Questions Regarding Books by Bruce Arnold
Questions Regarding Books by Bruce Arnold
Q: I’m really enjoying the Rhythm Ear Training Course. Getting a lot out of it. I have a few questions regarding books though. Do you have anything geared specifically toward sight-reading? Anything geared specifically for bass, as I play bass and guitar?
A: Nice to hear from you and glad you are enjoying the Rhythm Ear Training Course. For you questions regarding books, I have a ton of books on sight reading also there is the “beat Reading” PDF in the member’s area under “Help files for Rhythm” that is your secret weapon for great sight reading skills. Would you have some time each day to do some sight reading? If so I’ll make some recommendations. Also let me know what you have been sight reading in the past.
Q: I do have time to practice every day… just as I have for most of the past year with the one-note ear training exercises, and now more recently with the Rhythm Ear Training Course mp3s.
As far as what I’ve been sight reading… I work on tunes from the real book, but I’m not sure that what I’m doing counts as sight reading :) I also have been working through Garwood Whaley’s “Basics in Rhythm” for reading rhythms (got that earlier this summer, and just recently added your Rhythm Ear Training Course course).
On the ear training, I’m pretty good at the one note recognition on piano, but much less so with the other instruments, and not transitioning well to two note recognition. I’ve also not made any real traction into singing (I have the Contextual Ear Training and Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Reading courses). Any guidance that you can offer there would be helpful.
By the way, I recently purchased your Blues Campus Advanced course. While it covered a lot of material that I previously learned though my jazz guitar lessons, it was very well presented and I was glad to see your take on things. I like the exercises that you suggest/present. That’s more the kind of information that I was hoping to get from the lick lexicon course — more of a “strategies to apply” than in-the-pocket phrasing exercises. That said, there’s real value in both, as they are equally necessary and complement each other well.
A: If you let me know more about where you are with your playing and what you are looking for I might be able to either add this into new content or suggest something that it already available. For instance I’m thinking about doing a Masters and Doctor’s Blues Courses to follow the Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. Also a Lick Lexicon Volume Two. Also I might already have something that covers material you feel you need.
As far as “in the pocket phrasing” I think the best thing I have for this right out of the box is the Rhythm Ear Training Video Course. The basis of the course is to show you some ways to take the Rhythm Ear Training course rhythms and apply them to real music. You can see one of the videos on my blog. “In the pocket” really means rhythm so the Rhythm Ear Training Video Course would show you how to apply rhythm. In the videos for this course I recommend using itunes as a place to play along with their samples to apply the rhythms to different styles. I also give you a list of tunes to use for each rhythm level. Also the Jam Tracks I have are good to use to apply these rhythm concepts. I have a new Jam Tracks Volume Three coming out tomorrow. It’s available now but being announced tomorrow. All that said sometimes there are other rhythm issues involved in why someone isn’t in the pocket. I cover some of this in the Big Metronome where you learn to feel rhythm rather than count it and of course the MetroDrone which is something I use everyday in my own practicing and look at as a core practice tool.
In any case glad to hear from you and please keep in touch.
Q: Here is a bit of background about me. I was taught with the Orf method throughout grade school (all that clapping rhythms and playing xylophones), played trumpet in the middle school band, and remember sight-reading back then, and picked up the guitar some in high school. However, there wasn’t much music in my home growing up, and I didn’t play music for about 20 years after high school/early college. I decided that I wanted to make music and picked the guitar back up in 2008. I spent a couple of years taking weekly lessons from an acoustic blues musician and then a couple of years taking lessons from an accomplished jazz guitarist. Along the way I took voice lessons for about a year. I’ve been playing electric bass for the past two years – most of that time performing in a six-piece blues dance band. So these days I play guitar, bass, and am learning the upright bass.
