Welcome to my first course review!
In previous posts, we’ve looked at books but this time, it’s something special created by Josh Frets of Fretboard Anatomy. This is my impression of a extremely interesting picking technique course, Fundamentals of Picking.
This is a 7 unit course that contains text based instruction (with the user experience cross between reading a book and a blog post) augmented with animated gifs, short video clips, tabbed exercises and examples as well as audio for the musical examples. The experience is very comfortable as the material is organised and designed for easy consumption.
Josh divides it up to these 7 units, consisting of 42 lessons, with 244 short examples:
- Overview & Setup
- Technique #1: Downward Pick Slanting
- Technique #2: Upward Pick Slanting
- Technique #3: Two-Way Pick Slanting
- Technique #4: Crosspicking
- Technique #5: Hybrid Picking
- Technique #6: Chicken Picking
From chapter 2 onwards, it’s designed to be consumed within a week. Although this is the recommended rate, I would imagine that going through the course once would prove to be a good overview of the different picking workouts. Then, a serious player could focus into certain unit or exercises to really hone in their skills.
If you’ve ever checked out Troy Grady’s Cracking The Code series, the terminology used should be familiar to you. If not, this course actually is a really good way to get your feet wet in what is becoming common guitar technique terms. As a huge Troy Grady fan, I find that Josh has managed to distill the most important points that Troy has uncovered in his research. Josh personality and enthusiasm for teaching does come through in the instruction as well which is great!
The strongest material in the course for me are the first 4 technique units, with Downward Pick Upward Slanting, Two-Way Pick Slanting and Crosspicking. The hybrid picking unit is a good as an introduction though personally I would recommend Martin Miller’s course for a more in depth look on that. This does reflect the title of the course “Fundamentals of Picking” so it does make sense.
The Chicken Picking unit was also highly educational for me since I’ve never really studied that technique formally. Josh gives a lot of musical exercises that have been giving me new ideas for my own music. That unit alone is invaluable for any guitarists who have heard of the technique (like myself) but don’t really understand what makes it tick.
With this course, there are a lot of exercises! Everything is organised in manageable chunks so that you can work on one thing and refine that one thing . I think that’s the main problem with modern education in general it’s not about finding information anymore but it’s about finding someone who can filter out and give you the best material. Having the curation aspect and having a guided approach is invaluable. Of course you can find this on your own if you are someone very interested and invested. However, having Josh share his work here can help save you a lot of time!
That’s what I found with the Fundamentals of Picking course.
Sometimes I will buy a course by a famous guitar player and just not know where to start because there’s so much stuff in it! Sometimes with some courses, there is no system in place for you to digest the material. With some courses, it can be a long term 6 month to 2 year commitment to digest the material. With Fundamentals of Picking, the material is more accessible. This is something that you can go through over 6 weeks and see improvement in your technique (as long as you commit to Josh’s practice suggestions).
The other cool thing with this course is access to the Josh’s Trello board. Trello is a list/board app that helps you to track what you’ve been working on & how your progress has been. In addition to the actual notated exercises, you can also listen to the musical examples as well within the app. This is super important because this helps you focus your practice time instead of randomly trying out exercises.
Who is this course for: If you’re looking for picking material to practice and you just want short exercises with a system in place – this may be a worthwhile investment! If you like a systematic approach to practicing this will be a good course for you. If you’re looking for a miracle solution, this is not it.
For those unfamiliar with Troy Grady’s material, this is a good introduction to it because he manages to organise it in a way that is digestible. For more advanced and technically proficient guitarists, if you’re curious about examining picking options, Josh’s course is very well done.
I would also recommend this course for guitar teachers looking for material for their students. So far, I’ve already recommended this to one of my Skype guitar students and she has already bought this course since then!
Pros: Great material, well organised with text, notated examples, video, audio, access to Trello practice resources and includes strategies to practice the material. Josh is also very responsive via e-mail so there is author support which is cool!
Cons: Not as much video content compared to some other courses I’ve used.
TLDR: If you’re looking to improve your picking technique in a systematic way, this is a useful resource to have. At USD$49, it’s more expensive than a typical book or instructional DVD but there’s also a lot more material that you’ll get. If you maximise the exercises and follow the practice suggestions, you can really improve your picking technique.
I received free access to the course. Thank you Josh!
How to Buy:
Enroll in the online course here:
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