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Words of Guitar Wisdom By Steve Krenz

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Down Strum - Up Strum - - - - WHAT!!!!???

In general, when playing eighth notes the picking is a down-up-down-up pattern with the downstrokes being on the downbeats and the upstrokes being on the upbeats.  For example if I was counting a measure of eighth notes or "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" the beats would be the downstrokes and the "ands" would be upstrokes.


Now, this is not a hard and fast rule.  In some musical situations and some string combinations it may be more comfortable to adjust this pattern as needed.  So, don't get too bent out of shape if this is varied occasionally.


Now, regarding me occasionally playing through an exercise using all downstrokes.  Yep, I do this sometimes.  Sometimes it is just to overemphasize the rhythm of the notes or sometimes I'm just going for a more solid sound that downstrokes provide.


I guess my overall point is that guitar playing is not math - with only one possible solution.  In real playing situations there are constantly changing variables. Variables of how you want to play and attack the note depending on the strength of the sound you want to produce and so on.


 When you are just learning how to play this may appear confusing.  But as you grow (and you will grow) in your skill you realize that this is a natural and freeing part of expressing on your instrument.


Making music in general and guitar playing in specific is a wonderful combination of art and science.  You can't analyze it as all rule-governed science, it just doesn't work that way.


- Steve 



What to Do When You’re Frustrated and Stuck?

·         Beware when you are feeling stuck and remember that stopping is the enemy. 

·         Plateaus are a natural, normal, expected part of the learning process.

·         Some things that help…

o    Relax.  Nothing works right when you get uptight - especially learning.  Don’t take the “stuck feeling” too seriously. Chances are nothing is terribly wrong.  You’re just in a plateau. Just keep doing what you are doing - whether you feel like it or not and evaluate it again in two weeks and see how things have progressed. 

o    Take a Short Break.  Sometimes after beating your musical head against the wall for a considerable amount of time with decreasing amounts of progress, sometimes it’s just good to take a break for a few days, put your guitar in its case, and come back to it after a short time.  BUT, don’t forget about it and break for too long or you will start to lose ground.  Two or three days is a good amount of break time.

o    Practice Something Else for a While.  There are many ways to get the job done and guitar skills tend to interconnect in various ways. If you’re stuck on barre chords then work on something else for a while and come back to them again in a couple of weeks.  Often times this break has a magical quality to get you out of your stuck position.

o    Put Yourself in a Playing Situation.  Nothing shakes the cobwebs of learning loose better than getting out of the practice room and into a playing situation when you are applying those skills.

o    Get some Fresh Musical Inspiration.  Go to that concert, or go hear some live music, buy and download that CD from your favorite band, or get a new piece of gear.  Getting new musical inspiration doesn’t need to be expensive - it just needs to excite and musically engage your heart again.

o    Be a Student of How You Learn. Learning is something you are going to be doing a lot of.  Stop and think about the things that help you learn and those things that hinder or distract how you learn.  Think about when during the day are you the most mentally engaged and try to practice during more productive times.   Analyze the feelings you are having.  Would practicing in longer, more focused times be better or would breaking your practice time up into shorter bursts of learning fit your style better?  Think about how you learn and adjust your practice times to make them the most effective.

o    ABOVE ALL ELSE - DON’T STOP!!! Take a break if you need to, press on if you need to, try several different things, but don’t listen to the inner voice that says “Well, I guess that’s it.  That’s as far as I can go as a guitar player.”  That little inner voice plays in all of our heads and it just might be lying to you.




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How Steve Krenz came about in Teaching 

BEFORE YOU EVEN BEGIN THE COURSE 1) Get your guitar setup.  Learning guitar is hard enough without have to fight to play an instrument that is fighting you back.  Take your guitar down to the loc

On Note Reading I purchased your program and I am having difficulty learning the music notes of session2. Do I really need to learn this part? In general, note reading is important and it will be

Question about Rests- Do we silence the note or let the note being played ring through and play nothing for the period of rest?

Great question. (Also, it looks by the time of this, that both of us can't sleep.)


There's a peculiarity about the guitar.  When you play a note on an open string, it continues to ring. But when you play a note that is fretted, it stops as soon as you take your finger off.


So, when you are playing a rhythm that has a rest but the previous note is an open string, then the string just continues to ring right through the rest.


