Ian O'Brien Music

Feb 012016

Solo Over The Whole Fretboard

It’s like the holy grail of lead guitar hacks…

How to playing all over the neck with just one scale shape?

Usually books and teachers use the following standard “box” positions to teach the major scale:

Box Scale Shapes


…But, it’s difficult to see the relationships between these shapes and I have always found the traditional method of teaching scales in their various “box” positions  a little too abstract.

As a result, when I learned them, I was never really able to use them as freely and fluently as I would have liked. To me, they were 5 (or sometimes 7 depending on how they are taught) separate pieces of information to learn and digest. I found this approach to be inefficient.

Although technically they are all major scale shapes, I found that I just couldn’t use them in any meaningful way. In short, I was practising the shapes with no idea how to actually use them musically!

So to avoid this, I came up with a way of using a single scale shape in one octave, and applying it to each available position on the neck. This allowed me to simply take the one shape that I knew well, with one set of fingerings, and move it across and up the neck to build a thorough picture of where I was going.

Our examples will be in G major using a fingering many students learn early on, although you can use whichever shapes or scales you already know and are comfortable with in the exactly same way. Here’s our 7 note scale pattern:



The next step is to apply this shape to all the locations it appears on the fretboard in this key, which means paying attention to the location of the root notes (in red) and the fingerings related to them (the numbers within the notes).

Since we can already see an alternative root note in our first position (the 5th fret of the D string), we can use that as a reference to our next position; then simply take our first shape and lift it to the new position:



Notice that this shape doesn’t look exactly the same. That’s because we have to take into account the tuning of the guitar, so on the B string the notes get shifted up a fret to stay in key. Although, the fingering remains the same.

Let’s now put these two positions together, so you can see how they relate to each other, and  have a more useful way of visualising both octaves:



Notice the slightly different fingering as you move from the first octave to the second. This will allow a smooth transition into the second octave so you can play the root note here with your 2nd finger, just as you did the first octave.

With experience, you will find other ways to connect scale positions according to where you are coming from and where you are going. Practise playing up and down these scales as relaxed and fluently as possible. Try improvising over a major backing track and get used to how it feels.


Ian O’Brien Music Extra:

Do you know what your guitar learning style is?

Discover yours today with our free ‘Guitar Learning Style Detector‘. When you know your unique guitar learning style you can learn to play more easily by learning in line with your natural learning preferences.

Click here to download your free Guitar Learning Style Detector now

More Of The Fretboard…

To help fill out a bit more of the fretboard, we can use the same shape, but this time with the starting note on the 5th string root; in this case, G is at the 10th fret of the A string.



What’s great about this method is  instead of learning several different scale patterns in several positions, all you are doing is using the same shape and moving it around; all you need to learn is where the new root notes are on the fretboard! Once again you can see we have also identified another root from which to start our next position – the 12th fret of the G string:


Don’t be confused by the new shape – it’s because of that pesky guitar tuning again! Play it a few times with the suggested fingering and you’ll start to see how it feels just like the other positions but with a position shift from the G string to the B string. It shouldn’t take long to get the feel for this, and you’ll know if you’ve forgotten to make the shift because it will sound awful : )

Once again we can combine these two positions into a slightly larger pattern, and again I have made a small adjustment to the fingering (the same as before) to link them nicely:


If we put both sets of 2 octave scales together, we can see just how much of the fretboard we have covered using only one major scale shape:



You can see we’ve covered a very large area of the fretboard using only 1 shape in 4 positions. If you were to see this on its own, it might look confusing, but as you have built it up using four simple steps, it should give you confidence to break out of using just one “box” position scale for all your soloing and improvising.

With practice, you should be able to identify the G major arpeggios within the shapes, and this technique is a great way of moving those around the neck too!

…And if you are wondering about the gaps on the fretboard that we haven’t covered, well those come with a little more time and experience. Knowing your chosen scale and how it sounds, you’ll be able to gradually fill in those gaps, as well as finding ever more interesting and useful ways to connect the different positions, giving you total mastery of that scale and key across the fretboard. Just remember to practise this in a variety of keys, using alternative fingerings as you feel comfortable!

Ultimately, you will be playing those 5 shapes I showed you at the beginning without realising it, and now they won’t be abstract and confusing, as you will be seeing the scale as a whole, all across the neck in a useful and intuitive way!


