The most important signs of musical mastery are the freedom to fully and completely express your emotions through your guitar playing, as well as the ability to control what your audience feels when they hear your music. This ability to influence your listener’s emotions is the most significant goal you can attain as a musical artist.
Unfortunately, for most musicians such level of musical mastery remains an unattainable dream. There are two reasons why the vast majority of guitarists struggle to reach this goal. Here are the 2 reasons:
1. Most guitar players do not even make a strong effort to get better at musical expression. I spent some time looking through a Google keyword search application and found the regular monthly searches for these terms:
play guitar with feeling = NO searches
expressing feeling with guitar = NO searches
play guitar with emotion = NO searches
express yourself on guitar = NOT A SINGLE search
playing guitar with teeth = 320 searches
As you can see, more guitar related searches are made for “playing guitar with teeth” than “expressing feeling with guitar,” “express yourself on guitar,” and other related subjects. Not very motivating…
2. Most guitar players spend a great deal of time working on memorizing scale patterns, and taking in as much theoretical music concepts as they can stand. These things certainly have some merit, but are not the way to fully grasp how to express yourself with your guitar playing at the high level.
In order to show you what I mean, let’s try a quick mental exercise. Right now, I want you to find the note “A” on your guitar (or at least imagine where it is located). Most likely, this is something you can do relatively quickly. Now, I want you to find a note on the fretboard that conveys the feeling of “great sadness.” Did you find the note? My guess is that you did not, and more specifically, you are probably wondering what I even mean by this. Don’t worry, I’ll explain this in a little more detail.
Suppose that we were both in the same band, and were getting ready to play guitar for band practice. Instead of our usual practice schedule of running through our song list, I brought a new idea to the group. I get things going by playing an “A Major” chord rhythm. Next, I ask you to pick up your guitar and “instantly” generate the feeling of “joy felt by a man who just proposed to his girlfriend (and she accepted!).” What is the one note you would play on the fretboard above my “A Major” chord that would perfectly express the idea of “joy felt by a man who just proposed to his girlfriend (and she accepted!)?”
The majority of guitar players would have no clue how to approach this situation. In order to attempt to convey such an idea in their guitar playing, they would probably make a “guess” by playing various notes until something sounds good. This applies not only to the example from above, but to any idea that conveys an emotional expression.
The key to accurately expressing ideas with guitar is knowing exactly (in your head) which note will work in any given context, before you touch the guitar. All of the greatest guitar players who can freely express strong emotions in music have the ability to know ahead of time which note(s) will best express a certain feeling in any context. Not to mention, that they can use this ability to make anyone who listens to them feel the same. This is the greatest ability that one could ever look to obtain in all of music.
How can you add this ability to your guitar playing?
You don’t need to spend 1,000 hours studying advanced music harmony and jazz improvisation in order to start expressing strong emotion in your music. In fact, you can start right now by incorporating a couple of key ideas into your guitar playing:
1. From now on, any time you pick up your guitar, play the guitar while thinking specifically about the emotions you are feeling and what you want to express.
2. Forget about playing guitar in the same way you would read a “guitar TAB” by following as a series of numbers, patterns, and riffs. Instead, when you reach for the guitar neck, start seeing emotions that you can express.
To see and hear how this works, begin by watching the video below.
Immediately upon viewing the video you will start to understand how to approach your guitar playing if you want to play guitar with real emotion and feeling.
By changing your current guitar playing mindset to fit that of a “highly expressive guitarist,” you will be able to become a great musical artist, and significantly affect the way others experience your music. As you practice expressing yourself on guitar, you WILL see huge results in all areas of your musical skills.
Learn about accurately express emotions on guitar by watching this music theory guitar video.
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a touring musician, composer and a highly successful guitar teacher online. He teaches electric guitar online lessons to guitarists around the world. On his website tomhess.net, you can find guitar playing tips, free guitar resources and more guitar articles.