Understanding Electric Guitar for Musical Directors

This post will outline the relevant aspects of electric guitar for Musical Directors. I’ll cover the common models, give a brief overview of the various controls, touch briefly on amplifiers and demonstrate the main effects used on electric guitar sounds.

I’m aiming this post at Musical Directors in the Musical Theatre world, but it may be useful for any musician, band leader, composer or arranger who wants to understand electric guitar better.

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Learn Music Faster – Count for Yourself

At the beginning, when you are first learning an instrument, the teacher will undoubtedly count for you from time to time, if only to demonstrate how beats and counting works in music. However, as soon as you are able, try to start counting for yourself. It’s totally fine to do this out loud at early stages. I encourage this and I wish more people did it (see post on using your voice). Those who do learn faster.

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Learn Music Faster – Tap Your Foot

Students who learn to tap their foot to the underlying rhythm of whatever they are playing tend to pick it up quicker than those who don’t. This is especially the case if it involves a difficult or complicated rhythm.

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Learn Music Faster – Count In

Whenever you start playing, always make sure you count yourself in. This should usually be at least one bar in the time signature you are about to play. Do this every time you have stopped and are about to start again, for whatever reason. It doesn’t have to be out loud but it should be even and in time.

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Learn Music Faster – Make Mistakes

There’s a great moment in the Simpsons where Homer tells Bart and Lisa “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” We can all see that’s the wrong lesson, yet we all recognise that feeling.

Practice is about getting things right, isn’t it? About playing perfectly, eliminating mistakes. Any error is a sign of failure.


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Learn Music Faster – Take Responsibility for Your Own Learning

The students who learn fastest tend to be the ones who come to me and say they want to learn particular songs, styles, techniques, theory or any other aspect of music. They have thought about what they want and then told me what they want. They are taking responsibility for their own learning.

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