Take a break from following musical “recipes” and really learn how to cook up some tasty licks.
The best guitar lesson I ever got came from a cookbook. I’d been playing guitar for almost 20 years, but I was nowhere near as good as I should’ve been. I’d learned hundreds of songs, written dozens of my own, and had a few signature touches, but I was miles away from really understanding what the hell I was doing.
The story of my cooking runs a near-perfect parallel to the story of my guitar playing.
For years I thought I was decent at cooking. But at best what I was doing was heating up ingredients that someone else dictated, or at worst, doctoring up someone else’s pre-made creation.
Sprinkling cumin and ground red pepper on a frozen pizza isn’t really cooking.
This is a book about fundamental techniques for today’s kitchen. It is also a book with recipes. Foremost, it is a book about thinking about food. All cooking rests on a set a fundamental techniques. If you know those fundamentals, there’s very little you won’t be able to do in the kitchen. Happily, there aren’t a thousand of them. There aren’t even a hundred. I’ve created a list of the twenty basics you need to know in order to do all the rest.
When you look at the list of my techniques, you’ll notice that some appear to be ingredients rather than techniques. While they are ingredients, they are also tools, and the best tools have multiple uses.
Understanding all the uses of a single ingredient is like pumping steroids into your cooking muscles.
Playing Is Cooking
One of the biggest ailments afflicting us modern guitar players is that we’ve committed a hundred recipes to memory, but we don’t know anything about the why behind the meal.
A song is a recipe. Following the recipe is likely to bring delight to you (or your audience), especially if you execute the steps well.
But knowing how to create your own recipes––or improvising a tasty meal out of just the ingredients on hand––is a higher order of cooking.
What’s more, after you gain the understanding of how to create delicious food, every subsequent meal you eat & every recipe you follow leads to even greater understanding and creativity.
Food Is Music
The amazingly good news is that you don’t have to learn a thousand things to take advantage of this. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to come up with twenty things. Here’s three:
- Once you understand that there are definite priorities and a proper sequence for improving your guitar skills, you can ignore so many things and get better faster by doing less.
- Once you understand that beyond playing-in-time there’s an entire universe of feel, your world is forever changed.
- Once you can look at your fretboard and see notes instead of coordinates, every song you learn (and all the ones you already know), will be filled with layer upon layer of fascinating, useful information.
What You Should Do With This
There are certainly more things I could add to this list, but do these things first:
- read my riffs about cruft, priorities, sequencing, & plugging the holes in your leaky bucket.
- get your time & feel in order by supercharging your metronome use.
- deeply internalize the names of the notes on your fretboard with these three lessons.
- then sign up for email updates so you can be in the loop for what’s next