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Chord Voicings Worksheets and Lesson Openings

I created a few worksheets for my students to help them learn some different voicings for major, dominant and minor seventh chords.  These were the most downloaded worksheets from my last blog and I thought it would be useful to post them here again.

Major 7th Chord Voicings

Dominant 7th Chord Voicings

Minor 7th Chord Voicings

I will also post these on my Guitar Resources page.

This is also probably a good time to announce that I have opened up my schedule to allow for more private lessons.  These will take place on Monday evenings and Saturdays.  I will be teaching at the Warner Center for Arts Education in Torrington, CT.  If you are interested in signing up for lessons, please call 860-489-7180.

As I develop more worksheets for my students, I will post them here.


Pete Huttlinger Plays Stevie Wonder

I am a huge fan of Pete’s work.  Some of the things he is able to do on guitar are pretty incredible. His latest album is a collection of tunes by Stevie Wonder arranged for solo acoustic guitar.  Below is a great video from Guitar Player of him playing his arrangement of “Isn’t She Lovely”.

The arrangement shows a complete mastery of the guitar, but I am more impressed with Pete’s arranging skills.  A few months ago I had the chance to see Pete live and he opened with this tune.  Even being an educated guitar player, I was still wondering how he is able to make several parts sound like one.

Enjoy this video and make sure to pick up his CD Fingerpicking Wonder: The Music of Stevie Wonder


7 Questions Project

7NumberSevenInCircle

If you could ask your favorite guitarist (or artist, or musician, etc..) only 7 questions; what would they be?

I was thinking about ideas for more interesting and relevant content for this blog and it dawned on me that I have access to some of the most amazing and influential guitarists around and it would be great if I could share some of their knowledge with the readers of this blog.

So, I want to get feedback from the guitar community as to what questions I should ask.

Here are a few general rules to remember:

  • We will ask the same 7 questions to each participant
  • These will most likely be through email, so the questions will need to require a short answer
  • I want to stay away from the typical gear questions (what strings do you use?, etc..)
  • The questions don’t need to be entirely about music

Please leave your suggestions for questions and participants in the comments section below.


5 Interesting Articles 8-21-09

Below I have linked to 5 different articles that I have been reading and find quite useful.  All of these articles I have passed around to fellow musicians so I felt the need to post them here.  Please check them out and subscribe to these blogs, these guys definitely know what they are doing.

15 Practicing Mistakes that Students Make

Jason Heath was one of the first music bloggers who I really took notice of.  Even though I wasn’t a bass player his Contrabass Conversations Podcast was amazingly captivating.  Many times I spent listening to his interviews while mowing the lawn.  Make sure to dig through his site because he has many, many useful articles that would be helpful to all musicians.

Top Music Pedagogues to Follow on Twitter

Music Education is a big interest of mine, not suprisingly, so the MusTech.net website is one of my most revisited items in my Google Reader.  This article lists a few leading edge educators who combine music and technology in interesting and effective ways.  Right now the list has about 12 educators, but the plan is to keep adding to it to create a comprehensive listing (much like my Twitter Guitar Directory).  This is one to bookmark and revisit.

10 Teaching Tools for Your Lesson Studio

I have been teaching guitar lessons for about 8 years now and I still found this article helpful.  If you are starting to settle into a (hopefully) permanent teaching situation then this list will be very helpful.  My favorite item on the list is the Clif Bars, I can totally relate to getting hungry and still having 3 or 4 lessons to teach before you can leave.

The Unboxing of Sibelius 6

Walt Riberio is one of the leading voices for combining music education and social media.  His videos cover everything from basic theory to gear reviews and even advice on how to best use the internet to spread your message.  I wanted to include this video because I just received a copy of Sibelius 6 and I think it is the greatest notation program available.  There is no way I would of been able to finish my Master’s Degree without it.

How Audacity Can Make Your Practice Time More Effective

Audacity is a great FREE audio editor that can do everything from make loops to slow down tracks at pitch to help with Transcription. NotPlayingGuitar.com is an amazing resource that has many lessons and tips on how to get over the roadblocks that we as musicians sometime fall into. If you are interested in recording some basic tracks and don’t want to spend money, then start with this article.


How To Increase Your Chord Vocabulary with Drop 2 Chords

Many novice guitarists stick to the garden variety bar chords when they first start playing jazz. These give the texture a more muddy feeling and don’t sound too much like the voicings heard on many jazz albums.

The first thing I teach guitarists is how to create and use Drop 2 chord shapes. These are very easy to understand and almost instantly make your comping more authentic.

Creating a Drop 2 Voicing
In order to create a Drop 2 voicing you must first learn the basics of 7th chord construction. In order to have a 7th chord you must have four notes represented:

Root 3rd 5th 7th
C E G B

This is a C Major 7th chord in the key of C. Here is what it looks like on the staff:

This voicing is in root position, meaning that the lowest note of the chord is the root. In order to make this more playable on the guitar, we will raise it up an octave.

Next, we will take the 2nd note from the top (G) and lower it an octave:

This leaves us with a Drop 2 voicing for C Major Seventh:

By extending this idea through all four inversions on the top four strings, it creates the following voicings.

The next step would be to lower the 7th of each chord to Bb in order to make dominant 7th voicings.

Of course the next step would be lowering all of the 3rds to Eb to make minor 7th chords.

The final step would be to lower all of the 5ths to Gb to create Minor 7th Flat 5 chords.

I have written up a PDF lesson of these concepts on my Guitar Resources page.


Phish in Hartford 8/14/09

The art of improvisation is one skill that is criminally under appreciated with today’s music.  Many times a band will create a setlist for a tour and stick to it every night.

Not Phish.  Every night Phish changes their setlist, and not just the order of the songs, but everything about them.  From night to night you never know what to expect from then.  Which is a huge reason why they have such a big following.Trey

If you are unfamiliar with their music, then go here and download this show from LivePhish.

I will wait.

This was one of the better Phish shows in recent memory.  Last time I saw them was September 22nd, 2000 in Chicago.  Yes, Phish fans remember exact dates of shows.  It was a great show, but our seats were literally behind the stage.  Since then I have kept up with them through bootlegs and DVD’s, but never have had the chance to see them live.

I entered the ticket lottery several months ago not expecting to get anything as I had heard from many people of getting shut out completely. When I received the email with my seat location I thought I would be somewhere near the back of the pavilion.

My seats were in the 10th row.

It was easily the best concert I had seen in a while and from talking to the people around me after the show, it was the best Phish show in a long time.

Sitting next to me was Kevin Shapiro, who is Phish’s official archivist.  I introduced myself and immediately he mentioned Trey’s appearance with us in ’93.  I figured that it was his job to know things like that.  We talked for a bit about how the tour was going and he thought that the first set was especially strong.

On the other side of me was a very familiar looking guy.  Turns out it was Scott Murawski from Max Creek and Mike’s solo band.  He was obviously enjoying the show.  I thought he might sit in, but turns out he didn’t.

Here is the setlist for the show:

Set I: Punch You in the Eye, AC/DC Bag, NICU, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Birds Of A Feather, Lawn Boy, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Middle Of The Road, Character Zero 
Set II: Down With Disease > Wilson > Slave To The Traffic Light, Piper > Water In The Sky, Ghost > Psycho Killer > Catapult > Icculus > You Enjoy Myself
E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

On paper, the show already looks ike a highlight of the tour.  During the first set they came out hard with PYITE and from then on the energy just exploded.  During the opening chords of Colonel Forbin’s is when most of the people around me knew this was going to be a special night.  Pretty much every tune in the first set was a highlight.  For me it was great to see Page do his thing on Lawn Boy and Fish do a great vac solo on I Didn’t Know.

PhishThe tension was pretty high when the lights went out for the second set.  I don’t think anyone was expecting a “Down With Disease” opener.  Everyone there pretty much lost it.  The standout part of this set was easily the DWD>Wilson>Slave>Piper.

Only one thing could of taken this set to the next level.  Talking Heads and Gamehendge.

When Trey started the lyrics to “Psycho Killer” the place went through the roof.  This one one of the tunes played over the PA before the show started and there was a massive sing along during the chorus.

Once Trey began his discourse leading into “Icculus”, then it was offical that this was a legendary show.  Here is the video of the intro:

They ended with a strong version of You Enjoy Myself and encored with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  Amazing show from start to finish.

If you are thinking you might be into Phish, then this should be a show to check out.



Les Paul

I was lucky enough to see Les play at the Iridium in New York City over Memorial Day Weekend in 2008.  It was great to finally get the chance to see him.  He was incredibly entertaining and his band was amazing.

From CNN.com:

(CNN) — Les Paul, whose innovations with the electric guitar and studio technology made him one of the most important figures in recorded music, has died, according to a statement from his publicists. Paul was 94.

Paul died in White Plains, New York, from complications of severe pneumonia, according to the statement.

Paul was a guitar and electronics mastermind whose creations — such as multitrack recording, tape delay and the solid-body guitar that bears his name, the Gibson Les Paul — helped give rise to modern popular music, including rock ‘n’ roll. No slouch on the guitar himself, he continued playing at clubs into his 90s despite being hampered by arthritis.

“If you only have two fingers [to work with], you have to think, how will you play that chord?” he told CNN.com in a 2002 phone interview. “So you think of how to replace that chord with several notes, and it gives the illusion of sounding like a chord.”

There is a great documentary about Les called “Chasing Sound”. Highly reccommended.  It chronicles all of his accomplishements over the years and even shows his guitar collection which includes Django’s guitar.

Thank you Les. For Everything.


Jimmy Herring – Lifeboat


As one of the leading guitarists on the “jamband” scene, Jimmy is widely respected.  For many years his fans were urging him to finally make the record that all of us knew he could make.  Through his time with Aquarium Rescue Unit, Project Z, Frogwings, The Allman Brothers Band and currently Widespread Panic his talents always seemed (just slightly) pushed to the side.

Until now.

“Lifeboat” is a perfect example of a modern day interpretation of classic guitar heavy fusion.  Not fusion in the sense of playing jazz licks with distortion, but a combination of varied influences and styles.  Joining Herring is his longtime musical partner Oteil Burbridge on bass.  The combination of Jimmy and Oteil really holds this record together. Along with Jeff Sipe, Kofi Burbridge and Derek Trucks there is no shortage of outstanding musicianship.

The opening track “Scapegoat Blues” is an uptempo blues in 6/4.  The melody is vibrant and has a hint of a Dixie Dregs/Steve Morse vibe to the phrasing.  Recently in Guitar World magazine, Jimmy did several lessons demonstrating the use of the diminished scale in this particular tune.

Another standout track on the album is “The Jungle Book Overture”. Yes, that Jungle Book.  It is an amazing feat for a musician to be able to take music from his or her childhood and still make it relevant today.  Not only does it speak to the quality of the composition, but also the talent of the musicians.

Overall this is one of my favorite albums of 2009 (even though it was released in 2008).  The tunes are so strong that you almost forget that this is an entirely instrumental album.

You can purchase “Lifeboat” from Abstract Logix.

Here is a great interview with Jimmy all about his new album:



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