What's a poor guitar player to do?  


So, here are your options on the open string ringing problem.


You could quickly mute the string either by using the palm of your picking hand or a finger on the fretting hand. Anything will work as long as you lightly touch the ringing string.


BUT here's my professional advice after teaching for way too many years...


Don't worry about it.  


Here's why.  When you're just starting out, you tend to play rhythms and exercises very slow.  Going this slow lets you really hear how one string is ringing out more than the others.  (And it bugs you so you think something is wrong.)  So, you try to mute it somehow and your already stressed out motor skills get even more stressed out because now you have to worry about not only picking the note, but muting open strings that ring.  


BUT, As you get quicker and you have been playing a bit longer, then you are moving faster and the once ringing string is often muted quicker by another finger or note needing to be played.  Hence, the open string ringing is much shorter and less bothersome.


So, my best advice is.... Don't worry about it.  If the open string really bothers you then, if you can, try to lightly mute it.  But don't overly worry about it.


The overall main idea as you're playing the exercise is to play the music in the proper rhythm and count the rests correctly.


This "Open String Ringing" problem is really only one that gets bothersome to students right around the developmental level that you are at.  And quickly you are on to other concerns.


I hope this helps.  It sounds like you are off to a great start.  Keep going.  There's much music to be made!


- Steve 


Some strings (the open ones) ringing longer than other ones is part of the overall guitar sound - and it's actually a good thing.  It's one of the parts of the guitar sound that makes it unique.  It's even a desirable thing as you get more involved in your playing.  Some of the coolest things you can do in your playing involve playing something that some notes are cutting off while others are sustaining. It's a uniquely guitar phenomenon - and it's a good thing.


Mute it if it bothers you, but otherwise, don't overly worry about it and in a few weeks you'll be moving faster and it won't bother you as much.




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Yes, the G2 in that example is a moveable form.  BUT, your reasoning behind it is right on the money.  


Here's the rule....


A G2 is made up of the notes G-A-B-D.  Those are your ingredients.  And, just like most menu items at Taco Bell, you can take those ingredients and mix and match them in a variety of ways and you'll still end up with a G2.  As long as the chord, any chord, is made up of a G-A-B-D - in whatever order, or octave, or combination of notes - then it is a G2.


With that in mind, you see that there are a myriad of ways that you can think up to play a G2.  


Some of the most creative sounding chord voicings have a moveable chord somewhere up on the neck combined with an open string or two.


So, you're idea of putting the high A on top is absolutely correct.  As the color tone, the A would sound better higher up in the voicing generally anyway.


Don't be bound by just thinking of a chord as just a picture in a book - think of it as a collection of notes and sounds that can be manipulated.


That's one of the things that really bothers me about the "Here's the Mel Bay Chord Bible thick book filled with 1000 chord shapes" approach.


Yes, a book like this gives you a quick answer to what a G13b9 is BUT it doesn't give any understanding to why that chord shape is what it is.


To change the metaphor... It's handing you the fish, and not teaching you how to fish.  So, you are forever doomed to coming back time and time again to find this or that chord.

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Session 11 - need practice guidance

Pentatonic scales are a big batch of knowledge that will take some time to learn and digest and eventually put into your playing.

Most guitarists learn a pattern or two and play them up and down and think that they have learned all they need to know about pentatonic scales. That's a bit like saying... "I know the alphabet. I can say my ABC's forwards and backwards. I don't understand why I'm not a great novelist by now."

So, in the book I give you several steps in your learning of these scales - to get you from learning the alphabet to actually using it.

- Practice all of the pentatonic forms ascending and descending

-practice the pentatonic forms in all of the keys

-practice connecting them together to play in all the keys the full length of the guitar

-practice the common pentatonic patterns

-Practicing soloing using pentatonic scales on A Minor Pentatonic Blues, G Major Pentatonic, and Aroud the Pentatonic World. Make up your own solo using the scales suggested.

Let's go through these.


Start off by learning the fingerpatterns of the forms. Here's how to practice this. Pick a form. Play it slowly and carefully up and down. Each time you make a mistake go back and do the whole form again. You need to teach your fingers the correct way to play the form. Once you can play the form up and down perfectly with consistency. Then move the form up a half-step and do it again (up and down). Don't worry about knowing what key you are in yet, just focus on playing the form accurately. Work your way up and down the neck playing the scale at a slow to moderate speed.

