Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Next Step in Reading Music

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I’m better at the games than on the guitar. What should I do next?

Sheet Music Cover

Learning the guitar is both a physical and mental activity. Our motto at has always been, “It’s time for your brain to practice too.” meaning don’t neglect the mental aspect of playing. And many have headed our call, but..Neglecting the physical is not good either! It’s important to follow up the games and courses online with some good old fashioned sight reading. This will connect the mental to the physical. I recommend flute and violin music as a great supplement to reading guitar music. And I recommend learning songs in different positions to challenge your knowledge of the neck. Happy practicing!

Photo by Laineys Repertoire

And the Winner is…

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
  photo by terren

The winner of our Birds of Fretopia competition is Michael Moore with a score of 1196! No doubt a fretboard master after all those games. He’ll also be receiving our fashionable T-shirt. Look for another competition soon.

Arpeggio Question

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Question from our CAGED video on YouTube:

very good video, it’s been a while since I bought my membership to you but can you explain why we need arpegios? I’ve never really got what they’re for or where we would use them?

Our Answer:

A great question.  First of all what is an arpeggio? It’s a chord that’s been broken up, where the notes are played seperatly rather than all at once. The word arpeggio means “in the style of the harp”, just picture a harp playing a big rolled chord and you can see the connection.
Arpeggios are useful for the same reason scales are. Primarily because they occur all over the place in music. Almost anytime you play a melody and the notes are not adjacent you are playing an arpeggio. Let’s take a simple folk song as an example. Say “On Top of Old Smokey”. I highlighted the arpeggios in red and the scale parts in blue.

Red indicates arpeggio, blue indicates scale.

On Top of Old Smokey - Red indicates arpeggio, blue indicates scale.

Why practice arpeggios? Practicing arpeggios is like taking the difficult sections of 100 songs and boiling them down to a super concentrated form. A little arpeggio practice goes along way.
Arpeggios are also used in improvisation. Both Jazz and Rock both make extensive use of them. If you look at a lot of great jazz solos you will see arpeggios all over the place. The simplest use of them is to play the same arpeggio as chord. For instance on a ii V I progression (e.g. Dmi7 G7 Cmaj7) play a Dmin 7 arpeggio over the Dm7, G7 arpeggio over the G7, and a C maj 7 arpeggio over the C. When the key is changing a lot this is a good way to lock in with the chords. One of the biggest mistakes I hear improvisers make is using the same scale over everything and not connecting with the chords. Not all notes in a scale sound good against chords in the same key. Take the C major scale and the C chord. The note “F” is in the scale, but sounds awful if you emphasize it. By using arpeggios you are focusing on the notes that sound “good” with the chord. If you only played solos using the notes of the chord it would get a bit boring, but using them in important places locks the solo in.
A more advance use of arpeggios is to play substitutions. For instance play a minor 7 chord built on the 5th of a 7th chord (e.g. Gm7 over C7, a Pat Martino suggestion) or a maj 7 built on the 7th of a 7th chord (Bb maj7 over C7, a David Baker suggestion) There are lots of others. I like a min(maj 7) chord built a 1/2 step above and altered dominant chord, like Bb min (maj 7) over A7 (Don’t worry if you don’t follow that one). I found that one in a Cannonball Adderley version of Autumn Leaves.
So practice those arpeggios. How you say? With the Super Scale Trainer of course! It has tons of arpeggios to learn and great ways to learn them.

Topping the Charts

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Drum roll please… Staying number one on the charts for the most played game on is Birds of Fretopia. Guitar Flash Cards also held its place at second. Fret Tester moved up a notch to third place, while Woody Says (Ear Training) fell two places to number five. New on the top five is the Super Scale Trainer which covers the fretboard as well as theory. Our recent video on developing speed using the super scale trainer might have contributed to the move up. Chord Mines fell off the chart to sixth place.

Why does any of this matter? Well decides its next project based on what people show an interest in. So comments as well as game popularity play a large roll in what direction the site takes. Our current direction is putting learning first, with a little fun on the side. Also it seems most people are interested in mastering the fretboard, so we’ll continue to devlop this area. Thanks for playing and for all the emails we receive!