Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Making The Switch
After 20 years of teaching guitar solely face to face, I've begun the switch to adding Skype lessons to my schedule. A new webcam was a must, as were a few trial lessons with current students in the new format. Nothing major and I was ready to go.
The biggest difference is that due to the slight lag in Skype chats, I can't play along with students any more. I used to make recordings while students practised, and play along a little when they'd got what they were working on. After most lessons, I'd spend time mixing down relevant recordings and emailing them out. These recordings served the double purpose of documenting progress and highlighting problems. They also, in many cases seemed to do the students' job for them. I always recommended that students regularly record themselves, but not many seemed to want to do that. Without me taking that responsibility any more, I'll be pushing that point more than ever.
Get Into the Habit of Recording Yourself!
Recording (or ideally videoing) yourself and reviewing on a regular basis is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. None of us usually likes listening straight back to recordings, but returning to them after a few days, weeks or months allows us to listen in objectively, and spot things we couldn't see/hear at the time. This is a "big picture" method to test whether your practice over time is paying off (see my blog post on effective practice).
A Youtube account makes a fantastic depository for your recordings. For those of you not out gigging, aiming to post a performance video of a song you are working on gives you a real purpose to learning it as well as you can. Sometimes you can't play it as well as you want, so you can file a "work in progress" type video. This says, "Ok that's as good as I can get this right now", and leaves you with an ongoing project, to improve and repost your progress on that performance. Here's one I managed (after maybe 100 attempts) to finally get a coherent version recorded of about 10 years ago.
Scuttle Buttin' (2007)
Following a week of bashing it, I'd settled on this as the best I was going to get it, filed it and forgot it until ...
I picked this Stevie Ray Vaughan classic lick for this blog post because, this year I've returned to trawl through some of its finer details, in particular looking at the right hand pattern. I was alternate picking the lick back in 2007, but am now looking at a wholly different pattern, using plenty of economy picking (sweeps/rest strokes. I think this gives the lick a lot more guts and tone.
Scuttle Buttin' Slow and Close Up (2017)
When/if I can work this up to speed, I'll post a new video of a full performance, and will then be able to compare with the old. Watch this space. In the meantime start furnishing your own Youtube account with the things you're working on. I guarantee you'll learn a ton!