In Part 1 of this lesson, Mike Marshall talks about what makes an advanced player. Some of the things he suggests that separate advanced players, are their ability to groove. Staying in the pocket and having a good rhythmic playing ability are very important. Tone is another thing that Mike cites as an important separating factor.
- Okay, we're asking the question right now what makes an advanced player? And that's of course a silly question but in an attempt to keep you progressing along the lines of this curriculum that I made, this seems like a good time to just talk about what is it about your heroes that you love and people when you think of people as being really at the top of their game, what kind of qualities do they have that turn you on and how can we get there? That's our quest.
So just to keep us on track, I just wanna bring up a few things that I see in the great players that I've worked with and that I've heard and what is it that just gets me going when I hear them play. And of course for me, the first thing is their groove and groove is a very sorta nebulous thing to pin down. There's rhythmic accuracy and then there's groove. They're not necessarily the same thing especially when we're talking about danceable music whether it's swing or bluegrass or funk stuff, anything that's rhythmically driven and of course all the music of the Americas has got that Afrocentric underpinning.
So difficult to pin down exactly what that is but we all know it when we feel it when we hear great players who are in the pocket. So I just want you to think about that always whenever you're playing even if you're just sitting around on the couch by yourself practicing some simple little thing at the very basic level, I want you to be thinking about the pocket. Is this thing grooving? Am I playing musically from a rhythmic perspective? Am I moving my body? Do the notes swing? Whatever that means.
Even if you're playing Bach. There's a way to play Bach so that it grooves. Not so that it sounds like swing music but within the context of baroque music, there's an agreed upon idea of where the accent should go and how that music is supposed to flow and I think oftentimes we can get caught up in the technical aspects of playing a piece and that will take us out of our pocket. Very easy to lose track of that. The other thing that comes to mind is tone.
All the great players that we love have this remarkable sound always. There's a consistency to the tone they get out of their instrument and what creates that? That's the first question. Is it because they have an expensive instrument or is it because of their strings or their pick? Of course not. Any of the great players you know, if you were to hand them your instrument, you would probably say, oh my God, I didn't know it could sound like that. And so we have to ask ourselves the question, where does that come from? Why is it that this person can just pull a sound out of the instrument? What is it that he or she is doing that I'm not doing? And so that goes to the right hand probably and of course it's picks and strings but I've often said I'd rather hear the really great guitar player on the crummy guitar with the bad strings and bad pick than the other way around.
So think about your tone. Always be conscious of tone and, even though you're playing a fast tune and you're kind of at the top of your ability for whatever reason. Is it because it's difficult passages or because of pieces being played real fast? Never lose sight of what kind of sound you're making even if it's chopping a backbeat. Am I really getting that mandolin to sound as good as it can? Alright.
So the next is creativity and creativity is another one of those cloud like concepts. Where does it come from when somebody just has this ability to have remarkably original and unique ideas? And some people just seem to just be this, the fountain of continuous flowing of inspiration and new, fresh ideas and so we can study that.
We can think about that from a very logical place. What is it that creates creativity? For me, it's of course knowing your instrument really well, being super comfortable with whatever it is technically, whether it's the key you're in or the rhythmic feel that you're playing out of and then it's a question of knowing the history of all the players who came before you I think is really important because then you have this wonderful vocabulary of things to draw from and then it's a question of not doing that and instead finding other things.
If you've spent your whole life copying one mandolin player for instance and you've really learned some of the licks that they do and it's sort of integrated so deeply into you as a player that you're having difficulty finding your own voice then the first thing I would begin to think about is okay, I'm not going to do those licks that I learned from so and so in this song anymore. Now, that's a starting point is to just say no.
I'm gonna really dig and try and find something else to do and that's the starting point of creativity is to know what you're doing and then go in this search. If it's something very simple, every time I go to this one place, I do those silly triplets that I learned from so and so. Alright, so I'm not gonna do that and so something else is gonna come out. I promise you. So that's the other one.
Note: This course was created and produced by ArtistWorks. We are honored to host this training in our library.
- Practicing for speed
- Making chord changes
- Practicing finger busters
- Making simple tunes more interesting