My name is Adam Baxley and guitar is my calling. As any musician will tell you, there is just something natural about the instrument you choose to play. People often think I must have wanted to be a famous rock star. But in all honesty, I loved going to lessons and learning about music. I used to imagine how much fun it would be to teach and play guitar all day. Believe it or not, this is exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 2 decades!
I've also been fortunate enough to have played and studied with professional musicians from all walks of life including:
My focus at a young age was to learn as much as possible about music so I could share what I knew with anyone who would listen. This included a heavy dose of music theory.
From jazz to classical to rock, every style has a different approach. I learned early on that most students treated theory as an afterthought. Of course there were exceptions to the rule, but in general, people felt that theory was intended for the diehard musicians.
I noticed that the students who avoided theory were the same individuals who got frustrated thinking music was some mystery that only a certain type of person could understand. This led to their belief that their own natural talent was limited.
Throughout my teaching career, I have had many in-depth discussions with seasoned musicians who were 30, 40, even 50 years older and wiser. When I asked why a particular scale or chord was used within a song, I'd always end up hearing the same answer, “I just wanted to add more color."
Why couldn't I hear all these colors everyone was talking about? Maybe it's because we don't hear color! I understood what they were saying, but I could not relay this concept in a way that was useful to any of my students.
As time went on, I was able to develop my own unique sense of style and feel. I easily knew how certain notes would add different textures to chords and scales. I also learned how to translate complex musical ideas so it was practical in musical situations for my students. I am very proud to say that some of my students have won awards and medals over the years in music competitions.
Yet, with all the accolades my students were receiving, I could not, in simple terms, explain why a student should use specific scales or chords without that nondescript answer of, “It adds more color."
During a lesson, I was explaining that it is common to associate major chords as being happy or bright and minor chords as being sad or dark. Not surprisingly, my student wanted to know why. So, I replied, “Simple, a major chord has a major 3rd interval and a minor chord has a minor 3rd interval. This is what creates the emotions for these chords.” For my student, this was a good enough answer and we happily moved on with his lesson.
Something in my mind had clicked. Like most musicians, I've always known how each interval in music could be used to evoke emotion.This might seem obvious and you'd think this would be easy to figure out, but in reality, music can be abstract and subject to personal taste. How was I going to take this idea and make it usable to a professional musician as well as a novice?
To this day, I hear musicians trying to explain the emotions of music using all kinds of metaphorical terms to get their ideas across; but, unless you can think in abstract terms, something usually gets lost in translation.
All of a sudden, my studio became a musical laboratory. I slowly began testing ideas out, first with my more advanced students and eventually my beginners joined in. The ideas were so simple to understand and hear that most took to it easily.
Many years later since I started this journey, thinking with emotion has become natural for me. I am able to use Emotional Pitch® in any musical situation, and I have spent the last several years of my life discovering how to teach these ideas to others. Emotional Pitch® is now in written form for all to learn. It is my hope to bring back the art of music theory and all that it has to offer.
Yes, you read this right: I want to bring back the art of music theory. I want you to know one truth about yourself and others like you—the music has always been inside of you!
As you might have already guessed, there is no ending to this story. My journey now leads me to find others who want to bring out their passion for music.