Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Private Instruction - (Week 2) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Private Instruction Lesson

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Private Instruction Teacher: Tim Miller

[Week 2]

The class started off with a really fun exercise incorporating voicings from last lesson. I was given 2 voicings each for minor9 and minor11, and today we started off in the key of A minor whereby I was supposed to play a groove using the 4 voicings. My instructor then called out a different key every couple of bars and my task would be to continue using the 4 voicings to form comping patterns in all the different keys called out. After the exercise I did ask about the calling out of keys, and he said that he initially went on a minor 3rd interval for the key changes, i.e. from key of A to key of C to key of Eb; and then some chromatic root movement, i.e. from key to A to Ab to G; and then eventually he just went random ! The idea would be to listen intently and change the keys of the voicings accordingly. 

Similar exercises were also done for the Dorian mode and for playing improvisational melodies. Different keys would be called out, and the idea is to respond to the key change by playing the Dorian scale and melodic lines in the different keys.

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ Know the Dorian scale in both the 6th string position and 5th string position of the guitar. Notice the similarities of fingerings in certain string sets that should help with retention of scale shape. 

[An exercise would be to set the metronome and then play 16th notes both ascending and descending the Dorian scale, and in any order you like. Play the scale across the fretboard from the 6th string to the 1st string and then vice versa. Change keys at any time you like, for example after playing 4 bars ascending and descending the Dorian scale in the key of A, you can play 2 bars of the scale in the key of B and then 2 bars in the key of F#, and then 4 bars in the key of G and so on. This exercise would help build the ability to improvise a single scale over key changes.]

[Start by playing simple melodies in the key of A Dorian, and then do the same for key changes. You can have a accompanist who is calling out the key changes and changing the key of the progression as you improvise melodies. My instructor said though that for the case of melodies, key changes does not have to be called out that often.]

~ My instructor gave me two strategies to increase variation in my improvisation, and he demonstrated licks incorporating the two techniques: 
1. Playing the arpeggio of chord voicing (not the usual arpeggios of chord qualities)
2. String skipping

Playing the arpeggio of chord voicing

[For playing the arpeggio of chord voicings, it simply means individually playing only the notes held down on any chord voicing, which means playing at most one note per string. This is definitely more technically challenging, but satisfying when practice pays off.]

[For example an A-7 chord, for a usual A-7 arpeggio played from the root note in the 6th string at 5th fret, one would play the 5th and 8th fret on the 6th string, 7th fret on the 5th string, the 5th and 7th fret on the 4th string, 5th fret on the 3rd string, the 5th fret and 8th fret on the 2nd string, and the 5th and 8th fret on the 1st string. In contrast, in this case of playing the arpeggio of chord voicings, we would only play the notes held down when playing a A-7 chord, i.e. 5th fret on 6th string, 7th fret on 5th string, and the 5th fret on the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings.]

[In another example using one of the minor11 voicings, that means playing the 5th fret of the 6th, 4th and 3rd strings, and then playing the 3rd fret of the 2nd string for an A-11 voicing.]

String skipping

[Practice playing 3 notes per string, skipping strings each time you move from one string to the next, i.e. playing notes on the 6th string, then 4th string, then 5th string, then 3rd string, then 4th string, 2nd string, 3rd string, 1st string. Do the opposite when descending strings.]

~ Be aware of guitar tone coming out of my playing fingers. Today was the first time I was being told as a guitarist that my instructor says that his observance of my guitar left hand position shows that my fingers are relatively strong and that equates to good technique. He continues by saying that should mean that I should be able to play fuller sounding notes and hold down notes longer for the duration of the same note value. Being able to play notes fuller would help greatly with guitar tone. This was one of the areas I worked considerably on a few years ago and I realize that bad habits do return over time. I am thus glad to be pointed out to this once again and I will definitely make a mental note of it and consciously work on it. 

Class Homework:

~ I was asked to use the Looper function in my GT-100 multi effects pedal to record a progression with chords moving from A minor to C minor to Eb minor and then to practice my Dorian scale and improvisational melody lines to it.

~ Practice playing the arpeggios of chord voicings and string skipping exercises, and attempt to incorporate them into actual improvising. 

~ Practice playing fuller notes mindfully and using targeted exercises in order to produce a greater touch and better guitar tone. 

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