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Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course #2534278
04/26/16 08:35 PM
04/26/16 08:35 PM
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This thread is an attempt to form a study group for anyone interested in the Duane Shinn 52 week crash course:

www.playpianocatalog.com/1yecrco.html


Another forum member and I who are working through this course have been discussing starting this thread, so here we are. Anybody who is interested in this course of study can feel free to participate.

A year is a long time to stay committed to a course of study, especially when going it alone. Hopefully, this thread can help alleviate that problem. We will be discussing the lessons as we work through them, and any other issues associated with the course of study.

Tony


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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534311
04/26/16 09:58 PM
04/26/16 09:58 PM
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I have the course, and I've worked through a good chunk of it. I'm not a beginner but I got the course to learn arranging and improvising. I've learned a lot from it already. It's a lot of work but it's really fun too. I've posted in other threads how impressed I am with it. It's not perfect (what course is?) but there's a lot of great content in it. I've been thinking about going back to the beginning and reviewing all the old lessons as I continue with the course. This thread will give me a good opportunity to do that. So count me in.

If anyone else would like to join in, please feel free smile





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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534535
04/27/16 04:24 PM
04/27/16 04:24 PM
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I suspect this thread will get lost in the shuffle. If it does we can just continue via PM. Anyway, a few comments as I have completed the first couple of lessons.

Duane starts us out with what is called the "Pointer System" (and assures us that we will be moving beyond this soon). This consists of 2nd inversion chords (which he does explain in the video) in which the middle note of the triad in the left hand is played using your "pointing" finger and is the root of the chord. The melody is played with the right hand. The songs are public domain such as "Lightly Row", Merrily We Roll Along", "Go Tell Aunt Rhody", etc.

However, the purpose is not to play the latest cool tunes, but to use very familiar melodies and basic chords to get your hands moving on the piano, get started sight reading, and get a sense of rhythm. In other words, this is a basic starting point. Subsequent lessons very gradually introduce moving the hands around more, such as the right hand playing outside the initial 5 finger position, the left hand moving between chords at the rate of two per measure, etc. while continuing to introduce music theory. From lesson to lesson, you can see definite progress and expansion on previous ideas.

Each video lesson has Duane discuss the lesson, go through the tunes in the lesson playing and talking through them, explain any relevant theory and practice ideas, and then finally, playing everything in that lesson from an overhead view so you can see how your hands should look when playing.

There is a definite sense of moving forward, but not too fast, and a sense that everything you need is, and will, be covered.

Duane suggests spending a week (or longer as necessary) on each lesson, breaking the daily practice into 4 smaller segments, starting with maybe 15 minutes per session, and taking one day off each week. He has three extra DVDs outside the 52 lessons, in which he describes in detail how to practice, maintain a practice log and why, etc. He tells you when to watch each of these DVDs - one before starting the lessons, one at the end of the first lesson, and one at the end of the second lesson, reviewing any time after that as needed. This is solid, detailed, guidance, answering many of the types of questions beginners will ask in these forums just as a decent "live" teacher would do.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/27/16 04:25 PM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534607
04/27/16 08:49 PM
04/27/16 08:49 PM
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TonyB,
It may indeed get lost in the shuffle, but if we keep posting it will keep getting bumped back up to the main page. Maybe it will be useful for someone who is on the fence and considering the course, or for someone who tries it later and finds this thread through google search of the forum.

Someone actually emailed me and asked about the pointer chords, which are mentioned but not explained in Duane's promotional material.

This is what I wrote to them in response:
---------
It put me off getting his course for a long time because I didn't understand what that meant. I didn't know what a pointer chord was, but I knew the name sounded like a gimmick *smile*

Turns out that it's nothing to worry about. A pointer chord is simply a chord in the second inversion. If you think of a C major chord, it consists of the notes C-E-G. If you play the notes in that order (left to right), it's known as the root position of the chord. But you can rearrange the order. If you move the C on top to play in the order E-G-C, that would be the first inversion of the chord. Similarly, if you then move the E on top to invert it again and get G - C -E then you have the 2nd inversion of the chord.

