I am pleased to say that in addition to my normal music production tuition, I now offer training in grades 1-5 of Rockschool Music Production – the world’s first graded syllabus of its kind!
The syllabus is very comprehensive and most importantly enjoyable. It covers a variety of skills and knowledge, from working with virtual instruments and editing samples/loops, to miking up guitars, vocals etc. and mixing and editing audio – all the skills you need to bring your ideas to life! To find out more about the syllabus check out: https://www.rslawards.com/music/music-production
To read more about my music production tuition, rates, times etc., check out the following page of my website: Music Production
One of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of my job is teaching at Roman Fields School in Hemel Hempstead. I currently work several times a week there with two very talented students, who both love to turn up their guitars nice and loud and play rock music – always a good thing!
One of these students, Ryan, who is currently taking his GCSEs, has been learning music production with me and has been working on a variety of hard-rock inspired compositions. This week we ‘mixed down’ his latest track and it’s seriously impressive! Please click on this link to have a listen: ‘Blinded By Reality’
Ryan has only been playing for just over 2 years and has already come such a long way in that short amount of time. Check out his solo in the track above (2:24 minutes in) to see what I mean – Steve Vai would be proud!
Please ‘like’ and/or ‘share’ his video and look out for more of his tracks on Youtube soon…
The following are some tips on staying motivated in the early stages of learning guitar. It can be a tough instrument, particularly where you’re starting out and so I hope these ideas will inspire and help keep things fun for you!
Learn easier arrangements of your favourite songs. It can seem like a long road learning to play the songs of your guitar heroes. However there are some great books that carefully adapt classic tracks to be beginner friendly and yet still sound close to the originals. A couple of examples are Trinity’s Rock and Pop series and Hal Leonard’s ‘Graded Guitar Songs’. And no, sadly I’ve not been paid to recommend those books.
Keep listening to new music. Not only can this renew inspiration, but it also develops your musical ‘ear’ by familiarising you with new forms of harmony, rhythms, styles of playing etc. If you’d like some ideas, here is a totally biased list featuring some of my favourite guitarists: Jeff Beck, Django Reinhardt, Joe Pass, Guthrie Govan and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Improvise. For me this is one of the most expressive and satisfying ways to play the guitar. It’s a bit like being given a palette of paints and a canvas and being told to do what you like – wonderful! It also helps keep things feeling fresh in your practice routine so that you’re not simply going over the same scales, riffs etc. all the time. Even if you only have minimal scale knowledge you can improvise; it is not just for advanced players. There are online guides to improvisation and countless backing tracks on Youtube for you to solo over.
Set targets and rewards. I owe one of my students thanks for this idea, as he recently told me that he was keen to buy a new guitar but wanted to create a target that he would have to reach first. I think this is a great idea and a good target could be learning to play a certain song. Of course a reward can be as small or as big as you like – from a new plectrum to a new amplifier.
Play with others. If you’re lucky enough to be learning alongside someone else (as I was when I started), then you can spur each other along and share in your frustrations and successes. If not, there are other options such as jam nights and open mic nights where even if you don’t feel comfortable performing, you can meet other guitarists and share advice, enthusiasm etc.
Use Apps. A few of my students are using apps to help them with guitar practice at the moment and there seems to be plenty to choose from. A quick search online brought up this list: www.guitarworld.com/25-best-guitar-and-music-apps Having a database of chords, licks, scales, songs etc. on your phone sounds pretty cool to me!
Keep track of progress. The initial stages of learning guitar can be a challenge and so to keep perspective you could try measuring your progress. This way you can see how you are improving and aren’t as likely to feel ‘stuck in a rut’. One example for this is practising in time to a metronome to see how the speed of your playing is increasing. Another idea from world-famous tutor Justin Sandercoe relates to one of the most common problems for beginners – changing between chords quickly. He calls it ‘one minute changes’ and for this you write down how many times you can change between two chords in one minute. Then when you manage to beat your record you can see for yourself that you are progressing.
I have been particularly enjoying my jazz playing lately and decided to have a go at arranging a classic – ‘Autumn Leaves’. I decided to play it on a classical guitar because I felt the tone worked well and I’ve mixed in a variety of techniques and ideas to try to give the piece my own feel. It’s a lovely song and I hope I’ve done it justice!
If you enjoy it please share it around; and check back soon as I plan to upload another arrangement.
For those unfamiliar with Outlaws Kept The View, we are an acoustic duo featuring myself on guitar and lead vocals and Jake Munn on bass and backing vocals. We initially teamed up to perform each others solo material, but in a short space of time we discovered that we had a very natural songwriting ‘chemistry’ with each other (no jokes!). We therefore spent many long and happy hours writing songs together, in between a healthy amount of ‘mischief and mirth’ as they say.
I like to think we have developed our own distinctive sound, which I would sum up not very succinctly as: rock/blues/folk/country/film-score/ambient/acoustic. In other words we take from a lot of influences!
Perhaps ‘Acoustic Prog-Folk’ is the neatest fit? You be the judge!
Anyway we were put on hold when I injured my arm several years ago; very unfortunate timing as we were on the verge of finishing our EP at the time. Work commitments and all of that boring stuff extended our hiatus. Still, all of this has made it even more satisfying to finally put the last touches to ‘Bring out your Ghosts’ – our debut release.
This project means a lot to us and we have poured our hearts and souls into writing and performing the music. We hope you really enjoy it and you can now hear the ‘teaser trailer’ at the top of this page which gives you snippets of all 5 tracks that will be on the EP.
Please stand by for EP artwork and a release date!