Your Brain on Music – 12 Benefits of Music Education

This is great and so true!

Luna Guitars' Blog

With music education being cut from our schools, it is more important than ever
that we understand the amazing benefits of music. Please read this and pass it on.

Twelve Benefits of Music Education

1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.

2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together…

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Steve Vai launches GuitarTV

Guitar legend Steve Vai has opened up an online 24/7 streaming video channel called, featuring non-stop programming of guitar performances, guitar lessons, live broadcasts and more like links to online stores like amazon.

It is linked too facebook, twitter, has a newsletter and all in all very feature rich. Thriugh virtual strings you can learn more about the performer you are watching, get tabs, buy songs on i-tunes, learn more and buy their amp models and guitars and even upcoming concert tickets all from and through the site.

So go and check it out at>>>

















Bass: An Interview with Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius is one of those amazing bass players in history, that set the bar and in fact still does for many players today.

On youtube I found this series of videos comprising an interview with this grandmaster of the bass, where he talks about modern electric bass. There is such good advise in there, for bass players but also for guitar players that I decided to put it out here for you.

So things that particularly struck me is his way of approaching things analytically (like I teach) , how he uses classical music and scale patterns to get proficient, and in fact some of the things he showed on the bass are not to dissimilar to what one might be taught on the guitar by the likes of Paul Gilbert.

So, sit back with a coffee, a notebook and  perhaps your bass to try things out.

Did you enjoy that as much as I did?

Five Online Guitar Magazines

Personally, nothing beats getting a copy of the Total Guitar or Guitar Techniques and subsequently placing myself in a chair in the sun in the garden or cuddling up on the couch with a cup of coffee. At the same time there is a wealth of magazines available online for free. Here are five of my favorites.

Guitar Player Magazine

One of my old guitar magazines of choice, has a substantial site for the guitar player with lessons, articles, interviews, gear reviews and more. A definite recommend.  Go and visit here >>>

Premier Guitar

A comprehensive guitar magazine with everything you may expect from a modern guitar magazine. Gear reviews, lessons, and more. Go visit the magazine here >>>

A free subscription to the digital version of the magazine is available, including the option to search back issues. A big recommend.

Interactive Guitar

Guitar Interactive is the world’s first fully interactive digital magazine for guitarists the world over – and it’s completely free! Drawing on the resources of Licklibrary – the internationally renowned music teaching resource – GI brings together expert players to analyse the styles and techniques of the world’s best guitarists, which you can see and hear in the hours of video that are in every issue.

An amazing new magazine and a very definite recommendation with a free subscription available here >>>. What appealed especially is the way in which the magazine actually reads like a magazine but on screen.

Total Guitar

One of my favorite magazines to pick up in the shop and read. It comes with a free CD/DVD with further instructions, lessons and play along tracks. Go see the magazine here >>>.

Guitar Techniques

It is through this magazine that I keep myself growing. Monthly lessons that push the beginner as well as the advanced players. Great magazine that comes with a CD/DVD with further information, lessons and sound samples. My favorite.

Go visit the site and magazine here >>>

What are your Favorite Guitar Magazines?

It is impossible I guess to be complete, else Id spend more time browsing and reading that playing. So I limited myself to five of my favorites here. What are some of your favorite music magazines and why?  I look forward to hearing about your recommendations.

Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen: TED Talks

What an amazing talk this was.  It gave me a completely different angle on studying music, playing music and listening to music. The full text is available as interactive transcript as well.

Why you should listen to her:
Evelyn Glennie‘s music challenges the listener to ask where music comes from: Is it more than simply a translation from score to instrument to audience? How can a musician who has almost no hearing play with such sensitivity and compassion?

The Grammy-winning percussionist and composer became almost completely deaf by the age of 12, but her hearing loss brought her a deeper understanding of and connection to the music she loves. She’s the subject of the documentary Touch the Sound, which explores this unconventional and intriguing approach to percussion.

Along with her vibrant solo career, Glennie has collaborated with musicians ranging from classical orchestras to Björk. Her career has taken her to hundreds of concert stages around the world, and she’s recorded a dozen albums, winning a Grammy for her recording of Bartók’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, and another for her 2002 collaboration with Bela Fleck.
Her passion for music and musical literacy brought her to establish, in collaboration with fellow musicians Julian Lloyd Weber and Sir James Galway, the Music Education Consortium, which successfully lobbied for an investment of 332 million pounds in music education and musical resources in Britain.

“Evelyn Glennie is simply a phenomenon of a performer.”
New York Times

Minor Pentatonics, Autumn Leaves

Recently I have been working with a student on using your pentatonic scales for jazz improvisation purposes. I have found them useful especially because of the notes left out. Just for the record, I do not make a difference between minor and major pentatonics in that as far as I can see it they are the same, be it not that many guitarists started out their lead guitar playing with the minor pentatonic scale and blues scale. So when I speak of using the G#min pentatonic scale over B7 others will speak of the B major pentatonic scale which is the same only it starts on the B (the second not of the G# minor pentatonic scale). I like to keep things simple.

The first  eight bars of Autumn Leaves are:

|| Am7 | D7 | G maj7 | C maj7 |

| Fm7b5 | B7 | Em | Em E7 ||

Below is an example of how you can use the minor pentatonic and blues scale over the chord progression set out previously. Please be aware that this is an example and as far as I am concerned it is one of the many ways in which you can improvise over the song.


