Recently I discovered Thomas Polychuck when I saw an Instagram story from one of my former guitar students. He had purchased a course from Thomas and I noticed that it included a section or module on Alternate Picking.
The next day I started checking out more of Thomas’s work & was impressed with his playing and fluid technique. For me, it’s important to study from players who can actually REALLY play & not just educators who dissect concepts but can’t execute them.
Thomas certainly CAN PLAY!
Anyway, watching Thomas play in various styles on both his Instagram page & YouTube channel led me to getting this course.
The Alternate Picking Mastery course is divided to 7 sections:
- Warming Up
- Technique break-down
- How to practice?
- Alternate picking on 1 string
- Changing strings
- Runs & licks
Throughout the course, the videos are short…. and there’s actually not a lot of video in this course. But, everything in here is good stuff. It is also well organized which makes it a pleasure to browse & find the different exercises quickly.
On a technical note, Thomas Polychuck hosts this course on the wix website platform. The material is presented in “steps” that you can “mark as complete” as you go through the course. This is similar to other course platforms like Kajabi, Podia or Teachable.
Now, let’s go into the actual content of the course.
After the Introduction section (all text, no video), we go into the Warming up section where Thomas shares stretching, fretting hand and picking hand warm ups. These were interesting warm ups & not exactly like what I’ve typically seen in this kind of course. We also get two bonus exercises that are included in two tab PDF files but with no video.
In the Technique break-down section, Thomas shares 3 important points for effective alternate picking technique. This is basically the core mechanics of how he picks.
In How to pratice, he shares important mindsets for healthy growth as a player and also suggestions on practicing with a metronome.
As we progress to the actual exercises, Thomas begins by demonstrating 5 exercises on 1 string. The first one is a pedal tone based phrase. The second one is a familiar sounding sequence. The next two are ascending and descending minor runs. The last one is an ascending version of the second exercise.
In Changing strings, we get another 5 exercises. Thomas demonstrates these at both slow and fast tempos. He shows a good mix of different tonalities and both scalar as well as one arpeggio based exercise that he calls the Final Boss of alternate picking.
Closing the course in the Runs & licks section, we get 3 different alternate picking runs that sound great and are idiomatic for the rock/shred idiom.
In conclusion, I would say that this is a practical and friendly course to go through. Some courses tend to be very long. As a result, sometimes you might not actually complete the course & get through all the material.
However, this course is short & sweet. It’s direct to the point. This is a strength of the material.
In some ways, this course reminds me a bit of the work of British guitar educator Ben Higgins. You can check out my review of his Badass Inside Picking course here.
It’s worth noting that all the exercises are very musical. Sometimes with technical courses (even from famous guitar players), the examples can bit a bit dry musically even though they teach the technique clearly. At the price point that Thomas is charging for this, it’s a worthwhile investment for someone who wants to develop their alternate picking.
Pros: Well presented material, well taught and straight to the point.
Cons: Videos are streaming only, you cannot download the videos. Some may feel the course a bit too short especially if you compare it to old school 80s or 90s era instructional videos.
TLDR: If you want a practical guide to learning alternate picking, this release from Thomas Polychuck might be for you. There’s no filler content here, just some useful exercises presented in a well-organized way.
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
Check out the rest here:
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