Yours in music,

– Michael

Michael Smith - Guitar Teacher





Ian O’Brien Music – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk

If you have any questions or are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We’re here to help…

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72 Apps for Guitar Players & Guitarists: The Ultimate Guide

 Guitar Lessons Norwich  Comments Off on 72 Apps for Guitar Players & Guitarists: The Ultimate Guide
Dec 312015
72 Apps For Guitarists Blog Size


I’ll begin this with a warning.

This is a monster 72 app guide to the best apps for learning and playing guitar.

In fact, it’s the biggest guitar app guide on the internet – so before you continue, bookmark this page now because you’ll want to return to it later and try more of these awesome apps.

…We’ve separated the wheat from the chaff and chosen 72 the very best of them, organised them into 9 categories, explained what’s good about them, showed a video of each, chosen an independent review to show we’re not biased, and linked to the relevant app store to get the guitar app for your device.

…and If we’ve missed an app that you love. Let us know in the comments at the bottom : )

To Begin…

Choose Your Section:


Guitar Tool Apps –

Tuners, Metronomes & ‘Slow-downers’ +



This dedicated polyphonic tuner app is very visual fast and easy to use. It’s bright enough to be used onstage and in situations when you cannot hear the pitch. It also has a mode where you strum once and you can see the pitch of all six strings, each with its own colour-coordinated indicator light:

Great App. Works very well as a chromatic tuner or poly tuner and switches back and forth between these two modes quickly and automatically.  I like that the indicator doesn’t jump around like some other tuners I’ve tried. All in all, a great app (I paid $1). Originally gave it only 4 stars because it doesn’t do other instruments, but I switched to 5 stars because it does exactly what it’s advertised to do, and it does it beautifully.

– 5/5 – DaleD (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

AP Tuner

AP Tuner

AP Tuner lets you quickly and accurately tune your guitar using your phone’s built-in mic. Based on an improved version of their pitch recognition engine, it features automatic note and cent deviation for guitar as well as a variety of other instruments. It’s precise up to 1/1000 semitone (0.1 cent) and they have a noise reduction algorithm that allows for tuning in even the most demanding of environments:

Great tuner Like the laptop version, this tuner finds notes very, very quickly, and it gives you the unvarnished truth, unlike other tuners that stop giving you information as soon as you are ‘close enough’. Has a huge choice of temperaments to choose from.

– 5/5 – Stephen Sinclair (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

Available for Android




This is a no fluff, easy to use, simple tuner for guitar and other stringed instruments. It has standard, chromatic and alternate tuning presets for guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, violin, and more. The basic Android version is free but there are also advanced paid versions on iPhone and Android:

Best tuner I’ve used! Totally recommend thisThis tuner is very convenient to use because it gives you most of the popular tuning formats for your guitar. I’ve been looking for a tuner which can tune a guitar in drop d, and found this! Problem solved!

– 5/5 – Hasith Jayasekara (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

Available for Android



This tuner has both a big following (Over a half million dedicated users) and some big followers, including Nicole Atkins, The Black Keys, Rosanne Cash, The Gorillaz and The Killers.

Cleartune is a chromatic instrument tuner and pitch pipe that allows you to tune your instrument using the built-in mic in your Android device. It features a “note wheel” interface allowing you to quickly find your pitch, paired with a responsive fine-tuning meter for the perfect tune.

Plus it includes support for custom temperaments, transposition, notations such as solfège, adjustable calibration and more. it can tune acoustic or electric guitar, bass and any other instrument that can sustain a tone:

This app is a life saver. It is extremely accurate. We have several tuners lying around but I always reach for my phone. I have tuned every guitar I own from acoustics to bass guitars and never had a problem with a note registering.

– 5/5 – DeltaForce85 (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

Available for Android


N-Track Tuner

This app is a tuner that contains pitch notes for you to tune to or it can guide you to the correct pitch as a chromatic tuner. It’s novel features is that it also displays a spectrum analyser while you tune so that you can see how the pitch changes over time but much more usefully you can control the sensitivity and precision of the tuning which is great. You can also set the tuner for non-standard temperaments and alternative note names:

Functional and easy to use app for a guitar tuner, has multiple setting and helps you out. The only complaint I have is that it rotates with your phone, which is a minimal complaint. I highly recommend it

5/5 – evansreviews (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

Available for Android

Pro Metronome


This metronome app lets you choose from 13 different tones to use with any time signature and rhythmic accent that you want. It also has a range of useful subdivision patterns, including triplets and dotted notes. It can also use your phone’s vibration to let you feel the beats as well as seen them:

Great! I’m a music major and use this app all the time when I practice! Its helped me so much!It’s cheap compared to other metronomes you would buy in music stores. Defiantly worth it!

