Hello everyone, new here. I have probably had the original Blues You Can Use book for at least 10 years or so and have played on and off at the basic open chord level through the years but nothing serious. I now get together with two other friends, one who is in a local band, and play on Wednesday nights each week for a few hours. We play a little bit of everything but my favorite by far is the blues and always has been. This has motivated me to finally get moving with the book. I've set up a dedicated practice area in the house to get away from everything and just concentrate on playing for the time I am there.
So with that I am wondering how you approached working your way through the book for best results. Did you work your way through by dedicating two weeks per chapter to learn the theory behind what is being taught and learning the lesson itself? I realize that everyone learns at their own pace as well. Were you mostly comfortable with playing the lesson, then move on to the next. As far as practicing, do you spend a good half hour or so learning the lesson, then maybe take a break for a few minutes playing a song you know and then get back into the lesson material? Maybe when you move on to the next lesson, start your practice session by playing through the previous lesson to keep it in the forefront as well?
A lot of questions I know, just wondering how everyone approached going through the book. Thanks.
I think the answer you would get from John is to learn a few bars at a time, as well as you can. Once you've nailed a couple of bars, then move on to the next ones, but try to play everything really well at a slow tempo, maybe 70% or even slower. I would not worry about playing the studies at full tempo, at 80-85% speed they sound great - just move on as long as you can play the whole study well at a slower tempo. It is also probably better to go over the book moderately fast and then revisiting the second half - compared to getting stuck trying to perfect every study at full tempo. But your suggestion of spending about half an hour on a study, then taking a break and doing something else sounds good. And rather than practicing entire previous studies, you could just pick out a couple of licks that you like, play with them a little and try to plug them into the current study. That's more valuable than keeping an entire bunch of studies memorized and fresh.
John mentioned a time-frame of perhaps 6 months for completing the book, with regular practice. One piece of advice is to break up the studies when you practice and play the different licks of a studies against the underlying chord. For example, strum a I7 chord, and then play a particular lick and hear that it fits, etc. That's a good way to understand the studies.
It would be great if you stick around and share your progress and thoughts on the book. We normally share a weekly update.
Thanks for the advice. I want to make sure I play slow and clean in the beginning so I'll concentrate on that, not speed.
When you said "One piece of advice is to break up the studies when you practice and play the different licks of a studies against the underlying chord. For example, strum a I7 chord, and then play a particular lick and hear that it fits, etc. That's a good way to understand the studies.", that is a big part of what I want to get out of this book. I want to know what licks "fit in" so to speak and why. I just don't want to memorize phrases, I want to be able to understand what notes fit and learn to improvise slowly but surely.
That sounds great and I will incorporate that into my lesson learning. I am sure I'll have more questions regarding that part of it as I get into it. I'll stick around and update my progress. Thanks again.