offer the first lesson completely FREE! So what better reason could there be to get started? Click here to book your first lesson - or read our 30 reasons why Bristol House of Music is the right place to learn.

 

We have released our first book!

This book teaches you every chord you will ever need in all five CAGED shapes, allowing you to master the fretboard and helping you to develop and expand your chord knowledge whilst keeping it fun and easy to grasp. Get the book and take your chord playing to new heights. 'Every Chord Shape You Will Ever Need' is ideal for guitarists trying to get to the next level and who like to play, perform and write music.

 

Introduction to arpeggios and how to use them!

Arpeggios are great things to make you start understanding chords and the notes within them. A lot of guitarists spend most of their time worrying about lead playing, using licks and solos and trying to play faster and faster (I don’t blame you, it’s fun!!). However it is really important as a guitarist to think about chords and you will actually find your lead playing improves as a result.

So what is an arpeggio? An arpeggio is playing all the notes from a chord in sequence. Lets look at some chord formulas... 

1. CHORD FORMULAS

Let's learn some chord types in C major as the C major scale has no sharps or flats so you are only using the white notes on a piano.

Major – 1 3 5

 

Minor – 1 b3 5

C minor piano.jpg

Dominant – 1 3 5 b7

Diminished – 1b3 b5

If you have read our article on the major scale, you may have already seen some of these numbers and understand what they mean. Head over there now and take a look.

 

Next let's learn these chords on the guitar. This time listen to how each chord sounds. The major chord should sound happy, minor is sad, a dominant chord wants to resolve and a diminished chord should sound dark! But make your own mind up!

 
 

C major – A C# E

C Major.png

C7 – A  C# E G

C minor – A C E

C Diminished – A C Eb

 
 

2. LEARNING THE CHORDS – Key of A major

If we are in the key of A major (which has 3 sharps - F#, C#, G#), we can us the chords A major (CHORD I), C#minor (CHORD iii), E7 (CHORD V) and G#diminished (CHORD VII).

A major scale

The first thing we should do when learning arpeggios is to learn how to play the chords. There are many places to play each of these chords, but I have decided to stick to one section of the neck. This is a great way to start really understanding the different areas of the neck, by singling out the sections.

 
 

A major

E dominant 7

C# minor

G# diminished

 
 

(QUICK TIP- Diminished chords can be moved up 3 frets on a guitar and the chord is the same!)

 

Make sure you use your ear and really listen to each chord and how it sounds.

3. ARPEGGIOS

The first arpeggio we will learn is the A major arpeggio, notice I have added the chord before each of the examples, make sure you play the chord first and then the arpeggio whilst you are learning these shapes!

Exercise 1 - A major arpeggio (E Shape)

Exercise 2  - C# minor arpeggio (A Shape)

 Exercise 3 - E7 arpeggio (C Shape)

 Exercise 4 - G#diminished arpeggio (E Shape)

4. CREATIVE Ways to practice Arpeggios

The following exercises are to get you playing around these arpeggios in some creative and cool sounding ways! Give them a go...

 

Exercise 5 - Ways to Practice Arpeggios (Pattern 1)

 Exercise 6 - Ways to Practice Arpeggios (Pattern 2)

 Exercise 7 - Ways to Practice Arpeggios (Pattern 3)

 Exercise 8 - Ways to Practice Arpeggios (Pattern 4)

 Exercise 9 - Ways to Practice Arpeggios (Pattern 5)

5. PLAY ALONG WITH THE BACKING TRACK

I have created a backing track with the chords in this article in the key of A major. Play through the following example and listen out for the changes and it will hopefully aid your improvisation!

6. FINALLY IMPROVISE!

Your final challenge is to improvise over the backing track. Use what we have learnt in this lesson to inspire your solos. Feel free to add in extra notes and play around the arpeggios. The main idea is to make it sound good! Here is my attempt:

 

Hopefully this has given you some things to think about with arpeggios and now you can start using these shapes in your playing. Record yourself playing over the backing track and tag #BristolHouseofMusic when you do so we can watch your solos!

If you are looking for lessons in guitarBristol House of Music offer one-to-one lessons in guitarbasspianovocalsukulelesongwriting and music theoryBook your first free lesson now and start your musical journey with us!

 

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