Alternate Picking for Beginner Guitarists | Will Edwards | Skillshare

Alternate Picking for Beginner Guitarists

Will Edwards, Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician

Alternate Picking for Beginner Guitarists

Will Edwards, Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician

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8 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Getting Started w/Pentatonic

    • 3. Subdivisions in 1/8ths

    • 4. Subdivisions in 1/16ths

    • 5. Subdivisions in Triplets

    • 6. Subdivision Exercise Demo

    • 7. Metronome Tips & Tricks

    • 8. Conclusion

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About This Class

This course starts with a look at how to use a common scale (minor pentatonic – tab included) to begin refining your alternate picking skills.  The course demonstrates and explains how you can use a metronome and tempo subdivisions of 1/8ths, 1/16ths and triplets to increase your speed and improve your coordination.

By the time you’ve completed this course, you’ll have a proven excercise that you can customize and use to improve your alternate picking.   The step-by-step process in this course will enable the beginner to develop while also allowing the intermediate player to go further.  Whatever you’re level is currently, the model you'll learn will undoubtedly help you improve!

Meet Your Teacher

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Will Edwards

Artist. Creative Problem Solver. Musician


I am a full-time professional musician who has broad teaching experience with guitar & bass students in rock, blues, jazz and many other genres. I perform live on bass, guitar and keyboards.  In addition, I perform live electronic music improvisation.  I've devoted over 26 years to my own well-rounded musical education, focusing on a mastery of all aspects of modern music - from music theory to ear training; from live performance to composition and practice routines.

