How Much For Drum Lessons For A 7 Yr Old Playing Guitar "In the Pocket" – 5 Easy Steps

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Playing Guitar "In the Pocket" – 5 Easy Steps

When playing in a band, group or combo situation, there is a term you will often hear known as “in the pocket”.

And no… “in your pocket” does not refer to a place to put your hands during a concert! In simple terms, when a band plays “in the pocket”, they are playing musically “in sync” with each other.

First, it’s important to realize that a band can play a song together on stage, the same song at the same time, but not really be playing “in sync” with each other.

It can be compared to the old analogy of an 8-cylinder car engine. If the engine only runs on 6 or 7 cylinders, it will still carry the car down the road and eventually reach its destination. But along the way, the car may cough, splutter and hesitate, making for a bumpy ride.

Conversely, when the engine is running on all 8 cylinders, the ride will be smooth and easy, almost effortless.

When a band plays “in the pocket”, it runs smoothly on all 8 cylinders.

The “pocket” of a song is its “rhythmic core”. The foundation upon which all other instrumentation, vocals and melodies are placed.

Most often, the term “in the pocket” is used to describe the drummer’s and bassist’s ability to “lock in” to that rhythmic core of the song. As a result, many times a drummer or bass player will be favorably described as “pocket game”.

But we, as guitarists, also have the ability to make a contribution to the “pocket” of a song.

Here are some things a guitarist can focus on to play “in the pocket” with the band.

1. “Listen to me” vs. “hear us”

It’s natural, as guitarists, to be focused on what we’re doing individually. We are often engrossed in dazzling the audience with our leads and solos.

But playing “in the pocket” requires a bit of a mental shift from an individual player to a “team” player.

2. Pay more attention

Instead of focusing on what we are doing individually – in order to become better “pocket players” – we should spend more time “really listening” to what is going on around us.

Try to focus more on “hearing” each individual part that the other players (drummer, bassist, keyboardist, horn player, etc.) are contributing to the piece.

3. Make a contribution

Once you’ve become adept at really listening to the other parts of the players around you, now try to focus on what your contribution to the “pocket” is.

Really hear how what you’re playing on the guitar contributes to the overall sound of the band as a “whole”.

4. Simple is better…..Less is more

More often than not, for a guitarist, the best contributions to the pocket are the simplest things, such as a “chink chink chink” chord pattern that matches the drum, or a simply strummed chord that plays with the bass.

Always keep in mind that a guitarist’s rhythms should complement the bottom end – not contrast with it – and this can often be achieved more successfully by using simple techniques and allowing the song to “breathe” with plenty of space.

5. Feel it!

All technical considerations aside, the ability to play “in your pocket” really comes from learning to play from the perspective of “feeling” the music.

Avoid the natural tendency to ‘overthink’ what you’re doing and just get lost in the ‘feel’ of the song, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll find yourself ‘in the pocket’.

In conclusion

Note that it’s not just the responsibility of the drummer and bassist to find the “pocket”. We, as guitarists, also have an obligation to make our contribution.

Always remember that there is a subtle difference between bands that play “in the pocket” and those that don’t. But often, it’s that fine line that separates the good bands from the great ones!

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