About the Flatpicking Essentials Course:
I’m very excited to announce a new instructional book/CD series that I’ve been writing, compiling, and editing with the help of my good friend Tim May. A couple of years ago the editor of Mel Bay’s on-line guitar magazine (Stephen Rekas) asked me to write a series of articles for their publication about the history of flatpicking. Working on that article series, tracing acoustic guitar playing back to its earliest roots in country and old-time music, I realized that the easiest and most complete way for someone to study flatpicking was to go back to the early days of the style and follow its development chronologically. I expressed this viewpoint when we published the “Pioneers” issue of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine
and I received a lot of positive feedback from subscribers. Stephen Rekas at Mel Bay even suggested that I put together a flatpicking instructional method, or series, based on the articles that I had written for him. So that is what I have done, or I should say, that is what I am now in the middle of doing.
The first two volumes of the Flatpicking Essentials
series are now available
and we plan a total of eight volumes. In the Volume 1
students learn to focus on solid rhythm
playing and adding flavor to that rhythm playing by learning how to use bass runs, fill licks, and a variety of strums. The majority of examples are based on the playing of the early acoustic guitar pioneers in old-time, country, and bluegrass music. Once a solid foundation in rhythm and bass runs is established in Volume 1, Volume 2 moves on in a natural progression to study the Carter style. However, before presenting the Carter style I first show how to find chord changes and melodies by ear. Then how to apply basic Carter style lead to the melody, and then we move on from there to learn how to apply a variety of techniques—including the use tremolo, double stops, neighboring notes, scale runs, and crosspicking—to embellish the melody and “super-charge” the Carter arrangements. Volume 2
focuses on vocal songs.
then moves on to fiddle tunes, and adds to the vocabulary of runs and techniques. Again, the student learns how to find the chords, find the melody, and then build an arrangement based on the melody. The goal here is to develop the student’s ability to come up with their own arrangements to tunes, and then learn how to improvise. There are many examples, practice exercises, and “homework problems” in each volume. We want to “teach you how to fish”, not catch fish the for you.
Once the student has a good foundation in rhythm, finding chords progressions and melodies, and arranging solos for both vocal and instrumental tunes, Volume 4
moves on to present information about how to play up-the-neck and how to learn to use the entire fingerboard of the guitar.
then explores the playing styles and contributions of flatpicking’s heroes dating back to the early days and moving up to modern players. The student studies the important contributions of all of flatpicking guitar’s most prominent players. In Volume 6
the student is presented with advanced arrangements of the songs and tunes that were presented in Volumes 2 and 3, based on using the material that was presented in Volumes 4 and 5, and more. Volumes 7 and 8
then take flatpicking beyond the traditional bluegrass and fiddle tune boundaries and explore various other genres such as jazz, Gypsy jazz, Celtic music, and Western swing. Our goal is to provide flatpickers with a very complete flatpicking study method.
I’m very proud of the first two volume, which are now available, and I’m extremely pleased with the feedback I’ve been getting from students who have ordered these two volumes. If you are interested in this series and have questions, feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine