Technical Mastery is Foreign Language Mastery
Understanding music, being creative, improvising, reading a chart, knowing your fret board. It’s all akin to a language. When you study a language, there is a path to mastery. With music, it is similar. Let’s look at some examples, and apply to foreign language. A student wants to be able to use the minor pentatonic scale to improvise a solo. The student must complete 3 sets of goals to reach this path.
- The student needs to be able to play the minor pentatonic scale (let’s say in one boxed position). Applied to learning Spanish, a student will learn the word ‘estar’. The teacher writes the word down (the scale in full), and the student plays an EXACT copy of the information. Learn the first step, then move to step two.
- The teacher gives the student examples of the minor pentatonic scale. These examples are from the context of a solo. 4 or 5 examples are a good start. The student learns to maneuver these solos, and understand how they relate to the scale in isolation. Foreign Language is no different. Once the student learns ‘Estar’ the teacher assigns more examples on how to use the word in a sentence. The student practices and memorizes these sentences, and once fluent enough, move into step three.
- The teacher gives the student a chord progression. The student spends time improvising using the minor pentatonic over the progression. Much emphasis is spent on guiding the student to using phrases and forms that were in the previous examples, trying hard to avoid just running up and down the scale over and over (there are uses for this, but too much of it is not a good thing). In a Spanish practical exam, it is very common to have questions asked to a student in which their answer MUST use the word they’re working on in a creative context. The context is shaped by the examples they practiced previously, as well as the students own personality mixed into it, based on the words they know, and the way they phrase them.
This example applies quite literally to most things in a musical context. Lead guitar, composition, chord progressions, scale memorization, improvisation, seeing the patterns of things, understanding them, and being creative within the context.