Blog Review

Learn to Play Classical and Finger-style Guitar

Guitar Methods course by Brian Riggs

The standard suspects for New Yr’s resolutions are: to give up smoking, drop extra pounds and make a profession change. Additionally high on the record are to either improve some (dormant) talent or to add a totally new talent. Perhaps even one thing like learning to play an instrument, which is a superb decision to have.

As in style as New Yr’s resolutions are nearly all of individuals don’t comply with via. By the 2nd week of January most resolutions have been abandoned utterly – which is sort of sad.

But fortuitously there’s no need for an arbitrary date like January 1st to come round to determine to improve. You can also make that decision at any time. Sure, even right now initially of February (or each time you’re reading this publish).

And whereas I don’t need to speak about quitting smoking or weight loss, I have an incredible answer for reviving or kickstarting your finger-style guitar chops.

Early December 2013 I obtained an e-mail from Chicago-based guitarist Brian Riggs. He requested if I might be occupied with reviewing his new course on “Classical and Finger-style Guitar Techniques” that simply got here out on the web learning platform Udemy.

After shortly testing 2 or three movies (and liking what I noticed) I immediately e-mailed Brian back and agreed to function his course.

What Took so Freaking Long?

Nicely, having my website hacked, the Christmas Holidays in addition to a busy January schedule performed an element in the delay of getting this evaluation prepared for publication.


It’s an in depth course with virtually 5 hours of video – in fact I had to watch every little thing and take a lot of notes in order to write a radical assessment. No fast skimming and a fluffy, superficial “buy this, it’s great” endorsement from me. I don’t run my website this manner.

So prepare for a detailed overview.

What Is the Course About?

Because the title “Guitar Techniques – Classical and Finger-style Approaches to Making Music” implies, this course is about Classical and Finger-style enjoying.

Duh… ?

So, if you need to find out how to do Eight-finger tapping, how to get your sweeping expertise up to par with Frank Gambale or how to improvise over chord modifications then this is NOT the proper course for you.

In case your favourite guitarists are the likes of Andres Segovia, Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening, and so forth… I don’t need to twist your arm to proceed reading. But in case you are a die-hard Rocker/Metallic-head/Blueser/Jazzer or simply don’t give a rattling about Classical music, I urge you to still read this evaluate.

As a result of there’s an “and” in the course’s title. Classical AND Finger-style. Trust me, I don’t care what fashion of music you play, finger-style is just not solely for Classical music. You undoubtedly might use finger-style chops to spice things up in any type of music.

The Platform – Udemy

Earlier than dissecting the course and speaking concerning the content material, let’s have a quick take a look at the platform the course is hosted on. Perhaps you’ve heard about Udemy or have already taken a course from them. They’re one of the major players in the on-line schooling area.

I had heard of Udemy before, but had by no means taken a course, so this was a welcome opportunity for me to examine them out.

And I’m glad I did, as a result of the platform is sort of impressive and makes studying new expertise straightforward and enjoyable. The primary interface is nicely laid out with plenty of bells and whistles without them getting in the best way or distracting from the primary objective.

After joining a course and logging in you see your important dashboard with all your courses.

Udemy dashboard page

The Udemy dashboard page with an summary of all of your courses.

Whenever you go to your chosen course you get a nice overview of all the teachings.

This overview is shown in a time-line type format with all the lessons neatly organized into chapters. You’ll be able to easily see which classes you’ve already watched or finished, which classes are nonetheless in progress and the place you’ve created a observe for yourself.

timeline view of course contents

A small excerpt of an extended record

On the right-hand aspect you could have some helpful tabs where the accompanying obtain materials can be found.

Download tab where you can get the relevant PDF files

Right here you’ll be able to download the relevant PDF for this lesson

It’s also possible to change to a tab where you’ll be able to add notes to remind your self of essential points. If you need you’ll be able to even obtain all of your notes as a csv file.

note for individual videos

Create your private summaries of necessary issues to watch out for

And there’s additionally a tab for asking a question in addition to viewing questions by different students – and seeing the trainer’s answers.

Who’s Educating?

So, the platform will get the thumbs up – I’ve been actually impressed. However one of the best platform does no good, if the precise course sucks or the instructor doesn’t know what he’s speaking about.

Thankfully, that’s not the case right here.

Brian Riggs is an articulate presenter. The reason videos are concise and to the purpose. You’ll be able to tell that plenty of thought went into the structure of the course generally, the person movies and what needs to be coated.