Once you have really learned one form then start learning another form using the same process. This process, if done correctly,
should take around 2 weeks.
When you can play all five forms (ascending and descending) with confidence and accuracy then move to the next step.


Now, its time to move past just playing the finger patterns and begin to assimilate these finger patterns with their associated keys. Each pattern has an associated major and minor root (as shown on the diagrams). So, let's start with the key of C. Play each of the five pentatonic forms ascending and descending in the key of C. You want to start with the form that can be played in the lowest position. Don't start with your favorite form and then figure out the others. Force yourself to learn where each form is on the neck. So start with whatever form is the lowest one in that key on the neck. Then move up the neck switching forms as needed. When you get higher on the neck you will need to flip back to forms you previously did only now they would be an octave up.

Once you can play all of the forms on the entire neck in the key of C, then move around the circle of fifths keys. So, they would be in this order... C - G - D - A - E - B - F#. F - Bb - Eb - Ab - Db - Gb. This exercise when done properly should take you, at least, 30 minutes to get through all of the keys.


Look at the Bonus Resources Book pgs 104-107. These are the patterns that I want you to play in all keys the full range of the instrument.

Pick a key. Identify the form you need to use to play at the lowest part of the neck. Play that form ASCENDING, then move up to the next form in that key and play it DESCENDING, then move up to the next form in that key and play it ASCENDING and so on, until you run out of neck. Then work your way back down in a similar way. When you get back to the bottom of the neck again, then move on to the next key and do it all over again. Choose your keys in the cycle of the circle of fifths as outlined above. This should take you about 2 weeks to learn this and will take you at least 30 minutes or more to do this and go through all of the forms in all of the keys.


OK, now that you've gotten enough practice on the forms and how they relate to each other in different keys, now it's time to move beyond just playing them up and down. You need move beyond viewing these scales in a linear (up and down) fashion. In the lesson book I outline several common pentatonic patterns. Pick a pattern and learn the basic idea. Then pick a pentatonic form and play the pattern ascending and descending. Go to the next pentatonic form and play the same pattern up and down until you've worked through all of the five pentatonic patterns. Move to different keys, different parts of the neck. Play them in a connected form shape (ascending in one form, descending in the next).

Once you can do this with one pattern then try the others. This should take you about a week to learn and at least 45 minutes to go through all keys and all three patterns.


Now that you've learned the forms, what keys they are in, where they are on the neck, how they connect to each other, and several helpful patterns to play with them, you should be able to look at the entire neck of your guitar and immediately see this grid of connecting pentatonic forms which will form the basis of which notes you can choose from when you are soloing.

Now from this grid of appropriate notes you have a palette of notes to choose from when soloing. Begin experimenting, using the play-along tracks, trying to play different melodic ideas using the pentatonic scales. Play them in different parts of the neck. Don't always start with the same form. Vary the forms up. Vary the area of the neck that you start your ideas from.

You will sound clunky and bad at first. Keep trying. Eventually you will start to make better and better musical choices. This takes a few weeks to a lifetime to do this with as much accuracy as you need to. The goal is to be able to play through your fingers the ideas in your head. If your head can think it - your fingers can play it. That's the goal.

So, as you can see, there is quite a bit of material there to work through regarding pentatonic scales.
It's not easy but it's one of the most important skills you need to have as a guitarist for soloing and knowing the neck of your instrument.

This whole process took me about 3 months to learn and I use it every time I pick up the instrument.
- Steve

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I know there is overlap with Gerard's posts. But I didn' have time to sort all his posts to what was in my file.

I didn' post it all as I knew so of the duplcate posts jumped out at me.

Sometimes things need to be restated

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It's seems to going back, you learn new and more from this. Helps to remember while working on them for sure. Just one reson why I appreciate L&M with Steve Krenz so much. Top of the line instructions all over in it and a great heart for teaching. 

