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Jazz Guitar Lessons: Guitar Yoga

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Guitar Yoga.
Okay as I mentioned
in the overview, some of our
studies will be spiritual.
So you might think of this one,
it's a little bit spiritual.
This is what I call guitar yoga.
So what do I mean by that?
Basically, this is my warm-up, my,
one of my warm-ups that I do every day.
We'll get into the more
advanced warm-ups later on.
But the, the most fundamental
one I do is actually a very slow
chromatic scale, and the the way I do it
is slow enough, as in yoga,
so that I can be aware
of all the different movements involved,
and all the feelings that I'm noticing.
So, I can play it slow enough so
that I can pay attention
to all the feelings I have
while I'm doing it, in my body.
Mentally, actually,
also I've, I've realized,
while I was doing this, many times.
I, I do it every day
I can kinda use this time to kinda like
think about what I wanna do that day,
in terms of practicing or my routine,
and, and what I'm gonna work on.
So let's get into it.
First of all, you need to know,
the chromatic scale that I use.
Basically it's the only one
that works on the guitar.
It's an interesting scale
because the notes go up,
and I think the hand goes back.
So what it, what it is you start on the A
on the six string and
you go up chromatically on that string
Until you can't go any further.
Move back one fret on the fifth string
And then continue up
Four notes on that string.
Back one more fret
On the D string.
Back one more fret on the G string
And then the famous 3rd interval between
the, the, G string and the B string.
So you don't move back a fret.
Go right to the same fret
And then back one more fret for
the last string
So it's a two octave chromatic scale.
And then
Okay now the,
the yoga aspect of it is going to come in.
Now that's the scale we're going
to use to do this exercise.
I'm gonna bring out my iPhone,
because almost everything I practice,
I practice with a metronome.
I use my iPhone, I have a little
program called the Guitar Toolkit and
it's got a nice little metronome in it.
And that's it right there.
And it's a cool program.
It's a good tuner and a, and a metronome
and tunings and all kinds of stuff in it.
So I pick a tempo.
I always use 60 BPM.
It's a nice, medium slow tempo.
Now, you'll notice when I start doing
this, something interesting happening.
I'm actually not gonna
play on the metronome.
I'm actually gonna play in between
the beats of the metronome.
I'll explain why in a moment,
but listen to how I do it.
You start that chromatic scale,
and you notice the the metronome is
playing in between each note.
Why do I do that?
Well, many years ago when I was,
doing a lot of practicing and,
and trying to learn my
technique as much as I could,
it was pointed out to me that just
playing scales right on a metronome.
It's a little bit dry, a little bit stiff.
And what am I, what am I practicing for?
I'm really practicing to
be able to improvise.
So, you'll notice the sound
I'm using here is a hihat.
And the theory I have is
when a drummer's playing
a jazz beat,
[SOUND] in between every beat.
He plays the high hat on two and four.
this is the high hat of a drummer.
[SOUND] That's how I kind of think of it.
So it's kind of like preparing to be able
to play in the moment with a drummer.
And you get use to playing to off beats.
And it's helped me a lot.
Kind of gives you a sense of
confidence with the time.
Alright, now let's get into
the physical aspect of this.
I'm going to start again.
Now the first thing I'm gonna do,
I'm just gonna take a general sense of.
You know how I'm feeling.
If I notice any tension
anywhere in my body.
I'm playing slow enough that I can
be aware of all the things that
are happening.
If I notice a little tension in my,
my right shoulder I can
just kinda let it go.
Let it relax.
If I notice I'm holding my
arm in a weird angle somehow,
I kinda try to settle into a position
that's really comfortable.
I'm coming up to the end of the first
I do twelve of these.
I'm gonna go up a half
step up to the B flat.
Same scale just one half step higher.
So after I've paid attention to all the,
you know my general disposition.
I pay attention to each hand individually.
Let's start with the with the left hand.
[COUGH] I would say the easier of the two.
What I'm concentrating on,
on the left hand is to try to get the,
the, I'm gonna stop playing for a minute.
To try to get the,
the meatiest part of my finger
where I get the best sound
right in the center of a fret.
So I'm getting a real
pure tone to come out.
The guitar's really singing hopefully.
I should mention one thing.
I often do this exercise with the,
with the volume down on my guitar.
I can really hear the acoustic
sound of the guitar.
Because the theory being, if, if I get
a good acoustic sound when it comes
through an amp, I'll have a good sound
when it's coming out of the amp as well.
but sometimes it good to
do through an amp too
Just say,
I take note of [COUGH] what I'm doing is,
with the right hand is where my thumb is,
I try to get my thumb
positioned pretty much behind the finger
that I'm playing at that moment.
I don't move it around too much, but
if I get down to the B and E string,
I suddenly move my thumb a little
bit closer to that part of the neck,
a little bit further down.
And then, sorry.
And then as I move to the lower strings,
I move back up a little bit.
That's pretty much it for
the, for the left hand.
Now let's talk a little
bit about the right hand.
That's for me, that's the trouble spot.
Right hand is not as easy.
Let's stop for a minute and
talk about a couple of aspects of that.
First thing is A, do you play with a pick?
You know,
Wes Montgomery played with his thumb.
Some people play with their fingers.
Some people play with a pick.
Some people play with the side
of the pick, which I do, and
some with the point of the pick.
Whatever you do, you should try to do
it consistently when you practice, so
that when you're going out to play.
You'll do it that way as well.
Or, if you do it more than one way,
you can practice different ways so
you can get comfortable doing,
doing different things and
so can practice this yoga
concept as you do that.
From my point of view,
I like to use the round part of the pick,
because believe it or not, it really
does make a difference tone-wise.
For me, the jazz sound is a warm sound.
I like a warm, round sound.
And the round edge of the pick
does give a little warmer sound.
I'll give a little demonstration of that.
That's my natural thing.
The point of the pick
sounds a little sharper.
It's kinda interesting.
A little more treble.
Sometimes I'll, I'll do that when I'm
playing rhythm guitar because you want
a little more edge.
All right, so, once you've decided
how you're gonna hold your pick,
in my case like this,
go back to the scales.
Now what I'm gonna try to do,
first of all I'm gonna do.
Down, up, down, up.
And keep that consistently.
as I'm going.
I'm taking note of the economy of motion
that I'm, that I'm achieving as I do this.
I don't want to swing too wildly
from one side to the other.
I wanna try to keep
the economy of motion there.
I wanna keep it relaxed.
I wanna keep my shoulder,my forearm,
my wrist, all very relaxed my fingers.
I want to make sure that if I'm
resting my fingers as I do.
Do on my pick guard.
That it's gentle and I'm not like digging
into it and tense, but nice and relaxed.
And then there's sound.
I wanna try to
hit the string in a way so
that they get a real,
nice, round, warm bell.
Sound of each note.
And by doing it slowly, I can pay,
really pay attention to each and
every note that I play.
I know it sounds kind of boring, but
this has really been a good exercise for
and it's helped me very much
to kind of develop a sound and
a technique that carries through
to the rest of my playing.
If you do it with your fingers,
if you do it with your thumb.
Whatever you do, try to find your own
way to keep it relaxed and smooth and
get the great, the,
the great sound that you want to come out.
So that's pretty much my guitar yoga.
We're gonna come back
to more warm ups later.
But for now, give that a try and
see if it helps.