Using Marks To Learn Licks Faster And Better

In this lesson we’ll talk about using what I call, “marks,” to learn passages that are difficult to count, or to save yourself counting situations where it might be unnecessary.

To be clear, counting, and knowing exactly which beat every single note of your lick sits on is paramount – and is the only “guaranteed” option.

But for some folks, this can work really well, especially in situations where you might have a really long string of notes in a slow blues and you just have to cram them all in there somehow.


  • Raymond Couzens

    Reply Reply July 4, 2019

    Best and most helpful blog post, learned something really useful here today

  • Layne Oliver

    Reply Reply July 4, 2019

    Hi Griff,
    I am forever amazed that many of the lessons that you send our way touch on the things
    I happen to be struggling with at the moment I.e. timing… I found the tips on using “marks” very helpful
    In recognizing where the beat is which helps me see where everything else falls into place. I am very grateful to you for your help!

  • Alex

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Thanks Griff

    I abandoned this solo some time ago because I could not get past this very lick. I tried counting but just could not get it. Will give it another go once I finish my current course and see if it helps.

  • david moon

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Griff- the only problem I see with this is that people will have to be somewhat conversant with standard notation to apply this idea. On the Forum we have discussed marking up the music with numbers and “ands” and “uhs”. My method of marking “beat boundaries” is very similar to your “markers” and may work for those that are more visually oriented.

    But yeah. identifying those notes that are “on the beat” and making sure that’s where you play them while counting- that’s a good thing.

  • Graham

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    ‘The first note of the beam’comment is incredibly helpful. Thanks again Griff.

  • Jake L Whicker

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Griff, you have peeled back yet another layer of the mystery, and made music notation much more accessible.
    And like peeling back the layers of an onion, brought a tear to my eye.
    Thanks, Teach.

  • DaveyJoe

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Keep us in line Griff!

  • John McP

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Talking about timing, today, In the post I have received the book “How to Jam the Blues Alone” which compliments the Course I recently purchased. Therefore this blog is a great support to tackle the 1 and 2 bar licks. Having successfully streamed the course and spent the past week reviewing the Sections and Examples I cannot wait to get started on the project. In addition I must say the presentation and content of the course is really, really the tops. Cheers Griff and the team my money is well spent.

  • Bill

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Geesh I feel so guilty. Haven’t bought your coarse. I’ve learned something from your e mails and all of a sudden things changed. Now I understand what I was missing. Thank you Giff, give yourself a A plus, a true teacher. So to everyone else buy the coarse and imagin how you to can be a great Blues person.

  • Michael Lunny

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    great lesson Griff, know jusg need to apply it! “le petite train va loin”!

  • kim

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Thanx Griff. This is just what I need because I am focused on counting at the moment.

    How do we know if while counting out loud that that we keep the rhythm? My biggest struggle is working with a metronome because I find it difficult to know if I am playing on the beat when I hear the beep tone.

    • Griff

      Reply Reply July 2, 2019

      If you are not sure, keep the metronome off and just count until it is more comfortable. Then come back to it. I can assure you that when you are doing it right you will know.

  • Larry

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Thanks Griff for another helpful counting tip.

  • Steve (UK)

    Reply Reply July 2, 2019

    Excellent tip to aid counting, thanks Griff.

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