5/5 – horsepianofreak5  (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

Available for Android


Guitar Suite HD


With this app you can test yourself on 50 scales and more than 25,000 chords, plus it features a metronome and support for bass, guitar, ukulele, banjo, and lute. It also comes with a guitar tuner and a tune-by-ear option so that you can learn this all important skill:

This software is no joke. It’s a musician’s friend. Everything is easily accessible and user friendly.

5/5 – Musician’s Toolbox  (independent app user review)

Available for iOS

Choose Your Section:

Dec 012015

Melodic Tendency Post Pic

Have you ever wanted your lead guitar playing to sound less like noodling around a scale and more like musical phrases?

I know I have…

In this lesson, we are going to take a look at something I like to call melodic tendency. This can be heard when one note “pulls” to another, where the first note sounds unsettled or tense, and the second note sounds at rest, or resolved.

Generally, when we start learning to improvise, we use one single scale over a whole chord progression. We do this because we know that for a diatonic progression (where the chords all exist in one key) our single scale will contain all the available ‘correct’ notes so that the result should be somewhat pleasing to the ear.

But have you ever found that sometimes some notes just don’t work as well as you thought they might?

The reason for this is melodic tendency, which shows us that not all notes in a key are equal, all of the time. For example, you might be improvising or constructing a melody in E major. You’re playing happily over the progression with everything sounding great, then you get to that final note of the phrase (the one that’s supposed to raise the roof in a moment of deep musical expression), and you play an F#! And the whole thing comes crashing down around your ears.

“But that note is in the scale!” You tell yourself. “So it should sound right shouldn’t it?”

In this instance however, it clearly doesn’t, and you might be hard pressed to work out why. So this lesson will show you how to target the right notes, whilst using the “less right” notes to build tension and interest.

For now, we are going to work in the key of E major, playing over an E major chord. This will clearly highlight which notes you should be targeting, as well as familiarising you with the notes that add interest.

I’ve provided a short one chord backing track (or vamp) below, for you to try these ideas over:

Note: If you ever find yourself without a backing track you can always use the open low E string as a bass drone note. This works well, and allows us even more flexibility in our note selection in the future.

When using the open E, it’s good to start out using the E major scale with its root at the 7th fret on the A string, but if you are more confident with your scales you can use as much of the fretboard as you like.


The trick is to divide the scale up into two groups of notes:

One group consists of the three notes that make up the E major chord:

  • E
  • G#
  • B  

These are your Chord Tones, and are highlighted here in red so you can easily see which notes you should target:


The black notes are Non-Chord Tones and these are the notes that you will be using to add interest and tension to your melody.

Remember the locations of these notes relative to each other, as this concept can be applied to other keys, as well as different chords within the same key, but we’ll cover that in more detail later.

For now, we are going to play some examples highlighting exactly what we should expect to hear when we play a certain note over a certain chord.

First, over the backing track or your low E drone note, you should play the entire scale a few times to get used to the sound.  This is very important to develop your skills as a listener, as it will enable you to more accurately transfer the sound in your head to fretboard when the time comes.

Then when you are happy with that, using the diagram above, improvise using only the red Chord Tones.  You will notice that these notes all work and sit happily over the chord, but they do sound a bit simplistic and lack excitement.

Here’s an example using the Chord Tones only, played in order:

Next, improvise again, but this time using only the black Non-Chord Tones.  This should be an altogether less satisfying sound, with tension all over the place and not something you would likely be prepared to pay to listen to.

Here’s an example using Non-Chord Tones only:

Next, by putting the two ideas above together in a deliberate way, we can make use of tension and release to create some interesting and melodic phrases.  But instead of improvising a steady stream of random notes, we are going to use short 2, 3 or 4 note phrases that really help us to hear what’s going on.

Over the backing track or your drone note, you are going to deliberately play a Non-Chord Tone, and sit on it momentarily.  You’ll immediately notice how the tension builds the longer you leave it.  Now, to resolve the tension, you are going to move to a chord tone.  Bear in mind that, although technically you could play any chord tone and it would sound okay, if you move to the chord tone closest in the scale to your tension note, you will get the most satisfying effect.

