I admit it… I love being right 😉
Back before Blues Guitar Unleashed was a thing, I taught private lessons exclusively – usually around 60 of them, sometimes as many as 70 or 75.
Every day, my student would come in to the shop that I used to teach at, and my room was the last one down the hall. So I’d come out to the waiting area, and tell them to go down to that room, take their guitar out and play whatever it was they were supposed to play for this lesson.
It was only 12 feet down the hall, and while they did that I’d make myself a cup of tea (I used to drink a lot of green tea) in the waiting room. It would usually take 3 minutes for the water to heat, so that was perfect.
Inevitably, I’d start to hear what I can only assume was supposed to be the song or lesson for this week… and 9 times out of 10 it would be a mess.
So I’d take my tea, go back to the room, sit down, and say, “OK, play that again, but count it out loud so I know where you think you are…”
And, what do you know, every time that happened, they all of a sudden would play it correctly?
Of course, that was no mystery to me, but it always shocked my students… and I have continued to preach my counting gospel to any and all who will hear it.
I preach it on the Blues Guitar Unleashed Forum, and I preach it in my courses, but still, there are those who don’t want to believe it.
But, they come around, and that’s really what I want to share with you today…
You see, there’s a great thread on the Forum where some folks have shared how counting has changed things for them, like Dr. Ron saying:
“Counting, Counting, Counting…No substitute. If I really want to know a song, counting is all that works, especially if I am planning on playing it in a group. Griff drilled “counting out loud” into my head years ago. Best musical advice I ever got.”
And MarkDyson said,
“It’s certainly a practice thing. I personally start by counting to something new, not even trying to play it; just going over it and bobbing my head or something while counting aloud until I’m comfortable I know what beats are hit by each of the notes in the section I’m studying (I tend to take it in small chunks). Then I might tap my fingers while counting, on the beats I’d be hitting notes. And so on. It’s certainly an acquired taste and sometimes Griff gets pushback from students, but he asserts it’s time well spent and I’ve come to agree with him.”
Or you could learn the hard way like TerryH,
“I admit I’m the worst of students because initially it takes longer to learn the licks if I have to count them out and I’m impatient, so sometimes I don’t bother. But I always pay for it later and end up having to go back to counting to get the timing over the backing track right.”
FrankL minced no words at all about how it affected his playing:
“I resisted this advice for quite some time because it was really, REALLY slow. And too difficult from my initial perspective so I practiced avoidance behavior. Then along came Sunshine Of Your Love and I watched the solo video, over and over, where the solo was counted out loud for every beat and was played at the same time. So when I wanted to learn the solo I counted it out loud and I started painfully slow. BUT the “switch flipped” and now to learn anything new I count it out loud. “COUNTING FIXES EVERYTHING, every time.”
Since November because of counting, I’ve learned 5 new pieces. I’m a convert and advocate. Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks.
THANK YOU, Griff!!!
Your insistence and persistence in counting and actually leading the horse to water, so to speak, worked miracles for me!”
So if you won’t listen to me tell you to count… listen to them!