Dec 282011

What should a music teacher do first? I make no claims to pedagogical expertise. I do have some ideas, though. And I would very much like to know what you think, and what your ideas are.

I only know something about voice, piano, and guitar. But there are some principles, concepts, and ideas that would apply to any instrument.

From the teacher’s point of view, just as a doctor has to work with a patient’s tolerability to a treatment, she must be aware of the student’s tolerability. Continue reading »

Feb 282011

Guitar Harmonics

This is just a brief into/example. To really learn this, look for alternative resources. (See the “Links to Other Music Sites” in the sidebar).

The basic pattern for making a guitar sound harp-like is to alternate notes “chimed” at (usually) 12 frets higher than fretted with notes played in the normal fashion. Some guitarists use pick and 4th finger; some use thumb pick and fingers; some use just fingers. Each harmonic, though, requires at least 2 fingers of your picking hand to execute it.

As a starting point, play at the 12th fret, and do not make chord with your left hand (we will get to that). The openly played strings will be D, G, B, and E, low to high; the harmonics will be played on E (6th string), A, D, G, B. Then there is a role-reversal of sorts (this is just one way of doing it). You can see this in the following sketch in the 2nd bar.


Some of the great jazz practitioners of this technique that I am familiar with are Ted Greene, Martin Taylor, Lenny Breau, Phillip DeGruy, and many others. Most classical guitarists are use this technique as well, when appropriate. For example, a perfect use of this technique is used by Lagoya & Presti in their recording of Debussy’s Claire de Lune.

Ted Greene
Martin Taylor
Lagoya & Ida Presti


Ted GreeneMartin TaylorLenny BreauAlexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti

Dec 092010

Diminished Scales

Diminished scales are 8-note scales and they are symmetrical. There are only 2 (enharmonically) diminished scales: One  is based on a hale/whole step formula; the other based on a whole/half formula.

Eight note scales are easy to practice with a metronome. I have found that the symmetrical nature of chords or scales makes fingering easier on guitar or piano, possibly other instruments.

The half/whole type of diminished scale goes well over a dominant 7th chord; the whole/half type fits well when played over a diminished or half-diminished chord, e.g., a  2-5-1 in a minor key.

In the chart below, the 1st 4 bars are simply the C diminished scale (half/whole) ascending and descending. Continue reading »

Dec 082010

Major Scale

Although just about everyone knows or can recognize the major scale, I include it here to illustrate the whole-step/half-step sequence as a way of thinking about scales. Knowing the interval sequence of a scale will help you to understand any mode of the scale. Here is the whole/half step map (formula) to create the major scale: The first interval is the interval from whatever starting note you pick to the next note in the scale.

  • Whole / Whole / Half / Whole / Whole / Whole / Half.



One way to look at it is that the scale is derived simply by starting at the 6th degree of its relative major scale. Starting on any note, however, the Whole/Half step map below will produce this scale. The first interval is the interval from the starting note to the 2nd note:

  • Whole / Half / Whole / Whole / Half / Whole / Whole.

Continue reading »