Here’s an example:

This is what I call melodic tendency, and it’s a great way to give our ears something interesting and satisfying to listen to.  You’ll notice that usually there are two Chord Tones either side of the Non-Chord Tone you started with Experiment by playing the same starting Non-Chord Tone and listening to how it sounds when you move to each of the two Chord Tones.  Developing this sense of melodic movement will help you no end when improvising or composing melodies.

Once you feel ready, you can apply this simple but very effective concept to your own melodies.  Use the backing track provided, or record your own, and have fun trying to extend the tension of the Non-Chord Tones for as long as possible before you resolve to its neighbouring Chord Tone.

Before we move on, here’s another example of using concept to improvise over the E backing track. Listen out for the tense Non-Chord Tones and how they resolve to the more pleasant Chord Tones:

Ian O’Brien Music Extra:

Do you know what your guitar learning style is?

Discover yours today with our free ‘Guitar Learning Style Detector’ because When you know your unique guitar learning style, you can learn to play more easily by learning in line with your natural learning preferences.

Click here to download your free Guitar Learning Style Detector now

Changing It Up

This idea can be taken even further when you apply it over changing chords.  Be aware that the available chord tones within the scale will change with the chords, and that it may not be the same notes that you can resolve to.

For example, if one of the chords were to be A major, your available Chord Tones in the same E major scale would look like this (in red):


Notice here that one of the notes (the E) is the same over both chords?

This can be used to great effect by targeting that note just before the chord changes back to E major for a really strong and settled sound.  The following backing track moves from E to A and back again so you can experiment with this idea.  Take your time and don’t try to fill every second with notes; sometimes space can be just as effective.

Here’s the backing track:

…and here’s the example featuring the note E over the change:

Changing along with the chords requires a little more thought, but with practice, by always being aware of which chord you are playing over and its chord tones within the scale, you can choose the most appropriate notes to target for a really melodic sound.  This will lead to some great melodies you may not have thought of before, whilst sounding far better and more musical than just noodling around the major scale hoping to hit one of those magic sounding notes.

Yours in music,

– Michael

Michael Smith - Guitar Teacher





Ian O’Brien Music – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk

If you have any questions or are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We’re here to help…

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Sep 282015

11 12


I’m really excited about this.

We’ve now added Ukulele lessons to the instruments that we teach here at Ian O’Brien Music.

Just like our guitar and bass lessons, our Ukulele lessons are preplanned around your taste in music, learning style and taught using our structured, step-by-step, holistic method…

They’re suitable for all ages and if you’re never touched an instrument before, don’t worry. We’ll have you playing your first songs within a couple of weeks : )

Our Ukulele lessons in Norwich will be taught by our teacher Lisa Redford (That’s Lisa in the pic) from her home teaching studio in the Golden Triangle.

Lisa is a warm, encouraging and supportive teacher with years of teaching, recording, touring and performing experience. She loves sharing her skills and passion for music and is a regular Music Columnist in Songwriting Magazine and the Norwich Evening News.

To launch our Ukulele lessons and help make October the month that you start playing, we’re offering 33% off when you book three lessons before the end of October.  Just drop us a line using the form on the right and we’ll do the rest.

For more information click play on our video below:


Please feel free to explore our blog here and also main website at www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk. Then if you want to claim our offer of 3 lessons for £50 instead of £75 (33% off) then simply let us know that you’ve seen this offer when you contact us. We’ll be more than happy to guide you through your Musical journey and give you your 33% discount.

Yours in Music,

– Ian, Lisa, Michael, Paul & Pat

The Ian O’Brien Music Team – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk


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May 082015

Don’t let Summer Of 69 come true for you:Guitar Sore Fingertips

“I got my first real six-string,

Bought it at the five-&-Dime,

Played it ‘til my fingers bled,

It was the summer of ‘69”

The lyrics of the song tell the story of Brian Adams learning to play guitar and how (apparently) it made his fingers bleed.

On top of that, if you’ve seen the documentary It Might Get Loud, you can actually see Jack White play guitar until his fingers bleed. Oouch.

Now as cool as that might be and contrary to popular belief, we want you to know that you don’t have to have sore fingers (let alone bleeding ones!) at all when you learn to play guitar. And in this article we’ll show you how to prevent it entirely.

