Christiaan Van Hemert is a unique musician.
For one, guitar isn’t even his primary instrument (he is actually a violinist first!), but over the years he has learned to play the guitar at a very professional level & also become a major influence to many aspiring gypsy jazz guitarists.
His YouTube channel (currently at 33.1K subscribers) has been a hub for his contrarion ideas (of which attract many who argue in his YouTube comments section) and his Patreon page has been the centre of his most avid supporters.
That is… before his new CVH (Gypsy) Jazz Guitar Discord came into existence… (but more on that later).
This book is the follow-up to his first book, Van Hemert System volume 1 which was released back in 2020. For context on that book, you can read my review of his first book, “Van Hemert System by Christiaan Van Hemert” here.
Now, how is this book different from the first one?
Well, this time Christiaan has opted to make this mostly a digital only release. As far as I’m aware of there is a limited print run of the book but I believe there were only 20 copies that he made to bring to various camps/festivals that he was booked to play in June 2023.
Also, initially there were two versions of the book:
- a lighter version (with less material)
- the full (“sweats/pro” version)
However, as far as I’m aware of, only the full version is available from his website. That being said, that is the version that I’m reviewing here (and the version you should get if you want to get it).
The 60-page book is divided into 10 main chapters:
- Loops Set 1 (Major)
- Loops Set 2 (Minor)
- Loops Set 3 (Dominant)
- 15 Major ii-V-I Set 1
- Major ii-V-I Set 2
- Major ii-V-I Set 3
- Minor ii-V-i Phrases
- All Of Me
- Have You Met Miss Jones?
- Iʼve Found A New Baby
Essentially you should consider each of the chapters like a level in a video game. Each is to be defeated before you go to the next one.
How is this done?
Well, Christiaan uses Discord as the main community to connect directly with owners of the book. And… this is where you get bonus material, if you record your playing AND upload the videos to the channel.
Christiaan has essentially gamified gypsy jazz learning for a generation of players who might have grown up with video games, leaderboards and online communities.
That being said, he repeatedly mentions that the book can be used in the traditional way, without accessing the DIscord channel… but I do recommend joining it since there is so much more value that you get there.
Christiaan explains in the introduction:
The material is presented in two parts: there are the pages with notes, tab and theory to be used mostly as a reference while practicing and then there are what I consider to be the real meat of this course: the videos and backing tracks accompanying this book. In the videos I go into great detail on how to practice using the tools presented here and thus how to give oneself the biggest chance of succeeding in the ultimate goal: expanding your jazz vocabulary and sounding good with the new phrases!
Another important thing to participate in is my Discord and getting access to the section exclusively for owners of this book. It is the place to ask questions, communicate with fellow guitarists, and track your own progress as well as that of others. I will be practicing the vocabulary in this book myself and I know Iʼll be in the Discord to discuss my own progress and I sincerely hope to see you all there!
And the videos… man the videos – everything is SO ORGANIZED.
You get 5+ hours of lesson videos explaining EVERYTHING in the book AND how to practice the material effectively. In addition to that you get backing tracks for all the practice routines described.
The videos also include chapter & time linked directly in each video so you can go directly to whatever part you’re currently studying.
I’ve had access to the book and the community since July and have been blown away with how great all this material is. And boy is this material tough.
How tough? Well… if you’re an 80s gamer, this is NINTENDO HARD or Battletoads hard (if you get the reference). For current generation gamers, this is like Dark Souls hard.
For non-gamers, it’s basically very difficult… but with good reason!
So many books tend to be just skimmed through and not worked through as they should. With his approach, Christiaan has increased the odds of someone actually being able to play this stuff.
I’ve been practicing the material and although I’ve (sort of) played through the first five chapters, I’m not even close to doing the material properly according to his practice system which makes you play this in all 12 keys, in time.
This is also why this particular book review has taken such a long time.
I try my best to really test as much material from a book, watch as many (if not every single minute) so that I can give an honest detailed review for you.
All in all, I have to say that Christiaan has created something unique that I have not seen in the market. There are other websites that have ongoing gypsy jazz communities within paid programs but the Van Hemert approach is special because of how everything works together (book, videos, Discord, challenges, bonuses).
Most recently, Christiaan has just released Volume 3 of this series & I am excited to check that one out… although realistically, I’ll be practicing this book for quite some time.
To conclude, if you want to play gypsy jazz & have been enjoying Christiaan’s videos on YouTube, this is a great book to get. It’s more like a video course + community to be honest, so remember that when you factor in the price for this. It is definitely not just a book.
Pros: Great material, well organized, challenging and done with a lot of love.
TLDR: If you want to improve your gypsy jazz chops with a hands-on approach guided by a system from an experienced performing musician, this might be what you’re looking for.
Get Christiaan’s releases here: https://vanhemertsystem.fws.store/
I received a complimentary access to the book, videos & Discord channel from Christiaan. That being said, my review is unbiased and reflects my opinion of this book.
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
Check out the rest here:
[Read more reviews]
[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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NOTE: All reviews reflect my honest personal opinion so be aware that I will point out both cool Pros and Cons that I see in the work. You dig?