Confession time. I don’t think I’m a particularly good straight blues guitarist. I’m o.k. but my style is more Grant Green than B.B. King. But I love B.B. and all the other Kings. I grew up listening and learning from Clapton and Allman. I would love to be a great blues guitarist. So I did what all the kids are doing these days. I went looking for You Tube videos.
Side Bar: I know that those of you out there with a “old school” approach are thinking “Videos! You should be learning licks off the record!”. And you should. If nothing else, it develops your ear and that is probably the single most important skill for a musician. But to deny the benefits that good instructional videos provide to the aspiring musician who wants to improve would be foolish (IMO) and videos are the de facto platform of music education for most people today. The problem is that there are so many bad instructional websites and videos. One of the things I try to do with this blog is bring attention to what I feel are superior examples of music instruction on the internet.
Texas Blues Alley is a web site I found that features a ton of interesting videos to learn from. The first video below pretty much outlines his approach: learn licks, not scales. This is the opposite approach from the way I learned music but I see now the value of it, particularly with something like blues guitar. I had felt that learning licks would ultimately stifle my own “voice”. I thought, “better to learn the system behind the licks rather than the licks themselves”. But I realize now that this part of the learning process is essential in developing a musical vocabulary. That musical vocabulary will provide the foundation for your musical voice as it morphs into something of your own over time. Knowing the system behind the licks can provide you with the tools to expand that vocabulary but having that foundation is key. Also, the music was initially passed down from one generation to the next via the “learning licks” approach. To break down a rich musical tradition to simply a series of theoretical constructs robs it of it’s character.
Texas Blues Alley – 10 Rules For Blues Soloing
Below are three videos touching on the three Kings (B.B., Albert and Freddie). As he says out front, besides being free lessons, they are also commercials for his paid lessons but there is a wealth of good stuff that you can use to jump start your blues playing.
Texas Blues Alley – 4 Albert King Style Licks
Texas Blues Alley – B.B. King Licks
Texas Blues Alley – Freddie King Style Lesson
Check out the website for more.
Texas Blues Alley – http://texasbluesalley.com/