This latest master class from Pickup Music is an anticipated one for fans of Isaiah Sharkey’s tasteful & soulful playing style. Whether via his work with John Mayer, D’Angelo or his own music, Isaiah has been getting a lot of attention from guitar fans worldwide.
This course is a unique one covering techniques & concepts to develop your guitar playing and craft your own sound. It’s divided into 4 parts:
- Part I. How to find your “voice”
- Part II. Chords & Harmony
- Part III. YouTube Videos (and the concepts behind them)
- Part IV. Songs from ‘Love is The Key’
Throughout the Master Class, Isaiah reinforces one core principle: learn concepts, not licks. The course is presented in a combination of videos, practice tips and transcriptions (in both standard notation & TAB) with downloadable PDF files.
Beautifully transcribed by Jan Jakut, the PDF materials are very helpful in digesting the course contents. As with the other courses from PickUp Music, students are encouraged to upload their take on the material on Instagram as well as share their performances with the community on the PickUp Music forum.
Part 1 sets the pace of the course with Isaiah sharing 3 important concepts to find your voice. My favorite segment is when he dissects a George Benson line and made it his own. For more advanced students, there is also a transcription of an improvisation for you to practice the concepts.
The class accessible to beginners & intermediate guitarists, yet still compelling to more experienced players. Kudos to Isaiah & PickUpMusic for doing this. Closing the first part are two videos, one with Isaiah sharing his experience playing with John Mayer. The 2nd one is him playing quartet guitar style example. The listening recommendations are also helpful for those new to the quartet style.
In Part 2, Isaiah shares how he approaches chords and what he learned from transcribing & analysing Spanky Alford’s playing. The culmination of that section is a full performance of Amazing Grace where Isaiah combines the concepts discussed into a performance piece. There’s also a great video of Isaiah explaining his take on the George Benson picking technique, flatpicking, pick angles, sweep picking & how he switches picking techniques depending on the sound he wants.
In Part 3, Isaiah breaks downs the concepts behind 5 of his most popular videos on YouTube. Isaiah teaches not only the main lick but also shows how you can modify and create your own licks based on what he did. Closing this part is an interlude where Isaiah discusses how to prepare for a session as a session guitarist including gear, tone and style considerations.
In Part 4, Isaiah shows how to play his songs: Love is the Key, Eternal Flame & Time from his album “Love is the Key”. Each song includes him teaching you how to play the parts of the song as well as a solo performance (Eternal Flame & Time) or playthrough (Love is the Key & Time)
The camera angle allows us to see both hands clearly as he teaches us the songs. Love is the Key is a smooth funky piece with nice wah-wah guitar parts. Eternal Flame goes on to present a mid-tempo flowing R&B vibe. Time closes the master class with a beautiful chord progression underneath Isaiah’s beautiful vocal stylings.
I particularly love watching Isaiah’s solo performances of Eternal Flame and Time. These are really great examples of how to combine singing, chordal accompaniment & lines in a solo setting.
In conclusion, this is probably my favorite of the master classes from PickUp Music so far. Part tutorial & part interview, the format works great. The production quality and presentation of the material is top notch giving fans of Isaiah’s playing access to his thinking and process. Although much material is already presented here, I hope there will be a follow up master class to cover even more of Isaiah’s playing style. Strongly recommended!
Pros: Great insights, well presented teaching with high quality video, audio & PDF lesson materials.
TLDR: If you like Isaiah’s playing style, you should definitely watch this amazing masterclass to learn his style.
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