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The rules to any board game or card game are a complete mystery to me.
I’m the guy on game night that never fully understands the rules of the game until I play through it a few times. Frustrating for everyone else who’s already played. What can I say? If the rules aren’t simple, I’m lost. At least at first.
Yeah, I’m that guy.
It takes me a while to get the hang of new stuff. But, I’ve learned that I can scale the learning curve faster when I start small and build on that. Break things down into the basics, then build from there.
My strategy for learning new things on the guitar is exactly that: Start Small and Build.
Beginning Finger Picking Blues
Keeping it simple and learning to finger pick may seem like an impossible pairing, but by breaking things down learning becomes easier. The goal is to break through your learning curve in record time. And we’ll accomplish that buy putting finger picking in context of Piedmont Blues.
Here’s a quick review of where we’ve been so far:
First things, first. You have to learn the chord changes. So, we strummed through a typical Piedmont Progression until the chord changes were natural. This is important and really helps you get to know the song.
Then, we ditched the pick and used this progression to learn how to play an alternating bass line. Alternating bass lines aren’t in every Piedmont song, but it is a fundamental technique found in many great blues songs. Plus it really gets your thumb moving!
Add a Melody to the Alternating Bass Line
Of course, playing just the bass line doesn’t really sound like much of a song. The next step?
Add some melody!
In this video lesson, I’ll show you a simple but catchy little melody to work in over an alternating bass line. We’ll keep the popular ragtime progression going throughout. I think you’ll really start to get your picking fingers coordinated as you practice this little ditty. Start slow, of course.
Enjoy the Journey
If you’ve made it this far, take a minute and celebrate a milestone. You are well on your way to becoming a solid finger picker! The world needs more finger pickers, so Welcome to the Club!
Seriously though, this is no easy feat. If you’re a seasoned pick player or brand new to the guitar, getting your fingers to work as individual picks is challenging. Practice through this lesson as much as it takes. Once you feel confident and can play through these four bars flawlessly, move on to the next section of the tune.
In future lessons, we’ll get through the rest of this 16 bar progression, then we’ll learn how to embellish the melody a bit.
Until then, Play On!