The Musicians Institute has partnered with AskAudio to create an excellent platform for musicians and producers seeking to learn techniques from anywhere in the world. MI Online is here!
In one of their premiering online courses, Guitar Improvisation Techniques with Scott Henderson, legendary guitarist Scott Henderson will take you through the basic approaches to improvisation and general organization on the guitar. The course will also explore the application of diatonic scales and the approaches to the modes of the Melodic Minor scale, as well as other advanced scales.
The goal of this course is to offer unique insight into how one of the most respected guitarists in the industry approaches music-making, how he communicates with the guitar to achieve his instantly recognizable voice, and how he has built his unique musical vocabulary. This is a rare opportunity to learn from a true guitar master and to develop your musical artistry.
This online course begins in BETA on 17th April.
This MI Online 10-week online course begins in BETA on 17th April. Sign up now:
We interviewed Scott Henderson to find out more about him and his approach to teaching this guitar improvisation course.
AA: Could you tell us a little about your background with music?
SH: I started off as a rock player, playing gigs in my home town in Florida. There weren’t really enough gigs to sustain a living though, so I moved to L.A. I went to M.I in 1980 and played with a lot of heavyweight jazz musicians. Now I have my own band and I’m touring a lot, making albums (25 so far!).
Tell us how you got involved with teaching at MI.
They asked me to teach the year that I graduated: I already had some pretty high profile gigs with people like Chick Corea. They must have thought I’d be an asset to the school, because I’ve been there ever since! It would have been 1981 or ’82.
What’s it like there?
It’s a very unique school, very hands-on. I don’t teach many classes because I’m on the road a lot but I do open counseling – from 1 to 8 students in the room and we play tunes together, I give them advice on how to sound their best. I like to think of myself as more of a right brain teacher than a left brain teacher. By which I mean students can get information anywhere but the artistic part of playing – not what you play but how you play it – that’s what I like to try to teach my students. It’s also very woven into my online course.
So tell us about your MI Online course. What’s your approach to guitar improvisation, and what kind of students have you designed the course for?
The course is designed for students at the very beginning. Someone who has never played guitar in their life could take this course because we start out at the very, very beginning. Very simple stuff like pentatonic scales. But it moves along pretty quickly and by the end we’re into some heavier stuff lie playing motifically through chord changes, jazz improvisation, chromaticism and things like that.
So do you give assignments?
There are assignments and during each weekly lesson I give a Live Lecture where students can also ask me questions – it’s like a chat room. I’m on video so I can demonstrate things to them. I’m all plugged in with my amp.
Has your association with so many great musicians informed the way you teach?
Not really! It has more to do with the fact that I have been teaching since I started playing. We’re all teachers; as soon as we learn something we can show it to our friends. When I got my first guitar and learned Whole Lotta Love and Stairway To Heaven, I would show it to my friends and they would show stuff they had learned to me. So the teaching thing has been there from the very beginning of my career as a musician. I’ll always be both a teacher and a student!
The key to it is to be able to very clearly show someone what you know so that they can understand it. To be really down-to-earth and show someone the nuts and bolts without going off into cosmic planes! People can learn the language anywhere but they need someone to show them how to use it in a musical way. That’s more my job. Of course the videos do give information, it’s important that the students know that the artistic side is also woven into that: phrasing, touch, feel, timing and all that really important stuff. Without that, there’s no music.
So students will learn to play with feeling, with expression?
Exactly! And it’s crucial to listen to the greats, to learn from all the great players who have come before. Learning from them by ear. There’s too little emphasis on transcribing by ear in some music schools.
Do you embrace quite a few different styles of music in the course?
I try not to place too much emphasis on any one style – rock, blues, jazz – because that’s really up to the player. Whatever you play, there are still basic things you need to know about the guitar. Learning the notes on the neck, learning the scales, that’s all important regardless of style.
Can you share any tips from the course, like a taster of what they’ll learn?
They’’ll learn all the tools they need to improvise, how to approach the guitar in an artistic way. We talk about phrasing, tone, feel – all the things that are important for a professional musician to have a handle on. To be able to walk into a session as a professional. The key really with the course is that you see me – playing my guitar – rather than my just saying things. Of course I do say plenty of things as well!
What’s next for you?
I’m always working on a new album! Just writing music, and I have some tours coming up too. I’d like to be able to play at least half the tunes from the new album on the road.
The Guitar Improvisation Techniques online course begins in BETA on 17th April.