Here’s Why It Happens

When you first begin playing guitar the skin on your fingertips is soft so the pressure of holding the strings down can hurt them. This soreness lasts until your fingertips toughen and form calluses (hard skin) that will protect them against the strings.

Unfortunately, it’s a two-fold issue. Not only is it annoying and uncomfortable to play with sore fingers, it will also stop you from playing guitar as much as you want to.

Now as cool as Jack White and Brian Adams are, we don’t think it’s worth going through this sore and annoying stage at all, if you can reduce or even prevent sore fingers happening… which you can.

Here’s What To Do About It

Here are our top three guitar hacks to help you and your fingertips out:

  1. Use A Capo

It’s a device that clamps on the neck of your guitar and lets you easily play in different keys. A handy bonus of using a capo is that it holds the strings down closer to the fretboard, which means you can use less pressure to hold them down which will reduces the initial soreness of you fingertips.

We recommend that you clamp it on the second fret and you’re good to go.

  1. Let Calluses Form

You want protective calluses to form on your fingertips as fast as possible. Which means playing for long enough to trigger their formation, but stopping before your fingers get sore and hinder them forming. Remember: The callouses actually form while you’re not playing, so aim to stimulate them, then get out of their way.

For speedy callouses: play for short enjoyable bursts each day (5-10 minutes is fine), Don’t over do it and any time that you experience soreness, stop for a break to let your calluses form quickly.

  1. Don’t Over Grip Your Guitar

 People often instinctively grip the frets to tightly and use more pressure than is needed, which makes for sore fingertips.

Instead try this little exercise to find the optimum pressure.

  1. Play a note anywhere on the guitar as you normally would
  2. Give a number between 1 and 10 for how much pressure you’re using
  3. Stay in the same fret but move your fingertip closer to the fret wire that is closest to you
  4. Keep plucking the note and begin reducing the pressure gradually until you’re using as little as possible but still getting a clear note.
  5. Give this new pressure a number between 1 and 10

Do this as many times as you need to in order to fix this new habit and along with playing in the optimum position (next to the fret wire) aim to use this reduced (optimum) amount of pressure whenever you play : )

talk soon,

– Ian
Head Guitar Teacher & Customer Experience




Ian O’Brien Music – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk

If you have any questions or are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We’re here to help…

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May 042015

Guitar Learning Styles

It’s not just your parents who think you’re unique.

We do too.

Nobody else will learn to play guitar in exactly the same way that you do. You have your own unique learning style. It guides how you prefer to take in new information and the best way for you to learn new things.

Have You Ever Had This Happen?

Have you ever failed to ‘get’ something that was supposed to be easy?

Admit it. We all have : )

But did you know it could easily have been because your teacher wasn’t aware of, didn’t understand or didn’t cater to your unique learning style?

They probably made the mistake of assuming that everybody learns the same way they do. Which results in you not being able to learn easily and without frustration in the way that suits you best.

Don’t worry. It’s not your fault.

Unfortunately, these learning styles ‘clashes’ are common when learning guitar, as tutors – both online and in person – often have no idea about learning styles, let alone how to work out what yours is or how to cater to it with their teaching.

To avoid this frustrating experience, we’ll help you to discover your guitar learning style below, so you can seek the types of learning materials, resources and teachers that you’ll learn best from.

To begin, Let’s look at the different learning styles for guitar players and see if any strike a specific chord with you : )

The Three Learning Styles For Guitar Players


  1. Are you a Visual Guitar Learner?

You could learn to play guitar more easily by focusing on the hands of a teacher who physically breaks it down and demonstrates for how to play a specific riff, chord or guitar technique. Or by watching and visually following your own hands, written guitar tab or chord diagrams as you play. A visual guitar learner learns best by remembering what chords look like when they are correct, they also benefit from having written materials and chord diagrams customised to their needs.

  1. Are you an aural learner?

You could learn guitar more easily by having lessons focused on listening to and repeating back the notes, chords and musical phrases that you are working on. An aural guitar learner tends to learn ‘by ear’ focusing on the way their playing sounds as their main source of feedback. Having a teacher that breaks down and repeat individual parts to demonstrate what they ‘should sound like’ when correct, will really helps aural learners to learn by ear.

