How To Express Yourself Fully With Your Guitar Playing

by Tom Hess

One of the secrets to mastering lead guitar playing is learning how add musical expression to everything you play.

To become an expressive musician, you must master skills that make musical expression possible. Guitar phrasing is one of the most crucial skills for expressing yourself fully with your guitar playing.

This video helps you master lead guitar phrasing:

Lead guitar phrasing is about playing lead guitar with maximum emotion. 

This requires using a different set of skills than what you use to simply play with correct technique. Masters of musical expression practice their lead guitar playing until they can make any combination of notes sound great (at any speed).

Here is a mini lead guitar lesson on how you can do the same:

As you are learning how to play lead guitar, invest part of your guitar practice time to refine the phrasing of all your guitar licks and phrases. 

Like this:

Step 1: Create a lead guitar playing example (a short lick) that you want to improve your musical expression with. Tip: keep the lick to 3-4 notes max.

Step 2: Set a goal to create 10-20 variations of your lead guitar playing example. 

This means: add musical expression to it by changing note rhythms or using techniques such as slides, bends or vibrato to emphasize certain notes. You can also add: pinch harmonics, picking hand rakes, rubato, and advanced slide variations (such as: backslides, super slides and re-articulation slides, where you pick a note and slide back into it.)

This process helps you become more creative without learning more scales, techniques or musical concepts.

As you practice this lead guitar lesson exercise, you will probably find it easy to create the first 4-5 musical expression variation.

Then you’ll start to struggle a bit as you exhaust your lead guitar playing ideas.

This is normal. This is the point in your musical expression training where you really learn how to play lead guitar. (Since this is where you create new musical expression ideas that build the arsenal of your lead guitar playing.)

After you create your 10-20 variations of the musical idea you started with, repeat this lead guitar lesson with another short lick.  

Tip: first do this exercise without any backing track. This way you will focus on your lead guitar phrasing and nothing else. As your phrasing improves, it will be easier to do this lead guitar playing practice along with a backing track.

Note: musical skills make artistic expression easier, but they are not enough to fully express yourself as a musician. This article shows you other elements needed to achieve musical greatness within yourself.


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