I specialize in bridging the gap between music and technology, focusing on using modern tools to demonstrate all aspects of music.  I compose and perform with Ableton and Push 2 and I have experience with Cubase, ProTools and Logic.  I'm extremely comfortable using web-based to... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi. Thanks for joining me in this course. My name is Will and I am a professional instructor. I've been a professional guitars for a long time, been a guitar player for a few decades, and I've gigged at recorded CDs. I've done touring the purpose of this course very much ties in with many of the private lessons that I provide. One of the first things people want to learn on guitar is how to pick properly. And I'm gonna teach you all about alternate picking. So there are a few details we're gonna cover that a really key to alternate picking subdivisions into eighth notes, 16th notes and triplets. We're gonna talk about how and what is the importance of using a Metrodome. Now, this course is designed for people who aren't complete beginners at guitar. If you've never picked up a guitar before, you might find this course significantly more challenging. This good course is really four guitarists who have a little bit of experience. Maybe can pick up the guitar, strum through a song, but you want to learn to pick properly. Maybe you can play with a pick, but you want to improve your speed this course would be great for you. Alternate picking is really the fundamental skill you want to start developing if you want to ramp up your guitar speed. Okay. So thanks so much for joining me in this course. I look forward to seeing you in the upcoming lessons. 2. Getting Started w/Pentatonic: So the first scale we're gonna work on is a G minor pentatonic, and this is pretty standard. What we want to do is specifically is we want to tie this into a Metronet. Right? So we're gonna start a Metrodome at 60 beats per minute. You're just gonna play one note, Herbie. Now, if you don't know exactly how to use the Metrodome or you don't have a Metron, um, I have, ah, course that eyes for beginners, in which I recommend thieve veteran, um, in an app called guitar, too. If you have that up, uh, it's a great pre free Metrodome if you don't or you have another meshing, Um, that's fine, but that's a good one. It's free, and it's a good place to get started. The idea with the Metrodome is you want to start slow, and 60 is pretty slow. Most players find you know they'll first gut instinct will be This is too slow, but we're going to see how subdivisions in later lessons wind of actually making 60 plenty fast. You're just starting with this symbol and what you're doing with your with your picking hand is you are alternating down, up down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up! I'm repeating that note at the top of the scam Like so now, as we do that what we're really trying to think about is are picking hand and the best way to focus on improving that. Actually, either out loud say, down, up, down, up where in our mind say down, up, down What that does is it because when our hand goes down and we say up, we'll have kind of this moment of cognitive cognitive dissonance where we'll think that was wrong. And if we don't do that, he I promise you won't actually be that sense of toe when you make a mistake and you're not actually doing alternate picking. The goal here is to get to the point where you are absolutely 100% of time, absolutely doing alternate picking every time, okay, and the way to get there is to just be very diligent, very focused. So let's move forward and let's look up how we can use subdivisions to build up our accuracy and speed 3. Subdivisions in 1/8ths: All right. So the next step is start looking using something called Subdivisions were going to use the subdivision of AIDS. Okay, so we're still playing the same pentatonic scale. We're still using a pick. I think so. Now, for every beat, say, 123 we're using our metronomic 60 beats per minute. You're gonna actually count in and in between the beats. So if you have one and two and three and four and let's say that's that's what you were playing. Now you're gonna insert that and you're basically counting an eighth note so that each beat gets two notes. So you have one, 234 like that, right on playing two notes per beat. The beat isn't speeding up, but there is something mathematical happening here, which is making more challenging, is kind of like we're playing at twice. The speed is kind of like we're playing at 120 beats per minute instead of 60 because 60 times 220 we're playing two notes for each beat. So we're still playing the same scale, but now we're playing two notes for every beat. That's essentially speeding it up to twice the speed of 120. Now. The reason that we want to do this with a Metrodome said it's 60 is because we want to actually have to do the work in our head. Where is that beat in the middle? We want to be able to act. That anticipate is the right word. Want to be able to anticipate where the beat is and like that? Okay, so if we were to use the Metrodome at 60 you just leave it on 60. But you play 123 on with the clicks. You're playing two notes per beat. You're gonna be playing at 120 beats per minute. Now we're gonna look forward at some other subdivisions. 