The normal way to play a 2nd inversion chord with the left hand has you playing with the pinky, pointer (index) finger, and thumb. The reason they call it a "pointer chord" is because in that inversion/fingering you're playing the note that has the same name as the chord with your pointer finger. The first songs you play in the course use lead sheet notation (right hand melody and chord symbols telling you what to do with the left hand). For that application, the pointer chords might be slightly easier to learn first than the root position chords. But honestly I don't think it really matters which way you learn first.

In any case, other inversions of the chords as well as playing songs from the grand staff (both treble and bass clefs) are introduced very quickly in the course. The pointer chord thing is just how chords are introduced. Most methods introduce chords in the root position, but it's not really a big deal either way in my opinion.

-----------

Anyway, I'm going to go back and redo lesson one this weekend. I'll post whatever comments come to mind when I do so. I'll probably try applying some of the arranging techniques from later in the course just to make it more interesting, as those first songs are quite basic (great for beginners) but I'll keep my comments to what's actually in the lesson.


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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534618
04/27/16 09:58 PM
04/27/16 09:58 PM
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I m on lesson 3. Currently, I am really focusing on that "eye flip" technique.

Though I can read music, I have always felt that in its essence, music is a HEARING art (for both performer and listener - music is sound, after all) whose inspiration comes from the heart just like any other art form.

I don't really want to ultimately play other people's music any more than I want to walk around quoting other people all day or retyping somebody else's post in this forum instead of expressing myself in my own words. To me, we all should have something of our own to say, verbally or musically. A writer strives for original material, rather than copying another writer verbatim, though s/he may get ideas and inspiration from reading other people's writing. For that reason, I consider being able to sight read to be a valuable skill, well worth the time to develop, as well as to be able to play what we hear (such as picking up music off recordings).

My goal is to gain fluency on the piano so I can develop my own musical ideas.

I know that probably sounds weird to many people, but think about it. Writers expect to come up with their own words even if the subject is ages old. Painters strive to come up with their own interpretation of whatever they are painting, though many do study the works of others. I don't see why music can't be treated with the same sense of originality and inspiration. Somehow, we seem to culturally look at music differently than other art forms, when I personally feel that there is no difference in terms of the object of our pursuit.

Studying what came before and intuitively understanding why what attracts us to it, works, seems reasonable to me. That, to me, is where playing other people's music has value, and therefore the ability to sight read.

Eye flip allows you to quickly look down at the keyboard as needed while still retaining your place in the sheet music. My problem is that I wear glasses and the eye flip forces me to look below my glasses. It is a bit hard on my eyes.

Anyway, I want to develop that technique while keeping my hands working without losing time, so I am spending the time now while the music is easy. Later on, I will have enough trouble with more difficult music and techniques, and feel that "eye flip" should be automatic by then. I intend to get everything I can for the time expended working on this course.

Also, the third "DVD" is really a CD with approximately a half hour of Duane talking. He talks about how to do ear training at the piano, and that we should be doing this every day as well as listening critically to all the music we hear around us (paying attention to the rhythm, the intervals in the melody, and the chords). Learning to hear all this is something Duane really emphasizes, as well as the fact that it doesn't happen overnight.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/27/16 10:01 PM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534631
04/27/16 10:47 PM
04/27/16 10:47 PM
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Yes, the eye flip thing is a challenge for me too. Part of the problem is that my arms are a little short, so I need to sit a bit closer to the piano. That puts part of the keyboard out of my peripheral vision. I can sit back a bit and take in the whole keyboard, but then my arms stretch and I feel tension in my neck/shoulders when I play. So I've had to find a good balance of having a good seating position and being able to see as much as I can, using the eye flip when I can, leaning to the side and even moving my head when I can't.