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Learn and Master Guitar Jam Along CD bpms

Ode to Joy
Track 2—54-58 bpm
Track 3—69-72 bpm
Track 4—84-88 bpm

Jingle Bells
Track 5—60 bpm
Track 6—69-72 bpm
Track 7—168-176 bpm

Yankee Doodle
Track 8—54-56 bpm
Track 9—84 bpm
Track 10—120 bpm

When the Saints Go Marchin’ In
Track 11—69-72 bpm
Track 12—88-92 bpm
Track 13—126 bpm

Love Me Tender
Track 14—63 bpm
Track 15—72 bpm
Track 16—80-84 bpm

Minuet in C
Track 17—46-48 bpm
Track 18—69 bpm
Track 19—76 bpm

Simple Gifts
Track 20—50 bpm
Track 21—60 bpm
Track 22—69-72 bpm

The Star Spangled Banner
Track 23—46-48 bpm
Track 24—58-60 bpm
Track 25—69 bpm

Minuet in G
Track 26—50-52 bpm
Track 27—66-69 bpm
Track 28—84-88 bpm

Morning Has Broken
Track 2—66-69 bpm
Track 3—84-88 bpm
Track 4—116-120 bpm

America the Beautiful
Track 5—60-63 bpm
Track 6—66-69 bpm
Track 7—80-84 bpm

Scarborough Fair
Track 8—69-72 bpm
Track 9—100-104 bpm
Track 10—120-126 bpm

Track 11—66 bpm
Track 12—72-76 bpm
Track 13—96-100 bpm

The Banana Boat Song
Track 14—66-69 bpm
Track 15—96-100 bpm
Track 16—120 bpm

Home on the Range
Track 17—69 bpm
Track 18—100 bpm
Track 19—126-132 bpm

Yellow Rose of Texas
Track 20—63-66 bpm
Track 21—80 bpm
Track 22—104-108 bpm

Jamaica Farewell (in F)
Track 23—69-72 bpm
Track 24—96-100 bpm
Track 25—112-116 bpm

Jamaica Farewell (in G)
Track 26—69-72 bpm
Track 27—96-100 bpm
Track 28—112-116 bpm

La Bamba
Track 2—69 bpm
Track 3—100-104 bpm
Track 4—126-132 bpm

The Wabash Cannonball
Track 5—80 bpm
Track 6—138 bpm
Track 7—206+ bpm
(too fast to clock w/ metronome!)

Blues in E
Track 8—63-66 bpm
Track 9—92-96 bpm
Track 10—132 bpm

House of the Rising Sun
Track 11—54-56 bpm
Track 12—72-76 bpm
Track 13—126-132 bpm

Canon in D
Track 14—48 bpm
Track 15—76-80 bpm
Track 16—112-116 bpm

A Minor Pentatonic Blues
Track 17—76-80 bpm

G Major Pentatonic
Track 18—80-84 bpm

Around the Pentatonic World
Track 19—116-120 bpm

Track 20—92-96 bpm

Suspended Smooth
Track 21—76 bpm

Acoustic Groove
Track 22—80-84 bpm

C Jam Blues
Track 2—92-96 bpm
Track 3—144-152 bpm

Johnny’s E Blues
Track 4—84-88 bpm
Track 5—116 bpm

Bending the Blues
Track 6—80 bpm

Jazz Octaves
Track 7—104 bpm

The Funky Mute
Track 8—112 bpm

Power Chord Rock
Track 9—126-132 bpm

Power Riffs
Track 10—100 bpm

Rolling Along
Track 11—76-80 bpm

A Little Bit Rocky
Track 12—92 bpm

Electric Funk
Track 13—92 bpm
Triplet Scale Practice
Track 2—40 bpm
Track 3—69-72 bpm
Track 4—96-100 bpm

Pop Ballad Groove
Track 5—88-92 bpm

ZZ Shuffle
Track 6—144-152 bpm

All of Me
Track 7—120-126 bpm

On Green Dolphin Street
Track 8—126-132 bpm

As Time Goes By
Track 9—63-66 bpm

Ear Training Exercises
Track 10—60 bpm
Track 11—104 bpm
Track 12—100-104 bpm

Stevie’s Groove
Track 13—69-72 bpm

Every Breath
Track 14—108 bpm

Chord Exercise 1
Track 15—84 bpm

Chord Exercise 2
Track 16—88 bpm

Track 17—104-108 bpm

Funky Groove
Track 18—92-96 bpm

Dancing on the Ceiling
Track 19—132-138 bpm

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