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Introduction To The Martin Taylor Guitar Academy
This "introduction" block sets the stage for what is to follow. Put down your guitar, and enjoy learning about Martin's background, influences, and philosophy about music and the guitar. If you are anxious to get going, you can skip ahead to the "Underlying Concepts" block or even "Learn By Playing Tunes" block. Just be sure to get back and watch these important videos!
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Underlying Concepts
The "Underlying Concepts" block starts very basic and progressively lays down the foundation for Martin's approach to fingerstyle guitar. Even if you are already an advanced guitarist, Martin asks that you go through all of these lessons. This block ends with Martin teaching two versions of the jazz classic "Satin Doll."
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Developing Technique & Musicianship
Here we switch almost entirely to music, musicianship, and advanced techniques for making music on the guitar. To get started right, Martin teaches a simple but soulful version of his own composition "True." Martin uses this tune as reference point throughout the curriculum. More techniques flow from Martin's presentation of jazz blues, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", and "My Romance."
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Learn By Playing Tunes
Watch, listen, play. It's all here: A progressive collection of tunes that represent every skill and technique Martin employs in his fingerstyle guitar playing. For many of these tunes, Martin provides a very detailed analysis of all of the techniques employed. All of the tunes are presented with alternate camera angles (you can see exactly what Martin sees using the "topview" camera angle), and slow-motion versions. Many of the tunes have downloadable notation PDF files, though Martin prefers you to use you eyes and ears rather than the notation which can become a "crutch" and inhibit progress.
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Auxiliary Lessons
This is the place where material will be placed that relates to specific topics not covered in the core curriculum, such as accompanying a singer, gear, etc.
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Guided Arrangements
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30 Day Challenge
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+Music
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Video Exchange Archive
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Fingerstyle Guitar Lessons: Right Hand Technique In Depth

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[MUSIC]
Now this is the beginning of a new section
and as you will recall early on I did a
very brief lesson
about the right hand technique, the way I
hold the right hand and.
The right hand in, in finger style playing
of course is, is just that's kind of,
I've mentioned earlier, that's where
really all the music is.
And a lot of the defining distinctive
characteristics
of my playing all come out of my, the
right hand technique.
Now I've, I've kind of delayed getting to
this point
of going into this in more detail because
I wanted to get a lot of the musical
stuff out of the way first before we got
involved in the technical side of things.
A lot of this right hand technique, when
somebody's watching me play and
they're sitting in front of me, they don't
see it because they just see really
the back of my hand, they don't see that.
But as if by magic we have this wonderful
camera, overhead camera,
literal, literally a birdseye view.
More or less my, my view of of what's
going on, and
you can really see get a far better idea
of what's going on here.
It's still a little bit tricky because a
lot of the things that I do are very,
very small.
This is very detailed stuff in order to
get certain tones and textures.
It's, it's, it's quite difficult to, for
you to see it, but this is about,
this is about as good as, as it's ever
gonna get.
Having this, this great camera above us
here.
There's a, there's a number of things that
I really want to, to talk about.
One of the things that people say is a
kind of a, a defining characteristic of,
of my style of playing is the clarity that
I get when I'm playing.
Whatever I'm playing, I seem to always
bring out the melody.
And I always emphasize this to my
students, that, that's very important.
You don't want the melody or
the top line to become buried underneath
all the other things that you're doing.
So we have to develop independence amongst
our, our fingers and thumbs.
Now I have a little peculiarity when I
play because I rest my little finger
on here.
That's because, simply because when, when
I started playing,
I didn't have a teacher.
And I just started to play that way.
And I used to play with a pick.
And I just always rested my pinky there.
But I don't have to do that.
I can, I can play without it, but
it's just one of these little habits that
I picked up and it doesn't hurt.
I don't use the pinky for anything else,
so, so why not?
Now I, I play with with the nails,
so, I have, you can kind of probably just
about see here.
They're, they're not really long, but,
there's a little bit of nail showing
over there and it's, the nail is filed
really pretty much to the,
the contour of my fingertips and the same
thing is with the thumb as well.
Some people have problem with their, their
nails, you know, cuz the nails break or
they can't grow their nails.
And I, I use a, a gel on mine.
A lot of guitar players,
a lot of finger style players use gels on
their fingernails because it,
it strengthens the nails and stops them
from getting broken and, and.
I think actually it, it, it sounds, it
sounds really good too.
So, I have a little bit of the, the nail
here.
Now the reason for this, and the reason I
don't have the nails any longer than that,
is because when I play, I hit the note
with the flesh of the finger.
[MUSIC]
And then just after
the flesh hits the note, the nail hits it.
So you can just about hear the.
[MUSIC]
So instead of it being.
[MUSIC]
You know, dic, dic, dic, dic sound,
you've got a stuf, stuf sound.
Now that's like, if you can imagine, if
you can imagine a saxophone player.
Somebody playing a wind instrument.
When they, when they blow into the
instrument and they blow that note.
[SOUND] There's a little bit of air first.
So the flesh on the fingertips is the air.
