Category Archives: Guitar Lessons

Thoughts on the Grammys and the state of rock music

The grammy’s were last night, so I figured  I’ll weigh in on the topic. Before I go on I must admit that I watched sporadically due to lack of general interest and the remote telling me that I should look for something else to watch. I do however have a few things to say when it comes to the music.

I was a little confused by AC/DC. I wasn’t really sure why they were on. When I thought about it a question came to mind? Are  there any rock bands to take their place? The answer is no there isn’t. Maybe the Foo Fighters but they are a recycle from the 90’s and sound like a white toast version of Nirvana. And who is the lead guitar player? I think his name is ” The other guy” How many guys from Nirvana are in that band anyway? Linkin Park? Umm… Fall Out Boy?  No. And that is the list. Nothing. Nobody is doing anything that would make any teenager want to pick up a guitar. This is a sad situation and trend I have noticed in the last few years. Kids really don’t have any to look up to. I noticed that when they come in and want to learn Guns and Roses and other bands from the 80’s/90’s.  Yikes. This could be good and bad depending on how you look at it.

It’s bad because they don’t have anyone to relate to. Let’s admit it. No teenager is going to look at and aging rocker who has an ARRP card and say, ” Gee I want to be like him.”

Second, Most rock bands write about topics that affect their generation. When I was a teen playing guitar I remember my mom telling me about CSN song “Ohio.” She told me the story of Kent state and the shooting. As sad as it was, that happened to old people. Keep in mind I was 13, but I felt like I was back in history class. Now Metallica I understood. The fury, the anger the speed. Well that’s what I listened too. That is what made me what to play my instrument till my fingers fell off.

Last, younger kids listening to old rock music will think it  isn’t cool because listening to the music your parents like is uncool. It’s weird to think that Metallica is music for old people but I can see it In my daughters face. There is no way she will listen to it. That expression screams this is old and so are you. I guess I know how my parents felt when they played CSN and Neil Young and I glazed over.  ” Ya Mom that’s great. I have some homework to do.” My dad liked disco but that was never cool, even now. Anyway, another fact that attracted me to metal and hard rock is the fact that my parents hated it. So what is good about this situation you ask?

The new rock is out there. Guitar isn’t dead. I’m sure they are out there. I can feel it. They are in a garage perfecting your craft and working out some great songs.

When I saw Kanye West it got me thinking that the new rock is on the horizon. I see him and I realize something as old as time. We have hit the saturation point. Through music history there are two things that are constant. Someone will sell his soul to the Devil and music will hit a saturation point that will lead to something new. Charlie Parkers bebop lead to Miles Davis Cool jazz, Wangner operas lead to Debussy’s shorter compositions and hair metal lead to nirvana. Where will Kanye lead us? I don’t really know but I’m sure it will be good for as bad as he is.


Till next time.

Matt Korbanic

 

Improve your guitar practice this year

It’s a new year and I’m sure you are thinking about what to do with your guitar playing. Learn more songs? Take lessons? New equipment? More books? I have a question for you. What about your practice habits? How are they? Do you practice? What do you do with your time? Is it organized?  As a teacher, this is the most misunderstood part of progress in my studio. Many times a student will tell me that they can’t seem to gain the progress they hope to even after a year or so of lessons. Here are some ideas that will hopefully elevate some of the stress and start your year off right.

What is practicing?  I tell my students that It is a critical thinking activity not a physical activity. This is where the confusion starts. Too many students play something over and over in the hopes that it will improve. This usually doesn’t work and frustration will start because progress is not being made. This is making practice a totally physical activity. There is the act of repetition in practicing, but repeating for the sake of repeating is a like a dog chasing his tail. I call this an infinite practice loop. You just keep playing the same thing over and over in the hopes that it will get better. This is where critical thinking will transform your practice time. You need to have an idea of what is working and what is not. What you can do well and what you can’t do well.

Start with playing something. How well did you play it? If you are not sure, record yourself and listen to it.  Be specific and easy on yourself. This is critical thinking. Did you miss any notes? Are there spots that are harder than others? Is the rhythm bad?  This list can go on and on. In my experience, really great players are very specific with their critical thinking. They make comments like, ” My arm twisted when I shifted.” Or , ” My fourth finger is not quite making it to this note.”  These are very descriptive and constructive comments. They don’t make general comments like I’m not feeling it or that stinks. They can tell you what note they missed or what rhythm they missed. By not being specific you are being counterproductive  because general comments don’t give you something to improve upon. They leave you feeling empty and helpless.

Once the specific flaws are noted, its time to get to work. This is where a sheet of paper is greatly helpful especially if you recorded yourself. Write them down. I missed a note here. I can’t play this all the way through. I slow down here…so on. Once you have a list, decide on one flaw. How are you going to solve that problem? What is the plan? Think about it. How are you going to get from where you are now to where you want to be? Once you have an idea, sketch it out. What to do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.  Break it down into steps that you can accomplish in one or two practice sessions. If you can’t get it done in one or two days, it’s probably too much. Now you have a plan something to follow. To quote  NFL football coach Herm Edwards, a goal without a plan is a dream. Till next time.