This master class by TJ Whitelaw on the PickUp Music website is quite cool. It follows the whole sensibility of an Instagram-centric generation (short 1 to 3 minute videos), straight to the point choice exercises and a very slick look overall (for the page, the videos and the class materials in PDF).
I previously did a review of the entire membership site and overall really liked the site for the exact reasons that there’s not quite anything like in the market. It’s targeted to a young audience, priced at an affordable USD$6 per month (for access to so many quality video lessons and resources) and a friendly supportive community that is open to helping one another develop their career using social media platforms.
In this class, TJ Whitelaw shares some very practical (and challenging) right hand and left hand exercises. These are bite sized so that intermediate players (and hardworking beginners) that incorporate into their practice routines. I find that the delivery (quantity of the material) to be the main attractiveness of the class.
I started practicing the exercises and improved my chops quite rapidly. For very attentive guitarists (who may be fans of other more heavier sites like Troy Grady’s Cracking The Code or Master in Mechanics series), you’ll be able to catch details of TJ’s picking technique and posture from the high quality footage in the class. TJ combines (at least) several different picking postures, anchors and angles that are very interesting to observe.
The master class is divided into 5 parts:
- Part I. How to Shred
- Part II. How to Stay Fluid
- Part III. Chords: Voice leading & Gospel chords
- Part IV. TJ’s Top Licks
- Part V. Songs & Riffs
In Part I, TJ shares some cool exercises that help build strong right hand and left hand technique. This is probably the most ‘shred’ part of the masterclass. In Part II, he demonstrates some really interesting exercises that help develop left hand facility to span the entire fretboard. Staying fluid is done via specific double stop exercises that are both melodic and technical.
In Part III, TJ begins with simple chords and develops the lesson into very beautiful Gospel chord progressions that use passing chords and idiomatic chord voicings. If you dig the whole Neo Soul and Gospel sound but are not that familiar with how to execute it, this section will prove to be useful.
The 5 Licks in Part IV are really nice sweet licks. My favorites are Lick 4 and 5!
In the closing section, Part V – we get to learn to play some of TJ’s signature songs and riffs. Although the transcriptions for the main parts are given, we are encouraged to learn them by ear from the performance video as well as slowed down demonstration videos. One of my fave pieces, Toronto has a nice groovy chill vibe.
In addition to the main instructional material, closing each part is a short video called an interlude. These are a nice break from the main content as they give some insights to his process in a casual interview format.
Pros: Strong sounding melodic & harmonic ideas, concise delivery and high quality presentation.
Cons: None. It might feel short as a masterclass, until you actually try to master every single lick (and realise this is pretty challenging stuff).
TLDR: If you’re a fan of TJ Whitelaw’s playing, this is definitely a must have. It’s an insightful take on a young influential guitarist’s personal approach to the guitar. The content definitely delivers what the title promises with enough shred ideas and tons of tasteful double stops, funky chord work and harmonies.
Check out the master class here: https://pickupmusic.com/learn/tj/
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