  1. Are you a kinaesthetic guitar learner?

You could learn guitar best by being truly hands-on, jumping right in to ‘have a go’ and physically feeling your way through what you are playing as you go. Kinaesthetic learners benefit from a teacher who is able to steer and guide them through their playing as they do it. They learn more easily by focusing on the way the chord-shapes, fret positions and strings feel in their hands and how their fingertips feel in the correct places and positions.

Why are learning styles important?

Whether a video lesson or an in person one, the typical one-size-fits all methods for learning guitar are flawed because they’re almost always designed around the learning style of the person who wrote them, instead of the person learning from them.

At Ian O’Brien Music we diagnose our student’s learning styles from the beginning and teach people to play guitar using our flexible geometric method. This means we’re able to plan your lessons around your goals, music tastes and learning style, plugging them directly into our unique system and centring your lessons on your learning preferences, not ours.

Below you’ll find condensed versions of some of the methods we use to diagnose the learning styles of our guitar learners.

Whether you take guitar lessons or not, you’ll find this process useful because when you know your natural learning preference you will be able to seek out the information that fits how you learn guitar best to make your learning faster, more fun and way less frustrating.

How To Discover Your Learning Style:

Don’t over think this one. Imagine that you’re on a beach by the sea (it can be anywhere in the world). What are the two things that you notice first?

  1. ____________________________________
  2. ____________________________________

Ok, the purpose of this unusual question is to help us determine your main learning style, for example:

  •  If you noticed the yellow of the sand or the blue of the sea or sky, you’re likely to be a visual learner, who learns best by seeing.
  •  If you noticed the sound of the waves crashing or seagulls you’re likely to be an aural learner, who learns best by hearing.
  •  If you noticed the sensation of the sand or pebbles on your feet, the heat of the sun or the temperature of the water, you’re likely to be a kinaesthetic learner, who learns best by doing : 

Not everybody has just one learning style; some have a balance of two but one is usually dominant. You can further clarify your learning style because it will also affect:

  • How you choose to internally represent experiences

E.g. If I say “Telephone” do you see one in your mind’s eye, or hear one ringing? …Weird hey?

  • And even the words that you choose

E.g. “I hear what you’re saying” vs “I see what you’re saying”

Listen out for the way you choose to phrase things when you’re speaking. What learning style do they indicate that you may have?

Now you have an indication of your learning style and the best way for you to take in information. The next stage is to apply it before you learn something. Amongst other things, would it be best to read a book or article, watch a video, or dive in and have a go yourself.

For fun, see if you can diagnose your friend’s learning styles too.

talk soon,

– Ian
Head Guitar Teacher & Customer Experience




Ian O’Brien Music – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk

If you have any questions or are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We look forward to hearing from you…

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Where To Keep Your Guitar To Fast-Track Your Guitar Progress, Starting Today

 Guitar Lessons Norwich  Comments Off on Where To Keep Your Guitar To Fast-Track Your Guitar Progress, Starting Today
Feb 012015

Learning Guitar CaseThis is a doozy…

This great little guitar ‘hack’ works whatever your ability, makes a big difference to your overall progress and it’s something you can try out immediately : )



Leaving It Out

When you’ve finished playing guitar, don’t simple store it away in it’s case or a cupboard because it will be out of your sight and out of your mind. Instead, create a path of least resistance to your guitar by keeping it out, in a place where you can very easily notice it, pick it up and have a quick play.

This way, you’ll find yourself automatically picking it up and playing it more frequently.

It goes along way to help make playing guitar a lifestyle habit. Which in a nutshell, is the single biggest key to your guitar playing success… beyond having a great teacher.

Here’s How I Do It…

I like to keep my electric guitar (telecaster!) out on a stand in the front room where I teach. That way it frequently catches my eye and is on my mind more often, so that I’m far more likely to pick it up and have a quick go.

On top of that, I leave my acoustic guitar in my bedroom, doubling my chances. So now, when I enter either of these rooms, I’ll usually spot a guitar, pick it up and have a quick go.

Why Does It Work?

It works because if you put your guitar away, the time and effort that it takes to get it out can create tiny psychological barriers to playing guitar that can stop you picking it up so frequently.

Of course it won’t stop you playing guitar completely, but it will absolutely stop you picking it up on the fly for unplanned short bursts.

