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Martin Goulding - Legato Primer - Part 1

The Masterclasses

Hello and welcome. I will be guiding you through four levels, in a masterclass that will introduce you to the stages of development in the Legato technique. This technique grew in popularity after Edward Van Halen influenced the scene in 1978, it became a feature of the 1980s virtuoso rocks players like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Nowadays, it is the chosen speed tool for a lot of the rock and fusion instrumental players. I would recommend listening to players like Allan Holdsworth, Greg Howe and Brett Garsed, to hear some of the finest legato based improvisation.

Levels One and Two have been structured to give an hour practice session. All exercises should be done for five minutes as continually as possible. When the fatigue kicks in, it is important to stop and stretch out for five seconds - pull the left hand back gently and shake off the tension. Then you'll feel ready to go again!

Levels Three and Four are thirty minute routines comprising of six exercises at five minutes each. Care should be taken at all levels to warm up properly, not only by playing slowly at first, but physically! Stretches that involve the shoulders and neck are important to encourage blood flow into the arms, so do a few basic exercises as part of your warm up if you want to get into technically demanding concepts.

Lastly and most importantly, I would like to draw your attention to the method of this masterclass, not necessarily even the actual content!! There is a greater lesson to be learnt actually from the approach itself, which is simply that the ‘inner' recognition and memorisation of an exercise is at its peak when you are engaged in focussed repetition for a period of time. This may seem obvious, but it is in my experience that people play for hardly any serious time-scale before they lose concentration and drift on to something else! So when it comes to instrumental technical training, which is what modern-rock demands, then only a self-disciplined approach will yield any result.

Also buy a diary and write down your practice schedule - what exercise, what speed, how long? [or use the free practice shedule in the Resources area!- js]. Do blocks of unbroken repetition (except when there is a build up of tension, then stretch out) and stay with the same routine for a while.

I would recommend that you find a slow speed where any timing flaws can be clearly identified and work on that speed for five minutes a day, five days a week and after that week passes, you won't be any faster but you will feel much stronger - this is how speed is built. Now with good experience on a certain speed, you will progress with a solid foundation for higher speeds. When you are familiar and strong with this style, not only will you have the facility to create long,flowing lines to compliment your other concepts, but also the knock-on effects of having a stronger left hand when it comes to using other techniques.

Go To Part 2 (Level 1)


Masterclass with Martin Goulding

Martin Goulding is one of Londons busiest private teachers; has written for international best seller `Guitar: A Complete Guide For The Player' and specialises in modern-rock techniques at the Guitar Institute in West London. His band Linear Sphere have just released their debut album and can be found on

Lesson ID: MA-042