Soul Surfing with your Guitar

Soul Surfin’ with your Guitar - Scott Thomas

You Know, playing guitar is like a journey. You’re always learning to express yourself better and better each time you pick it up and spend some quality time practicing and playing. This is the journey of the evolving musician. You are always searching for that magical place… you know… like when you’re jammin’ with the band and everything is sounding right on. Everybody is jelling as one. Then it’s your lead break… the light shines on you and there’s a lump in your throat and you feel tingly around the eyes. You start playing some really cool phrasing, licks, riffs, soulful bending, and your timing has never been better. All of sudden your hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck to the top of your head. Your heart starts racing, but you stay cool and just go with flow (don’t want to blow out all your licks to quick…). The top of your ears get warm and you can’t hit a bad note even if you tried. Bam!!! Your Soul Surfin’…. Now this is the place to be.

Don’t worry… it will come, and when it does, you will feel it! Guess what… once you have done some soul surfin’… you’ll spend a lifetime trying to get back there as frequently as possible. Then all of a sudden the music stops, you slowly open your eyes and the world comes rushing back with the sounds of the crowd just going bizerk. You’re band mates are just staring at you in amazement. This is the ultimate state to be in as an improvising performer.

I’ve played gigs where it was hard to not to go through the motions. This will make a band stale quickly. Each musician should try to inspire each other. We call this “who’s driving the bus?” To help get into that soul surfin’ state… each member in the band takes a turn drivin’ the bus. Say the bass player starts driving first. Then the drummer comes in and sets the groove down with the bass player and now the drummer starts driving the bus. Then the guitar player comes in and gets with the groove and now he gets to drive the bus for awhile. The more musicians you have, the more fun, the more soul surfin’ and there you are. Everybody is improvising and jamming. The Grateful Dead were notorious for these kind of performances. If you feel you are getting stale… just remind yourself of the reasons you got into guitar playing in the first place. So… try to inspire others.

Soul Surfin’ is like when your soul leaves your body and surfs in and out of conscious / unconscious forward motion which takes you sonic-ally and musically some where else… to another plane. You don’t even have to play in band to do this either. Recording yourself and creating your music can get you into this zone too! I try to accent the setting… like turning down the lights, incense, lava lamp. I’ll download some free backing tracks off the net and jam over these to get into that soul surfin’ mode. Oh yeah! Don’t forget to warm-up before hand. Creating your own music can be really fun and inspiring. Learning to create your own songs can give you an edge over the other players out there who are trying to land a good gig. Remember, it’s all about creativity.

As for my advice, the faster you learn to soul surf, the better your songs, persona, and guitar playing will be… all the way around."

Improve Your Improvising for Guitar

Keep your music sounding fresh with these ideas for ways to expand and improve your guitar playing. Learn how to: improvise with chords * use chord synonyms * work with modes, licks, and arpeggios * use dynamics and tone * improve melodic lines * use the entire fingerboard * improve your solos' contour * and many more technical and creative ideas.

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