One thing I do (not really recommending this but I do do it) is that I practice a lot to be able move around the keyboard without looking at it at all. Even on some of the later stuff like swing bass and continuity bass patterns, I can basically do them with my eyes closed. Often I'll establish the distance with an eye flip then rely on my spatial senses rather than my eyes for further, similar movements. I do this with lots of different things, like chord changes and moving through different inversions of chords.

Also re: your goals, I think the crash course is an excellent fit for them. That seems to be very much Duane's philosophy too. Be able to read the printed music, but also be able to understand it, rearrange it, and make it your own.

Also, just an unrelated aside, you mentioned glasses. I've read that some people get piano-specific reading glasses. The music score on your piano tends to be a bit further away from your eyes than most people would read a book, so they have their optometrist give them reading glasses that will help their eyes focus in the right spot. I know that's not really germane to your specific problem, but I thought it interesting.


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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534669
04/28/16 04:30 AM
04/28/16 04:30 AM
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I have his crash course also and did about a third of it quite a while ago.
Then I wanted to do something else, probably more classical oriented. I think I got fed up with the kind of pieces he's using in the course.
Now I'm into Czerny's introductory material for the beginning pianist. Totally new and original melodic and musical ideas, coupled with specific technical challenges.
I might return to the crash course later to complete it.


Czerny's Piano School Vol. 1. Reviewing basics/ear training/analysis in interesting exercises.
Opus 599. Now at #77 and giving it a break.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534681
04/28/16 06:19 AM
04/28/16 06:19 AM
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RaggedKeyPresser,
Yes, that's the problem with most beginner's methods, they use a lot of old public domain compositions as their base which are cheesy and not very inspiring to play (see the popular Alfred's method as another example of this). Also, a lot of the arrangements in the method books as written are somewhat repetitive. So that can be frustrating. But as a counterpoint to that, the very cool thing about the course is that duane gives you so many tools to take those rather uninspiring songs and make them really pop and sound cool. It lets you exercise your creativity.

The other thing is that this course is really about giving you a really broad foundation from which to explore piano. Someone who works through the course would have a really broad range of skills that would let them then go on to explore classical, or jazz, or pop/rock, or whatever type of piano playing they were interested in.

If you know that you want to play primarily classical music, something like the fundamental keys method might be a better fit for you (certainly it's cheaper smile. But if you want a more comprehensive approach to learning piano, imo the crash course is hard to beat.

Warm Regards,


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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: fizikisto] #2534685
04/28/16 07:00 AM
04/28/16 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by fizikisto


One thing I do (not really recommending this but I do do it) is that I practice a lot to be able move around the keyboard without looking at it at all. Even on some of the later stuff like swing bass and continuity bass patterns, I can basically do them with my eyes closed. Often I'll establish the distance with an eye flip then rely on my spatial senses rather than my eyes for further, similar movements. I do this with lots of different things, like chord changes and moving through different inversions of chords.



I think this is a really good idea. I have known a number of blind musicians and they all seem to have far more facility getting around i interesting musical ways on their chosen instrument than sighted people often do. I knew a blind accordion player, for example, who would take requests at gatherings, and as long as he knew a tune enough to be able to hum the melody, he could whip up a full arrangement of the piece in no time. You would never hear a player like him to say he didn't know the piece, or worse, I don't have the music for that.

Sometimes I think it might be better to practice piano blindfolded and really get to know the keyboard. smile

Regarding the special keyboard glasses, my problem is that my glasses end where the keyboard starts in my field of vision, so I either see mostly my frames or the keyboard, but not clearly. I think with enough practice my hands will get to know their way around the keyboard so that won't be an issue anymore. "Seat to the bench" can cure a lot of problems over time, I think.

Looking over the Duane Shinn course, I fully agree with your comments about the foundation it provides.

