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TXBA Speed Workflow Week 3

Initially I wanted to write this post as an update to my previous post but too much
happened since to cramp it in there.

Now that week 3 is out for TXBA locals the course becomes demanding but I hit a
personal snag in week 2. As an older player I need to pay attention when my hands
say that I practiced enough. As I learned the hard way it is not as easy to spot
as doing sports. While practicing hammer on and pull off (HO/PO) is overdid it
and my ring finger started to ache and that is not a good sign. It took me nearly
a week to resolve the issue with a few days where I did only practice things that
did not involve HO/POs.

But like magic today I could perform HO/POs naturally and they sound quite good.
I still need to work on making them even in terms of loundness and consistent
but it feels good to have conquered a technique I avoided for so long.

A few tips that helped me:

  • If a finger gets sore stop and let it rest
  • Play HO / PO alone with just your guitar and metronome
  • For me HO are not about speed or force but rather about hitting the string
    square in the middle or the end (towards the bridge) of your fret
  • Doing a PO I just pull my finger towards my hand. Pull faster helps more that
    trying to scrap the string
  • If you have difficulties then practice them slow and deliberately and independent
    from each other. For the PO just pick the string first
  • Sometimes it helps to lift your index finger to get more reach but you
    must be able to place the index finger back onto the fretboard when you do the PO
  • Do not practice along the exercise tracks or the benchmark videos as it can
    mask problems and achievements.

This week Anthony has a new and quite demand exercise in store that involve fast
HO/POs (16th notes) and an exercise when he puts two licks right after each other
without any rest. He has some tips regarding HO/PO but at the end everyone has
to figure that out on their own. This felt like learning to ride a bike. You try
and try and try and suddenly it works and you cannot understand why it took so long.


If you are confused with the speed notation in the course then you are not along
but the explanation is quite simple. In the first 2 weeks he used a single beat
for each note (8th) in his licks and so you end up at 150bpm. In week three he
switches to one beat per triplet and each note (8th) becomes a note in a 8th triplet.
This means that the BPM is 1/3 of what you had before because their are 3 notes
(triplet) in one beat. It also means that now one has to pay attention on the
timing within a triplet to keep them even (if required).


Week 2 and 3 were / are challenging but the things I accomplished in just 3 weeks
compared to past months are off the chars. Some of it is just consolidating what I learned
in the past but some of them are just due to a practice regiment that is
consistent and exercises that are slowly increasing in difficulty.

If you want to tackle any of the TXBA SRV solo matrix courses and you just
feel overwhelmed this is a great way to lay the foundation. Focusing on the
riff at hand is so much more fun if you are not bogged down by technique
and skills issues.


TXBA Speed Workshop

Recently I checked how long back I started to learn the guitar and was surprised that it was only 3 1/2 years ago. Considering that I started nearly on ground zero I came a long way for a person my age. Still listening to guitar players like Steve Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa I feel inadequate to say the least. Trying to play along is like running with concrete boots and my playing has little variation in speed or I cannot apply licks I’ve learned.

Anthony Stauffer from Texas Blues Ally is currently rolling our a Speed Workshop for the Locals (his online subscribers). The day he released it I obtain the material and started to work on it. The lick as well as the spider drills I was already familiar with but what is new is the step by step approach which takes you for a beginner and improves your speed, dexterity and endurance and a week in I can say I started to improve quite a lot. Some of that is due to consolidating / refining my technique but some is because I take the time every day to practice the drills and the exercises.

This course by itself is worth the membership and can help an aspiring beginner or intermediate blues guitar player increasing his speed but it takes work with a ton of repetition. It comes with all the check lists for tracking, the instructions for both the drill and the exercises, animated tabs and the benchmark videos which are videos of every exercise at each milestone speed to check when you reach a given exercise milestone.

The only thing I am struggling with as the hammer on and pull offs which is used quite a lot. I think the course should got a little bit deeper into the technique and the proper execution as this is pretty crucial. Especially for players with smaller hands this is challenging.

This course has my two thumbs up and I wished it would have been there two years ago. One week in the course is now the start of my practice routine and it will stay there for weeks to come. It already improved my playing and I am now comfortable to deal with TXBA’s Texas Flood Intermediate level course.

Cheers – Andy Schaefer