4. Subdivisions in 1/16ths: All right. So welcome back. Now we're looking at using an even smaller subdivision. The 16th note. So what we're doing here, we're actually playing four notes per beat, right? So if we have one, 23 that's our four. That's the count of 60 beats per minute with our metro. No, we're actually replaying. We're playing 123422343234 So on so forth. So I'm gonna set a Metrodome here. Hopefully, you could hear it clearly. And we're gonna go Just kind of a review. This is playing alternate picking, Being very careful about down, up, down, up, down, up. Playing once per click, This is quarter notes. Now I can switch to eighth Still very strict about my alternate picking. Now, Miss Switch to 16 is gonna be playing four notes per beat. So I'm still staying very strict on the beat. But what I'm not doing is fluctuating, playing faster, playing slower. And the whole time I'm being hyper hyper sensitive to the fact that I've got to be doing alternate picking. This is my strongest recommissioned recommendation to you and all of my students. Is that you don't want to just get focused on speed. Okay, if you need to, then you go to a slower speed so that you can manage playing this temple. Not everybody's goes quarters to AIDS to 16th in the same day. You might work on quarters and eights with the Metrodome for weeks before anything more advanced than an eighth note becomes available to you. Okay, and that's OK. Don't feel bad about that. Worry about that speed is not important. The main thing here is to develop good technique. It's your alternate picking is truly alternate picking and that you are really focused on making sure that those subdivisions that you're inserting in between beats that those subdivisions are actually really the sub. You know, you're actually dividing time equally, either equally into into two parts as it with eighths, which what we discussed in the last 1000 or in a four point, which is what we're discussing here on the next list. So we're gonna talk about using triplets, and that's what you're actually dividing a beat into three individual parts, three distinct and even parts. So that's coming up 5. Subdivisions in Triplets: All right, so welcome back. I hope that at this point you're seeing that developing good alternate picking is about focusing attention. If you've done what we've discussed so far and you're able to get up to eighth and even 16th you'll notice it takes a lot of focus and concentration. Even though you're mention, um, is set at 60 beats per minute. Now we're getting to something a slightly more difficult. Technically, it's a slower tempo. This is not gonna be as fast as 16th but the thing is that we're dividing by threes. And that, for a lot of Westerners, is more challenging because a lot of Western music is based on four fours, two fours and 4/4 based on dividing music into two or four parts. There's certainly a lot of Western music based on 34 and based on triple it. But it's not as used is heavily so it can take a little bit of time to get comfortable with . So let's see how we can play triplets along with our Metrodome. So I'm gonna start my metronome and I goed play quarters must speed up to AIDS. Now I'm gonna go to triplets thing is a different sound. One triplet to trip that three trip four trip puncher, too. I'm playing three notes. Then I go back to eight on this fluctuation between the different subdivisions from quarters 2/8 to triplets ultimately and then to 16 is really key to developing your good alternate picking. One of the things that makes alternate picking so effective is that it's a highly efficient , highly economical way to play very fast. You don't need to develop it in order to play, uh, at speeds below, say, 200. And for a lot of beginners, that's OK, but at some point you develop the will and the desire to play in much higher speeds. 304 105 100. And to get there without proper alternate picking technique is particularly challenging. So being able to split your attention between the beat you're hearing and the subdivision you're playing be able to hear quarters but play triplets or play eight. So play 16. That's key Now. A lot of people don't realize that playing high speed is really about steady rhythm. It's not just about a sort of panicked flurry of notes. The great players who have who have really high speed. Their integrity lies with the rhythm that they can subdivide beats perfectly, they subdivide. If they're subdividing triplets, they're dividing the beat into three very even parts. Or if they're doing aids, it's two very even parts. It's the evenness. It's the the consistency and the accuracy and precision of their subdivisions. Actually, that makes their music sounds so impressive. It's not just the speed. Now, if you develop good alternate picking and you're very strict, you're saying up, down, down, up, down, up, down, up. You really keeping yourself honest there, this kind of exercise you say you put in 15 20 minutes a day. After two weeks, you will notice a massive difference in terms of health, precise and how fast you are. If you do all of that practice with the Metrodome, I guarantee you'll see massive, massive improvement in your picking and you're playing and you will liberate yourself from the problem a lot of people have, which is that they can actually pick up their speed very much without running into serious problem. So in the next lesson, I'm gonna show you kind of ah, walk through on how to really practice effectively moving from corners to AIDS to triplets to 16 and how to turn this into an exercise routine. 6. Subdivision Exercise Demo: All right, Welcome back. So now we've learned a lot about how to keep ourselves honest with alternate picking. Gotta say, down, up, down, up in your head or out loud. How toe do subdivisions? You really need to learn how to divide time evenly. And then the importance of working with the Metrodome. So I'm gonna turn on my Metrodome for this example, and we just can start out with quarters again. We're just playing the minor pentatonic scale, and I'm just playing quarters like so. Then we're going to switch to eighths. So we're playing two notes, right? Hopefully this is pretty steady for you by now. If it isn't, then you want to go back and focus on just eight again. Speed really doesn't matter. Now. I'm going to try and switch to triplets back to AIDS. Try and make that transition very, very, very smooth. Try and go back to triplets like that back to eight. You want to try to fluctuate between the two now again from triplets, you can fluctuate in the 16th thistles. Triplet back to triplets like that back to AIDS. Back to quarters. You can see how the quarters at 60 they're very slow eighths. They're a bit more. What I think people feel is normal. Triplets are quite challenging, especially if you haven't become familiar with triplet type rhythms. And 16th. For most beginners will be very fast for intermediate players. Maybe not so fast, but still challenging but fluctuating between all of them. Quarter said. AIDS to triplets, 2/16 and back again and even randomize ing. Try and go from quarters