Tony


Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: RaggedKeyPresser] #2534687
04/28/16 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by RaggedKeyPresser
I have his crash course also and did about a third of it quite a while ago.
Then I wanted to do something else, probably more classical oriented. I think I got fed up with the kind of pieces he's using in the course.
Now I'm into Czerny's introductory material for the beginning pianist. Totally new and original melodic and musical ideas, coupled with specific technical challenges.
I might return to the crash course later to complete it.


In the crash course, Shinn talks on the CD "Things I Learned the Hard Way", about playing any and all kinds of music outside the course as practice in sight reading. So any other materials are fair game while you are working through the course. As Fizikisto says though, if you want to focus on classical music, there are other courses that provide just that focus.

Tony


Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534705
04/28/16 08:38 AM
04/28/16 08:38 AM
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Interesting thread. Let me be clear that I do NOT own this course. However, the comments so far about Duane's philosophy have definitely caught my eye.

I'm currently at low-to-mid intermediate level (by my own definitions/standards). I can read sheet music and play mostly pop, easy jazz standards (from sheet music) and Great American Songbook stuff. I have no interest in classical. My goal is to learn how to improvise a bit and "embellish" (for want of a better word) the written score. I have done some of this, but only by writing it down on the score itself and playing from there. I would love to be able to do it "on the fly" in realtime, though.

So, I'm wondering whether this course would be right for me?

One problem with other courses that I've always had issues with working through (and it's definitely MY ISSUE, not the course's) is that many want you to go way back to the beginner's level, essentially starting your whole piano journey over. I just don't have the patience for that.

Is that the case with this course too? If so, how do those of you who had some experience prior to starting the course deal with that?

Thanks!


Bert
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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534741
04/28/16 10:57 AM
04/28/16 10:57 AM
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Newbert,
I think this course might be a really good fit for you. Arranging songs from the score in real time is an emphasis of the course. Yes, the first 6-7 lessons are all beginner stuff. The course starts out assuming that you don't really know anything about the piano and starts from square one, but arranging and improvisation techniques are introduced surprisingly quickly.

Even though it starts from the very beginning, it includes a lot of stuff that is not traditionally taught to beginners which keeps it interesting. For example, I had never played from a lead sheet before. But that's introduced in the first lesson.

I think it's like lesson 7 or 8 where Duane starts assigning you to play pieces with completely different arrangements from what's written (doing it on the fly). I think I started the course with a similar level to you, and I found that stuff really challenging, and also fun.

For example, there might be a piece where the bass consists of arpeggiated chords and the assignment is to play it in an alberti bass pattern, or to play it as swing bass pattern, or a swing bass pattern combined with a 1-2 breakup, etc.

So playing the piece as written is fairly straightforward in those early lessons, but doing the arrangement techniques requires a whole other level of mental processing. Instead of playing the notes just as intervals, you start to also have to see all the notes in the measure as the chords they're made of. Ok, that's an F chord broken up, that's a G7 block chord, that's a C block Chord, that's a D7 broken up, etc... and then convert that on the fly to whatever arrangement pattern you're trying to play.

By the way, even though they might be a bit remedial, you'd probably want to go through the first 5 or 6 lessons just to make sure you're not missing anything, but given your skill level you could probably do that in 3 or 4 weeks pretty easily, faster if you pushed. Then even though in lesson 7-8-ish and later the pieces are still fairly simple (but starting to ramp up in difficulty), what you're asked to do with them isn't.

Also, Duane gives "official" assignments and then "previews" of future arranging techniques. He encourages you to explore those techniques too if they strike your fancy, though they get covered in detail later in the course so you don't have to. Duane provides a very structured course with specific assignments, but also has built in a tremendous amount of flexibility for you to explore different things.

And when Duane teaches a new arranging technique, he frequently encourages you to go back to previous songs and apply the new techniques to them, even the simplest songs from the very beginning of the course. He teaches tons of arrangement techniques for both hands. So it's just a huge amount of material to go through. And as far as I have seen, there's really nothing else out there that's even remotely like it.

Warm Regards




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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534745
04/28/16 11:13 AM
04/28/16 11:13 AM
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PS to Newbert. That whole business of looking at the different measures and seeing the notes in terms of chords rather than just individual notes or intervals applies to both treble and bass clef staves, and I think it's really helped my reading skills a lot. It's not ALL about chords though, Duane does cover seeing intervals and other aspects of reading too, it's just that it gives you another tool in the toolbox, but a very useful one to have.


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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534860
04/28/16 04:48 PM
04/28/16 04:48 PM
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I too have been through this course and think highly of his method, especially if you are interested in developing a style that might be described as popular, cocktail, etc. Not jazz, but an arrangement style that gives you an essentially unlimited number of ways to play a tune. I think you could spend years developing the techniques you learn in this course. He teaches them in a way that there is material there for anyone from an absolute beginner to someone who is pretty advanced. JMHO

Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534880
04/28/16 05:34 PM
04/28/16 05:34 PM
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EP,
Very cool, I hope to join you in the ranks of those who have completed the course. smile I agree it's definitely not a jazz oriented course, but I do think it would give someone a really solid foundation with which to pursue jazz after the course if that's where their interests lie. Much more so that a lot of the traditional methods like the Alfred's course would.


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Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534893
04/28/16 06:02 PM
04/28/16 06:02 PM
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This idea of "spaced repetition" is working really for me. First, I can come home tired and face 15 minutes of practice easy enough. That "breaks the ice", so to speak so that I am interested in doing more. also, if I do this in shorter sessions, I seem to relax rather than wanting to just get through it and move on to the next thing. This idea really makes a big difference for me.

One thing I am finding is that I know when I have learned the tunes in a lesson. When I was working on this course previously, I tended to be able to "kinda sorta" play a tune, getting through it maybe 2 out of 3 or 4 tries, and felt ready to move on. I am staying with a tune until I can play it again and again with the sense that I "own" it. Only then can I go on to the next one. That does not mean I have to memorize it, but that my hands have learned what they need to know to play that tune and, much more importantly, other tunes like it (i.e. similar chord structure, etc.).

The problem is that when we don't stick with a tune long enough to REALLY get comfortable with it, we have not really learned some basic technique. After we accumulate a whole lot of half-baked techniques, the more advanced stuff quickly becomes unmanageable and it seems that just maybe we were not cut out to play piano after all.

This is the "big lie" or "myth" as David Sudnow called it, about talent (i.e. the belief that "some got it, some don't"). He said (and I believe this) that ANYBODY can learn to play piano IF THEY WANT TO. It is all about having the desire and the motivation to stick with it and do the work, making sure we really learn what it is we are supposed to have learned at each lesson. It may well be that talent makes the difference between playing in a local piano bar instead of Carnegie Hall, but either one is far past what many who just enjoy playing want to accomplish. So, anybody can learn to play and enjoy both the process and the result of the efforts regardless of level of talent.

However, if we don't really learn each thing we are presented with so we can more easily master the next thing, we will soon not be able to play much of anything, and that is at a time when we feel we should have learned something by then.

I am on lesson three, and was fully expecting that I would blast through it in a day or two and move on because I had gone well past that lesson when previously working on this course. However, I realize now that I didn't REALLY learn that lesson previously, so I am spending the time to do it right this time. Lesson four is not going anywhere. It is in the book and on the DVD waiting for me.

If, by the time I get to, say, lesson 7 or 8, I am really struggling, I probably should go back a few lessons and go through them more carefully because my hands don't know yet what they should know by that time.

So, the moral of the story is to slow down and learn each thing in turn thoroughly before moving on. In a course such as the 52 week course, there is clearly a reason why each lesson is as it is. The course was well thought out end to end by a very experienced teacher, and not somebody slapping something together to give internet marketing a shot. Trusting the teacher is huge, whether a "live" teacher or via a course such as this one. If you really trust the teacher, then you can relax into the learning process and let him or her guide you accordingly through it.

From this perspective, I honestly feel that the 52 week course is well worth the money. It can be fun to jump from one shiny new course to another, but I would bet it would be much more fun to be able to really play the piano.

Tony


Last edited by TonyB; 04/28/16 06:07 PM.
Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534895
04/28/16 06:24 PM
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Twin Cities
One other thing...today I dug out my box of Duane Shinn materials. I bought these some years ago back when engineers were getting big hiring bonuses, big annual bonuses, etc. I see that I have every "big" course Duane did (along with a couple of smaller courses such as playing by ear and how to dress up naked music)- the Pro Secrets, the Improv course, the Chord Piano course, the Runs and Fills course, the Chord Progressions course, the Music Theory course, etc. At that time, his were really the only "serious" self-study materials I had seen. Now, everybody seems to have something in the marketplace. I would bet that even today, Duane Shinn would stand up against the best of them.

This is a lifetime of study, all by the same guy who created the 52 week week course - a lifetime of guided learning. He does not seem to have put out any new courses at that level, so that is pretty much it. My intention was to work on these in retirement when I would be on a fixed income (i.e. buy them while I was raking in the cash...). So the 52 week course is the start, but it doesn't have to end there for me. Between Duane Shinn and Willie Myette, I have it covered, and I have finally figured out how to approach all this material as mentioned in my previous post. Between all that and my V-Grand, what more could I possibly need? I may have to decide not to work any contract engineering jobs next year so I can stay focused on this stuff.

Tony


Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534901
04/28/16 06:38 PM
04/28/16 06:38 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 658
Rocky Mountains, USA
EP Offline
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EP  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 658
Rocky Mountains, USA
If you take a look at Lesson 17 he gives you a good rundown of the techniques he's taught to that point. Don't expect to master those techniques right away, but that doesn't mean you can't keep going with the course. You can still keep going through the course and gradually apply those techniques as you go.

Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: TonyB] #2534904
04/28/16 06:48 PM
04/28/16 06:48 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,426
Twin Cities
T
TonyB Offline OP
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TonyB  Offline OP
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T

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,426
Twin Cities
I really appreciate the discussion going on here. As I mentioned, I had bought all these courses some years ago, stored them away for future use, took out the 52 week course once or twice with serious intent to dive into it, and then gave up as life intruded and because I had some things to learn about approaching the course in a manner suitable for the long haul. I really think that if I had just relaxed into it and minded the spaced repetition idea, I could have weathered even those periods when life intrudes. I would rather not think about how well I could have bee playing today, had I stuck with it. I had completely forgotten about all the other courses, so that was a really pleasant surprise.

Well, it is time to jump ahead and take a look at lesson 17 just to see what Duane says...

Tony


Re: Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course [Re: EP] #2534916
04/28/16 07:23 PM
04/28/16 07:23 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,426
Twin Cities
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TonyB Offline OP
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TonyB  Offline OP
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T

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,426
Twin Cities
Originally Posted by EP
If you take a look at Lesson 17 he gives you a good rundown of the techniques he's taught to that point. Don't expect to master those techniques right away, but that doesn't mean you can't keep going with the course. You can still keep going through the course and gradually apply those techniques as you go.


I just watched lesson 17 - Rosie O'Grady. I can really see there what Fitzikisto says about taking a simple tune and really dressing it up. These other courses I have most likely cover that kind of material, but in much more depth, since each is intended to be 7 months to a year or more long. This is really good stuff!

I can imagine what somebody who only reads the notes would see if all that stuff that Duane did to Rosie O'Grady was written out. I would MUCH rather make the decisions as to how I want to play it, while I am playing it as Duane does in the video. That seems like a whole lot more fun AND much more musically satisfying.

Tony


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