Started: age 16 in 1986
Styles: pBlues/rock, hard rock, modern acoustic
Books Publications: Remembering the Carl D. Bradley(2004) The Edmund Fitzgerald: 30 Years a Legend (2005)
Recordings: Day By Day (1998) American Son (2003) Sweet Tooth (1999) Big Fat Santa (single 2004) Live concert DVD (2004)
Gear: 2 Modified 1973 Fender Strats Fender American Telecasters Budda Superdrive 30 2x12 combo amp Fender cyber twin 2x12 combo amp Lab Series L9 1x15 combo amp Washburn J28SCE acoustic electric Martin acoustic
Lesson Text: Learn to Play Guitar with Jeff Bihlman Jeff Bihlman's guitar lessons are all about the Blues, geared toward beginners. He'll teach you the basics of Blues so you can play it like a pro. Jeff demonstrates the major scale on one string, explains two-note chords and numbering scale degrees. Learn to play a basic 12-bar Blues using two-note chords or diads, how to mute strings and explore various scales, including the major and minor pentatonic scale, and the Blues scale. Take your newly acquired Blues guitar playing skills and learn to play "Folsom Prison Blues," "Midnight Special," "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," "America the Beautiful" and other songs taught by Jeff.
Jeff Bihlman received an Emmy in 2005 for his scoring of CBS documentary 'Remembering the Carl D. Bradley' He is a Chicago-based blues guitarist who performs regularly with his brother, Scot ('Little') in a group called, (you guessed it) The Bihlman Brothers. The band's music has aired on All My Children and other national television shows. Jeff is busy writing, scoring, teaching and keeps music making the main event in his life. Jeff also teaches at the National Guitar Workshop.
When did you start to play? I took a few lessons when I was about 10 or so. Hated it! Read "Mary Had a Little Lamb" all day! I picked it back up when I was 16, and I've never put it down. When did you start to notice that your playing was different from everyone else's? I'm not sure I've ever noticed that my playing is different from everybody else"s. It's pretty tough to find something new to play on the most popular instrument ever invented. How many millions of guitar players are out there? How many have there been? Everything that's played on a six string guitar today is derivative of something that's already been played by someone else. We're all copying our favorite licks. Our saving grace as players however, is that no two people play the same lick exactly alike. It may sound pretty damn close, but there's always some little nuance that sets us apart. That's what we want to focus on. Learn the licks, and then make them your own. When did you find your voice as a player? I think I started to find my voice when I began to focus more heavily on blues and blues chords/rhythms. Not only did it elevate my groove playing, but my solos became much more in tune with the music that was being played around me. I began to craft solos instead of just flailing away inside this scale or that mode. It was a real eye opener. How do you keep your playing fresh? I try to keep my playing fresh by exposing myself to a vide variety of musical styles. Rock, world, blues, americana, classical. I might hear something in one of those forms that sparks a new idea that I can apply to the guitar. I also try to focus on instruments other than the guitar to find new ideas. I try to remain open to any idea, and I learn things from my students all the time! What do you do when you get stuck? That's an interesting question. It depends on the situation. If I'm writing a song and I get stuck on a part I just can't seem to make work, or a harmony that's not happening, I'll leave it alone for awhile, maybe overnight. When I come back to it the problem is usually obvious and I can get to work on fixing it. If I get stuck in a solo, where I might be playing the same thing over and over, I'll take my hands off the neck right in mid solo and rest for a few beats. That resets my thought process and I can start again. Sometimes silence is your most effective tool. What do you still find hard to do? Algebra. I just can't get my head around all those shapes. Or is that Trigonometry? Whatever. Musically, I still find it hard to visualize scales and modes horizontally on the neck, in other words on one string. I've really got to focus on that when I'm doing it during a solo. I usually stick with what I feel comfortable with and work on the other stuff in practice! How often are you surprised by your playing, or what you"re listening to, or music in general? I'm not surprised by my playing all that often. But every now and then there are these lucid moments of clarity on stage when everything's going right, you're in the zone and playing head and shoulders above what you're normally capable of. I can probably count the times that's actually happened on one hand, but when it has I was very surprised by what I was able to pull off. What an amazing feeling! I've got to figure out how to make that happen every time I play. Then again sometimes I'll pick up the guitar and the first thing I play is something totally different than what I normally play and that's nice too. Music in general rarely surprises me unless I discover a new genre or artist I wasn't familiar with before. And what I hear on the radio never surprises me. Do you have a regular practice regimen? Not as much as I'd like to. I try to set aside at least 1/2 hr a day to work on a new technique or lick, but sometimes I just can't make it happen. Do you have a practice "tool-kit" - metronome, tuner, recorder, etc.? Yes, all those things and a little cooking timer. I use it to put a time limit on certain exercises so I can focus on them without wondering how long it's been. When I hear the "ding" I'm done. Do you have a special place for practice set aside in your home? Yes, my studio is where I practice and write. How do you practice on the road or when you travel? I don't. When you're on the road, it's all about showtime. The practice takes place before you leave. Is there a piece of gear you just can't live without? My '73 Strat. Never played a gig without it. Are there one or two core ideas that are central to your teaching that you make sure every student learns? Definitely! Very good question. The first is that it's supposed to be fun, not silly or unfocused, but still fun. Especially when they're first starting out. The second is that as players, as with our humanity, we're all different. What I think is cool you may think is the dorkiest thing you've ever heard. Individual expression is what makes music and its creation so appealing to people. Once we get past those ideas, it's that they don't forget to pay me! Do you find yourself returning to listen to the artists who inspired you when you first started to play? Always. I still listen to the artists who first inspired me, and learn things from them all the time. Who are they? Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Satriani, Ty Tabor from Kings X, Neal Schon, Son Seals, John Petrucci to name a few, but there are many. Does your playing change when you switch instruments? Yes. When I'm playing guitar I play guitar riffs. When I'm playing bass I play the same riffs, only on fatter strings. How often, when you're playing, do you find those moments of pure music, when your head is clear, your fingers are working, there are no distractions, and it's just you and the music? Like I said before, rarely. Those times are what we all live for, but it's the other times, the times in between that define our playing. We need to appreciate and revel in those times of clarity, and constantly work to improve on the others. What music would you suggest for your students? Kings X, Kelly Joe Phelps, Ani DeFranco, Joe Bonnamassa, Racer X, Son Seals, Doyle Bramhall Jr. Seek out independent music and support the band you dig! Also, don't discount movie soundtracks and songs from movies. Tons of cool stuff on them. What are you listening to these days? Joe Satriani, Disturbed, Richard Thompson, Kids Bop (c'mon, I've got kids!), Sarah McLaughlin and Tori Amos. Do you search out music that's new and unfamiliar to you? I love to find new music, there's just so much out there it's hard to hone in on it. A good source for me is public radio and some of their shows like "Mountain Stage". Do you have a musical wish list - other instruments to learn, people to play with, artists or styles to explore? Well I'd like to learn the piano some day. I'd love to play on stage with BB King and explore Hawaiian slack key guitar. Have you ever had a really great teacher? Only one that stands out, Keith Wyatt at GIT. What made him so good? His teaching style is just so down to earth and non-threatening. Plus, he can back it up. How do you learn best? When I'm not being forced to do it. I learn best when it's something I want to learn and have an interest in getting good at it. I also learn best when the instructor is a barely dressed Victoria's Secret model!
Lakeside, CT 06758
Copyright © 2012 WorkshopLive