The tricky thing about learning jazz guitar online is that there are so many contradicting opinions.
Just go to any Facebook group and ask any jazz guitar question, and you’ll get advice that can often be confusing.
Get a private lesson teacher.
Don’t ever use tabs.
Learn by ear.
You must read music.
Never use guitar books.
Use this guitar book.
I never practice.
Learn all these chord voicings.
Don’t use modes.
Play chord tones, don’t use scales.
The truth is everything depends on context and sequence. And most online advice tends to forget context because most guitarists are sharing their personal opinion on things… which can be correct but might be misinterpreted.
And it’s different for each student… if you have some musical training (on another instrument for example), your learning process and experience will be different than someone who is playing guitar for the first time.
Everything I’ve said is to put in context why something like Bill Farrish Guitar School is important.
For one, this isn’t just about learning guitar. It’s about learning music. You’re not just getting guitar lessons, but you’re getting music theory, harmony, guitar and jazz guitar education.
This isn’t your “here’s a cool II-V-I lick” website.
This isn’t your “3 secret ways to impress others at your next jazz jam session” video.
This is some serious stuff brought to you by an experienced musician and educator.
The school (which is hosted on the Podia platform) is Bill’s ongoing project to eventually provide an entire masters degree and beyond worth of lessons.
Is this even possible?
Well, right now the website is in the early stages… but based on what I’ve seen even in the past few weeks, Bill has been working on improving and developing the website.
He started off organizing the material in terms of topics but now has structured it to 6 levels so that the material has a clearer step by step outline. This alone is immensely valuable since it’s the main thing that is missing from random instructional videos on YouTube or advice without context that one can get from online forums and Facebook.
From scales, harmony, arpeggios, common chord changes, chord melody arrangements… there’s a lot here!
Structure, context and sequence is potentially what will make the Bill Farrish Guitar School a good option for the patient jazz guitar student.
With all the good things I have to say about the website, the main thing that is lacking at the moment are videos demonstrating the more music theory and harmony lessons on the site. Those are currently embedded PDF files with explanation (which looks like they were handouts that Bill made for his students or perhaps excerpts from his existing works).
The harmony lessons are also in what I call the “music school format”, which just means that the examples are written in the grand staff or treble clef — best suited to be read on the piano or a keyboard. I recommend having at least a USB keyboard to play these examples. You will also need to be able to sight read these examples since there’s no tablature for it.
This might be a surprise to some self-taught guitarists who have not attended any formal music college or university program. That being said, it is definitely worthwhile to learn so that you get a balanced music education.
Some of the harmony and music theory material might be best learned alongside a good teacher. For students who’d like that, Bill also offers 30-minute & 60-minute guitar lessons that can booked directly on the same website.
In conclusion, this website and program is a promising new option for jazz guitar students. As I mentioned, it’s not complete yet but what is currently available is certainly a lot to chew on & work on. Personally I’m working on the long arpeggios and Bill’s 8 shapes for the major scale material… loving it so far!
There are currently other options in terms of jazz guitar membership sites with guitarists such as Barry Greene, Martin Taylor & Tim Miller as well as websites like Pickup Music that I previously reviewed early on during their launch phase here (though that is not exclusively jazz-centric) so it really depends on what kind of sound or approach resonates with you.
Bill’s approach is probably the most music college or music conservatory centric approach I’ve seen available so far. It really does feel like I’m attending music college classes.
So… if that sounds intriguing to you… check it out!
Pros: Great material, well organized and designed for the serious jazz guitar student.
Cons: Not all lessons include video or audio at the moment. PDFs are view only (not printable or downloadable – at least at the time of this review). No tablature for the music theory lessons, but tablature included for most of the guitar lessons.
TLDR: If you’re serious about learning music in a jazz guitar context, the Bill Farrish Guitar School looks like a promising option. With the 5-day free trial option and complimentary lessons available, you can check it out before you opt for the subscription.
Check it out here: https://guitarschool.billfarrish.com/
Thanks to Bill Farrish for complimentary access to the website & materials.
NOTE: This review was not solicited by Bill… but is something I decided to write since I felt strongly about the quality and potential of the website.
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
Check out the rest here:
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[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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