The nail is the note.
So the nail is aiming for the center of
the note.
The center of the sound of the note.
And the flesh is the breath just before
that.
[MUSIC]
You can hear that.
[MUSIC]
As opposed to.
[MUSIC]
Which is just that did-dit-dit kind
of note.
That's good too, sometimes I'll use that.
[MUSIC]
Sometimes with my thumb,
I'll do the same too.
I'll have the.
[MUSIC]
I'll have just the flesh of the.
[MUSIC]
Sometimes I'll bring it in,
I'll use the nail and flesh.
[MUSIC]
So
bearing this in mind, that, you, think of
that, the nail is the note.
The flesh of the finger is the breath.
That's what we're aiming for.
And if we sometimes play just with the
nail, we have that, very direct sound.
If we have to play with the flesh, we've
got more of a breathy sound.
A little bit of breath, just before the
note and
this gives this gives different textures.
We now have different textures to the way
we're, the way we're playing.
This is really, really very important.
Then from all these different textures
that we build up,
sometimes I will give one texture to one
note and another texture to another.
So I may play the melody.
[MUSIC]
Quite with a nail.
Quite let's say, I wanna, I want it to be
quite sharp and distinct.
Then I might play inside notes with a nail
and a fletch.
[MUSIC]
Which gives it more of
a breathy sound, and then I might play the
bass with.
[MUSIC]
With just the fletch to give it a very
round, round sound.
[MUSIC]
Or I might,
if I want to bring out something.
[MUSIC]
I might use the nail a little bit more.
So this also brings us, this is textures,
so we're,
we're developing different textures by the
way we, we hit the note.
This is something I really want you to
think about
because sometimes I hear people play, play
very well, but
the notes are all treated the same and we
don't wanna do that.
We want to, when, when it becomes musical
is when we understand the,
the, the notes and the, the dynamics and
textures and tones of the notes.
And we give them, we allocate a different
volume, texture, and
tone to the notes, then music doesn't-
Then it's not flat anymore.
We have, we have a nice rounded, rounded
sound,
it becomes like a three, three dimensional
sound.
So, we, we can play quite sharp with the
nail, or we can have a more breathy sound.
[MUSIC]
We can have a very round kind of sound.
[MUSIC]
So I want you to really think about this.
Try different ways of, of playing the
note.
And also another thing to do.
If you play a chord.
[MUSIC]
This is just a random chord I'm
picking here.
Do a kind of arpeggio, but
then maybe play the chord.
Try and make that top note louder than the
rest.
Make the middle ones a little breathier,
quieter.
Make the bass note a bit louder.
So you've got almost like internal
dynamics.
So it's not just each, it's not every note
is you're making louder and quieter.
You're actually making each single note
slightly louder, slightly quieter.
[SOUND] That way, this is how we get this
I get this clarity in my playing and
how there's a kind of separate that the
notes seem quite, quite separate and
it's not all mushed into one, one sound as
chords can sometimes be.
Because I'm treating every note slightly
differently.
So I want you to really think about that.
I want you to play around with that,
different ways of
play with the nail, the nail and the
flesh, just the flesh.
And, and also try, when you play a chord.
Bring out one note more than the other.
[MUSIC]
And build up an independence between.
[MUSIC]
The, these fingers.
I'll give you an example of this.
I'll play Satin Doll and I'll play every
note exactly the same.
Same volume, same texture.
[MUSIC]
It's flat.
It's really kind of, there's nothing going
on.
Bring some color and texture into it.
Bring the top note out.
Make, tho, those little chord stabs in the
middle,
make them nice and breathy and then, and
the base round.
When you do a little figure.
[MUSIC]
Make it a little louder.
A little bit more tax.
So you get this.
Instead of playing this kind of like.
[MUSIC]
We're getting.
[MUSIC]
What a difference.
What a difference that's made.
It's just suddenly come alive, from being.
[MUSIC]
That's flat.
[MUSIC]
I'm playing all the right notes.
Nothing wrong with that.
[MUSIC]
The left hand's fine.
I'm playing everything I need to do on the
left hand.
But this one isn't doing its job.
What this one's doing is just.
[MUSIC]
Playing the notes.
[MUSIC]
But
bring out the melody, get some nice wispy
kind of middle,
notes in the middle using the flesh and,
and the nail.
Get that bass, really dig into that bass
and you've got a whole different thing.
Suddenly this two dimension becomes three
dimensional.
You, the note's that's louder,
instead of the notes all being in the same
place, the louder notes are here the,
the less the, the, the loud notes are
here, the quieter ones are here.
You start hear it as, as as a an object,
as as as a matched thing.
And then, the textures are like the
colors,
that becomes like the colors of the whole
thing.
So, between the, the, the difference in
volume that you're, you're doing and
the textures you're creating a piece of
music.
If you imagine, instead of something being
flat, you're,
you've got a really round object of a, a
song.
Rather than this is.
[MUSIC]
Nothing
wrong with that except nothing's really
right with it, but.
[MUSIC]
Now.
[MUSIC]