Three Big Time Reasons Guitar Lessons Must Include The Blues

Young, Sharp Guitar Guys And The New And Improved Way(! ?)

Teaching in the same facility for a long time has afforded me the opportunity to see how lots of other teachers work, the self-taught, the highly educated and all points in between.  Among the new crop of musical school guys there seems to be a disregard for the importance and necessity of a basic understanding of the blues, discarding the innumerable and indispensable benefits and insights that the genre offers to guitarists in their formative years.  Relegating the style to the status of a useless old shoe, an artifact from the past that has no bearing on the new modern way to play is a big mistake. Nothing could be more wrong.

1.)Theory And Songwriting Chops Are Developed Through The Study Of Blues Music

I – IV- V  Harmony is the most obvious and important reason to teach guitar students blues, learning solid, traditional 12 bar blues rhythm parts in particular, is what gives students familiarity and experience with the most important chords in modern American musical harmony,

  • The Tonic (or the one chord)
  • The Sub Dominant (the four chord)
  • and The Dominant (the five chord).

It’s true that the harmonic settings of rock, blues and jazz music are very often a 12 bar blues or an interesting derivative or variation of the I – IV- V harmony.  In a traditional blues, like the one I have outlined below, the functions of the I -IV& V chords are very clearly explained and easily understood, easily heard with a few guided repetitions of the chart that I have reprinted from my book, Blueprint For Hot Guitar.  As I have said before, all lesson plans must be neatly copied and professionally prepared, hopefully with software like Finale or Sibelius, this is my habit of constantly prosecuting the case for musical literacy.

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Of particular use to a guitar student is the fact that the IV chord in the traditional 12 bar blues form almost always goes back to the I, the tonic, which makes students question traditional music theory where the IV chord is called the sub dominant and often taught strictly as a predecessor to the dominant chord. In rock, pop, jazz and blues music this simply isn’t true, the blues teaches the flavor and meaning if the all-important I –IV cadence. In this and many other regards, blues is an education in basic songwriting, harmonic ear training and repertoire development, as many famous songs are nothing more than 12 bar blues progressions -especially early rock, funk, electric blues and jazz.

Studying and analyzing the harmonic progressions of the simplest to the most complicated of blues songs is absolutely necessary to anyone who wants to understand modern music.

A recommended book is Modern Blues Guitar By Ken Chipkin

blues book

Great Blues Book By Kenn Chipkin

2.) Blues Always Seems To Be A Part Of The Current Musical Landscape

Blues music has morphed into an industry and a lifestyle. In the modern world of guitar playing, precious few musical genres have ascended to the lofty ranks of the blues. It’s the common ground that guitar players use to play with each other, form groups and bands and most importantly, have meaningful jam sessions. Any pro jam session in any stage around the world centers its activity around blues progressions, there’s just no two ways about it. Understanding and being able to play the blues even a little bit give your students an easy entrance into the larger world of guitar playing, working and improvising with others and helps them to become firmly rooted in the most important traditional American musical style, -giving them the same knowledge base that many of their musical heroes have.

3.)Becoming Active Guitar Players

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Being active in the local blues scene is a good way to jam, have fun, get out and meet people and share ideas and moments with other musicians, eventually developing the skills needed to make money the third and final reason for starting the blues is because it’s like a history lesson the syntax vernacular and vocabulary of modern American music is based in large part on the blues, there is no other style or genre that is as influential in the formation of modern American music as blues and any serious course of study and electric guitar should treat blues with the utmost and highest regard and importance. In many great musical education systems such as kindred music and the code I’m historical perspectives and repertoire development are serious and integral part of the method I say and blues guitar playing hold equally as important a place in the study of modern guitar.

 

 

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