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Flatpicking Essentials


Flatpicking Essentials

This group is for members who are working with the 8-Volume Flatpicking Essentials course written by Dan Miller and Tim May. This is the place to meet others who are working with the course and share your arrangements.

Members: 119
Latest Activity: Apr 27, 2016

The Flatpicking Essentials Story

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.

Volume 3 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.

Volume 5 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: dan@flatpick.com.

Dan Miller
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Discussion Forum

Starting Over - With Essentials 18 Replies

Started by Jim Samuel. Last reply by Making Sawdust Feb 22, 2015.

Have Any Questions? 44 Replies

Started by Dan Miller. Last reply by Michael Johns Aug 20, 2012.

Rhythm players to hear 11 Replies

Started by Peter Lucas. Last reply by Michael Johns Jul 26, 2012.

Comment Wall

Comment by Jim Samuel on February 5, 2010 at 5:20am
Stephen...I answered in the other section but will reply here. I have had trouble focusing on this, so I would be up for trying what you propose.
Comment by Chris on February 5, 2010 at 6:17am
oops so have i

Im up for that also. I am currently at example 5 in the book. What were you guys thinking. Not sure if this is correct but my plan is/was to play each practice night through all the examples i had learned individually using metronome at a slow pace, then medium and fast pace (as fast as i can doing it correctly of course) and maybe going over the next new example/exercise and also the homework sections....they may take longer as you need to work them out?. I plan in being strict with my practice and methodically following the book by every letter and not moving on until im ready even if it takes me a week of practice on onething that i just cant get (hopefully that wont happen) Im open to your suggestions and thoughts for sure though. Good idea Stephen thanks!
Comment by Hal Loflin on April 22, 2010 at 11:20am
Hey Dan...Quick question. I am FINALLY working through Volume 1 and on page 21, example 10, when you transition the bass walk down from the C to the D, should I use my pinky to hit the F# or my ring finger? I can do either, actually practiced alternating between the two, but am wondering what would be best...working the pinky in or using the ring finger?
Comment by Steve Hartnett on June 28, 2010 at 2:08pm
Loved Volume 1 and I have started volume 2.
Comment by Jim Wing on June 28, 2010 at 2:44pm
Hey Steve,

I recently started Volume 2. That tip Dan gives about taking one tune per day, figuring out the melody, then playing it it 4 keys, is amazing. WAY better than learning scales. This is an exercise I'm am surely not going to rush through. How's it working for you?
Comment by Jim Samuel on June 28, 2010 at 3:32pm
I've had to put everything aside for a while while life intruded. I am starting over again with Vol 1.
Comment by Steve Hartnett on June 29, 2010 at 7:59pm

I think it is a great approach. It has rejuvenated my practice sessions. I have just started Volume 2.
Comment by Kyle B Brown on June 30, 2010 at 3:00pm
This series is great. I am still in the midst of Volume 1 but am loving it! I really like the attention to detail and the exercises challenging the player to create their own style throughout. Can't wait to keep on pickin!

Anybody in this network going to Grey Fox soon and want to jam?
Comment by Sean on July 5, 2010 at 6:16am
I'm most of the way through book one and have found it very helpful, especially the examples of different styles of playing. Now I'm going back to all the songs I know and playing around with the rhythm possibilities--lots of fun.
Comment by Ed Ball on June 26, 2011 at 8:54pm
Dan, just wanted to stop by and say thank you for the Flatpicking Essentials. I've worked on Vol 1 for a couple weeks now, and am just about ready to move into Vol II. At this rate I may just complete the entire set before its all over. Thanks again.


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