Make The Most of Your Pedal Board Setup

It took me years to get my pedal board setup up and running.  I’ve never been a “gear head;” it just kept getting put on the back burner. I was the guy showing up to gigs and pulling separate pedals out and plugging everything in manually.  It was just a mess and I knew I needed to get organized.

Music Theory Simplified into 3 Chords

A One Page Guide

This a short guide about how I think about harmony. It’s a way of simplifying all the chords derived from a major scale into just 3 types/functions: Major I, Minor ii and Dominant V.

This has helped me navigate complex chord progressions and also is a great tool for discovering different chord options while composing.

Recycling Chord Shapes

Joe Pass is one of my favorite guitarists.  One reason I love his playing is that he does so much with so little.  There’s a great teaching video series in which Joe explains the importance of not overthinking in music.  He wants to make it as simple as possible in his mind.  Here’s my favorite quote from that video.

My 3-Day Guide to NYC

I don’t care what anyone says, I love being a tourist! I’m always immensely grateful whenever I have the opportunity to travel and see a new place.  Last week was my first time in New York City.  I went to perform with the young piano star, Ethan Bortnick, at the APAP conference (check him out if you haven’t yet).

Create Beautiful Charts (Free Sibelius Template)

I create a lot of charts. I make them when I’m preparing for gigs or for other musicians’ recording sessions or live shows. It’s something that I have come to enjoy because it’s such a great way of improving your ear.  And there’s just something special about having beautiful looking charts of your music printed out, taped and ready to go.

The Value of Learning By Ear

One of the single best exercises I’ve engaged in as a musician has been learning by ear.  Whether it’s a chord progression, a rhythm, a song, an improvised solo, or a cool riff, the act of figuring something out by ear causes you learn and understand at a much deeper level.

Break Free of “Position” Playing – Part 2

This is Part 2 on how to break free of “position” playing on guitar.  If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here. Here’s a quick recap. Part 1 was all about becoming intentional about breaking through that stuck feeling created by relying solely on positions and patterns.  To do that, I suggested ignoring positions and patterns altogether, limiting yourself to 1 and 2 strings, and playing much more vertically on the guitar.

Create Your Own Chord Book

Have you ever seen those guitar chord dictionaries at guitar center?  You know, the ones titled something like “3,001 Guitar Chords.”  I always cringe when I see these because there’s such a more valuable way of learning about chords and harmony on guitar.

Break Free of “Position” Playing – Part 1

One night in college during a jazz improv class, I had a mini-breakdown in front of my teacher and some fellow students.  I was discouraged and frustrated that despite all my practicing, I was still struggling to get the music I heard in my head down to my fingers and onto the fretboard.

Over-Prepare For Your Next Gig

A few weeks ago, I put in a significant amount prep and practice for what turned out to be a pretty relaxed 2 hour gig.  Looking back, I probably could have survived doing much less, but I’m glad I didn’t.