In the first Course Section called “Getting Ready To Play”, Paul introduces several things you will need to know (and commit to memory) before getting started playing. Paul covers concepts like “Open Strings”, the “Strings as Intervals” and “String Groups” in the early videos so that you can begin to study and memorize this information.
Sometimes getting there faster means starting out slower.
Here’s how to apply that approach to taking Lessons.
When asked “What strings are in Group 3, what are their names in the Open position and what intervals are they?”, you’ll need to have studied and internalized the materials so that you can answer “Group 3 is strings 5,6 and 8. The notes are B, G# and E and those are the 5th, 3rd and Root intervals of the open E9 tuning”. Talking about music can be done using notes and/or intervals. Notes are great and should be learned, but you might find that being fluent in intervals serves you better in the real world.
PRACTICE WITHOUT YOUR GUITAR
You do not need to be seated at your guitar or worry about picks or a bar for most of these early lessons. When Paul is playing in a Lesson – without teaching exactly what he is playing – he is usually playing for demonstration purposes.
It might help complete beginners to watch all of the videos up to “The String Groups” section a few times to familiarize yourself with the concepts, techniques and terminology he will be using throughout the Course. Just watch them at this point and perhaps make some notes… but do not try to play along. Memorize the note names, the intervals, the String Groups, the chord names up the fret board. Make your self some “flash cards” and quiz yourself on your fretboard knowledge.
There is an excellent Ear Training app online here: http://tonedear.com/
Start out with the Intervals module, leave the default Interval setting to “Major 3rd, Perfect 5th and Octave”. Keep practicing until you can identify these tones by name 100% of the time. Then add a Minor 3rd and Perfect 4th and be able to “hear” them 100% correct. Add additional notes like Major 7 and Minor 7 over time.
As a beginner musician, 15-20 minutes a day on Ear Training will produce huge results in the future. Once your ear can hear any interval and you know where to find it on your guitar, your reliance on TABs will be reduced, and your ability to write TABs will be greatly increased. “If you can hear it, you can play it” is the goal.
GET IT INTO YOUR BRAIN, THEN UNDER YOUR HANDS
This approach is like studying a map before hitting the road on a trip…learning how the instrument is laid out and where notes/intervals are found is essential. When it’s time to play, you’ll know what it is you’re playing and how to analyze it and get creative with it. One of the main goals of the Course is to raise everyone’s level of musicianship to a higher level. This is the way Paul was taught and this is the way he wants others to learn. The key to success with the Course is to be patient and thorough.
As Paul says, “The real shortcut to Mastery is to take your time”.