Re-Active Listening ™

We’ve touched on improvisation in previous lessons, so now it’s time to build on that. I’m going to teach you a little trick I call Re-ACTIVE Listening.

The main idea behind this is that while improvising, you’ll notice that some notes sound better than others when played over certain chords even if you’re staying in the proper key. While knowing the theory behind which notes to play when is certainly helpful, it’s not always the best option. You simply don’t have time to think so much while you’re soloing over a backing guitar part. Instead, we listen!

If we play a note over a chord and it doesn’t sound right, we can simply change it until we find something that does sound good - the statistics say that if you're not on a chord tone - a scale step in either direction will USUALLY get you to a chord tone. A lot of this will become easier with time and experience, but there are some exercises we can do to help us train our ears and get there faster.

So grab your guitar and play along with me! I’ll start by playing a chord. Your job then is to find the note on a specific string that sounds best when played over that chord. Take your time if you need to and try not to overthink this - it’s all about listening.

By the way, this is a great exercise to do with a fellow beginner guitar player. Take turns alternating between who plays the chords and who improvises.

Exercise 1

a) Play the F chord
b) Find the best note on the E String 

Answer: F

Exercise 2

a) Play the C Chord
b) Find the best note on the E String

Answer: E or G

b) Find the best note on the B String

Answer: C

Exercise 3

a) Play the Am Chord
b) Find the best note on the B String

Answer: C

b) Find the best note on the E String

Answer: E OR G!! just not the F (1st fret!)

Lesson 11: Sus Fingerstyle

- LESSON STEPS -