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> Breaking Down Difficult Lessons, Get something of value from those tough lessons
Ben Higgins
post Oct 22 2014, 10:45 AM
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There's a lot of lessons on GMC of level or 7 or above. These more advanced lessons are usually chock full of fast passages and difficult techniques that can be intimidating to many students. Much of the time, I'm sure they are just watched, enjoyed and then forgotten about as they are deemed to too difficult to even bother learning.

But even if we don't learn the entire lesson all the way through, surely we can still pick up something of value ?

Let's take a level 8 lesson like Tony MacAlpine Style. It whizzes by pretty quickly and there's load of flashness going on (cocky git !). But essentially all that is going on is a load of different sequences back to back that can be separated and broken down into smaller, manageable segments. And when you've isolated a little sequence that you want to learn, guess what ? You can choose to practise it to whatever level of speed you like and then use that lick at whatever speed you like. You're the boss. You don't have to match the speed of the lesson... you can take whatever you've learned and use it in your own solos in any way. smile.gif

The picking section that runs from 0:12-0:14 is a good example to look at. (You can also find it on video part 3) It's an alternate picked sequence that descends to the A string and returns to the E string before shifting to another position and assuming a similar sequence using the next scalar position. I've isolated the 1st sequence here. As you can see, I'm using groups of 3 but the tempo is being played as straight 16th notes, not 16th note triplets ok ?
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You could isolate the descending sequence and practise that. This would work both string crossing mechanics : Inside and Outside picking. Attached Image

However, it can be quite a handful. So you could further chop this down as I've done here. This sequence allows you to practise the inside picking movement but stops on the G string, which would be played as an outside picking movement. So you get the feeling of crossing the strings using both methods but the lick is small enough for you to manage. The 7 notes also makes it easier for you to practise it as 16th notes by stopping on the 7th note, pausing and then resuming on the next suitable metronome click. However, you can also cycle this lick non stop by simply ascending back to the starting note giving you a 12 note sequence !
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In this pic you can see that I've highlighted the point at which the lick turns around and ascends up the strings. This is a tricky spot because you've just descended and your brain is thinking that way. Now, all of a sudden you have to change direction ? Outrageous or what ?! Well, by isolating this turnaround we get to focus on the opening outside picking movement which takes us from the A string to the D string. To move from the D to the G we have to use the inside picking movement. When we reach the last note on the G string we can either stop, pause and resume from the A string again or we can cycle the lick by reversing direction and descending back to the A string again.
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In this last pic I've isolated the movement from the G string to the E. Now I believe this particular combination of picking mechanics to be one of the hardest to master. Try it and tell me what you think. If you play it one way it's a 5 note sequence. But again, you can cycle it back and forth so it becomes an even 8 notes. Pick the down stroke on the 9th fret, G string and run up to the 7th fret, E string. You could start on the E and descend to the G if you prefer. Or cycle it like I said.
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So, here I've given you a few suggestions as to how you can take a difficult sequence and break it up into manageable sections that not only give you great lick ideas but also help you isolate problematic string crossing movements.

With this in mind, maybe you should take another look at some of those higher level lessons that you always liked the sound of but never attempted ? Go on, you know you want to !


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Darius Wave
post Oct 22 2014, 11:43 AM
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Awesome topic Ben. Some really wise words here. Good point about trying to get profits from lesson detials/parts even If we feel full lesson is above our current skills smile.gif


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Ben Higgins
post Oct 22 2014, 01:11 PM
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QUOTE (Darius Wave @ Oct 22 2014, 11:43 AM) *
Awesome topic Ben. Some really wise words here. Good point about trying to get profits from lesson detials/parts even If we feel full lesson is above our current skills smile.gif


Totally !

After all, don't we all do this anyway ? I very rarely learn other people's stuff note for note but I'll take the little bits that I like smile.gif Being able to scout out and take away useful bits is essential to any practising musician !

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Oct 22 2014, 01:11 PM


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Hexabuzz
post Oct 22 2014, 06:10 PM
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Great advice, Ben!