It might not seem like this will make too much difference to your playing, but these brief plays really add up. It’s partly due to the way we memorise physical skills (based on how frequently we recall them), these short bursts really improve your playing, keeping your guitar on top of your mind and they don’t even feel like practicing.

It’s automatic and you don’t even have to think about do it. Yep, it’s a lifestyle habit!

Taking it further…

If you spend a lot of time watching T.V or on the internet try keeping your guitar near your T.V or computer. That way, when you’re about to sit down and put the telly on, you just might find yourself reaching for your guitar instead.

So next time you play guitar, instead of putting it away, find a more accessible place for it that will result in you dipping in to play it in short bursts.

– Ian

Head Guitar Teacher & Customer Experience





Ian O’Brien Music – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk

If you have any questions or are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We look forward to hearing from you…


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Aug 092014

Gift Certifcate for Guitar Lessons

Take a look at our brand new gift certificates for guitar lessons and get in your loved ones’s good books by giving the gift of music to your family, friends and the people that you care about. Suitable for birthdays, mothers and fathers days, graduation, christmas, anniversaries and weddings or to apologise for that foolish thing that you did.

Gift certificates from Ian O’Brien Music are suitable for guitar and bass lessons for any age or ability. Don’t worry complete beginners are absolutely welcome. They can be delivered, by post, digitally or picked up in person and purchased for any number of lessons from 1 to 1,000… although most people opt for four.

Contact us now, to arrange the perfect gift for your loved one and show them how much you care : )

– Ian, Michael, Lisa & Pat

The Ian O’Brien Music Team – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk


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Jul 022014

Krakow Song Writing


As you may know, I (Ian) have started a new (and foolishly ambitious) project in which I’m attempting to travel to 99 countries and write a new song with musicians from each one.

Here are the results of my first trip. Enjoy:


We hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I enjoyed making it,

If you have any questions or live in Norwich and are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We look forward to hearing from you…

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Apr 192014

We’ve known for ages the reasons why we decided to work together as a team to build something special and to provide the best guitar lessons that we could imagine. But, we’ve never really shouted about them. Until now. We’ve decided to wear our hearts on our sleeves by publishing our own manifesto. We feel it helps express how unique our lessons are and how passionate we feel about what we do. If you support our manifesto, please share it on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you think in the comments below:


#1 Spread Happiness

We aim to spread happiness by teaching people of all ages and abilities to play using the music that inspires them. If something isn’t enjoyable, we’re far less likely to stick with it so, whatever your aims and abilities, we’ll bring our passion for music to every lesson. We also aim to spread happiness to the wider world, that’s why £1 from every lesson we teach, goes directly into micro-loans that help people in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty : )


#2 Provide Personalised, Exceptional & Engaging Lessons

We aim to take the stuffiness and mystery out of learning music and to create environments where you’ll be immediately comfortable, even if you’re never touched a guitar before. We don’t use the typical one-size-fits-all approach, because we believe that learning guitar is far more effective when it’s fun, engaging and planned individually around your aims, your learning style and your music. We’ll teach you to play the songs you like and use them as a vehicle to develop your technique, knowledge and overall musicality.


#3 Blow People’s Minds (With Service)

We aim to differentiate ourselves by doing something a little unconventional and innovative. This means going above and beyond what’s expected, and aiming for what we do to have real emotional impact. We’re not your average music teachers and we’re not about to let our student’s experiences be average either.


#4 Be Humble, Pursue Growth & Develop As A Team

We’re all fully-qualified, DBS checked active musicians and each hold more than 7 years experience, but if we are to stay ahead, we must continue to learn, grow and develop. Even our simple process of putting our heads together on a regular basis, to discuss learning music and share lesson ideas, allows us to pool our skills, knowledge and resources far beyond what we, or anyone else could do in isolation.


#5 Build A Community Around Playing & Learning Music

Via our regular lessons, videos, articles and interactions we aim to foster and contribute to a local community based around a love of playing & learning music. No egos, no rockstar attitudes, just a love of music, great experiences and sharing them with other like minded people.

So that’s it. Simple really. Are you with us?

– Ian, Michael, Lisa & Pat

The Ian O’Brien Music Team – Guitar Lessons Norwich – www.ianobrienmusic.co.uk

We hope you enjoy reading this article as much as we did writing it,

If you have any questions or live in Norwich and are curious about taking the next step with your guitar playing, Drop us an email or call us for a chat on: 07743964206. We look forward to hearing from you…


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