to triplets back to quarters to 16 16 states, eighths to triplets, back to quarters, that sort of thing. Try to try to challenge yourself with irregularities in the time, and the idea here is to constantly challenge yourself to subdivide the time accurately without ever missing the correct stroke, with alternate picking down, stroke, upstroke, down, stroke, upstroke being very, very, very strict and diligent about that. All right, so let's continue up 7. Metronome Tips & Tricks: s I want to take a moment here and really just focus our discussion on this idea of subdivision and setting your metronome at a at a reasonable, slow, tempo like 60. Because almost all of my private students they focus on speed that want to develop high speed, right? And I'm sure that many people watching this have the same attitude they want to develop speed and ultimate picking absolutely is the way to start approaching high speed playing. But don't start there. We want to start with a slow tempo so that by the time you get to 16th you're playing four times that speed. So in other words, if you're Metrodome is set to 60 when you play AIDS, your effectively playing at 1 20 you're playing triplets, your effectively playing at 1 80 If you're playing 16th your effectively playing at 2 40 Now for a lot of beginners. If you set a Metrodome 2 to 40 it's just gonna be impossible. So there's no point in trying to skip ahead and play at a speed that's faster than what you're capable of or comfortable with. It's very important to take your time starts slow and 60 is is a really good place to start because much slower than that, it's actually disconcerting. You'll find if you said to 50 or 40 that's pretty hard now. One of the things that I also want to point out is that let's say that you are wanting to explore playing in triplets, but you can't play a 180 beats per minute. You're just not there yet. Well, what you can do is you can actually set your metronome to say half of that and play aids. So in other words, if you want to play 180 which would be like triplets at 60 But you find playing the triplets too hard, you can actually set your Metrodome to 90 and play eighths rights if you play it. Not if you're playing eights at 90. You're also playing 180 degrees or sorry, you're also playing, Ah, 180 beats per minute. If you're playing triplets at 60 you're also playing 180 beats per minute. If you play quarters at 100 80 you're also playing 180 beats per minute so you can use the math to configure the tempo for the Metrodome to match something you contract something you can use in a practical way. But to be focused on the subdivision you're trying, Master, if you're trying to master eights, play at 90. If you're trying to master triplet, play it 60. The higher, the smaller the subdivision, the higher number of subdivisions you're introducing into each beat generally, the slower you want the route BPM and you Metrodome to be. But you might find that if you try and play with the BPM of 30 beats per minute, it's hopeless. It's so slow you can track it. So instead of sharply 16 said 30 try playing AIDS at 60 and it's gonna be the same, right, because if you're playing four minutes per beat at 30 that's 120. But if you're playing two notes at 60 that's also 120. But sixties, easy to track, right? So you can actually be creative about how you set the Metrodome. Any of this doesn't make sense or you have any questions. If you wish that I would cover one of these aspects with in a bit more depth, by all means, reach out to me send me a message, let me know and I will get back to you. And if there's some content that you would like me to add to this course something that maybe it would have benefit for for all students also let me know and I will be happy to put that together. So in that find next and final lesson, I'm just going to wrap things up with a bit of a conclusion and also recommend some next steps. 8. Conclusion: by now you understand clearly what a subdivision is. You understand the importance of saying down, up, down, up staying really honest and diligent, focused about making sure that you really are alternate picking, especially when you're switching strings right you don't have down, up, down, up, down, down, up and then down, down, down, up. You don't want anything like that. You're skipping strings sometimes, especially if the previous note was a down stroke. You might want to do the next one as a down stroke as well. You don't you want to really avoid that situation, especially when you are moving severally string skipping. But when you're moving from one Jason String to the next adjacent string, sometimes you don't run into it as much with pentatonic scales as with three tone scale but or a seven tone scale. Sorry, but let's take this scale. For example. Let's say that I'm playing. Let's say that I'm playing a G major scale, a seven tone we have down, up. That's fine, because the next string is it down. But this note string has three notes. So now I have down. It's very compelling to play. That was a downs you down, down. So in other words, you have down of, down, up, down. A lot of people will go down down like that because it seems more efficient and even seems intuitive. Do you want to be really strict about down, up? Always? Whatever the next stroke is, it's always the opposite of the previous one, so make sure you stayed very focused on your down up strokes. Whether you're playing when you're playing pet Pentatonix, it's a bit more conducive because there's only two notes for string down up, two options to notes, but seven tone scales or modes. They tend to have differences where maybe one string has two notes. Other strings have three notes. Um, some people practiced three notes scales like this where you have three notes on every every every string. Now, when you're doing that, you will find that the, um, the challenge of of making sure that you actually use alternate picking as you switch between adjacent strings becomes more challenging. So just be very, very careful. Unaware of those things get if you have any questions that come up from this section, please let me know. I wish you good luck. And, uh, let me know if you have any questions. Thanks so much