In this lesson John Miller will provide you with the tools you need to develop your ability to tell what position or tuning a Country Blues performance was played out of simply by listening to the recording. Believe it or not, this is a learnable skill and John, who has taught it for many years, will show you what to listen for and help you get started hearing the various auditory clues that identify the distinctive sound of the different playing positions and tunings most commonly used in Country Blues guitar playing. Developing your ability to do this kind of informed listening, or listening with knowledge will reap significant rewards for your playing, most especially improving your ability to learn by ear and increasing the speed with which you’re able to pick up new material.
One of the real advantages of having this material presented in this 2DVD format is that it allows John to go over the material in real detail, presenting the sound characteristics of the different playing positions and tunings at length, and providing you with memory devices to help you remember the sound of alternating bass for the different positions and tunings. The material is not presented in the abstract, either - as John goes along, he plays a host of examples drawn from Country Blues performances that help illustrate and exemplify the characteristic sound of each playing position. The PDF study guide that accompanies the lesson includes a summary of the sound characteristics that identify each of the playing positions/tunings presented in the lesson, as well as the memory devices that will help you remember the sound of the bass in the different positions. Also included on the DVD is a test to take when you have completed the lesson, with a selection of recordings of Country Blues played out of different positions and tunings for you to identify using your new skills.
Disc One: E position, standard tuning • C position, standard tuning • D position, standard tuning • A position, Standard tuning
Disc Two: G position, standard tuning • F position, standard tuning • Dropped-D tuning • Vestapol tuning • Spanish tuning
230 minutes • Level 1 • Detailed PDF booklet file on the DVD
Review: The favored target of guitar lessons is the fingers. After all, that's the site of the action. However, John Miller's aim isn't off the mark when deliberately shooting at Improving Your Ear. In fact, he's boldly dead on. Because learning how to distinguish each tuning's telltale traits is an invaluably powerful, liberating skill For The Country Blues Guitarist. Of which Miller's a Zen master. You can picture him huddled over a turntable, beside a mountain of 78s, guitar in hand, ear set on 'scrutinize', perceptively hoovering up all the little clues which can crack the early masters' code. This intensive double DVD lesson lets you inside Miller's complexly busy mind for nearly four hours, as he spills out secrets - like how alternating bass intervals often rat out the tuning while effortlessly reenacting a litany of historic examples. Everyone from Blind Blake and Blind Lemon to Bo Carter and Lead Belly to Tommy McClennan and Robert Johnson (to hordes more) end up revealing identifiers for the keys of (standard tuning) E, C, D, A, G, and F as well as Dropped D, Vestapol, and Spanish tunings. Like diagnostic hammer-on's, pull-offs, walk-ups, finger slides, and turn arounds. You'll learn how, with the aid of several handy mnemonics, humming, say, Here Comes The Bride can help sniff out that John Hurt's When I Lay My Burden Down is in D. And, along the way, pick up a whole sack full of famous licks too. So listen up, because country blues will now be squealing their long-held technical secrets right into your ear. – Dennis Rozanski/Bluesrag
Review: Fantastic instruction on many levels. OK first, I am not THAT John Miller, nor a relative. Just a guitarist learning old-time blues fingerpicking. This is a fantastic DVD in many ways. For one thing, John is a clear and patient teacher who explains things well and whose love of the music comes through clearly. For another, this lesson really does succeed in teaching you how to recognize the key, and most importantly the left-hand position, of songs just by listening, and without depending on any ability you may or may not have to recognize the pitch of the notes (something I for one can't do). With this skill in place, it is possible to listen to a recording of an old blues song and start to figure out how to play it without the aid of tablature or a teacher. Yet another great benefit of this lesson is that John plays lots of examples in each key as he teaches his ear-training method, and he plays them slowly enough, with great shots of his hands (especially the left one, which is most important). For anyone who has been fingerpicking in this style even at an advanced beginner level (which is about where I would put myself), this gives you a big leg up on learning a whole wealth of material, from songs to licks you can work into your own arrangements (or just messing around--I spent a bunch of time in drop-D just playing around improvising based on some of the licks John plays here). There is no tablature for these song excerpts, but that's what's fun and challenging about this dvd. There are lots of great dvd lessons out there, some by John himself, which work to teach songs phrase by phrase along with tablature. This dvd is more like a how-to manual so you can learn to do it yourself. – John M. Miller/Amazon Customer Review