Student Avina

Well, there you go another day, another success. The latest being Avina a schoolteacher. Yesterday I told you about Jack and his sudden breakthrough into the world of people who can play guitar.

You might not believe this but the same thing happened again.

The guitar lesson started well enough with Avina handing me a nice cup of tea. I thought we’d play ‘Love Potion No.9.’ I do feel sorry for these songs when I sing them but someone has to do it!

Avina is coming out of the ‘struggle’ and in my mind was only a week or two away from getting everything up and running. In her mind I’m sure she was thinking more about next year. My main aim for this particular guitar lesson was to get her to play more interesting rhythms.

I must point out that I don’t teach my students to play rhythm. I teach them chord structure, clearness, timing and how to recognise the chords that are on the page before they actually see the page itself.

For this I just tell them the key the song is written in . Obviously not the one I’m going to sing as I don’t have a label for something so awful. After that all the musical cogs synchronise and begin to whirl.

Writing out strum patterns doesn’t work. A rhythm is a fluid thing (an in-time fluid thing, of course) it starts and stops, it’s loud then soft, it hangs on the whim of the minor chords and positively thrives on the major chords.

Everything a song needs is in the hands of the rhythm player. A guitarist has to discover these things for themself.

Avina has never been too keen on exploring what a chord can do. She was happy enough just to make the sound of the chord sound like the chord it was meant to be. I had only just decided this was the way I was going to aim the lesson when we were underway.

I told her to stop worrying about making mistakes and follow what I was playing. So she did both.

Worrying about making mistakes only leads to making more mistakes: I keep pointing out to Avina that it’s hardly an earth shattering event if she doesn’t quite make the chord change as perfect as she wants it to be. In time everything will sort itself out.

The village music lovers aren’t going to storm her house and set fire to sharp signs in her garden because of a slightly misplaced finger. Anyway the chickens wouldn’t like that.

I explained to Avina what she had to do. Basically she had to copy what I was playing, or at least something that resembled my rhythm.

Suddenly there it was! The chord change after the Em wasn’t just an A7 it was an A7 with style.

Before we knew it we were back to the Em again: Avina ran the pick down the strings from 6 – 1, low to high, right by the bridge. Quickly she was back to the rhythm, back to the A7 and a repeat of the stylist playing.

After the chorus, played in accurate barre chords by Avina, (this was a first-time event, Avina had never managed that before) I played, without announcing it, a guitar solo. Unflustered by my sudden change from playing chords to improvising Avina led the way with strong powerful chords. This too was another Avina first.

If pigs could fly they would have all been grounded. Instead of circling above the girl’s head having a good oink and a laugh, the impossible had happened: The flying pigs were wrong.

You would have thought that, that would have been enough excitement for one guitar lesson. Avina thought so too, but no, there was more to come!

There’s a little riff that I play as the G chord in the 6th bar of the song changes to A7.

‘That sounds nice,’ she said, as did her husband Tim.

‘Well, you’d better have a go at playing it too.’ I smiled.

From the aircraft hanger somewhere in the invisible part of Avina’s kitchen the flying pigs prepared to take off.

‘I can’t do that,’ said the heroine of the hour slipping out of her comfort zone.

‘Yes you can.’ I said,  Tim said it too.

‘Oink, oink,’ said the pigs. Flutter, flutter went their wings.

‘At least try to, it’s worth having a go.’

So she did.

The riff was made up of just four notes played on the E bass string. The only high wire she had to rely on to stop from falling was her confidence in me.

(Remember, the notes were on the bass string. Do try to keep up.)

Amazingly Avina’s fingers left the shape of the G chord and placed themselves firmly on the correct frets on string number 6 to play the riff. Having completed the task they regrouped as an A7 to wait for the fast approaching B7.

The pigs were furious. I was overjoyed. Avina finally smiled.

I don’t have any photos of Avina so here are some she took of a band called Plastered In Paris. I taught all the guitarists in the band.

Plastered in Paris

Plastered in Paris

To visit the Guitar Breakthrough website click the image below

Guitar Breakthrough DVD

Guitar Breakthrough DVD


Posted on November 2, 2011, in Guitar Lessons with Len Collins and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. -Insert witty comment here-

    Glad to hear the progress is being seen on all sides Len, are you teaching in MK now too?

    And well done Avina! I want a song ready for Christmas. Deadline…

    And you know, that Plastered In Paris are such an amazing band. Truely! 🙂

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