I don’t remember the last time I officially took a guitar lesson. (I won’t count Steve Vai, trying to teach me how to play Freak Show Excess while his band watched me flop-sweat in a rehearsal studio in 2007).
Back in college, I did very well in formal music theory courses (written and aural), and I’ve always had “nimble fingers” — but in all the years I considered myself a musician, I never bothered to learn the names of the notes on the fretboard!
Please. Don’t smack yourself in the forehead so hard.
My reasoning: I had no intention of playing someone else’s music, and playing my own music didn’t require it. (My life is full of these sorts of rationalizations, by the way.) Thanks to the zillions of power-chord notations I read in Guitar World growing up, I did fine on the Low E and A (the James Hetfield strings) but anything beyond that, I’m lost.
I decided that it was time for me to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and seek out a professional: Dale Turner.
Dale is an instructor at Musicians Institute in Hollywood and columnist for Guitar World. So it should not be surprising that he was able to instantly diagnose my problem (stupidity) and set me up with a sequence of mental exercises to get over it. I’m at least intelligent enough to know that memorizing 72 different notes / locations would be a lot easier with a system — and Dale automatically provided that. After explaining the rules of various note-learning games, he demonstrated how that information can be put to use by playing some blues and jazz examples. I don’t really like blues or jazz, but it was shocking how fast he was able to jump around the entire neck in inversions, arpeggios, and voice-leading — while calling out all of the note names — and it sounded like MUSIC, not exercises.
Anyway, if you’re in the L.A. area I highly recommend him for private lessons. I’m hoping I can make my visits to his learning studio a regular thing.
And please check out his first solo CD, Mannerisms Magnified, on which he played ALL of the instruments. You can buy it in my shop.
P.S. his hair is not that long anymore! Also, he is in the process of recording a new album. I heard some of it, and it’s crazy!
His website: Intimate Audio.