No useless meandering round – Brian values your time by retaining all the things tightly targeted. But with out being scripted to dying and feeling stiff and unnatural. As an alternative, it’s a really personal, relaxed and welcoming environment. You really do get the sensation of a personal one-on-one lesson with Brian.

The video length is between 1:46 and 12:33 – relying on the topic introduced. Naturally, there are concepts that solely require a fast rationalization and other subjects that need to be introduced extra completely. But even the longer lessons are still straightforward to digest. And since it’s video, you’ll be able to all the time break up your periods, come again at a later time and evaluate as typically as needed or wanted.

Usually, Brian first talks concerning the importance of a way, what it’s, why you want it and where you’d use it. Then he solidifies that theoretical overview by demonstrating the method.

He uses helpful analogies and examples that drive his factors residence and provide help to keep in mind and implement the right method your self. I’ve to confess that I already “borrowed” and used his colourful analogy of letting the appropriate hand fingers “hang like bananas off a tree” whereas plucking with the thumb in a few of my own lessons that I train. Particularly my younger college students received an excellent snicker out of it and actually remembered to take care of their bananas during their homework follow periods. Mission completed.

I additionally like how he augments the essential methods with inspiring musical examples. For example, in the remaining stroke demonstration video he doesn’t cease after enjoying a primary scale but in addition performs the hauntingly lovely theme from the Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo. This really drives residence the point that it’s not just about a way in itself, but that the method is a way to an finish to create lovely music.

Particularly handy are the extra PDFs with the exact piece excerpts used as examples. Because of this you don’t have to hunt for the measure Brian talks about in an extended transcription, however quite have the relevant materials right in entrance of you.

Talking of proper in front of you…

Wonderful digital camera angles allow you to see all the small print so you don’t miss something and all the time see what you want to concentrate on.

right hand position for Classical guitar playing

You’ll be able to clearly see how to place your hand and fingers due to the well-chosen digital camera angle.

Lastly, on the finish of every video Brian once more shortly summarises the primary content material to provide help to keep in mind the necessary bits.

What Precisely Are You Studying?

There’s the required initial movies like how to sit with a guitar in a correct place, tuning, and so forth… And of course the course covers the usual enjoying methods.

A few of the belongings you’ll study are:

  • arpeggios
  • block chords
  • free stroke
  • relaxation stroke
  • pure harmonics
  • synthetic harmonics
  • barres
  • trills
  • stretches
  • position enjoying
  • tone shade

Since there are  so many subjects coated on this course a screenshot of the course define can be method too giant and all the subjects introduced as an inventory too lengthy. If you would like to get an in depth listing take a look at the course outline.

3 Nice Repertoire Items

What I contemplate a terrific plus of this course is that Brian not only covers those methods, but ties them in with three staples of the Classical repertoire. A “Pavan” (which is a Renaissance dance type) by Luis Milan, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by J.S. Bach and the “Spanish Romance.”

three items that – depending on your current talent degree – are kind of difficult, but manageable. What’s extra necessary, they’re inspiring and true classics. So you are not simply training some isolated methods which could get boring fairly shortly. No, you get to apply the methods to these great sounding pieces and put them into musical follow.

Nothing fallacious with including a Renaissance, Baroque and a Romantic fashion piece to your repertoire, proper?

Simply remember that Brian does NOT go through the entire pieces – this might have been beyond the scope of the course. There’s already virtually 5 hours of educational movies included. But he picked related passages which might be both representative for the entire piece or notably challenging.

He breaks these segments down for both the left and the proper hand and provides helpful recommendations on how to strategy those passages to get them underneath your fingers.

So even without being spoon-fed the entire piece measure by measure, you will have all of the related info and demonstrations to study the piece in its entirety… and play it properly.

Something Damaging Concerning the Course?

You realize that every assessment has to function one thing unfavorable, otherwise it will come throughout as advertising hype.

The problem is that it’s actually arduous to find one thing unfavourable that’s even worthwhile mentioning.

Mentioning a complete of ca. four seconds of blurry auto-focus in close-ups with quick finger actions can be ridiculous, right? Especially when it’s not even distracting in any respect and when the overall video quality is admittedly good, too.

HD resolution button

HD – gotta like it

I’ve already talked concerning the wonderful angle positions. And you may watch in HD. There’s a selector at the low-right corner of the video player that permit’s you select the resolution.

Truly, even the low resolution is greater than sufficient – and might be convenient in case you’re on a knowledge plan or have a sluggish internet connection.