I have very solid understanding of music theory, but don’t have great sight-reading or fluid lead playing so I have lots of questions regarding books, of course. I’m really in the process of internalizing things from music theory that intellectually make sense in order to make them more intuitively part of my playing. Much of my study focused on the notes and not so much the rhythm. That said, my feel for basic rhythm is okay (though I do sometimes speed up), as is my general rhythm playing, but I’ve got some serious weakness there too – especially when it comes to more interesting rhythms and sight-reading rhythm. I do find that, for me, bass playing is an almost completely intuitive process for me (in contrast to my guitar playing). I read through your jazz/blues bass course, and I’m already intuitively already doing most of what you discuss.
So that’s where I am. Where I want to go… I want to be able to hear musical ideas in my head (melodic, harmonic and rhythmic) and be able to express them. I want to be able to sight read on guitar and bass. I want to be a valuable collaborator in small combo playing and be able to sit in as a bass or guitar player with established bands. I’m interested in starting a jazz/blues trio and playing bass or guitar in that. I have interests in a pretty broad range of musical styles, but and focusing on blues, R&B and jazz.
I’d definitely be interested in the Masters and Doctors in Blues, as I felt like I’d mostly already built up an understanding of the material that you covered in the advanced course.
Thanks for the suggestions — I’m actually a pretty avid consumer of your course materials :) (this may be why I ask so many questions regarding books you’ve written!) So far, I’ve purchased:
- Ear Training One Note Complete with 3CDs of MP3s
- Contextual Ear Training Book and 4 CDs of MP3s
- Fanatics Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing Book and CD as MP3s
- 25 Ear Training Tips
- Rhythm Ear Training Bundle One Levels 1 thru 4
- Rhythm Ear Training Bundle Three Levels 9 thru 12
- Rhythm Ear Training Bundle Two Levels 6 thru 8
- Music Theory Workbook for Guitar V1 Video Course
- Jazz and Blues Bass Lines with CD
- Blues Campus Advanced
- Blues Campus Intermediate
It sounds like your Big Metronome course would be helpful for me. I’ll go ahead and purchase the book and the 1-8 bundle online.
I do find that the video courses you do are especially helpful for me, as they provide good examples of how to practice.
More video/audio examples of working with the metrodrone would be very helpful. Particularly ones with the opportunity to play along for an extended period to really internalize the rhythmic feeling.
I really like your RET video course… I do wish that the video contained:
- 1) more examples
- 2) examples at slower tempos
- 3) longer examples (both longer phrases and longer play times). That would give more play-along opportunity.
I’ve been working with your ETC course for the past year. I generally recognize single notes well with the 1541 cadence and the notes on the piano, but don’t do as well with the other instruments (with the 151 cadence). I’ve also not made good headway with the fanatics/CET courses. I have a hard time hearing if I got the answer correct sometimes, and generally got discouraged with this. I’d love suggestions for how to work on this, as I’m sure that being able to sing the pitches will help significantly in my ability to listen and “visualize”/pre-hear/sight-read music.
I’m going to be in NYC for a short vacation this coming Wednesday through the weekend. If our schedules permit, it would be great to meet up in person.
Thank you for answering all my questions regarding books so far!
A: Thanks for the email. Getting some background helps and thanks for purchasing so many products. Your goal of ” hear musical ideas in my head (melodic, harmonic and rhythmic) and be able to express them.” is great but as I’m sure you have learned by now it’s not an easy thing to do!
From looking at your books I think you are covered for the “clinical” side of Ear Training. You should be doing the Ear Training One Note Complete 5X a day for 5 minutes at a minimum and of course make sure you have read the FAQs
For the Contextual Ear Training do the exercises 5X a day for 5 minutes at a minimum. If you are getting more than 50% correct on Ear Training One Note Complete then you need to add in one of the Direct Application CDs. For the Contextual Ear Training you should add in “Singing the Blues” if you are above 50%.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to take the things you learn and apply them to real music. Whether it be ear training, a scale or whatever you must apply things to real music. Your mind needs the basics of learning something but you are only half way there until you apply it.
If you do have more time for ET I would use the Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing with the MetroDrone and start singing some of the 3 to 6 note examples and slowly speed these up. (This is going to help you identify what you hear in your head overtime.)
