As I have said before, I am not a writer I am a guitar player and you probably are too. That being said I want to talk about play-along Cd's. A few months ago my cousin was visiting from New York and her husband, a guitar player, wanted to hang out in the studio and play my guitars. So we were jamming and I grabbed some play-alongs and asked him if he had any. He said no so I played "Jam Band Jams".
Once he started playing to it he was like a kid in a candy shop and kept saying, "this is awesome, I can't believe I have never heard of these things". The guy lit up. He didn't want to stop playing.
I gave him some of the play-along CD's from my collection and told him to take them I would buy new copies. Of course I also gave him a copy of "Jam Band Jams". I could not let him go back to New York without being assured that he would have some play-along CD's in his practice room. When was the last time you were this inspired to pick up your guitar and play? This stuff is the same no matter what instrument you play.
A friend of mine is an amazing piano player. I lent him some of my CD's to play along to because he wanted to work on some new stuff and get some new inspiration towards playing. A week later he told me that all he had been doing all week was jamming to them. "Those things are awesome, I have been burning on them all day. I even play them in my car and when I get home I go right back to jamming". Again I ask, when was the last time you were this inspired to play? Too many times just getting started is what keeps people from practicing.
How many times have you been sitting in front of the T.V. thinking that you should probably be playing your guitar but you don't, and the next thing you know another day of playing has passed you by? What if you had a band waiting to jam with you anytime you wanted? Would that make you want to play more? I bet it would. You need play-alongs.
My friend Doug, who worked on "Jam Band Jams" and is also working on "Hard Rock Band Jams", always says that he would of killed for these when he was a kid learning how to play guitar, especially when he was learning scales and improvisation. He also has a large collection of play-alongs now and uses them constantly. Aside from giving you a kick in the seat to get practicing and inspiring you to be a better player, play-alongs are one of the most important tools for you to have for improving on guitar. You have to have them. Get them and gets a lots of them. They are second only to jamming with and learning from other people.
No play-along will ever replace the need to get into a room with real musicians and jam, but with them you can play with a band even if there is no one around. You will get better at soloing, scales, arpeggios, guitar technique, phrasing, timing, and a million other things. It's also really important to learn the chords and rhythms to the backing tracks you are jamming over to improve that area of your playing. Unfortunately rhythm playing is still overlooked by too many guitar players but we shall address that another day. Once again, thank you for listening.
Colin O'Brien is a guitar player, teacher and member of the cko Music family. He is the author of "Left Hand Red- Finger Exercises and Practice Techniques", and creator of "Jam Band Jams". In May 2006 "Hard Rock Band Jams" will be released.www.ckomusic.com