Minor quibble with Udemy – if you’d like to watch a video once more, you’ll be able to’t just merely skip in the direction of the center or finish however want to wait until Udemy re-loads the entire video. That is slightly annoying for a few of the longer videos because it makes you wait unnecessarily and is a waste of bandwidth.

Hopefully, Udemy re-thinks this strategy and finds a extra convenient technical answer.

If I had created this course (I wish) I in all probability would have modified the order of the initial videos after the introduction. I’d talk about the difference between nylon and metal string guitars first, followed by the sitting and hand position, finger notation and tuning monitor before diving into the suitable hand choosing method. This is able to have made a extra logical progression to me. However this only boils down to personal educating choice and doesn’t take something away from the course’s worth at all.

Finally, there’s minor formatting issues with a few of the accompanying PDFs. In the tablature the appropriate and left hand fingering info overlap barely which makes it exhausting to read. However Brian is already aware of this problem and is going to fix this.

Who Is this Course for?

Video courses, especially when they are properly produced like this one, have numerous advantages. There’s the comfort issue. You don’t have to go somewhere in your lesson, which saves each time and cash.

You possibly can repeatedly watch the lesson until you actually get it. You possibly can evaluation the fabric as typically as needed.

Then there’s the price financial savings factor. Relying on the instructor and location guitar classes can value you something from $30-100+ per hour.

Completely going via every little thing this course covers with a instructor would value you lots of, if not hundreds of dollars when you issue within the needed repetitions to really grasp the material.

Brian himself states that this course shouldn’t be geared in the direction of learners. And I agree that the intricacies of Classical and Finger-style guitar require particular consideration, especially in the crucial beginning levels. You don’t need to ingrain dangerous habits and technical flaws into your enjoying, which might still happen when you simply apply by your self. Movies merely can’t right you when (for whatever cause) you don’t implement what you’re supposed to do – that’s what academics are here for.

Nevertheless, this course mixed with the steerage of a professional instructor to inspect you would offer large amounts of long-term worth. Particularly in the course of the time whenever you transition from beginner to intermediate guitarist this course would reveal a lot of “wisdom nuggets” serving to you to progress quicker.

In case you are an intermediate participant then this course is perfect for you. You’ll have the ability to leap in and instantly profit from the included info. Add these right hand arpeggio methods, study to separate particular person voices by way of your proper hand and implement some counterpoint-like materials into your enjoying. You’ll have extra tools in your guitaristic toolbox and with some experimentation you’ll find a way to play with further colors and depth – no matter what you think about to be your most popular fashion.

In case you are a very superior Classical or Finger-style guitarist you in all probability gained’t study something new in this course. Nonetheless, you may worth the re-assurance that you simply’ve discovered your methods appropriately already and you may use the movies as useful reference material.

Perhaps there are technical flaws in your enjoying which have created some hindrances for you. Working by means of this course and brushing up on the usual methods might aid you fine-tune your method and push by way of. And in case you don’t know them already, you’d add up to 3 nice items to your repertoire.

Ultimate Verdict


Wonderful Course

Course Organisation


Presentation Type


Supplemental Materials


Classical and Finger-style Guitar Methods is a wonderful course that gives an incredible amount of value. Particularly for beginner+/intermediate degree guitarists.

Personally, I don’t think about myself a Classical guitarist, regardless that I do train this fashion. I’ve all the time favored to pay attention to Classical music, however as a guitarist I received began on electric enjoying Rock, earlier than venturing more into Fusion and Jazz territory. Nevertheless, throughout my time at GIT within the late 90’s I used to be fortunate enough to research with the good David Oakes who obtained me enthusiastic about enjoying Classical fashion.

In a means that’s sort of funny, considering that I went from Austria (a lot of music college students from all all over the world transfer here to research Classical) to LA to enhance my Fusion and Jazz expertise and there started to get my ft moist in enjoying Classical.

Anyhow, I’m actually glad that Brian contacted me again in December, in order that I obtained an opportunity to take a look at this wonderful course and am in a position to advocate it to you.

100$ for almost 5 hours of high-quality educational videos is a greater than truthful worth. Nevertheless it will get even higher.

Brian has been beneficiant enough to make a special supply. For the 1st 100 individuals ordering by way of the next hyperlink the price might be slashed significantly. You get 60% off, making the course a steal at $40. Once 100 individuals have ordered this particular supply will expire and the worth will go up to the regular (nonetheless more than value it) $100.

With the Udemy 30-day money-back assure, there’s completely no danger on your half. So don’t delay and benefit from this nice deal.

Get the Classical and Finger-style Guitar Course!

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