You should also throw some 2 Note Melodic in at least once a day for 5 minutes. So just so I’m clear you have basically 10X a day for 5 minutes you are doing ear training and you are dividing it up with everything I just explained.
For Theory is sounds like you know it but it’s not second nature. Working through the pages in the Music Theory Workbook Volume One (I’d do at least on page a week) will help, but there are the Music Theory Interval Recognition MP3s that I have used very successfully with students. Basically it quizzes you on “What is the #5 of Ab” etc… If you can get through those files and envision the answer on the guitar or bass you have it.
For the RET I’d do this at least 10 minutes a day but more importantly take one of the rhythms you learned and apply it either to the recommended songs or to a jam track for 10 minutes
With the Big Metronome work on playing through standards either on bass or guitar. Either play a bass line or play chords. See if you can keep your time accurate. Usually this take 10 to 15 minutes to get into the groove then practice it for 10 to 15 minutes. That’s your 1st step.
With sight reading on guitar get the New York Guitar Method Ensemble Volume One. You want to read through one chapter a week. Once you get it send me an email and I’ll forward you all the MP3s and Midifiles for the book to help your check accuracy. It should take about 1/2 hour a day to read through the chapter. In my experience the only way to master sight reading on guitar is to be religious about doing it every day. I spent one hour a day for 5 years reading when I went to Berklee College of Music. It took me from nowhere to one of the best sight readers at school. Also go into the member’s area and under “help files for rhythm” download the “Beat Reading” PDF. This is your secret weapon for learning to read ahead. You should apply beat reading to the written out solo in each chapter of the NYGM. Also there are the Chord Progressions at the back of each chapter of the New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book One. You should get the Complete Blues Comping Major and Minor MP3s and play along with these files as you play those progressions. You want to solo while I’m comping and play the chords when you hear a metronome only. When you play chords use my rhythm of “one” and the “and of two” This is a super simple comping pattern but it will allow you to play chord changes fast. If you don’t understand the theory behind how these chord progressions are built you need the The New York Guitar Method Volume One book which will show you Harmonic Rehamonization. The rules of Harmonic Reharmonization were used to built all those chords progressions. By understanding the concepts presented you should be able to make up new progression on the spot. If you have any questions regarding books on harminization etc. please let me know.
Of course we haven’t even discussed questions regarding books that are working on improvisational concepts. So first I’d make sure your scales are totally happening. All of these are found in the New York Guitar Method Volume One. But before you even start that I need you to get Guitar Physiology DVD and send me a video of you playing a C scale from the low F on the E string to high B on high E string up and down using the concepts expressed in the Guitar Physiology DVD. You are going nowhere serious if you don’t have good technique. So that has be dealt with first. Then you can start working on the scales and make sure you know all of them. With each scale you want to apply them to Jam Tracks. The Jam Tracks Volume Three would be best for you because it gives you a vamp for every scale you need to know. When you play the scales in the New York Guitar Method Volume One you want to always either use the MetroDrone or a Jam Track in the background as you practice the scale. This will make sure you are hearing the scale properly as you learn it. Scale and Technique practice should be for a minimum of 1/2 hour a day.
OK this is a lot of stuff. But you said you wanted to ” hear musical ideas in my head (melodic, harmonic and rhythmic) and be able to express them.” so what I’ve presented in what I used to get to my level and what I’ve used with my students.
Before you jump off the bridge you should consider that you would need at least 2 hours a day to practice all this stuff and an hour or more where you can listen on the way to work or any other downtime when you can use an MP3 player.
The information I’ve presented is basically what I expect from a freshman college student for their first year of study (which is why I answer questions regarding books also). So what I’m saying is that this should take about a year to complete. Sometimes students do it in 4 months depending on their previous experience and some times they have serious technique issues and the whole process takes two years or more.
Let me know if you have questions regarding books and certainly contact me if you have issues.
Again, any questions regarding books just contact me.
It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold’s Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics as well as questions regarding books found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.