Introducing the Art Geek Zoo Guitar Study Club

Posted on by Rob Stenzinger

Thrashing Around

I've played various flavors of aggressive metal guitar for over 20 years years now, yet I've never had a good grasp on music theory. My focus has been on technique, feeling connected to the guitar, playing by ear, and speed.

I know and have jammed with talented theory-versed musicians over the years. I've even learned pieces and parts of theory here and there from those folks, especially Craig Andera. Even with that experience and the books I've read on music theory, I haven't really committed it to memory. My lack of theory never seemed to get in the way of jamming or writing songs. But as I have grown as a guitarist and set higher goals for my music/guitar hobby, my limited theory knowledge has become both communication barrier for jamming and a planning/analysis barrier for song writing.

Laser Focus

I've heard a saying that goes "When the student is ready, they find a teacher." Last year, just as I was puzzling out my music and guitar related goals, I met Luke Jordan and soon discovered he is a multi-talented creative dude with similar tastes in games, music, and comics. When I learned that he is also a very skilled, classically trained, expert metal player guitarist I realized I had found my teacher. These descriptions are mine by the way - you'd never hear Luke say how awesome of a player he is, he's super down to earth. I am studying guitar theory in earnest this time with Luke as my guide and I feel very fortunate for that.

In the first few months of lessons and "guitar lab" sessions with Luke, I identified two clear goals for our work together: First, I want to be able to write songs that use harmony and have a strong melodic hook mixed-in with my typical crunchy to crushing metal rhythms. Second, I want to be able to have simpler discussions with fellow musicians regarding jamming and collaborating. To accomplish both of these things we began with tonal theory knowledge and practice. I picked E Natural Minor as a scale I want to grasp and master since it's one of the great metal scales. Luke wrote an exercise for me. After practicing with it for a while, I translated his exercise into an interactive diagram to be able to jump back and forth between the positions and notes easily (see Art Geek Zoo Study Club - E Natural Minor).

Music Fantasy Mixed with Musician Reality

Art Geek Zoo is very much fueled by my love for music and guitar. I have been planning to blog about music to see what kind of discussions come out of it with you, the readers. That plan has morphed into the Art Geek Zoo Guitar Study Club. The schedule will be monthly to begin, I will post a learning resource which will be the theme for the following month's discussions. I have a goal to add additional audio-casts or blog posts as we get a community interacting. I hope there are at least a few guitar students, enthusiasts, and experts out there to chime-in, discuss, share links to good guitar resources and videos - which isn't a spam invite. Whether you have been playing for 20 years or 20 minutes I hope you join the club!

Joining the Club

At this point joining the club is simply done by commenting on each resource post. Art Geek Zoo Guitar Study Club Resource #1 was posted yesterday. I added Luke's wisdom and advice to my interactive E Natural Minor exercise, Luke's advice is delivered by Crunchy the Mystical Guitar. See AGZ Episode 105 to learn more about Crunchy's teaching of Pick Wingvey.

I look forward to hearing how your studies are going.

DISCLAIMERS: This club is not meant to convey that I'm a great guitar instructor. I'm just a dude with a renewed focus on getting better and more effective at music endeavors, and I want to share what I'm learning. This is the internet - no spam, be polite, positive, critique is welcome but giant ego and theory snobbery isn't.