One of my favorite parts of Blues Guitar Unleashed is the member forum.
I try to get over there pretty much every day and join in on the discussions about guitar learning. And the BGU courses in particular.
There was a thread there recently that got me thinking, and I’m sure it’s something that might have crossed your mind at some point as well…
The question boiled down to:“If I go learn a bunch of solos from various artists note for note, won’t that naturally lead into improvising?”
The short answer is “maybe”…
But as with most things, there’s a lot more to it.
Let’s say you go and learn an SRV tune, Texas Flood is one of my favorites, and you learn the whole solo note for note.
Do you know what key the tune is in? Do you know what Stevie was thinking when he chose those particular notes to play in the middle of the 2nd measure?
Chances are, the answer is no. Unless you actually have taken the time to learn where the right notes would come from, you don’t have a very good chance of re-using those notes correctly.
Let’s go back to my baby learning to talk analogy…
If you teach your 1 year old how to say “thank you,” you haven’t taught him when to say “thank you,” only how.
He has no concept of how that phrase is to be used for the proper effect.
But let’s fast forward a bit, and now he’s grown up and 22 years old.
He’s learned the rules of grammar, and he knows deep down how to use words and phrases properly.
So now he sees a word in a book that he doesn’t know, but he can tell what it means just by looking at what is around that new word.
As adults this sort of thing happens all the time but we don’t notice it anymore. I know I often see a new word that I haven’t seen before, but I can figure it out just from how it’s being used what it probably means.
And that’s *exactly* how it works when I learn a new lick now. I can look at the notes, the chords it’s played over, the style of music, and make an extremely educated guess as to exactly what the artist was thinking when he or she chose those particular notes.
Now eventually, through a lot of trial and error – meaning doing it wrong an awful lot – a baby would probably learn how to use the phrase “thank you” in the right way.
But think about how long that might take…
Now imagine the same scenario with your guitar playing…
How long is it going to take for you to make sense of the licks you learn if you don’t know how they are supposed to be used in the first place?
There are, of course, many great guitar players who learned simply by copying the licks of their heroes. So it would be ridiculous of me to say that it can’t be done.
But it takes a long time and a lot of hard work. Those great players who learned that way played all day, every day. Most of us simply don’t have that luxury.
So take the time to learn what’s going on behind the scenes and it’ll great speed up your path to playing the blues.
Got an opinion about this? Leave it below, I love reading them…