10 Guitar Tutor Tips For Recording

By: Andy Boyall

We can’t advise on which horse to back in the 10.30 at Newmarket, but we’re pleased to provide a forum for teachers to provide tips of another kind.


10 Guitar Tutor Tips – Recording

Having spent the last four or five years in my cellar trying to get to grips with the complexities of recorders, sequencers, mixing desks, sound modules and the like, I now emerge, not much wiser, but at least having worked out how to turn it all on…and even offering advice.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 1

Tell your students how Michael Jackson sent a tape to Eddie Van Halen to add his solo to ‘Beat It’… then get one of them to record a song. Other students can add bass lines, solos, second guitar parts etc. If you’ve got plenty of tracks to record on you might even make this into a competition for who can play the best and most appropriate solo for the song.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 2

Cubase score is great for learning to read music. For a novice reader, for instance, you might play in a repeated G note with the only rhythmic variation being crotchets and quavers.

Then open up score edit, press play and the student plays along at the tempo he can cope with. I did this recently with an eight year old pupil, who, when he first saw the dots on the screen, firmly stated “I ain’t doing none of that reading music stuff.” I told him it was fantastic fun, he tried it, and the next week he asked if we could “play on the computer again.”


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 3

If you’ve got, say, a free Sunday morning in your diary, designate this as ‘Recording Day.’  Make up a flashy poster for your students to see – even send them an ad in the post – anything to make it seem like a big event – and let them know that you have a few two hour slots put aside for recording.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 4

If you get some good results from the recordings, think about putting them on a short-run CD. Your students will be showing off what they’ve done and at the same time letting people know how exciting it is having guitar lessons with you.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 5

The recording session can be used to provide new themes for subsequent lessons – perhaps a solo could have been more melodic, or maybe a textural idea like where an open B string rubs up against a C on the third string, would seem more relevant to someone trying to improve his recordings than it would to someone who was merely having a guitar lesson.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 6

I don’t always teach in the same room that I use for recording – that way when someone turns up for a lesson ten minutes late and looking as keen as a corpse, we can go into ‘The Studio’ and I can remind them what an exciting guy I am to be with. “Right; I’ll programme the drums and you make up a riff to go with it.”


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 7

All students eventually give up lessons but if you invest in enough equipment and can develop your ability as a recording engineer/producer you’ll have skills and services that they’ll want to use again later.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 8

I’m currently trying to devise an outline for a special course for kids doing G.C.S.E. music at school; the idea is to try to make the content of the G.C.S.E course something in which they are active; so when the student is asked “Which instrument is playing the counter-melody? Marimba, xylophone or harpsichord?”

He’ll know it’s a marimba because he used that sound via midi, on one of his recordings and also he remembers recording an extra tune on guitar behind the vocal line on one of his songs so he knows what “counter-melody” means.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 9

Write out the chords from a student’s recording and present it to him as a mock test for the RGT exam; when he, ‘very carefully and precisely’ plays just 4 down strums a bar point out to him that a few weeks ago he recorded a much more interesting rhythm pattern and the examiner is dying to hear something more like this.


Recording Guitar Tutor Tips 10

Get your students to make up backing tracks for any given grade of the RGT exams. Say you ask a student to make up a backing track so that someone can improvise using the A Natural Minor scale, you would try to steer them towards the discovery that D major is an inappropriate chord whereas D minor is suitable.


Do you have any guitar tutor tips for working with recording gear? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

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