Instrument Pack: Guitar

Guitar Instrument PackThe guitar Instrument Pack provides video tutorials and practice MP3s to add instrument-specific guidance to the core musicality training provided at Musical U.

Resident Pro: Dylan Welsh

Dylan Welsh

Dylan Welsh is an impressive figure in the Seattle music scene. He regularly performs live and records in studio, so he understands both the practicalities of being a working musician and the importance of investing in the bigger-picture skills of musicality. Through providing online guitar lessons he is continually honing his own skills as a teacher and finding new ways to help students learn faster using the music they personally enjoy most.

Resource Pack Previews

Every month we release a new Resource Pack for guitar. Here are previews of the packs so far:

Pack 1: Beginning Improvisation

In this guitar Resource Pack our Resident Pro Dylan Welsh introduces the versatile minor pentatonic scale as a great way to start exploring improvisation, in both major and minor keys:

Including:

  • Introduction to the minor pentatonic scale
  • How and where to play it
  • How to learn from solos you hear
  • Limitation exercises to build your creativity
  • Additional tips and tricks for getting good results
  • MP3 tracks demonstrating the scale in two keys, providing two backing tracks (in major and minor) and two example solos over those backing tracks.

Dylan first teaches a simple fretboard pattern, and then shows you how to put it to real musical work in a variety of ways – all the while connecting your ears with your instrument. With a couple of examples in the accompanying quick reference guide, he also shows real solos from the rock world that use exactly this approach.

Pack 2: The Major Pentatonic

Pentatonic scales are popular among guitarists due to their versatility for improvising solos over a wide range of chord progressions. The trouble is that most guitarists end up feeling stuck and limited, playing solos which sound and feel robotic, time after time. Dylan reveals a fresh approach that can help you break free of those constraints and get to know the pentatonic scale in a deep and meaningful way on guitar:

Including:

  • What is the Major Pentatonic? What makes it different from the regular Major scale?
  • Three ways to practice the scale to really internalise it all across the fretboard.
  • How the major and minor pentatonic scales are related.
  • Why and how to sing along as you practice the scale.
  • Practice MP3s for the scales in two keys, plus some call-and-response exercises to practice playing pentatonic riffs by ear.

Getting “fretboard freedom” is a goal for many guitarists and in this tutorial Dylan teaches a versatile and effective approach which not only teaches you where to find the notes across the whole neck but also forges a strong connection between your fingers and your ears, allowing you to find the notes you imagine in your mind or hear in the music you that want to play by ear. Although the focus is the major pentatonic (and that’s a great starting point), in fact, Dylan’s method can be extended across any type of scale.

Pack 3: Audiation

Building on his teaching in the Beginning Improvisation and Major Pentatonic Resource Packs, Dylan explains the usefulness of audiation and singing for a range of tasks you’re already doing in your guitar playing:

Including:

  • Why singing and audiation are important for guitarists, even if you don’t feel confident in your voice.
  • How to use audiation and singing to learn new melodies by ear.
  • How to use the same technique for playing chords by ear.
  • How audiation can help you memorise new songs faster.
  • Using audiation and singing to improvise in a way that breaks free of fretboard patterns.
  • Practice MP3s for playing melodies and chords by ear, and improvising.

As Dylan puts it: this is a powerful tool for pretty much anything you’re doing on guitar, so if you want better results faster, it’s time to audiate and use your voice.

Pack 4: Scale Degree Recognition

Guitarists are used to thinking in terms of scales – the fretboard patterns for a major scale, a major pentatonic, or a minor pentatonic will be familiar to any intermediate-level player. But can you identify all the notes of those scales by ear? Can you go from hearing a tune to playing the right notes of that fretboard pattern.

In this Resource Pack Dylan reveals a clever chord-based way to develop the framework you need to recognise scale degrees flexibly and reliably by ear.

Including:

  • A simple scale sing-along exercise to get you oriented
  • How to use the tonic chord to internalise scale degrees
  • A powerful concept to help you spot the non-chord notes
  • A play-through exercise you can use in every key to really master this
  • MP3 Practice Tracks with melodies in three keys to try playing by ear

Pack 5: I-IV-V Chord Progressions

In this pack Dylan explains how major, minor and seventh chords can feature in I-IV-V based progressions and provided a set of exercises to get deeply familiar with how that works in each and every key.

Including:

  • How the leading tone being present in the V chord creates a strong tension and need to resolve to the tonic note in the I chord
  • How to easily find/play a I, IV, or V chord in any key
  • Ways to practice playing and recognising progressions using the I, IV and V chords
  • MP3 Practice Tracks for playing through I-IV-V progressions in different ways in every key

Pack 6: Rhythmic Precision

In this pack Dylan tackles the topic of rhythmic precision by going back to basics and explaining how the 16th-note grid can be your skeleton for precise and flexible rhythmic playing on guitar.

Including:

  • How to count quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes
  • A slow scale-based exercise to push your rhythm skills to the limit
  • Adapting these ideas to improvising with interesting rhythms
  • MP3 practice tracks you can use to practice the exercise and improvising

Adding rhythmic interest is often a challenge when improvising, but Dylan’s approach here will equip you with a solid sense of the beat and a creative framework for coming up with your own original rhythmic ideas.

Pack 7: The Power of Dynamics

In this pack, Dylan covers three different ways you can control your dynamics effectively, with each hand and also your equipment.

Including:

  • Use of the right hand in playing single note lines, and how to make a simple adjustment to your technique and mindset to give you more control over your dynamics.
  • Use of the left hand in playing chords, in order to reduce the size of your voicings and help you sit back in a mix.
  • Use of your equipment to dial in your setup in a way that will allow you the maximum amount of dynamic control.
  • Practice MP3s covering a dynamic scale exercise and the altered chord voicings covered.

If you’ve ever felt like strumming through chords was a bit dull or your solos were a bit monotonous then this pack will show you a way to bring new life and interest to it in a variety of ways!

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