Now lets see what is happening here:

Bar 1: A min pent (V) goes to B min pentatonic (VII) which creates a nice sound adding the 9 and 13 besides that it moves right into the next bar (D7) in which we will play C min pentatonic

Bar 2: C minor pentatonic (VIII) even though it has the 11 in there, the emphasis is primarily focussed on the b9 and the b13, Mist of all it sets up to chromatically resolve into the B minor pentatonic that can be used over the G maj7 chord

Bar 3: Using the B minor pentatonic this creates a nicely grounded flavor while at the same time adding a 9 and 13 in your lines.

Bar 4: I used a pattern in sixteenth notes in E blues scale (VII) and repeated the pattern in pos II which would make that the B blues scale. The f# creates the airiness associated with the lydian scale. By repeating the same pattern yuou also create that sort of modern sound.

Bar 5: again a repeated pattern using F# blues scale (II) and A blues scale (V) all notes, even though their weird signature (sorry it was my power tab) are all closely related to the chord

Bar 6: Over the B7 I played a G# blues (IV) scale and a F blues scale (I) but avoiding the Bb note although it would work as a chromatic note to b, and thus I slid very nicely back into a Bar 7 -8 E blues scale to play over the E minor (open). The last two notes are the 3 and 7 of an E7.

I also suggest you read this lesson >>> which deals with the same subject in general terms. Or find the chord melody arrangement (beginner level) of the song here >>>

Guitar tips for playing in a small worship group

Being a worship musician in a small group (just guitar and vocals or piano, guitar and vocals) is a challenging but very honorable role. If you are advanced on your instrument things may be slightly easier but what if you have but limited knowledge of and/or skills on your instrument. You may well be sort of like a beginner but, the music ministry/worship singers need you badly, not tomorrow, yesterday.

There’s a lot you can learn about music but for now there are some key skills that take priority.

1) Chords and Rhythm

If there is one thing you will need to focus on as quickly as possible, it is being proficient inn playing chords and being able to play a clear rhythm. Getting these two right will help your church community to sing out their praises with confidence.

If you are the worship leader, make sure you know your songs by heart. I firmly believe that it is better t0 have a smaller repertoire that you completely believe than forcing yourself to come up with new songs week in week out that you do not actually master yet.

As far as chords go: in small settings you want to look for ways to be able to play rich sounding chords. I believe that that boils down, at least for a guitar to not so much all the flash chords with lots of additions in which you need all your fingers and your thumb even. Less is more most often and I personally think that open string chords work great to create rhythm, atmosphere and enough body.

I can hear you think now: but my psalter hymnal says the song is in the key of F, or let’s say Db. There are two options: either transpose the song or consider the use of a capo.  Another option is to play a song with an alternate tuning. As an example, I have found that the song Everlasting God works great if you use a C tuning (CGCGCE) and transpose it to that key. There is a lot of richness in the C tuning already with the extra low. Also keep in mind when playing in an alternate tuning that many of the best worship songs are based on either I IV V type of progressions or I II IV V VI progression which are easily transferred to alternate tunings.


2) Less is more: dynamics rule

Bill Evans, the famous jazz piano player had a relatively small repertoire. But he was able to play the songs he did do with such an amazing wide range of variety that it seemed fresh every time he played it.

Now I do not expect anyone to go for that aim of trying to make the same song sound like a new one every week. What I am trying to say here is that there is value in going deep on a song so you have a range of options, perhaps from small and modest to an all out version of the same song, and internalized to such an extend that you can take the people somewhere: you can actually lead them , and the other way around where you have the option of being lead by your church. You lead and are being led: you are there to lead but serve at the same time and is it not the most beautiful thing? It reminded me of a saying of Gandhi:

“I must go now: I am their leader therefore I must follow them.”

What this all comes down to is being able to play with dynamics: from loud to quiet but also from big sounding chords to small and fragile. The dynamics come from the rhythm, the harmony and in the last place the volume at which you bang out the harmonies.

What I have learned in the is that there is considerable merit in learning to play a song really banging out loud and really quiet and everything in between but… WITHOUT LOOSING INTENSITY. Try it out for yourself, does the song you are playing carry the same intensity when you play it really soft? Practice those dynamics. Practice songs in different dynamics without touching your amp, and when you use a DI learn to play your songs so softly that the DI is wondering what happened to the signal up to a point where it wants to throw up because of all that is coming through. There again, besides technique, rhythm and chord forms are your best ally.

I practice even the simplest songs (technically) in different dynamics, trying out alternative harmonies, different grooves. Good songs to try this out with are for instance:

3. Song Choice

Depending on the instrumentation available in your worship team (if any at besides piano or guitar) you will find that some songs work better than others. In leading song choice is very important in relation to the service as such, but I am talking here about, knowing what the limitations of your team are. Make sure that you choose songs that are suitable for your team (if a team at all). Sometimes you may want to rearrange a song in order to make it suitable.

Songs that stand or fall with specific riffs, breaks or otherwise may have impossible to perform on your own sections, no matter how much you like the songs may well be found as not working. In choosing songs, do not just let your taste be the only guidance or the fact that songs are currently in the praise charts. Find songs that are relevant for the service and that can be played convincingly in a small setting. Otherwise look at how the songs may be made suitable for a smaller setting.