Photo by Andy Ellis

Berklee rock-guitar guru Jon Finn shares secrets on how to kick your from-the-hip playing up a few notches.

Being a rock guitar teacher at Berklee, which is known primarily for jazz, is a bit like being the best dogsled racer in Hawaii. At the same time, it has its advantages. Mostly, I get a unique perspective on things simply because of where I am. There’s been a long-standing debate among musicians about the advantages and disadvantages of being musically educated. Some feel it’s essential, while others say it kills creativity. For me, it’s not what you know, but what you do with what you know.

Writing about rock improvisation is difficult. It’s not any one thing that makes it happen, but rather several elements converging. A great rock solo tells a story that gives you chills when you listen intently. It makes you feel. It’s visceral. My point is that learning scales and music theory will certainly broaden your horizons, but it might not help your rock improv.

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