I often work on lessons that are out of my comfort zone with the goal of analyzing what's happening both musically and mechanically, and even if I can't play them up to speed (sometimes it's only 50% speed now), I'm absorbing what's happening, and I know if I can play them correctly at a slow speed, eventually I'll get faster and faster.
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Ben Higgins
post Oct 23 2014, 08:57 AM
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QUOTE (Hexabuzz @ Oct 22 2014, 06:10 PM) *
Great advice, Ben!

I often work on lessons that are out of my comfort zone with the goal of analyzing what's happening both musically and mechanically, and even if I can't play them up to speed (sometimes it's only 50% speed now), I'm absorbing what's happening, and I know if I can play them correctly at a slow speed, eventually I'll get faster and faster.


That's right and many times the licks are the sort of licks that can even be used musically at a slow speed anyway. Maybe some of the repetitive picking lines will sound bizarre at low speeds, like exercises.. but most stuff can be turned into something that sounds melodic.

Or with the picking lines, lets say we take a 16th note triplet shape and slow it right down. It might sound naff played as slow triplets so we could alter the tempo to 16th notes and play it differently over the beat but at a quicker pace (but still slower than the original fast 16th note triplets). Not sure if that makes sense but transposing note values can make a lick sound different over a beat and make an 'un-playable' lick 'playable' smile.gif


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Darius Wave
post Oct 23 2014, 09:32 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Oct 22 2014, 12:11 PM) *
Totally !

After all, don't we all do this anyway ? I very rarely learn other people's stuff note for note but I'll take the little bits that I like smile.gif Being able to scout out and take away useful bits is essential to any practising musician !



Yeah that's exactly what I do ha ha smile.gif That why I'm not able to play any cover of guitar solo composition from anybody biggrin.gif

Also many great musicians keep composing in the free form of theme and improvisation. Like Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock. So pretty much You have to learn is just the theme and chord progression. It's kind of cool...makes people easier to play something together and polish their impro skills smile.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Oct 23 2014, 10:17 AM
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Indeed, folks should be aware of the fact that level 9 doesn't involve just learning and playing THAT fast smile.gif It's what you do with what you learn that really matters.

Great topic and thoughts here, since a lot of folks are asking themselves about what they can do AFTER learning the GMC lessons? All these lessons have concepts behind them and to sum up Ben's observations, if I were asking myself the question above, here are a few possible answers:

- learn the concept behind the lesson, be it a technique or applied theory
- if it's a lead lesson, modify it/develop it using the concept and transform the lesson idea into your own
- if it's a chord lesson, apply the chord progression into another key - what shapes will you find? Make them your own smile.gif
- you like a phrase you found but it's too fast? As Ben said, learn it, tweak it and apply it in a musical context at a lower tempo maybe, but focusing on expression and maybe tweaking it so that the rhythmic concept will become the highlight instead of the speed of execution

There are a lot of ways, but creativity and daring to explore and change things to your own liking and use, are primarily the weapons of choice here! smile.gif The question is - are you exploring yet?


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PosterBoy
post Oct 26 2014, 01:04 PM
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Great posts. I've often looked at something and discarded it as being too difficult but then gone back and given it a go, and found something of use to me at the level of playing I'm at.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Oct 27 2014, 11:56 AM
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QUOTE (PosterBoy @ Oct 26 2014, 12:04 PM) *
Great posts. I've often looked at something and discarded it as being too difficult but then gone back and given it a go, and found something of use to me at the level of playing I'm at.


It's very important to first understand what you want to play smile.gif Sometimes, you may have the impression that things will be easy at a first superficial glance/listen, but once you really dig into what's happening there, you will realize that you may have some issues holding you back, so first of all, I think that these steps here are quintessential for learning pretty much any lesson here, for instance, or any musical piece you may want to tackle:

- understand the theoretical concepts - know what and why you are playing is a healthy way of learning and it will prove useful on the long run, because most of the times, if you just reproduce a lesson without really understanding the concepts on which it was created, you will only mimic and you will have nothing left after being done with it.
- learn the lesson structure - things will flow naturally once you know what's next when playing any piece
- learn each part and reproduce it slowly with the metronome - you will learn the lesson and become accustomed with the timing and feel
- put all the parts together and practice them against the slowest available backing track - respecting timing and phrasing will provide essential advantages when you will face the details of any piece!
- work your way up tempo with the available backing tracks

What are your practice/learning procedures that have proved successful?


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